Thursday, July 22, 2010

DS9 Rewind Review - "Dax"

Review by Paul Steven Brown

'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'
Season 1 - Episode 7

'DS9' bounces back in a big way with "Dax". One thing that really struck me about this episode is how much we learn about both Jadzia Dax and her predecessor, Curzon, but she hardly has any of the dialogue. When she does speak, those moments are given even more weight due to her self-imposed silence. In addition to learning more about both Daxes (Daxi?), we gain more insight into the nature of a joined Trill, plus the relationship between Dax, past and present, with Ben Sisko.

I love the intensity of the first act after the opening credits. It's the type of exciting situation that most Trek episodes would use for the climax, but here it effectively pulls us and elevates the stakes very quickly. Also, it gives the crew the chance to function as a well-oiled machine, despite a bit a techno-babble sprinkled throughout. To bad Chief O'Brien wasn't around to lend a hand.

If I have one complaint, it's that Avery Brooks is a bit of a weak link in this episode. He's very much of the theater, but sometimes he oversells the emotion. This happens in a variety ways, whether he's really pushing the sincerity of her character analysis of Curzon and Jadzia on the stand or when he gets flustered and yells about what he would due to get Dax to explain things if he were still a man.

We get some really solid work from the rest of the ensemble, but for an episode that reveals so much about Dax, this is really strong Odo hour. He gets his standard scene of bantering with Quark, but from there he's off investigating the facts of General Tandro's murder. He continues to prove himself as a good detective and he's also never afraid to say what's on his mind.

The guest cast is so capable and so good, that they threaten to outshine the regulars. Ilon Tando is played by Gregory Itzin, probably best known in recent years for his recurring role on '24'. His Tandro is very smart and very confident in the morality of his case, but he never comes across as evil. Vetern character actress Anne Haney plays the extradition judge. If you've seen a television show or movie in the last twenty-five years, chances are you've seen her on the screen more than once. Haney does a great job of portraying the judge as no-nonsense and very impartial.

Fionnula Flanagan rounds out the guest cast as the Widow Tandro. She's best known in recent year for playing Eloise Hawking on 'Lost'. Like Haney, she's been everywhere and on everything. Flanagan imbues Enina Tandro with sadness, but is very subtle. Her closing conversation with Jadzia is sincere and delivered movingly.

Speaking of that ending, it's one of Terry Farrell's finest moments in the series thus far. I think she does an excellent job driving home the point that Dax is both the Curzon and Jadzia. The clincher is when Enina touches Jadzia's face and tells her to live; there's both an appreciation of the gesture, but a storm of feelings behind her eyes for Enina that once belonged to Curzon.

"Dax" is certainly one of the best hours of 'DS9' up to this point. We're given more insight to another cast member that is new to the Star Trek franchise, plus more knowledge pertaining to a very interesting alien race. Solid acting almost completely across the board and a great balance of court room drama and police procedural. It's almost like an episode of 'Law & Order: Bajor'.

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