the story: Ezri tries to get used to being the new host of the Dax symbiont.
what it's all about: It's tough being the new kid in town. Especially in Star Trek. No series has ever had a dramatic shakeup in its cast. Few have left, few have been added. Being added in the last season is an especially difficult task, an honor experienced by...Ezri Dax. And...actually, she's the only one, really.
So three episodes in the seventh and final season, she gets her story told for the first time. In a lot of ways, it may be her best episode, too. It's one of the most complete introductions of a Star Trek character ever, actually. The audience by now is more than familiar with the Trill joint species concept, so it's the host concept that's really explored for the first time, the need to integrate the memories of others, not to mention trying to figure out how you fit in, not just around others but in your own life. That's "Afterimage" in a nutshell. Not too shabby!
Ezri is easily the most shaken main cast member of any series until Hoshi in Enterprise, in this episode. That makes it a tougher sell, in some respects, because Star Trek was always about confident people boldly, you know, going. But it makes her relatable, in ways that don't always happen in the franchise. But the episode has an answer to that: Garak.
Because this is a Garak episode, too, his last real spotlight of the series, really. It's the last time we see the character traits that made him famous in "The Wire," all the way back in the second season. Not only is he in exile now, but actively working against his fellow Cardassians, which makes a rough existence, well, rougher. It's a perfect counterpoint to Ezri's arc. Actually, Garak's arc is a nice nod to the ongoing war that so often since it began tended to fall into the background when not the active focus of a story. You'd hardly know it was even still happening, sometimes. Here its inclusion is so casual, it may in fact help "Afterimage" be the best example of life during wartime in the series.
franchise- Ezri's regular debut might be a little Deep Space Nine specific.
- series - Nicely ties in with the war.
- character - Ezri's fill introduction; also features Garak nicely.
- essential - An important moment in the season and series, really.
Andrew Robinson (Garak)