Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Rejoined   Rewatch 
January 21, 2016 4:37 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Dax is reunited with the Kahn symbiont, a wife of one of her previous hosts, and must decide whether or not to ignore Trill taboo and continue their relationship.

Courtesy of Memory Alpha's wiki on the episode.

Quotes :

"What do Klingons dream about?"

"Things that would send cold chills down your spine, and wake you in the middle of the night. No, it is better that you do not know. Excuse me."

"I can never tell when he's joking."
- Kira and Worf

"I'm not like you, Dax... I don't have a little Curzon inside me telling me to be impulsive... to ignore the rules... give up everything I've worked for..."

"Can you really walk away from me... from us? After all this time we're back together. Don't throw that away."

"I don't want to... Maybe I need more time... maybe if I go back to Trill for a while... think it over... I could always come back later..."

"I wish I could believe you. But ultimately, it comes down to this... if you feel about me the way I feel about you... you won't get on that transport tomorrow. And if you do leave... I think we both know you're never coming back."
- Kahn and Dax

Trivia/Reception :

* The idea for the taboo regarding former Trill lives was Michael Piller's. He developed the concept early in the second season, but it never made it on-screen. René Echevarria explains Piller's idea by saying, "He felt they'd have a very strict taboo in order to avoid an aristocracy of the joined. Otherwise, they'd only want to hang out with each other, their dear old friends from five hundred years ago, and it would become a really screwed up society." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* In the original version of the story, Kahn was a man. It was Ronald D. Moore who suggested making Kahn a woman.

* This episode features Star Trek's first same-sex kiss and is one of the most controversial episodes in the show's history. According to Ronald D. Moore, "some felt betrayed, didn't want to see this in their homes. An affiliate down south cut the kiss from their broadcast." Similarly, René Echevarria says, "my mother was absolutely scandalized by the episode. Shocked and dismayed. She told me 'I can't believe you did that. There should have been a parental guidance warning'." Steve Oster says that a man called the show and complained, "you're ruining my kids by making them watch two women kiss like that." Much of the public response mirrored that of the famous Kirk-Uhura kiss in the original series episode TOS: "Plato's Stepchildren". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* There is a story regarding the man complaining about his kids seeing the kiss: It was a production assistant who took the call. After hearing the man's complaint, the PA asked if the man would've been okay with his kids seeing one woman shoot the other. When the man said he would be okay with that, the PA said "You should reconsider who's messing up your kids". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Both cast and crew stand by the idea that this episode was not actually about homosexuality, any more than "Plato's Stepchildren" was about inter-racial relationships. Director Avery Brooks is very clear about this: "it was a story about love, and the consequences of making choices out of love. The kiss was irrelevant." Just as clear is writer René Echevarria "we could tell the story without ever talking about the fact that they are two women." Ronald D. Moore makes a similar point: "it deals with homosexuality and sexual orientation and tolerance, but I'm very proud of the fact that nowhere in the episode does anyone even blink at the fact that these are two women. That's the part that sails by everyone on the show." Finally, Ira Steven Behr points out, "We're not doing a show about lesbians, we're doing a show about Trills." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Avery Brooks reinforces the notion that this is just a simple love story in "Charting New Territory: Deep Space Nine Season Four," a documentary in the special features of the DS9 Season 4 DVD; "It's a love story after all. What's extraordinary about it, you know, the love of your life, and somehow that love is taken away, and you have a chance, another chance, you know, a hundred and fifty years later, to be together again. It was an extraordinary story. I thought it was important that we tell this story honestly and truthfully about love, and so it's not about sex, or same gender or any of the above, even though, obviously, in our world, that's what people started to look at, but I mean it was so important for me to tell that story honestly and truthfully, especially for the people who have suffered, you know, in our world, needlessly, because of love. I was adamant that we were not going to sensationalize this kiss, because, again, I mean, you know, for Star Trek I suppose, or even at that time, you know, for television, prime time television, it was a big deal."

