Friday, April 19, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: Equilibrium

Deep Space Nine, Season 3
Airdate: October 17, 1994
49 of 173 produced
49 of 173 aired


Tinkering at a piano, Jadzia stumbles onto a melody that she is certain she has heard before but can't remember where. The next day, she begins to manifest personality changes and suffers a terrifying hallucination on the Promenade. Whatever is causing this is also harming her symbiont. She now must return to the Trill homeworld to find out what is going on.

Oh, who am I kidding? The boat house was the time!


Kevin: This is an interesting idea for an episode. It does provide an interesting glimpse into Trill society and a new wrinkle for a main character. It's not a perfect execution by any stretch, but I'll get to that. In the plus column, the dinner party scene at the start of the episode was a lot of fun. Odo stirring the batter was charming and it was nice to see the crew interact as a group socially, something we really haven't seen before. I also liked Sisko "at ease" a lot. Over the course of the series, a lot of scenes of him cooking or talking about his father's restaurant really humanize him.

Matthew: I liked the scenes on the Defiant for the most part. I liked how Bashir was interested first and foremost in helping Jadzia as a patient and a friend, and not trying to get in her pants or even mooning over the impossibility of same.  I thought the dinner party was a bit too brief to really register as anything interesting, since it got taken over by Jadzia's reminiscing. Really, the whole first third of the episode was kind of boring and lacking in plot punch. But then again, so were the second and third thirds of the episode...

Kevin: The mystery is an interesting one in and of itself, but its execution was a little lacking for me. I liked the hook of the music jogging the memory and the scene with Sisko playing chess was well done, and I wish they had anchored the episode in scenes like that as it would have given the idea of a murderer in Dax's memory a little more teeth. The hallucinations were a little too "television" for me. Like the Orb sequences, they read too much as "You are now watching a hallucination." The scene on the Defiant between Dax and Bashir was quite sweet. He wasn't creepy at all, and it was nice to see that their relationship has matured.

Matthew:  Ugh. The hallucinations. In addition to being just as you say - boring recapitulations of the previously unsuccessful orb visions, they also tell us nothing. Some guy wears a mask and says uninterestingly cryptic things. Yikes. Shades of "Move Along Home." I found the mystery trite and dull. It was obvious that we were going to be told a "bad guy host" story, and I wasn't terribly interested in discovering that bad guy's history. You know why? Because I haven't been watching that guy for the past 2 seasons-plus. Tell me about Jadzia Dax, not Blizz-Blazz and Floo-Flah Dax. Everything about this episode is the opposite of why "Blood Oath" was so interesting.

Kevin: The reveal about Trill society is interesting, but again the execution is a little lacking. Given that all we get to see of Trill is a single hospital room and a cave pool, we didn't quite get a sense of the stakes beyond one, admittedly decent, speech. I would have like a call back to the Verad incident. Imagine that happening on a planetary scale. That would be a fun episode. I would have also liked a glimpse to what I imagine must be some kind of de facto caste system that would emerge from such a society. I enjoyed the scene itself in which Sisko basically blackmailed her, but I have a hard time believing Sisko would assent such a deception to save his friend, or that Dax would for that matter. It might have been even more fun to see Sisko or Dax reveal the truth afterward.

Matthew: The Verad scene in the episode "Dax" was the very reason this episode was so inert and failed to engage me on even a basic level. I've seen it before. Bad guy gets symbiont, negative consequences, blah blah blah. It's made even worse by the fact that, with the exception of a hissy fit or two (which for my money were the most interesting scenes int he episode), the only real consequences for the character are that she gets told a lot of technobabble and has to sit still and not talk for a good ten minutes of screen time. Hmm. Sort of like "Dax." Can I just say, when it comes to the "Guardians," am I the only one disturbed by their apparently psychic and telepathic powers, and how no one seems to notice or care about them - whether before, during or after the one scene they are featured in?

Kevin: Overall, what little we got to see of Joran makes the Symbiosis Commission's original decision to choose him borderline stupid. He seemed an unsuitable partner for a game of bridge let alone the comingling of two sentient beings. Unless it was some sort of grand experiment that purposely chose a psycho, it doesn't make sense. And it's not the fault of this episode, but except for Field of Fire and Facets, we never see any aspect of Joran manifest itself, which makes the stakes for this episode kind of low.

Matthew: I think any astute viewer could tell that the Joran idea was going to be dispensed with simply by seeing how the episode concludes - with Jadzia  giving him a hug. Aww. That was all he ever really wanted, was a hug. Yawn. I've got a big problem with Sisko and Bashir thinking that heading to Trill is the best idea for Jadzia Dax, who they profess to be most interested in helping, when they and Jadzia herself know that the Trill are really only interested in preserving the life of the symbiont. I think this tension should have been better acknowledged.


Kevin: Terry Farrell has really developed her ability to change modes on a dime. Normal Dax, Joran, and frightened, vulnerable Dax were all really well portrayed. Particularly in the scene with Bashir in his quaters, her fear read as credible and relatable. Bashir was good, too. He wasn't creepy or over-affectionate with Dax, and like The Wire, when he gets to act like a doctor, he does well.

Matthew:  I agree for the most part, though I didn't really find her interesting when she was just regular Dax. I liked her a lot when she had a violent edge, and I wish the episode would have focused more on this, to give her some room to play with it. Not Intendant Kira level room to play, mind you, but maybe five more minutes of screen time.

Kevin: I liked Lisa Banes as Dr. Renhol. I bought her concern for Jadzia, and her regret at the situation. She wasn't just a villain. The Guardian was fun, too. He was quirky in a non-irritating way.

Matthew: Lisa Banes was good, yes.  I think she could have received a bit more room in the episode, too, perhaps to argue for the Trill way of life more robustly. Avery Brooks was good in this episode, a nice, easygoing performance.

Production Values

Kevin: Like I said before, the hallucinations just didn't do it for me. Masks? I bet someone is hiding their identity. It all just felt like the television version of a hallucination and not the real thing, so I didn't quite share the sense of unease that I should, and that I did in other episodes like TNG's Night Terrors or Frame of Mind.

Matthew: Agreed on the hallucinations. I want to single out the Defiant sets. I enjoyed those scenes, both for the acting going on, but also for the better sense of space we get of the Defiant. I know it seems silly to focus on a corridor, but seeing them really helped to give us an idea of what being on the ship would be like. TNG and Voyager both make superb use of corridors, and their respective vessels really take on a personality as a result.

Kevin: I like the keyboard prop, but I know just enough music to know when an actor knows nothing and it always pulls me out of the moment. The Trill sets were kind of generic, a hospital room and a planet hell set, nothing too special.

Matthew: Yeah, I think this may be the first use of Planet Hell on DS9, since it is now freed up after the end of TNG. It was pretty mundane. The Trill homeworld matte painting was also pretty mundane, it looked as though it had been cut and pasted from a few other mattes in the franchise. Uninspiring, overall.


Kevin: The idea is interesting, and the ethical conflict is too, I just don't think they focused where they should have. I'm not comfortable giving this a 2, largely on the strength of the acting. Farrell in particular did well in this episode, and it's a crying shame she was unconscious for the climax of the plot. Overall, I still enjoyed watching the episode, and that's enough to get a 3 from me.

Matthew: I'm quite comfortable with a 2. I tried to watch this three times, and each time I got pulled away by a laptop or a smartphone. That's because this is a prototypical yawner. Nothing much happened, the wrong things were focused on, the pacing was moribund, and the production values were only so-so. That makes a 5 total from the both of us.

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