(written from a Production point of view)
After several crew members are murdered, Ezri summons the memories and personality of Joran Dax to help her find the murderer.
Several of the senior staff are gathered in Quark's, toasting young Lieutenant Hector Ilario for his excellent performance at the USS Defiant's helm in a recent battle. They laugh and drink, toasting Ilario's accomplishments until the wee hours. At around 0300 hours, the party winds down and only Kira Nerys and Ezri Dax are left, having one last drink with the lieutenant. Ilario can barely get up and stumbles from being drunk, so Ezri offers to escort him back, as his quarters are close to hers. When they get back to Ilario's quarters, he shows Ezri a picture of him and his two Starfleet companions, saying he wished they could have been there when he maneuvered the Defiant into battle. After looking at the picture and helping Ilario settle, Ezri wishes him a good night and leaves.
At 0600 hours she receives her usual wake up call. As she gets ready and prepares her routine, she hears voices in the corridor. Everyone is running around nervously, talking about initiating a security alert. Ezri soon discovers what the commotion is all about: Ilario has been found dead in his quarters, having been shot right through the heart.
Perplexingly, there is no evidence of a forced entry, nor indeed of any entry at all. Even more mysterious is the fact that he was killed, at close range, with a projectile weapon rather than a directed energy weapon such as a phaser or disruptor. The tritanium bullet is matched to a Federation prototype TR-116 rifle, which was never mass-produced, having been abandoned in favor of regenerative phasers. However, this does not mean that the killer did not have access to the weapon's replication pattern. Chief O'Brien points out that only Starfleet officers have access to those files, a thought Captain Sisko finds very disturbing. Drawing on his knowledge of 20th century crime novels, Odo notes that there are no gunpowder burns on the body, suggesting that the shot was fired from a longer range, even though it appears as if Ilario was shot point blank at close range.
All the while the officers are discussing the murder weapon, Ezri is standing in the corner, still in disbelief over what happened. She is disturbed to find out that Ilario was shot only ten minutes after she left his quarters. Sisko wants everyone to find out everything they can about Ilario. The officers mention that there was not much, as he has only been on the station for ten days and in that time was known to be intelligent, dedicated and eager to please. Sisko wants answers, however, and wants whoever is responsible for this caught as soon as possible.
At Quark's, Doctor Bashir, the Chief and Ezri remember Ilario. The men feel bad about not having taken him to the holosuite with them as he had wanted, while Ezri wishes she had stayed around a bit longer, so that maybe he would be alive now. She feels distressed about the whole situation and cannot believe that Ilario has been murdered like this.
The same night, she has a conversation with Dr. Bashir who tells her that the whole concept of someone killing another person in cold blood seems incomprehensible. Ezri replies that to her, it is not a very foreign concept, as she knows exactly what it feels like to have the urge to take a life. She points to the sixth host of the Dax symbiont, Joran, who killed three people. She says she tries not to think about Joran and suppress the memories of him, just like Jadzia before her. However, the thought of someone like Joran even being on Deep Space 9 really irks her. She decides to get some rest.
Later that night, Ezri has a nightmare about the murdered lieutenant and Joran. In her dream, Joran tells her to stop being afraid of him as if he was a stranger. He points out that after all, the "worm" in her belly used to be in him, which means he is a part of her just as she is a part of him. He tells her to perform the Rite of Emergence already and simply ask him to help her if she wants to find the killer. She is resistant and says that she wants nothing to do with him after what he did, but Joran is smug, saying that there is nowhere else for him to go as he is within her all the time. He beckons her to let him out, saying that he can help because he knows how a murderer thinks. Upon awakening, she is summoned to the site of another murder…
This time the victim is Greta Vanderweg, a science officer. Similarly to Ilario, she was killed by a tritanium bullet, apparently fired at close range but without leaving any gun-powder burns. Sisko is still puzzled at the motive and wonders if there is a pattern to this madness or if someone is just killing these officers at random. He asks if Ilario and Vanderweg knew each other, but it's doubtful as Ilario was aboard the Defiant for most of the time he'd been assigned to the station. Odo points out that there are over 900 Starfleet officers on the Station and that they need to narrow the field of suspects. Sisko assigns Ezri to assist Odo with her forensic psychology training.