* Also in the "Charting New Territory" documentary, Terry Farrell reiterates the fact that 'lesbianism' is not an issue in the episode; "I think because "Rejoined" was such a sensitive subject, it was very important to show that it was just a choice, and no one judged Dax for her choice, and everyone supported her as a friend, and they were really concerned about her heart getting broken, because she was going to have to give up being a joined Trill. She was going to be banished from her land, she'd have to change her way of life, but not because of her love for this woman, but because it was from the past. It was appropriate for my character to have this moment, it wasn't the 'big lesbian kiss' to get you to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and of course my character could run up against something like this and it would make sense. And it's an interesting, topical, very Gene Roddenberry-esque way to have the show done."

* In the same documentary, Ronald D. Moore makes a similar point; "To the audience, you're playing out this metaphor of a taboo that you're not supposed to be involved with somebody, and the audience sees these two women who are in love together, but the show will never ever comment on it, because it's really about this Trill taboo, this completely other issue. But the idea of homosexual love is staring the audience in the face no matter what they do, but we never have to mention it in the show. It just became this lovely tale about these two forbidden lovers that just couldn't get over that one had died and didn't get a chance to say goodbye, and here they come together in these two other bodies, but what they once felt for one another is still there, but the societal taboo was so strong that one of them had to back out, one of them wasn't willing to take it all the way. It was just a lovely bit of Star Trek because it really was an allegory for our society, and that's ultimately what Trek does best."

* "Rejoined" is one of Terry Farrell's favorite episodes due to the message behind it. Farrell commented that it was: "a lost love episode, absolutely. I'm so glad we got to do it. It was an important show. It's interesting to see how people react to 'Rejoined'. I like the idea of sending people a bigger message than they're used to seeing on TV, something that makes them think and gives them something to talk about. I think the show is so appropriate for Dax, more appropriate than for any other character on television. That's because Dax has always had this duality. She has been a man and a woman several times. Any entity that has that duality is going to have some controversy surrounding it, even though the the story is not about a gay relationship. I have several friends that are gay and I don't judge them for that. In fact, I applaud their honesty. I applaud anyone who is honest about how they feel and who they are. It's not easy for most gay people to be honest about it because they're often treated poorly. I feel badly for people who stay in the closet and secretly feel like they're living another life and can't tell their friends of family". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 14)

* Farrell also liked the way all of the resistance and controversy which Dax and Lenara Kahn face from others is inspired by taboos in Trill culture, and has nothing to do with gender or lesbianism. She also admired the way that director Avery Brooks directed the kiss in a non-sensationalist manner. (Crew Dossier: Jadzia Dax, DS9 Season 2 DVD, Special Features) Of his direction of the kiss, Brooks has said, "People want to hype stuff like that, but I wasn't going to have it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Susanna Thompson was also a fan of Avery Brooks' directions of this episode; "It was my first time working on Star Trek where a director wanted me to come in prior to the first day you start shooting, and so he got Terry and I together. I felt very safe with him. And being an actor, he understood all the technical ramifications that you're sort of distracted with on any given day. But he also knew that this episode was going to be a little controversial because there was a same sex kiss. He was so good at keeping us safe and protected, but also giving us such a great space to be brave." (Hidden File 04, DS9 Season 4 DVD, Special Features)

* Ira Steven Behr commented "I know they [Paramount Pictures] got a lot of negative feedback, which only goes to prove a point I always believed in, which is that science fiction fans and Star Trek fans are much more conservative than people want to believe, and this whole Gene Roddenberry liberal Humanistic vision is truly not shared by a significant portion of them". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 5)

* On one especially odd complaint that was received, Ira Steven Behr commented "the favorite of mine, and I haven't seen them all - was that we were taken to task for seeming to support lesbianism and reincarnation on the show... this was from some minister somewhere. So, yeah - this 'reincarnation' thing with the Trills... its dangerous! It's seeping into the minds of America's youth! ("The Behr Necessities", Star Trek Monthly, issue 12)

* Cinefantastique ranked "Rejoined" as the fourth best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, No. 4/5, p. 98)
posted by Slothrop (15 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It's interesting to hear that there was controversy around this episode.

