The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Afterimage

Life isn’t easy for Ezri Dax. She’s just received eight lifetimes’ worth of memories, and adjusting to it all can be a bit overwhelming – especially on DS9, the very place where Jadzia both lived and died. All Ezri wants to do is get back to her life as an assistant counsellor on the USS Destiny, but Sisko doesn’t want his friend to leave. Instead, he challenges her to use her counselling skills to assist Garak, who is suffering from crippling bouts of claustrophobia.

With the two-part season opener over, it’s time to focus on the newest member of the cast – Ezri. Unlike most replacement characters, Ezri is a little different in that she retains all the memories of the departed Jadzia, and that’s something that the rest of the crew has to deal with. And where some are willing to welcome her, others are less enthused – so much so, that as we draw into the final act, Ezri is in tears.

And here’s where I felt really sorry for her. For just as Ezri decides that she can’t handle even being in Starfleet, let alone on DS9, Sisko decides to try a bit of reverse psychology. Yes, his harsh “you’re not good enough, just go and waste your life” is meant to inspire Ezri to fight back and show what’s she made of, but it just comes across as bullying. Ezri is clearly very upset and distressed, and the one person she can count on as a friend is as mean to her as everyone else. When you add this to Worf physically threatening Bashir for getting close to Ezri, and Starfleet feels like a very unfirendly place to be.

The other focus of this episode is Garak, whose claustrophobia has worsened to the point where he can’t function aboard DS9. Of course, this being Star Trek, and indeed, television, all kinds of mental health problems can be easily solved in the space of a single episode. it’s difficult to care deeply about Garak’s mental distress when we know it will be resolved relatively easily.

Ezri and…

  • Sisko: Having been friends with both Curzon and Jadzia, Sisko readily accepts a new Dax into his life – in fact, the last thing he wants is to not have a Dax around.
  • Kira: Kira interacts briefly with Ezri at the Bajoran shrine, the place where Jadzia was killed. Both women agree that they don’t like to think too deeply about this.
  • Bashir: Bashir says he wants to be just friends with Ezri, but as we know, they will get together by the end of the series. Ezri tells that Bashir that “if Worf hadn’t come along, it would have been you”, a statement I have already disagreed with several times in these blogs, and I stand firm. Yes, maybe Jadzia did enjoy flirting with Bashir, but she had plenty of time to date him if she had wanted to. Is the implication that she would have settled for Bashir if no one else had come along? Given that Jadzia herself said that she wasn’t even looking for love until Worf came into her life, I highly doubt it.
  • Quark: Quark is excited to have ‘another go’ at Dax, and challenges Bashir to a competition to win Ezri’s heart. Do we really have to go through this?
  • Worf: Worf is having difficulty reconciling Jadzia’s death and Ezri’s existence, and spends much of the episode being an arse about it. It’s only towards the end of the episode that he apologises and acts like a decent person.
  • Jake: Jake thinks Ezri is cute.

Other points

  • If Ezri feels spacesick because the Dax symbiont still has residual guilt over Torias’ death, why did Jadzia never feel this? Is it because Ezri is a more empathetic kind of person than Jadzia, and so the blended personality is more aware of such feelings of guilt?
  • If Garak has such knowledge of the weaknesses of Cardassian encryption, can’t he write a computer program to automate message decryption? Maybe he could even teach a couple of other people how to do it, so he isn’t a single point of failure.

Summary – Afterimage: Starfleet – where tough love is the way forward.

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