At the Replimat, Bashir and O'Brien discuss the issue further. They wonder why you would use a rifle at all if you were going to shoot somebody at close range. Davy Crockett's attachment to a particular weapon comes up, and as Bashir tells an old story about Davy Crockett using frying pans to perform a trick shot, the Chief has an epiphany about how the killer has fired from close range without leaving powder burns: displaced targeting. He believes the killer set up an alternate bullet trajectory which did not require a direct line of sight between him and the victim.
Quickly arranging a demonstration, O'Brien shows how a micro-transporter could be attached to the muzzle of a TR-116 rifle to beam the bullet close to the target, where it continues its trajectory. With an exographic targeting sensor, the murderer could have scanned through bulkheads, meaning he or she could be firing from anywhere on the station, at anyone. Unfortunately, the micro-transporter does not leave enough of a transporter signature to track back.
Ezri redoubles her efforts to find a connection between the two murder victims, but gets nowhere. Alone on the Promenade she runs into Worf who appears to have followed her out of concern, even though he does not admit it. He asks her about the investigation and if he can be of assistance. She says that there is actually someone who could help, but that she does not want to ask him. Worf insists that if that person can help, she should consider it, no matter how unpleasant. He knows that accomplishing a task until it is finished is "Dax's way" after all.
Hoping to draw on the memories of Joran, Ezri performs the Trill Rite of Emergence to extract and personify Joran; to interact with him so she can trace the killer's thoughts, actions, motives and drive. At first she has a bit of a hard time getting through to him, but he finally emerges, telling her that she won't regret having summoned him – the forgotten host, the outcast, the murderer. It seems strange for her to see him separated from all the others, standing in front of her but Joran says he has a lot to offer and that Jadzia and Curzon were wrong to deny him all this time.
Ezri is eager to get to work to expose the murderer, so Joran suggests starting with the killer's choice of weapons. Even though Ezri knows what the killer used, Joran says that it means nothing until she herself holds the weapon, looks through its tracking display, picks a target, feels the power when she locks its sensors to the unexpecting prey. Joran encourages her to think like a killer so she can catch him. This thought deeply disturbs Ezri but she is determined.
Ezri takes the TR-116 rifle out of its casing while Joran admires its aesthetic qualities, design and the power as well as sense of danger it conveys. He asks her to hold it in her hands so she feels what the killer felt. She puts on the targeting display and holds the weapon as if she was going to use it. He tells her to move to the Habitat ring with her display so she can put herself in the killer's mind. Then, layer by layer, they intrude into peoples' lives.
When she finds and targets a young Starfleet officer in his quarters, Joran wants to know how she feels. Ezri replies that she feels powerful and in control, like the killer would. The killing is done from a distance, remarks Joran; it is cold and methodical, implying that either a doctor or a scientist are behind it. Ezri wants to know why one would choose a victim like this instead of just going to the Promenade or to Quark's. Joran suggests that she find out by pulling the trigger. Ezri is close and tempted, but at the last moment, pulls herself back together and puts down the rifle. After she puts the weapon down, Joran remarks that the gun wasn't loaded and that he asked her to pull the trigger so she can learn something about the killer. Ezri is irritated.
In Quark's, Ezri is still shaken from her experience. Joran apologizes for having pushed her but insists that it was necessary. When Quark approaches Ezri, offering her something to drink, Joran remarks how he would love to slip a knife between Quark's ribs. Ezri pretends she didn't hear that and upon the suggestion of Joran, she decides to go check out the victims' quarters to see if she can find any clues there. She looks around, but she simply cannot get anywhere. In Vanderweg's quarters she notices an animated picture of Vanderweg with her husband, laughing. She compares the two victims and realizes that besides the uniform, they have absolutely nothing in common, leaving her with the conclusion the killer is picking their victims at random, leaving her unable to narrow down the suspects.
Later at Quark's, Ezri is deep in thought and Joran knows that she is thinking about giving up. Joran tells her that she is the problem because she refuses to see with the killer's eyes, feel with his hands and think with his mind. She thinks that Joran wants to turn her to a killer, to himself, when he again reminds her that she is him. Suddenly, they find themselves in the middle of a chase: a young Starfleet officer is being chased by the security team. Believing him to be the killer, Ezri jumps on him and, encouraged by Joran, picks up a knife and nearly stabs the man in a violent rage. Odo stops her just in time.