I remember watching it when it came out and I don't remember any controversy like that.
It was something that, at the time, I thought was a settled thing. We're over that particular taboo.
That maybe speaks more to my social circle and my own naivety though.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:26 AM on January 21, 2016

Thank you so much for this great post! So interesting to read more about the episode and how it came to be, the controversy it caused and reactions from the people involved. I was never a Star Trek fan, but a friend convinced me to watch DS9 specifically because of Dax. And he was right -- I became fascinated by the concept of the Trill people, symbionts, hosts, all of it. I distinctly remember the day I saw the episode. In our market the show aired 2 times a week and I missed the first showing. My friend called to talk about it and I hadn't seen it yet, and he practically jumped out of his skin shouting "It's on again in 15 minutes! Turn it on! Turn it on!" I couldn't imagine what the big deal was. I was babysitting my 18month old niece, so I couldn't give it my undivided attention. When it got to the kiss I will admit I was blown away. I couldn't believe they "went there." But even more unbelievable was -- it was done so simply and non-sensationally and it was in no way gratuitous or exploitative. The kiss was a natural, logical extension of Kahn and Dax's emotions and I thought it was achingly beautiful. My only disappointment is that they didn't continue the storyline beyond that episode. Truly it is an episode that belongs in the upper ranks of Star Trek stories that really did what made the series special -- presenting allegories for our society that help us see ourselves in a different light and hopefully broaden our thinking and open our hearts.
posted by pjsky at 8:37 AM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm always a bit amused when I read the protestations of the cast and crew that it's not really about homosexuality, it's just the story of these two people who experience an attraction that is not only disapproved of by their culture, but actually forbidden, to the extent that, if they acted on it, they risked having not just them but their symbionts cast out from Trill society*; in other words, this abstract principle of "moving on" when the symbiont gets a new host is considered important enough that the Symbiosis Commission is willing to let 300 years of memories across several lifetimes die to enforce it. It's about this taboo regarding physical and emotional intimacy that isn't even supposed to be questioned, let alone disobeyed. How could that possibly be about homosexuality at all? {\}

And it's made even harder to swallow by the reality of the scene itself. They're really not fooling around there. (Well, they are, but... you know.)

I'm also glad that Behr could acknowledge the "conservatism" (really, the homophobia) of a lot of the fans. I don't think that it was really a problem with the majority of fans, and Trekkies invented slashfic (although I've read claims that Holmes/Watson dates back to the original publication of the stories), but there's also been that ugly part of the fandom, as well.

*I really wonder how Trill would enforce that, though, as I'm not sure why any Federation doctor would fail to do a symbiote transfer to a willing host regardless of what the Symbiosis Commission wanted. And we already know that the Symbiosis Commission is hardly infallible. For a people who can have several centuries' worth of knowledge and experience apiece, joined Trills can be real dumbasses sometimes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:34 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

That's a good point about how it would be perceived today, and I didn't mean to imply that it could only be about same-sex relationships. Part of my take on it is from having lived through that era, and part of it is from knowing that the DS9 producers were not only very conscious of the social issues of their time, but also the legacy of the show itself, and were probably aware that David Gerrold, author of one of the most beloved of TOS episodes, had submitted an episode for TNG that featured two men in a relationship and was itself an AIDS/HIV allegory, and it had been shot down. So, they do this episode about two joined Trill whose previous hosts had been married, and whose present hosts just happened to be of the same gender, and came up with this only-in-outer-space taboo which was oddly specific (it could only apply to previous intimate relationships because Sisko and the old Klingon captains were pretty tight with Curzon, and may even only apply to relationships between joined Trill, because of a later plot development). The way that it's framed reminds me of the late Michael Piller talking about "Roddenberry's Box", the general mindset that Gene Roddenberry (or his attorney talking for him, according to some people on the crew) had when approving or rejecting story ideas for TNG, and how sometimes Piller could get a previously rejected idea accepted by reframing it.

