"Change of Heart"
Airdate: February 28, 1998
138 of 173 produced
138 of 173 aired
For some reason, Worf and Dax are selected to go on a dangerous covert mission to extricate a Cardassian spy from a jungle planet. When things go all pear-shaped, Worf must choose between the success of the mission and the safety of his wife.
Don't we all have publicity photos on our night stands?
Matthew: On the plus side, Worf doesn't act like a complete dickwad in his relationship, as he has usually been of late. We are actually given some scenes and dialogue that make it not so mysterious why these characters would be together. I like the road trip scenes generally, though they do drag just a bit.
Kevin: I actually liked most of the interactions between the couple since they felt both organic and anchored on the actor's chemistry more than anything else. I have also totally stolen Jadzia's line about the only bad thing she wants to feel is "guilt over the size of their room." It's second really only to "let them eat cake" in terms of opulence. The sparring during the asteroid scene particularly worked for me in terms of presenting them as a couple who are actually suited for each other.
Matthew: On the minus side, why the hell are these people being sent on this mission again? The explanation is really thin, and then they hang the lantern on it, with Sisko saying this is why there will never be a married team again on a mission. Why would there ever have been one in the first place? This has been addressed and answered (in the negative) at least twice on TNG.
Kevin: This is as good a place as any to discuss this, but I have heard in interviews that after decided not to renew her contract, she asked the writers to not kill the character, but thought if they were, they should have done it now, and she was right, for a couple of reasons. First, her death enabling Worf to finish the vital mission is right up there with Yar on the Enterprise-C instead of Skin of Evil. The death she is going to get is straight up going to be Skin of Evil useless. Second, I think it fits the character of Worf more. He would guilt himself almost to the brink of sanity, something which in itself would have been fun to watch, but based on what we know of Worf and how he views his obligations (see his response to Bashir's response to leaving Sisko behind in Waltz), I think it's more in keeping with the character that he let Jadzia die for the greater good.
Matthew: We are supposed to be thrilled, I guess, by the cloak and dagger stuff. Except it's in a jungle, we never see the enemy (or the operative, for that matter, outside of a communique), and then we're just told that the main characters' inaction caused his death. So? I know we just had a rather unsuccessful episode revolving around covert operations by a seemingly unqualified crew member - but at least that show had some additional characters who might have provided a little color to the episode. This episode has trees on a soundstage.
Kevin: I was immediately annoyed by the idea that they were again the non-specialist sent to do a specialist's job, and that they would send a married couple out on such a dangerous assignment. I think there was an easy fix to the problem you identify with the boredom factor. Rescue Lasaran and have the Sophie's Choice scenario play out on the return trip. Like what if circumstances allow Worf time to only beam up one of them. Who would he choose? It would suffer the same core problem of Starfleet negligently setting up a conflict of interest, but it would have been a little more fun.
Matthew: The B story... is. Why is it? Good question. It seems quite a bit like previous Miles/Julian plots, in which they play a game, try to win something, etc. etc. I just kind of don't know why this story exists, and wonder how the time could have been better spent. We get yet another scene of Julian mooning over his "loss" of Dax. Dude - you never had her. You were never even in the same ballpark. You're embarrassing yourself and disgusting the viewers. Speaking of wasted time: appraised in a vacuum, a near-death scrape for Dax seems like relationship building, perhaps a tad forced, but at least interesting. I can't really, however, totally divorce this from my knowledge of what is to come not even a half season hence - why write this episode for Jadzia when you know she's going to leave the show, anyway? Why not save this emotional beat for later?
Kevin: Don't get me wrong, I love Dax. She is a lot of fun and her unique nature gives rise to some seriously fun episodes, but I never quite got all the pining all the time by both Quark and Bashir. Quark's comes off less creepy both because Shimerman is a good actor and Quark approaches his broken (or at least bruised) heart with a little more equanimity. Maybe it's because of that I buy both the fact that he can actually be friends with her and the soft ache of a gently burning torch as opposed the constant "When are you and Worf breaking up? Hmm? Hmm!?!?!" we get from Bashir.
Matthew: Michael Dorn must have been thrilled to not be tasked with acting like a complete tool for once. He gets into his lines and definitely shows us some charm. He and Terry Farrell showed some good chemistry and timing, especially in the shuttle scenes.
Kevin: I agree on the shuttle scenes, and I think they both knocked it out of the park with the scene at the end in the jungle and the scene in sickbay. They both kept the performances very low key, and it may have just been the make-up, but good god, did Dax actually look close to death. Those were some serious sunken eyes.
Matthew: I was really off put by Bashir in this episode. I know it's the fault of the script that it has him backsliding into his creep-tastic thing for Dax. But Siddig didn't do anything to make me forget that.
Kevin: Like I said above, I bought the lower intensity crush that Quark seems to nurse. It's more realistic and less aggressive, and whatever the other problems, watching Quark use it against Bashir was fun.
Matthew: The asteroid dodging looked really cool, though I do wonder how precision maneuvers are accomplished using touchscreen buttons with no ridges or haptic feedback. I appreciated the look we got at Tongo, but would have liked to learn more about it and see the pieces in greater detail.
Kevin: I was impressed with the CGI, thought my only tiny complaint is that density or rock isn't a belt, it's a planetary ring. Stars both War and Trek have gotten it wrong before, but matter in an asteroid belt is just not that compact, thought I understand it's less visually dramatic to be more accurate.
Matthew: Prior episodes with jungles were better done - the ones that spring to mind are Blood Oath and The Sword of Kahless. Do you know what unites those episodes? Something besides trees. Buildings. Matte paintings. Items of interest. A soundstage jungle with nothing else is just boring. Like Arsenal of Freedom or Shades of Gray boring.
Kevin: I think, like I said above, if annoying jackass Lasaran were there to add more tension and a feeling of being crowded and hemmed in, it would have compensated for the weaker set.
Matthew: The pacing is slow and boring, nothing really interesting happens, we learn nothing about the characters, and the overall plot lacks consequence. Nonetheless, the main characters have some decent scenes and nothing horribly offensive occurs. I'm stuck on a 2 here.
Kevin: If the writers had had the dual stomach of Klingon warrior to actually let Dax die here and have it be Worf's decision, this episode could easily have ended up a five. I don't find the episode quite as boring and the shuttle and final sickbay scenes are collectively enough to nudge this into a 3, though the record will reflect it is a three replete with missed opportunities. That makes our total a 5.