Friday, February 10, 2017

Episode Review - Afterimage (Deep Space Nine, Season 7)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Ezri Dax struggles to find her place on the space station amidst the crew that her symbiont knew as Jadzia Dax. As she contemplates on what her future will hold, Garak begins to show signs of mental distress in the form of claustrophobia, and that impairs his ability to decode Dominion transmissions. Captain Sisko asks Ezri to use her skills as a counselor to help Garak. Meanwhile, many members of the crew, especially Worf, try to adjust to the presence of Dax’s new host.

Ezri Dax, played by Nicole de Boer

Score: 7/10 – This is an important episode in the story of Dax. With only one season remaining there needed to be a big introduction to Ezri and this episode nails it. We see all the main characters grapple with the new host of Dax, who is very different than the previous. Naturally, Work and Sisko are going to be the most affected by this, but Bashir, Quark, and even Jake are given some time to discuss their reactions to the change. Where this episode struggles a bit is in how Ezri finally reaches the root of the problem with Garak. As it is revealed that his guilt over indirectly causing the deaths of his fellow Cardassians is manifesting itself in his claustrophobia resurfacing, the method is almost a bit too happenstance. Ezri makes the connection almost more by chance rather than her skills. While I acknowledge that the timeliness of the resolution of this is likely due to the necessity of filming a 43 minute episode, it seems a bit rushed and too neat and tidy to be realistic. However, this is a good episode where the main focus is to introduce Ezri, and it does so very effectively.
Ezri's promotion

Relevance - 3 points. So many important factors that relate to past and future episodes are mentioned here. The impact of the death of Jadzia is keenly seen in Worf, Ben, Julian, and even Quark. Ezri returns to the place where Jadzia was killed just months before. We even have O’Brien try to cheer up Worf again with a bottle of blood wine. Garak’s claustrophobia comes back and brings some great insight into the character.

"She's cute" - Jake Sisko
"She's also about three hundred years too old for you" - Ben Sisko

Continuity - 3 points. Story continuity fits perfectly, so a point is scored. Universe as well. Character continuity was very well maintained, as everybody behaves as we would expect. What was tricky was Ezri. She was only touched on in the previous two episodes at the start of the season, as her character was not central to the story. Here, we establish more of a baseline to develop the character. We will see how this progresses.
Dax and Garak seeking therapy in the holosuite

Character Development – 3 points. Character development is the main angle of the story, and it needed to be. However, instead of only focusing on Ezri and her struggles to fit into the station, the writers cleverly infused almost everyone else into the story. Primary in this is Garak, who shows the reality of how his work is affecting his mental health and adds a great deal of depth and realism to his character. Worf is next as he struggles with the fact that the next host after his deceased wife is now on the station, and he responds in typical Worf fashion. Ben Sisko must learn to relate to his third incarnation of Dax, and now has to take a more mentor-like, even father-figure role towards Ezri, which is new for him. Julian and Quark, who still had deep romantic feelings for Jadzia, move on to the next phase with Dax in their own ways, while even O’Brien takes a crack at becoming the giver of sage advice to Worf and helps him see how he has been dishonoring Jadzia’s memory. We even learn that Worf feels intimidated by Captain Sisko (Ben’s reaction to this is great, by the way). But most of all, this is about Ezri. Poor, insecure and uncertain Ezri coming to grips to being the new host without having had any preparation or training. By the end of the episode, she may still have her insecurities, but she now has confidence knowing that her previous host’s friends and colleagues are supporting her.

Ezri channeling her inner Emony

Social Commentary – 2 points. There are two aspects to the story that we can learn from. One, in Garak, the concept of the importance of mental health is front and center. Not since Troi on TNG has there been a counselor as part of the main cast, and in times of war the position is even more necessary. When Bashir finishes treating Garak after his first panic attack, he comes to the conclusion that Garak needs counselling more than anything else. While Garak’s nature makes him resist Ezri’s efforts, the topic of mental health is dealt with in a matter-of-fact nature by the crew, which is how it should be. Second, this is as much about the discovery of self as any. We get to see the struggle of a character literally transforming into someone else, and try to fit into her old life. While we may not find ourselves in the exact same situation, we can relate with experiences that can be parallel, such as moving, remarrying, new jobs, etc.

Garak has had enough of Ezri's counseling services.

Cool Stuff – 0 points. Because this is heavy on developing the characters, there is not a whole lot of cool stuff in this episode. This is more statement than criticism, but I can’t think of anything that would score a point in this section.
"I do not know you. Nor do I wish to know you" - Worf

Rank – Captain (18 points). For the last season, this episode is necessary to see as it establishes a primary character. It is, for the most part, well executed, and while elements of the story suffer from the strong Ezri focus, she is the character we need to focus on at this moment. It reveals a lot about many of the characters and is a solid episode.
Dax discussing her issues with Morn, who doesn't know who she is

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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