I should note, however, that some LGBT people weren't particularly satisfied by this episode, because the franchise didn't (and never did) show same-sex relationships among humans.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:58 AM on January 21, 2016

I remembered loving this one when it aired, and I was delighted that it held up on rewatch.

It seems very cautious by 2016 standards--two smoking hot white actresses kissing is about the least-threatening same-sex kiss I can think of. Fortunately, this one wasn't about shocking people (even if it apparently did). It's a terrific love story that explores some of the unique elements of being a Trill. The scene where Jadzia apologizes for the previous host's reckless behavior (which led to his death) is fascinating and really well-acted.

Speaking of acting, Susanna Thompson is just superb here. I don't think this episode would have been half as good if she hadn't made Lenara seem so real and relatable and loveable. Though I am a fan of the first two seasons of Arrow, I didn't recognize her. I'm not sure if it was the makeup or if Thompson is just one of those chameleon-like actors, but it wasn't until I finished the episode and looked at the cast list that I had the HOLY CRAP THAT WAS A YOUNG MOIRA QUEEN revelation.

It's interesting that the original script had Kahn be a man. I love the episode the way it is, but I think the gender dynamics would be interesting if Kahn had been a man. Dax rescuing a man, and Dax being the one willing to defy societal norms and a man being unwilling to do the same--those would be unusual choices.

I find Sisko's disapproval based on "you need to protect the symbiont" grounds pretty weird. The symbionts are driving this attraction as much as the host, and the symbionts should be allowed to decide that their current host will be their last. Plus Sisko showed no concern about the symbiont in Meridian when Dax was going to go incorporeal for 60 years and do God knows what to the symbiont.

Man, this run of really great episodes at the beginning of this season is kind of amazing.
posted by creepygirl at 12:40 PM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think the fact that it isn't actually about homosexuality, within the confines of the Trek universe, is what makes sci-fi/fantasy so cool as a genre. Because you can have this story, that's to our eyes so obviously an allegory about homosexuality - a story about societal taboos, and about forbidden love between two women. But the story also gets to show a relationship between two women as being utterly unremarkable. In the story, in the Trek universe, 'homosexuality' isn't even a thing - relationships can be between two people of the same sex and no one cares. It's like getting to have your cake and eat it, too.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:34 PM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have to say, the angle of "it's not about homosexuality; it's a love story" really bugs me, because it doesn't just come up here, but with basically any queer representation that straight folks can also relate to. It's very frustrating, because how it feels is that as a gay viewer you keep waiting and waiting to be represented, and then you finally are, even through all the hedging and Trill past-life storytelling, it's like "Dax kissed a woman! I always knew she was bisexual!" and then it's snatched right back again. It's not gay, it's universal. It's like, can't I have this one thing, for one episode?

I love this episode but felt it was seriously undermined later by everything they did with Ezri. All these rules about Trill culture are set up and then recklessly broken.
posted by thetortoise at 3:12 PM on January 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

It's interesting to hear that there was controversy around this episode.

Indeed. I had no idea, though really it's not surprising. I watched this with my mother, father, and sisters when it originally aired and it wasn't in the least controversial. I do remember Beverly Crusher's reaction to a change in sex of her Trill lover (not to mention temporarily "occupying" Riker) but not much of a history and if she's entirely straight then so be it.
posted by juiceCake at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2016

Yeah, it's really unfortunate that Trek never quite reached the point where we saw an openly gay crew member, but DS9 did at least firmly establish (in this and other episodes) that same-sex love was not at all controversial in the Federation. That was no small thing, given the pushback from Paramount and way too many Trekkies. Just another reason to love this show.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:23 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's interesting to hear that there was controversy around this episode. I remember watching it when it came out and I don't remember any controversy like that.

