(written from a Production point of view)
Jadzia Dax is plagued by disturbing hallucinations that allude to the dark past of the Dax symbiont.
Commander Sisko is preparing food for a dinner (with some help from Jake) for Doctor Bashir, Major Kira, and Odo in his and his son's quarters. Odo assists with the mixing with a whisk for a soufflé, with some difficulty at first, and Kira comments that she finds it cute. It turns out that Sisko used to help out at his father's restaurant in New Orleans, Earth.
Bashir discovers that the meal contains beets, something he obviously is none too fond of. "Beets are a very misunderstood vegetable," Sisko tells him. Dax arrives and asks what smells so nice. In response, Bashir mentions the beets as a major ingredient and she notes her approval.
Sitting down at the table, Dax finds Jake's keyboard instrument. He had taken lessons but had not proven to be terribly musically adept, unfortunately. Dax notes that throughout her seven lifetimes, she'd ended up with a tin ear and no musical ability. She begins playing a tune on the piano, but cannot recognize it.
Later on, while playing chess with Sisko in his office, Dax keeps humming to herself and is totally distracted from her game. She takes one of his bishops, leaving a move open for Sisko to move a knight and put her king in check. She asks where the knight came from and he points out that she was distracted. She then declares that he must have made an illegal move made to attract her attention and that Curzon had always thought that he was a cheat. Dax then upends the board and storms out of the room.
Later on, she is in the Replimat having a drink alone and Kira comes by to ask her what is wrong. Dax asks if she's come from Sisko to apologize for his behavior. Kira says she is worried about Dax after she'd heard about the earlier incident. Kira cannot believe that Sisko would have tried to cheat but Dax insists that Kira leaves. Before she has a chance to do so, Dax stands up to leave, but Kira catches her arm. Dax tells Kira to remove her hand before she does something that she will regret. Dax stares at her for a moment and then storms off, onto the Promenade.
As she walks along, the place seems to be deserted, then the light seems to change, and she spots someone watching her from the second level. She turns around to find that figure behind her. It is wearing a robe with a cowl and has a smooth mask on. The figure removes the mask with one hand, revealing another mask beneath it. Dax turns to escape and the figure has now appeared in front of her again, tearing the second mask in half, revealing a third underneath.
She turns about again and suddenly runs into Quark, and the Promenade is back to normal with the masked figure having vanished.
At the infirmary, Bashir checks Dax over with a medical tricorder. She apologizes to Sisko for the horrible things that she had said to him earlier. He suggests that she input the music into the computer to let it find out what it is. After a brief discussion of her symptoms, it arises that Torias (the Dax host prior to Curzon) had fallen into a coma for six months after a shuttlecraft accident, forcing the Trill to eventually remove the symbiont due to low isoboramine levels. A quick check of Jadzia shows that her own isoboramine levels are dropping and are now at 73% of normal, thus she might be rejecting the symbiont. They decide to take Jadzia to the Trill homeworld to see if any solutions could be found.
On the bridge of the USS Defiant, Bashir and Sisko discuss not having Jadzia (the host) around anymore and how much they would miss her if she were gone. That night, Dax cannot sleep and goes to talk to Bashir in his quarters. She discusses her time as an initiate, the tests she endured, the immense pressure she put on herself, and how going back as a patient will be worse than being there as an initiate. She also comments that she was afraid of doctors, while Bashir notes that as a child he also was terrified of doctors. As he grew older, he wanted to find out and know more about what they knew, and that's what ended up leading him towards medical school. After the discussion, Bashir offers to let her stay over, even allowing her the top bunk. She agrees, but insists on the lower bunk because Curzon once fell out of a tree. She falls asleep almost immediately.
Now on the Trill homeworld, Jadzia discusses some of the tests with Bashir. She notes that they had to make a small incision on her side to insert the scanner to scan the symbiont. Doctor Renhol enters the room and notes that Jadzia was the only initiate to successfully reenter the program after being dropped. She notes that Jadzia is on a benzocyatic regimen to compensate, but that she does not need to stay at the hospital because Bashir could administer the treatment. The doctor and Dax make an appointment for the next day for a follow-up and lunch. She then excuses herself to assist an initiate.
