Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Change of Heart   Rewatch 
August 25, 2016 4:50 AM - Season 6, Episode 16 - Subscribe

On a high-stakes mission in enemy territory, a Starfleet officer's heart is about to lead him astray…but such are the dangers of tongo. Oh, also Worf faces a difficult assignment.

Beware a major spoiler concerning the Jadzia Dax character and the season 6 finale (yes, that spoiler) in the following background from Memory Alpha:

- The B-story for this episode originally involved Rom, Nog and Prinadora [Nog's mother --ed.]. The plot involved Prinadora arriving on the station and claiming that she has come to reconcile with Rom and get to know Nog, but it turns out she's actually there to hood-wink Rom all over again. Max Grodénchik, Aron Eisenberg, Chase Masterson and Lolita Fatjo have performed the unfilmed B-plot at conventions.

- This episode's narrative structure is unique in Deep Space Nine insofar as the B-story (Bashir and O'Brien attempting to defeat Quark at tongo) ends just after the halfway point of the episode, and then the A-story takes over completely. Usually, A and B stories run concurrently for an entire episode. The reason writer Ronald D. Moore wrote the show this way was because he had been deeply unsatisfied with the results the last time he mixed a dark and serious A-story with a light-weight and inconsequential B-story, in the third season episode "Life Support". According to Moore, "After Jadzia gets hurt, it gets so intense that we didn't want to break out and be cutting back." In "Life Support", Moore had mixed an A-story involving the slow death of Vedek Bareil, with a B-story involving Jake and Nog on a disastrous double-date, and after the episode was completed, he came to feel that the farcical B-story really hurt the serious A-story. As such, he was determined not to make the same mistake again, so he purposely kept the B-story short and non-intrusive.

- After reading the script for this episode, Terry Farrell requested that Dax be killed now if she was going to be killed at all. At the time of production, she had already decided to leave the show following the end of season 6, as contract talks had failed to bring about a new contract for season 7, and she felt that having Worf complete the mission and leave Dax to die would create a very interesting character arc for him in the final season. According to Farrell, "I knew I wasn't coming back for the seventh season, so it was really written well, and it was the controversy of whether Worf should come back and save my life and not complete the mission, or complete the mission. But he decides to save his wife's life, and I remember thinking, 'Ah, this would be the perfect one to just end it'. I had asked not to be killed, but if you need to kill me because that's what you need to do, that would have been the perfect episode to do it because it would have been so much more for Worf's character to play in the long run, because he would have let his wife die, but completed the mission. Oh my God, what an awful thing to live with."

- As with such incidents as Worf's decision to kill Kurn in "Sons of Mogh", Kira's refusal to apologize to Silaran Prin in "The Darkness and the Light" and Odo's decision to allow an entire society to disappear in "Children of Time", the writers saw this as another chance to take a character on an unexpectedly dark journey which would surprise the viewers. According to Ronald D. Moore, "I felt very strongly that we shouldn't let Worf off the hook when he's faced with a tough choice. So often in a story like this a character will get to have it both ways – his wife lives and he accomplishes the mission. They always cheat it somehow. But Worf was just not going to let Jadzia die out there in the jungle, so we decided to let him fail, to let that guy die and to let Worf take that hit. It represented a more interesting choice, and an unexpected decision on the part of the character."

- This is the 500th episode of Star Trek to air.

"Worf, you're practically easygoing. What's next? A sense of humor?"
"I have a sense of humor! On the Enterprise I was considered to be quite amusing."
"That must have been one dull ship."
"That is a joke. I get it... it is not funny, but I get it."

- Dax and Worf

"Think of it as a challenge."
"That's your obsession, Miles, not mine."
"Do it for the latinum."
"Nice try."
"Do it for the satisfaction of the look on Quark's face when he's beaten at a game of tongo by a lowly hew-mon."
"Deal the cards."

- O'Brien and Bashir

"You were at my wedding. You heard the story of the first two Klingon hearts and how nothing could stand against them, and how they even destroyed the gods that created them. I have heard that story since I was a boy, but I never understood it, I mean really understood it, until I was standing in the jungle with my heart pounding in my chest and I found that even I could not stand against my own heart. I had to go back...and it did not matter what Starfleet thought or what the consequences were. She was my wife and I could not leave her."
"As your captain, it is my duty to inform you that you made the wrong choice. I don't think Starfleet will file any formal charges. Even a secret court-martial would run the risk of revealing too much about their intelligence operations. But this will go in to your service record...and to be completely honest, you probably won't be offered a command on your own after this."
"I understand."
"I have also issued new orders. You and Jadzia are not to be assigned to a mission on your own ever again. And one last thing. As a man who had a wife, if Jennifer had been lying in that clearing, I wouldn't have left her either."

- Worf and Sisko
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This was a really frustrating rewatch for me, in the manner of my "what about the fucking war?" problem with "Children of Time". I mean, look. Not every little thing has to be accounted for; you accept that, in addition to the things that don't really make sense given what we know about science, all the wibbly-wobbly-spacey-wacey things that we just have to chalk up onto the very large and heavily-used suspension of disbelief board, there may be some apparent plot holes that could easily be explained away. For example, there may very well be times when the USS Walloping Window-Blind really is the only ship in the sector, as has happened more than once in the various shows and movies. But one that I really don't see being plausible is that Worf and Dax are the only ones that could have taken that mission; that, in other words, there wasn't one fucking redshirt available. Not one. You're not only going after an asset that's very valuable, you're sending two high-ranking officers with two very different, very unique, and very, very valuable skill-sets. (And I don't necessarily buy that either of them was worth sacrificing to retrieve a Cardassian who may have the knowledge that he claims to have, because I don't see how he would know where all the Founders in the Alpha Quadrant are, although it's possible that the female Changeling is the only one, since IIRC she's the only one we see for the rest of the series, save for Laas, who doesn't count. I think that it's more than possible that, if Worf had sacrificed Dax and retrieved the asset, he could have given one or two legit but basically tactically worthless changelings up, whiffed on the rest, and responded, when confronted with this, well, those slippery changelings, eh? Now where's my kanar?)