It turns out the man, (Ensign Bertram), was being pursued by security for accessing the TR-116 replicator pattern. However, he has turned out to be a mere weapons collector with a tight alibi: he was on Bajor at the time of the first murder. Sisko cannot believe that she was about to stab the man and wonders what is going on. He almost takes Ezri off the case, but gives her another chance when she assures him that she can find the killer if she has a little more time. On their way out, Joran remarks that he could never understand what Curzon and Jadzia saw in Sisko, as he finds him to be "insufferable and so Starfleet". He jokes, wondering why the killer hasn't targeted him yet. Ezri has had enough, however, and attempts to reverse the ritual to rebury Joran's memories, realizing that he is just too dangerous an influence to be around. But she is interrupted by news of another murder: Zim Brott, a Bolian petty officer, has been found dead, by the same method.
While searching the latest victim's quarters for clues, Joran looks at a picture, wondering cynically how someone could be so happy with such unattractive children. And that is when it finally dawns on Ezri: she realizes that the only commonality between the victims is the pictures of them laughing and that therefore, the killer is someone who hates laughter, who hates emotion, such as a Vulcan. Joran notes that all Vulcans dislike emotion but that they don't go out killing people for smiling, but Ezri reasons that a Vulcan, sufficiently traumatized, might see the pictures as an unbearable, frozen display of emotion. When he looks through the targeting sensor and sees those pictures, to Ezri, the laughter seems to mock him. Joran is pleased that she is thinking like the killer now. They find out that there are currently 48 Vulcans serving on DS9 and realize that they need to narrow their list. Joran notes they need to eliminate 47 of them.
She comes up with a short list of suspects who fit what she has deduced. In the turbolift and on her way to review her list and shorten it further, she and Joran run into a Vulcan who seems to fit the killer's profile. Joran knows right away that it's him, but Ezri needs further proof.
Checking his personnel file, she discovers that he is a science officer and that his name is Chu'lak. She further discovers that he has indeed suffered a recent emotional trauma: he served on the USS Grissom for ten years until it was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar and he was one of the only six crew members, out of 1250, to survive. That is a painful loss, even for a Vulcan. Ezri has doubts still, however, but Joran urges her to listen to her instincts, to listen to him.
Using the TR-116 and exographic scanner, she goes after Chu'lak and finds out that he is looking at her personnel file. She is even more mortified when she sees him retrieve the TR-116 rifle and scanner, aiming it at her. Although Joran encourages her to shoot the Vulcan, she hesitates slightly and then only wounds him non-fatally. It is enough, however, to cause Chu'lak's shot to miss its mark, striking the wall behind Ezri and Joran, and the two of them rush to the wounded Vulcan's quarters. Joran tells Ezri he is proud of her. In Chu'lak's quarters, Ezri confronts the Vulcan, wanting to know why he did it. Chu'lak answers that it was because logic demanded it. All the while she is aiming the rifle directly at him with Joran breathing on her neck, encouraging her to finish him off. He keeps telling her that she should just do it, knowing that he deserves to die. Though Ezri is tempted, once again, at the last moment, she pulls herself together and lowers her weapon, much to Joran's dismay. After calling for medical assistance for her would-be killer, Ezri mocks Joran, saying he should at least try to not look too disappointed.
Finally, having solved the murders and come to terms with her memories of Joran, she begins the process of sending him back. As she recites her incantation, Joran tells her that from now on she will not be able to forget him and bury him as deeply as Curzon and Jadzia did. He tells her that he is a part of her now, as much as all the other hosts. Ezri understands the change that has taken place and the place Joran will take in her psyche from now. She slowly watches him vanish, knowing that he will never really be gone.
"Joran – the forgotten host, the outcast."
- - Joran Dax and Ezri Dax
"Now, let's get to work. We have a killer to catch."
- - Ezri Dax, to Joran
"I still can't believe anyone in Starfleet could be doing this."
- - Bashir after yet another murder of a Starfleet officer
"How can anyone be so happy with such unattractive children?"
- - Joran Dax
- Odo, to Ezri Dax
"Ezri? I think you need a vacation. You're talking to yourself."
- - Quark
"Tell me, why did you do it?"
"Because logic demanded it."