Back on the Defiant, Bashir prescribes rest for Dax, who notes that she could never sleep in the afternoon. Bashir simply suggests lying down, closing her eyes, and not trying to think. Sisko remarks that worked for him. She left them to head to her quarters, and as she moved down the corridor, she encounters the figure she'd previously seen on the Promenade. She asks who he is and he replies "It's beautiful, isn't it?" A door opens, and two Trills come through and try to kidnap her; as she fights them off, she is just about to punch one in the face, and it turns out to be Bashir.
Back in the hospital, Bashir can't understand why Dax is still hallucinating as her isoboramine levels have risen another 6%. Jadzia notes that her attackers in the hallucination had been from the Symbiosis Commission, wearing uniforms from over a hundred years ago, long before she had been an initiate herself, but none of her other hosts had bad memories of being there. Sisko notes that the computer still has not figured out the piece of music that Jadzia had been humming earlier. Despite Bashir's suggestion of therapy, Dax insists that she needs answers and suggests visiting the Guardians, a group of unjoined Trills who devote their lives to the care of symbionts.
They go to the symbionts' breeding pools in the Caves of Mak'ala and watch two symbionts surface and communicate with each other with electrical impulses. A Guardian, Timor, enters and begins using a testing instrument in the pool. He seems very distracted as he checks to ensure that the symbionts are comfortable and not cranky; after all, they get very demanding when they are cranky. He comments that he sometimes doesn't know why he puts up with it and asks about the weather, before saying that he misses sunshine. He then recognizes Jadzia as Dax and immediately recognizes that something is wrong with her. He asks about her dreams and points out that they're actually memories. This is due to an imbalance between host and symbiont and that someone isn't playing fair, and that it could be any one of her prior hosts.
Back on the ship, the computer finally discovers the piece of music and that it was written by one Joran Belar 86 years previously. The name is not familiar to Jadzia, but his picture is and immediately brings back a memory of what appears to be a Trill doctor working at a desk. The masked figure appears behind him holding a weapon shaped like a spike which he then plunges into the ear of the working man, killing him and stating that "he left me no choice!" Jadzia demands to know who the masked figure is and reaches to remove his mask, which shatters and vanishes in a flash of bright, white light, revealing Joran. The hallucination over, she falls into neural shock. Sisko holds her while she convulses on the floor of the bridge.
At the hospital, she begins to stabilize, and it is noted that her condition is worsening again and that if her isoboramine levels, now at 51%, do not rise within 48 hours, the symbiont will have to be removed, killing her. It is suggested by Renhol that dynametric fields from the wormhole might be causing it.
Sisko and Bashir visit Timor, the Guardian, and ask for his help. He merely recounts what he had already told Dax and insists that he can't help. He acts scared, and both Bashir and Sisko wonder why and are curious as to why an investigation of the past Dax hosts is unwanted.
They return to the Defiant and begin investigating Joran Belar and find that his record consists of merely a birth date and death date, but also that the file has been altered substantially, in that much of the information has been deleted. In a comparison with the Dax records, it turns out that Belar died on the same day as Torias Dax, which was the same day that the symbiont had been put into Curzon. A check of the musical schools reveals that a Yolad Belar had been registered.
Contacting Yolad, they discover that he was indeed Joran's brother. Yolad has trouble remembering much, but does note that Joran entered to become an initiate but was dropped after his second year. Apparently Joran had killed the doctor who recommended that he be dropped and was killed himself while trying to escape. It turns out that Joran had a violent temper. However, about six months before the incident, Joran had contacted Yolad and had seemed more confident and attributed this to being joined, but Yolad cannot recall the name of the symbiont. Some further checking of the records leads Sisko to theorize that perhaps the Dax symbiont had been put into Joran Belar before being put into Curzon.
