Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Equilibrium   Rewatch 
October 11, 2015 6:06 PM - Season 3, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Jadzia can't get a song out of her head. And who was that masked man?

Trivia (mostly from the Memory Alpha article):

- The origins of this episode are to be found in the magic show of Jeff Magnus McBride. Michael Piller saw McBride's show, loved it, and commissioned Christopher Teague, a mutual friend of his and McBride, to draw up an outline for a story based on McBride's act. McBride's show revolved around a use of masks, and the repeated removal of what is seemingly a single mask only to reveal another underneath (something which happens in the episode itself). Teague's story originally involved a kind of intergalactic circus coming to Deep Space 9 with a magician who is revealed to be a murderer, but nobody on the writing staff was keen on the idea.

- Originally, beets were not the vegetable that Bashir disliked. Ira Steven Behr commented: "It was supposed to be rutabagas but Rene [Echevarria] didn't think rutabagas were funny enough". The reference to rutabagas was intended to be a tribute to the Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention song "Call Any Vegetable".

- This is the first episode to reveal that Sisko is from New Orleans, to feature the Trill homeworld and to show that Jadzia's spots do go down to her feet, as they can be seen briefly in shots of her on the hospital bed. This was also the first episode to establish that the Trill have surnames, which are replaced by the symbiont's name upon joining.

- The episode also revealed that Jadzia was the only initiate to successfully reapply to the symbiosis program after being dropped. This will become significant later in this season.

"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been."
posted by Halloween Jack (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not a spectacular episode in its own right, but it moves the characters along in some nice ways. Dax continues to become more interesting and complex, while we see Bashir is becoming her actual friend instead of some guy who is just relentlessly trying to flirt with her. Plus, according to Memory Alpha, this is the episode that reveals Sisko is from New Orleans and gives us the first info about his dad's restaurant.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:11 PM on October 11, 2015

Plus, according to Memory Alpha, this is the episode that reveals Sisko is from New Orleans and gives us the first info about his dad's restaurant.

Which I now see Halloween Jack included in the original post. Double dumbass on me.

How are beets funnier than rutabagas? Rutabaga is a goofy word straight out of a WC Fields movie.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:45 PM on October 11, 2015

How are beets funnier than rutabagas?

I dunno--maybe they figured that most Americans have had so little experience with rutabagas (I'm fairly sure that I've had them before, but it's been so long I can't remember when or what they tasted like--I may be thinking of turnips) that the average viewer would assume that it's a made-up word.

In general, I'm glad that I rewatched this episode because there's a lot that goes on in it. We find out that the Symbiosis Committee has been lying to the Trill public for about forever, and Sisko uses that information to save Jadzia's life; it's a reminder that Sisko isn't afraid to twist an arm or two to get the right thing done. (We also get to hear Sisko say that he likes Jadzia, which is an important step in their relationship; before that, it seemed like about 95% of Sisko's relationship with Jadzia was really nostalgia for his friendship with Curzon. In general, one of the themes of Dax's character throughout the series, although it tends to fade away in later seasons, is Jadzia's being overshadowed by Curzon's accomplishments and/or trying to deal with the lingering consequences of something he did; this, too, will be significant in an episode later this season.) It's also nice to see Bashir not be creepy with a patient that he's obviously attracted to.

Finally, Terry Farrell does a good job with Joran's emerging hostility; that's not usually something that we see in Jadzia. I thought that the last scene was particularly well-done, with Jadzia showing just a tiny bit of Joran when talking to Sisko. I thought that the magician who played Joran seemed too nice to play a killer, although that may be colored by Joran's appearances in future episodes (again, including the one later this season). And as long as I'm talking about characters in future episodes, I have to comment that the doctor who was treating Jadzia on Trill reminds me a lot of another Trill character who will play a big part in what's probably the best-known Jadzia episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:40 AM on October 12, 2015

I liked the episode reasonably well, although it was hard to follow "The House of Quark." I actually think Terry Farrell generally does a great job as an actress, at least much better than you would think someone would do who is so obviously a former beauty pageant contestant. The scene where she was having seizures was a bit rough, although those are rather difficult things to truly embody.

That's really interesting that it started with the magician's stage act - I liked the mask removal bit and maybe would have kept up the menace/horror angle longer rather than diving back into the usual political territory of the show.
posted by Slothrop at 11:18 AM on October 12, 2015

I think Ron Moore's assessment of this episode, quoted in the Memory Alpha article, is pretty much the way I view it:

It's an intriguing idea, and the episode holds up pretty well in some of its elements, but it's not quite satisfying in the last couple of acts. It becomes too much of Bashir and Sisko running around investigating the mystery rather than concentrating on the character of Dax.

The hijacked-by-other-characters thing seemed to happen more often in Dax-focused episodes than episodes focusing on other characters, and it's kind of frustrating because she's great as part of an ensemble, and a really interesting kind of alien, and I'd have liked more exploration of her character than we got.

Other annoyance: after having an entire episode in Season One devoted to the question of crimes committed by joined Trill and teasing out the culpability of the symbiont and host--this episode just breezes by that question like it's nothing. It's just assumed that the murder was all Joran's doing, and the symbiont was just along for the ride. That's not a totally unreasonable or implausible conclusion for the Symbiosis Commission to have reached. But it's not in any way an the only reasonable conclusion they could have reached, given the information that the show presented. Joran and the symbiont were joined for six months, which seems like more than enough time for the symbiont and host to have fully integrated.

It wouldn't have surprised me if the Symbiosis Commission's decision regarding the symbiont was based more on the scarcity of symbionts rather than a rigorous examination of the symbiont's culpability. But it's like the writers forgot that this was an issue. (It really does feel like The Way Trills Work varies from episode to episode, without much thought about what came before).

I thought that the magician who played Joran seemed too nice to play a killer, although that may be colored by Joran's appearances in future episodes (again, including the one later this season).

Eh, I thought it was more plausible that the Symbiosis Commission gave a rare symbiont to a guy who seemed outwardly normal than to a guy who acted like a drooling psychopath, so I prefer the way Joran was presented here to the Hannibal-Lecterization of him later.

I did like the scene where Dax embraces Joran in the pool, and the bit at the end with her playing music.
posted by creepygirl at 9:49 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

An interesting idea: earlier in Trill history, there was a more even ratio of symbionts to hosts. As time went on the humanoid population of Trill increased exponentionally while the symbiont population did not. That's a major ongoing trauma in Trill society, and the source of the lie that only a small percentage of humanoid trill can host a symbiont.

I think that's consistent with what this episode shows. It'd be fun to explore that idea.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:22 AM on December 26, 2022

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