It was only the fifth kiss between two women ever shown on American television.

This page also has an illuminating quote from a Buffy producer about that show's lesbian relationship: Noxon spoke of the resistance Buffy writers encountered in 2002, saying in an interview, "You can show girls kissing once, but you can't show them kissing twice… because the second time, it means that they liked it."

It's funny - even now, when you see same-sex relationships on TV and in movies, they're almost always presented in the context of A Gay Relationship. It can't just be a relationship. In that respect, this episode of Trek was (I'm so sorry) lightyears ahead of the curve.

Man does this give me a whole new level of love for Avery Brooks, too. Dude GETS it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:33 AM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

My memory of how I felt when this episode aired was feeling that by having the original marriage be a heterosexual couple they were weaseling out of portraying an actual lesbian love story. Seeing it now I had mixed feelings. I don't think I'd noticed how blasé all the characters were about Jadzia and Lenara both being women, and while that is a step forward, I also find all the "it's a love story, not a gay love story" comments from the cast & crew kind of insulting in that back-handed compliment way. It's certainly a way way better episode than that TNG one where they had Riker fall in love with a person from the planet of androgynous people, but, ultimately isn't this just another installment of the "all gay love stories must end with the gay people alone or dead" trope?
posted by oh yeah! at 8:00 PM on January 24, 2016

On the "it's universal" theme, I think you ultimately need both universality and specificity. I think that the environment they're responding to is one in which gay stories were largely othering in nature - specific but not universal, in a bad way. Telling stories with universal themes that happen to be gay this time around is a big step up from that, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you can fall into a different trap of gay stories *only* being allowed to be universal in nature, which is problematic itself.

From a Watsonian perspective, the Trill are a mess. Especially after Discovery it seems like you can pop a symbiont into just about anybody and it'll be fine. So I don't really believe that exile from Trill means that the symbiont will die. Maybe it'll be a riskier, but you'll probably be fine.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:01 PM on March 7, 2023

The thing about binge-watching is that, from my perspective, it's been just a few weeks since Jadzia was last tootling around in space, fell in love, and tried to throw her life away to be with the other person. This did detract a bit from an otherwise interesting episode.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:19 AM on January 25

it's been just a few weeks since Jadzia was last tootling around in space, fell in love, and tried to throw her life away to be with the other person

Yeah, although I'm somehow in a forgiving mood. I feel like the Trill are a great sci-fi concept that Trek has (so far, anyway) not delivered on. And Dax is a cool character that the show similarly has not been able to write good stories for. I thought this idea of the Trill taboo was the first time they had a good idea about the Trill and made the story work, and I'll happily retcon away that embarrassing story about Dax's affair on the disappearing planet.

I'm not sure why any Federation doctor would fail to do a symbiote transfer to a willing host regardless of what the Symbiosis Commission wanted.

Haha. Good point. I have similar concerns about how Quark is so beholden to Ferengi institutions when it looks to me like he's outside of their jurisdiction. Oh well.

As for whether the love story is universal or specifically about homosexuality--of course it's both. That's just good writing. I liked the fact that the show never took attitude of "OMG look! Can you believe that two girls are kissing!!!!" I can appreciate the fact that it's disappointing how they hemmed and hawed that it isn't really about homesexuality, but I also see it as the Faustian pact they had to make to produce this thing that wasn't easy to get onto TV at this time.

I also feel like this did a nice little correction on the way that the show seemed to say "ew, gross" at the end of that TNG episode when the Trill were introduced.
posted by polecat at 2:11 PM on January 30

I have similar concerns about how Quark is so beholden to Ferengi institutions when it looks to me like he's outside of their jurisdiction.

I think the show handles that pretty well actually: If you want to do business with other Ferengi (which he does), then you need to be on good terms with the home government. Other Ferengi risk being shunned themselves if they break rank.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:22 AM on February 10

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