Monday, December 19, 2016

Deep Space Nine 3x25 "Facets"

rating: ***

the story: Jadzia undergoes a ritual to "meet" every previous host of the Dax symbiont.

what it's all about: What might have come off as a silly gimmick (while consistently amusing, many of the hosts come off merely as too comedic) proves infinitely compelling when two specific ones grab "Facets" and push it to greater heights.

The first and comparatively throwaway is Sisko embodying the rogue host uncovered in the earlier third season episode "Equilibrium," instantly selling the whole concept as far more chilling than its predecessor had managed.  It gives Sisko, and by extension Avery Brooks, yet another compelling, previously-unthinkable moment in a season full of them.

But by far, Odo's portrayal of Curzon Dax is what the episode, and the series, really needed.  Curzon is easy to overlook in his importance to series lore.  He's the "Old Man" Sisko is constantly referencing when he addresses Jadzia, the host of the Dax symbiont who came immediately before her.  Other episodes had attempted to tell compelling stories around him ("Dax" in the first season, "Blood Oath" in the second), but without having Curzon himself represented, they always circled back to Jadzia herself.  Not only does "Facets" solve that, it also demonstrates the pitfalls of host selection far more effectively than previous attempts ("Equilibrium" and "Invasive Procedures"), namely by making it immediate, personal, and downright heartbreaking.

Simply put: during the course of the episode, it's revealed that Curzon flunked Jadzia out of the initiate program, and eventually that he did so because of a conflict of interest, namely that he'd fallen in love with her.  That's the beating heart of a story that breaks new ground for Jadzia as more than the quirky hotty she'd kind of become somewhere along the way (actually, that would be "Playing God," thank you very much), and it paves the way for the ultimate host episode, "Rejoined," early next season, perhaps the boldest episode the series ever attempted, a direct rebuttal of "The Host," the Next Generation episode that introduced the Trill in the first place.

Incorporated into this is Odo's own self-loathing, one of the running themes of the season, and even his as-yet unrequited crush on Kira (by way of suggestion).  The B-story complements this by having Rom finally show some backbone and acknowledge the huge achievement his son Nog has made by gaining admittance (the first for a Ferengi) into Starfleet Academy. 

This is one of those breezy efforts from the season, where the newfound confidence the series had found could really blossom.  It's not overly crucial to the course of things, but it's also indicative of why any of it mattered, because Deep Space Nine really had invested time and effort into its characters, so that it could.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - This one's for fans of Deep Space Nine, thank you.
  • series - Well, like I just said...
  • character - Technically focuses on Jadzia.
  • essential - But has plenty of room for others to shine, too.  Good character work overall!
notable guest-stars:
Aron Eisenberg (Nog)
Max Grodenchik (Rom)
Chase Masterson (Leeta)

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