Back in the hospital, Jadzia's isoboramine levels have dropped to 44% and Renhol is preparing for surgery with a nurse to transfer the Dax symbiont to a new host. Sisko and Bashir confront Doctor Renhol about the Joran Dax incident. Since only one in a thousand candidates are acceptable, initiates are put through rigorous testing, since poor choices would result in the symbiont being rejected within three or four days and thus both host and symbiont dying. However, Joran and Dax had been joined for well over six months, despite Joran being a poor candidate. The Symbiosis Commission wanted to hide this fact and had put a memory block into Dax when it was transferred into Curzon, and are now willing to let Jadzia die to continue the cover-up. Sisko threatens to expose the cover-up to the entire planet's population unless Jadzia is saved. It turns out that nearly half of the Trill population is capable of being joined and the Symbiosis Commission did not want the symbionts to become commodities, items to be sold to the highest bidders and to be fought over. With this ultimatum, Sisko takes the decision out of Renhol's hands. Renhol says that in order to stabilize the synaptic functions between Jadzia and the symbiont, Joran's memories must be brought to the surface and reintegrated with all of the other previous hosts. Sisko argues that Jadzia is strong enough to cope with the risks involved, and that ultimately it's her decision to do so.
After her recovery, Jadzia visits the Caves of Mak'ala again and enters one of the birthing pools. A symbiont approaches her and sends its electrical communication to her. Joran emerges from the pool and Jadzia invites him to become a part of her. They hug and he vanishes into her with an electrical surge, awakening the memories from his host period in Jadzia and Dax once again.
Back on the station, Dax sits at a viewport in her quarters, and Sisko enters the room. She asks if he was checking up on her, and he comments that he is just ensuring that she is okay. She comments that Bashir had been in 15 minutes earlier doing the same. She states the importance of knowing one's past in knowing one's self, then sits down at the table with her piano and begins playing.
"Beets are a very misunderstood vegetable."
- - Sisko
"Nobody said life was fair."
"Even if you've had seven of them."
- - Bashir and Dax
"Do you mind?"
"You're humming. It's a little distracting."
- - Sisko to Dax while playing chess
"Get your hands off of me – before I do something I'll regret."
- - Dax, to Kira
"How do you feel?"
"I feel like an idiot."
- - Sisko and Dax
"And I used to think Curzon had a temper."
- - Sisko, to Jadzia
"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been."
- - Dax
Story and script
- The origins of this episode are to be found in the magic show of Jeff Magnus McBride who portrays Joran Belar. 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. René Echevarria then modified it to focus on Odo and a series of disturbing dreams, before Ronald D. Moore suggested switching the emphasis of the plot to Dax, as he felt that masks were a good metaphor for the Trill species in general. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- René Echevarria partly based the penultimate scene, where Dax accepts Joran's memories, on a scene in the Peter Shaffer play Equus. In that play, the word 'abreact' is used as a psychological term to describe the relieving of a trauma, and Echevarria felt that that was exactly what was happening in this scene. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Originally, beets were not the vegetable that Bashir disliked. Ira Steven Behr commented: "It was supposed to be rutabagas but Rene 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". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- On the scene where the Trill symbionts are shown in the pool, David Livingston commented "We built a little pool area on Stage Eighteen. It was fun trying figure out how to not make these things mechanical because it always looks cheesy. The idea is to shoot it like you'd do Jaws or Alien. You want to shoot it in a lot of shadows and make it go by real fast. I think it was pretty successful". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 85)
- The exteriors on Trill were filmed at Huntington Gardens. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 85)
- Jay Chattaway composed the music for this episode, which was his favorite installment of the first three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He commented, "It was the show where it was revealed that one of Dax's former hosts was a composer. The music had to have a thematic quality for her to play it on a keyboard and hum several times. I was also able to develop this theme into the score for her nightmarish flashbacks. The time factor on that was […] 'Here's the show; we need a keyboard thing, we need it tomorrow!' Under those circumstances, I'll do several versions, though in the case of 'Equilibrium', they chose my first version. I thought that was an extremely well-written show and a great opportunity to have music as an integral part of the story. It didn't hurt that I personally worked with Terry Farrell, helping her to learn that tune. It took her only three attempts to get it under control. She's very bright. I was really impressed." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, pp. 49-50)
- This episode features a number of changes to the style of the USS Defiant's bridge, including a new captain's chair area (no fencing and new consoles), movement of the dedication plaque from the back to beside the starboard door, more consoles in the rear, and additional consoles on the walls of the side stations.
