The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Field of Fire

When an officer is murdered with a rare Starfleet weapon, Ezri is called upon to do some forensic psychology to help track down the culprit. In order to understand how the killer thinks, Ezri summons up the memories of Dax’s former host Joran, who murdered three people. But will Ezri really be able to keep Joran’s personality in check?

I was looking forward to this episode, because as far as I remembered, it was a good one. Of course, that left me open to being horribly disappointed. The framework of this episode is a bland plot that feels like DS9’s attempt to just tick the box that says “serial killer story”. The final reveal being that the killer is a Vulcan is meant to shock us, but the character is so dull that I could barely muster up the energy to care.

The core of this episode is Ezri, who has to use some previously unmentioned Trill ritual to summon up the persona of Joran to help her. Naturally, Joran is provocative and unrestrained, and he spends the entire episode trying to incite Ezri to embrace his bloodlust. It should be dark and powerful, but it just doesn’t work for me. Maybe it’s the numerous continuity errors between this episode and earlier Trill stories, or maybe it’s just because Ezri is just too much of a goody two-shoes for the story to work, but it simply fails in the execution.

Dax’s dark past

  • Joran claims that Curzon and Jadzia “didn’t know what to do with [him]”. In fact, due to the block on the symbiont’s memories, Curzon was completely unaware of Joran’s existence, whilst Jadzia only found out about him a few years previously. And in Equilibrium, it seemed as if Jadzia was accepting Joran and all that he stood for, rather than pushing the memories down – she even started studying music.
  • That being said, it might have been interesting to explore Jadzia or Ezri more slowly exploring Joran’s memories and what it means to have those dark urges, and reconcile them with the thoughts and memories of their current and past selves. But that’s something that wouldn’t really come across in an episodic television series – maybe what it needs is some fanfiction.
  • Ezri is able to summon up Joran’s persona on her own, as a vision, which is completely different to the zhian’tara ritual Dax underwent, in which a Trill guardian transferred the memories from the symbiont into a temporary host.
  • How does the exographic targeting scanner used in this episode even work? It seems to be a magical long-range sensor that can scan at any range through any material. Why has this amazing device never been used before? Similarly, that microtransporter seems really useful.
  • I’ve never previous considered momentum conservation when going through the transporter. Presumably when beaming from a starship to a planet’s surface, some sort of magical adjustments must be performed to account for this. Oh, what am I saying – have I not learned by now not to try to analyse the workings of the transporter?
  • Bolians appear to have polygamous marriages, as indicated by the deceased Brott apparently having both a wife and a co-husband.

Summary – Field of Fire: A dull serial killer story and too much technobabble make this a worse episode than I remembered.

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