But, anyway, redshirts. (Technically goldshirts, or tanshirts for the Bajorans.) You know, the people who show up by the half-dozen whenever someone overturns a chair in Quark's. There are none of them available for a mission like this? Sure, you may want to be a bit selective for a top-secret, high-risk mission; given that a Cardassian is involved, you may not want to include any Bajoran, or any Starfleet security that was too close to Eddington, or O'Brien. That still leaves a lot of people to soak up polaron blasts, help Dax back to the runabout, and help Worf get wozzisface out of the jungle. Ideally at least four, but even just one (at least, one surviving) would basically make Worf's "dilemma" moot. It's just the most absurd contrivance.

Well, the B-story was pretty tight, and not quite as goofy as Ron Moore makes out, IMO. Quark really does have a thing for Jadzia, and he really does have that in common with Bashir, even as he uses it against him for financial gain (and maybe a little pride). What could be more Quark?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 AM on August 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

You may be on to something there w/r/t the B-story being more airtight than the A-story. I do think that, in a sense, it ends up having more long-term impact. (Won't elaborate on that b/c spoilers.)

But as far as Worf and Jadzia being the only operatives goes... IIRC other similar stories (not necessarily in Trek) have established that, for highly dangerous missions in enemy territory, fewer persons involved means fewer failure points. And if we assume that whoever put the mission together was locked into two operatives only? It stands to reason Worf and Dax would've been high on the list.

But yeah, the whole hook of the A-plot does hinge on a slightly implausible conceit. If nothing else, there should've been 1-2 more people to stay with the runabout... not that that would've necessary fouled up the intended story.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2016

There probably are plausible ways to set up the story--having Worf and Jadzia separated from the rest of the party somehow, for example. It just drove me a little nuts to see Jadzia bleeding out, and imagining all those security guards back on the station, checking to see that Molly O'Brien had a permit for her lemonade stand on the Promenade, or whatever.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

The episode would have been much better had they granted Terry Farrell's wish and killed Jadzia. I think the writers didn't do so for a couple reasons.

1.) This was meant to emphasize the bond between Worf and Jadzia so her death in the season finale would have more of an emotional impact on the viewers. Except we already understand how much Worf and Jadzia mean to each other, because they have just about the best chemistry of any couple in Trek. Which isn't hard as most Trek couples are bland (Riker-Troi in TNG or Tom-B'Elanna in Voyager :‑/ ). The only couple more in love was Miles and Julian.

2.) The producers were pissed that Farrell was leaving to join another series, so they wanted to keep on her right to the end of her contract and then kill her character off.

As evidence, I submit the montage from "What You Leave Behind" where the characters are thinking back to memories of the station. There is not one moment with Jadzia in any of that. Worf does not think about his wife, and neither Julian or Quark think about the friend they crushed on. The producers probably didn't want to have to pay her residuals out of spite.
posted by riruro at 9:10 AM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'll have more to say about Jadzia's leaving and her replacement when those episodes come up, but I certainly agree that the producers didn't exactly cover themselves in glory in the way that they did that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree with Halloween Jack - this struck me as a daft idea, having Worf and Dax go on this mission. The only good bits of it were the banter in the runabout at the start. The B story was more interesting overall, and should have been the B story to a stronger episode than this.

It would have made more sense to have 4 go, including them, and have Dax and one of the security people stay with the runabout while Worf and the other went to meet the guy, and something goes wrong, and, in rescuing Worf and the security guy, Dax gets killed.
posted by marienbad at 11:34 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is possibly the only time when spoilers meant that I was more likely to think a character was going to die, not less.

The Worf and Dax going on a mission together was so, so flimsy - and I agree that it should have started out with a larger group and had those two split off. It also would have been interesting if we got more of Dax's reaction to finding out Worf aborted the mission to save her - there wasn't much of a reaction in the episode, but the little reaction there was seemed to indicate that Dax thought Worf made the wrong decision, and that would have been an interesting aspect to explore.

But I was also annoyed that the b-plot rested on Bashir's season one crush/hounding of Dax - it's been five years since it was part of the show, and that aspect of his character is something I try to ignore because it is so intensely unlikable.

Also, I though Siddig's line readings were sort of flat for everything. I remember him mentioning that he hated the genetically modified storyline and would purposefully give flat line readings for that, and I can't help but wonder if that's what was happening here.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:52 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Except we already understand how much Worf and Jadzia mean to each other, because they have just about the best chemistry of any couple in Trek.

Maybe they do, but I actually appreciated this one because they managed to include at least a few snippets of Worf and Jadzia having something approaching a functional relationship. Most of the rest of what we get is her having fun and him being grumpy and snipping at her about it.
posted by Copronymus at 8:44 PM on May 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

In fairness, it's not hard to have the best chemistry of any couple in Trek, given that "like two bugs mating" is a pretty solid summary of effectively every other Star Trek romance ever
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:59 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

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