Deep Space Nine: s03 e04 – Equilibrium

In a pool…

I’ve not really that much to say about this episode. It was well-made, and thought-provoking but, at the same time curiously static and uninvolving. Some of this has to be attributed to it centring upon Jardzia Dax and thus requiring Terry Farrell to hold it together.

I don’t want to be unfair on the lady, especially given that the episode called upon her to show aggression, which is outside the usual emotional range, and Farrell wasn’t too bad at that. But none of it ever felt completely convincing: unlike the rest of the cast, Ms Farrell doesn’t have the range to command an entire episode, and it was no surprise to find that the crucial scenes took place around her unconscious body.

To  summarise: at a party in Sisko’s quarters, Dax picks up a Twenty-Fifth century electric piano and finds herself doodling out a nice melody that she can’t properly remember. It starts to obsess her. She starts flying into uncharacteristic rages, accuses Sisko of cheating at chess, then has hallucinations of dark corridors and a dark-robed figure with a blank face-mask.

Bashir checks her out and discovers that Dax’s isoboramene levels are low, isoboramene being crucial to the communication between host and symbiont. He and Sisko accompany her to the Trill homeworld and the Symbiosis Commission where these levels are successfully treated, that is, until Dax has another hallucination, this time of witnessing a murder and being attacked by Commission staff.

The music is key to this. It’s tracked down as being by a Trill composer called Joran Belar, at which name Jardzia collapses in neuroshock. Her isoboramene levels have dipped sharply, to the point where, if they continue to fall, the symbiont  will have to be removed and Jardzia will die.

Sisko and Bashir try to find out more about Joran, but his records have been completely wiped. He has a surviving brother, who confirms that Joran was aggressive, even paranoid and violent – and also a Trill Initiate. What’s more, he was supposedly rejected, which led him to kill the doctor and be killed trying to escape, but his brother is convinced that Joran had been Joined, at least six months prior to his death.

Adding this to the information that Joran supposedly died the same day as Dax’s fifth host, the one immediately prior to Curzon, and Sisko susses it out. The Commission exists to govern the joining of Trill and symbionts. It tests extensively to ensure there are suitable hosts – approximately one in one thousand – so that the symbionts are preserved: an unsuitable host would kill itself and its symbiont within three to four days.

But Joran was an unsuitable host, yet he was joined to Dax and stabilised for six months. The omission has suppressed all records of this, proof that at least fifty percent of Trills can host, far far more than there are symbionts. The Doctor has to admit Sisko’s theory as correct, but pleads the greater good. Sisko will keep the secret, provided that Jardzia is cured. Which is resolved simply by her entering one of the symbionts’ birthing pools (in a long, flowing white robe that gets wet through, that Farrell does not provide us with any wet t-shirt moments). Joran Dax surfaces, symbolically, Jardzia embraces him and there it is: equilibrium is restored by the return of blocked memories.

It’s an interesting rather than an absorbing episode, with its revelations about Trills and symbionts (which, in their unjoined state, live mainly under ‘water’ and look a little like otters when they semi-surface), but as I said, a stronger actress than Farrell could have made this a lot more personal.


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