- Ira Steven Behr commented "The whole thing with the mask is what interested Michael Piller. I remember getting into this question about identity and the idea of Dax having another host inside of her that she doesn't know about. That seemed to bring the episode into clarity. We all started spinning on this thing, and it became an interesting show. But it was a medical show and a mystery, and at the end it had a kind of talk-out with Sisko, explaining everything to the audience – which are always difficult to write. It was complex. What worked for me was that Terry Farrell was quite good in showing Dax's vulnerabilities. I also thought it was a good show for Bashir, showing him caring in a medical way, but also in a Human way for Dax going far beyond whether he's going to screw her or not. We've kind of lost that element of the character, thankfully". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 85)
- Rene Echevarria commented "I think there were a lot of interesting things about the Trill homeworld that you found out in the episode. I'm not sure how well it played out as a mystery, though. In order to be satisfying, you want the audience to conk themselves on the forehead and say 'Why didn't I think of that?' and I'm not sure if they do. It was a troubled script in that we were writing stuff that was filming the next day three or four days into the shoot. We had locked down certain scenes that we would have liked to have changed the new climax, and so on". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 85)
- Ronald D. Moore commented "The more the script was rewritten over and over again, it just kept losing focus and regaining focus. It's just one of those things where you're trying real hard to make it work, but ultimately you're not satisfied with the end result. 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". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 85)
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented "Dax comes across as being very Human to me, despite her many lifetimes of experience. In the same way that Troi came across as very Human. You sort of feel 'OK, she's a humanoid and you know what to expect', but I think the culture is more complicated than that and I think this show demonstrates that complication, which I like". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 85)
- Alexander Siddig enjoyed "Equilibrium" due to the Bashir/Dax relationship and the medical content in it. Siddig commented: "I like the medical ones because, after all, that's what I was hired to do. I play a doctor. It's really nice to actually get around to doing those occasionally, as long as the language isn't too horrific. When it gets too complicated, it totally fries my mind. I don't think it was too harsh in that show. I particularly liked it because it offset the usual Dax/Bashir relationship for the first time. It actually showed everybody that we could possibly be good friends and that's what might happen between them. As far as I know, people have accepted that quite readily. People quite like the friendliness of their relationship now. It's like Bashir is second best, almost good enough, silver medal". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 15, p. 23)
- 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. In "Meridian" during the first meal, Deral asks Jadzia how far down her markings go, to which she replies "All the way".
- This was also the first episode to establish that the Trill have surnames, which are replaced by the symbiont's name upon joining. Jadzia's original family name was never given during the series (nor was Curzon's or any of the hosts that preceded Joran), though Ezri's was revealed in "Prodigal Daughter" to be Tigan.
- Joran would be seen again in the seventh season episode "Field of Fire", although he would be played by Leigh J. McCloskey as Jeff Magnus McBride was unavailable at the time.
- Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) does not appear in this episode.
- According to Mike Dugdale in his trivia books, the chess game in this episode was based on the 1956 chess game between Bobby Fischer and Donald Byrne.
- Reference to 47: Joran Belar was born on stardate 1024.7.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.2, 27 February 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Sisko
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Lisa Banes as Doctor Renhol
- Jeff Magnus McBride as Joran Belar
- Nicholas Cascone as Timor
- Harvey Vernon as Yolad Belar
- Brian Demonbreun as a Human science officer
- Nick Dimitri as a Trill guard
- J. Suzanne Rampe as a Trill guard
- Unknown performers as
amusement; Bajoran wormhole; blackened redfish; beet; benzocyatizine; bunk bed; Caves of Mak'ala; coma; constable; cup; Dax; Dax, Curzon; Dax, Lela; Dax, Torias; enrollment record; Federation; Federation database; feeling; Guardian; ion; isoboramine; kilometer; memory block; music; music academy; musical ability; neural shock; New Orleans; "Old Man"; orrery; patient; Promenade; raktajino; rejection; Replimat; Sisko, Joseph; Sisko's Creole Kitchen; soufflé; Starfleet; Symbiosis Commission; temperature; Tenaran Ice Cliffs; tin ear; tree; Torvin; Trill; Trill (planet); Trill central database; Trill city; Trill communications grid; Trill symbiont; viscosity; whisk
- "Equilibrium" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Equilibrium" at Wikipedia
- "Equilibrium" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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