- - Ezri Dax confronts the Vulcan murderer Chu'lak
Story and script
- The working title of this episode was "The Killer in Dax". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- With David Weddle, Bradley Thompson and Ronald D. Moore all busy trying to salvage "Prodigal Daughter", Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler working on "The Emperor's New Cloak", and René Echevarria working on "Chimera", Ira Behr found himself in a situation where he needed an episode, and had no-one to write it. As such, he contacted his old writing partner Robert Hewitt Wolfe and pitched an idea about a serial killer sniper being loose on the station. When Wolfe agreed to do the script, Behr foresaw the episode as an Odo show, but as Wolfe explains, "I felt we'd seen the constable investigate this kind of thing before. I wanted to use a character whom we hadn't seen spearhead an investigation. That gave me a chance to do something with Ezri." Wolfe decided that if Ezri was investigating a murderer, it might bring out her memories of Joran, and she comes to realize that if she embraces these memories, they may help her stop the killer. As such, in Wolfe's first draft, Ezri creates a hologram of Joran, but he quickly realized that this limited the character, and so he decided to go what he refers to as "the Trill mumbo-jumbo route." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 648-649)
- According to Wolfe, a Vulcan serial killer was chosen in order to shock viewers. He commented, "What would be the biggest surprise to a regular Star Trek fan? No one's going to be surprised if a Bajoran or a Cardassian or a Romulan is the killer. But a Vulcan serial killer? That'll make you sit up and take notice. I wanted to show the psychological strains of the War are far-reaching. If you've got a Vulcan who's cracking under the battle, that says something." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 651)
- Joran states that Curzon and Jadzia did not know what to do with him, while Ezri states that they buried Joran's memories as deep within them as possible. This appears to contradict "Equilibrium", which stated that Joran's memories were blocked by the Symbiosis Commission until the blocks began to deteriorate in 2371, well after Curzon's death, implying that Curzon never knew of Joran's existence (unless he did know and never told anyone).
- Jeff Magnus McBride, who had portrayed Joran in the third season episode "Equilibrium", proved unavailable to reprise the role for "Field of Fire". According to director Tony Dow, the casting process was very specific; "Joran is a pretty complex character. The actor had to play him with a sort of crazed unpredictability, but he couldn't be such a jerk that Ezri would just put him back in the bottle. Leigh didn't have the scariness of appearance that we'd initially anticipated, but he's such a terrific actor that it worked out well." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 649)
- When prepping this episode, Tony Dow (directing his only episode of the series) was instructed to watch the fifth season episode "The Darkness and the Light", as "it had the same sort of mystery feeling, with a renegade who kidnaps Kira. Ira told me that it was really the only other show of this type that they'd done. There isn't much personal violence on this series, so when it does occur, it's something to be reckoned with. My objective was to create an atmosphere of apprehension and a bit of panic about what was going on." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 649)
- Gregory Smith composed the music of the episode. Smith commented: "The former host Joran was kind of a bad guys so there was a melodramatic feeling to it. He even played the organ, the keyboard – almost a Phantom of the Opera thing – so I had leeway to be more dramatic there. The song that Joran plays in the episode came first – that was something I hadn't experienced before. They wanted me to write 'Joran's Nocturne' before filming – it's a featured moment and they wanted to know what he might be playing at that keyboard". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection)
- Ian Spelling interviewed Nicole de Boer during the filming of the episode, specifically after the scene where Ezri meets Worf on the Promenade. ("Ezri's Counsel", Star Trek Monthly, issue 49)
- Nicole de Boer enjoyed the episode, commenting: "It was a risky and dangerous move for her, and one she didn't want to share with the others because of how they might react. But it was certainly an unorthodox way of solving the mystery, and we got to see a more serious side of her – and I got to carry the big gun! It was neat to put the story into the technology side of things, and show that some advances can be pretty scary when you think about them". ("Ezri Dax: One of Nine", Star Trek: Communicator issue 123)
- Early in the episode, Hector Ilario tells Ezri that she's very beautiful, to which she responds, "And you're very drunk." He then says, "But in the morning, I'll be sober – and you'll still be beautiful." This is likely a reference to the apocryphal, usually misattributed Winston Churchill conversation with Labour MP Bessie Braddock. When he was criticized for being drunk, he responded with some version of the famous quote "Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and, what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly."
- Ezri refers to Hector Ilario as an ensign when they are leaving Quark's even though Bashir says he's a lieutenant and he wears the rank insignia of lieutenant junior grade. However, she doesn't specifically call him an Ensign. She comments that she has escorted many drunken ensigns to their quarters in the past and Ilario is a junior officer.
- This episode represents the third encounter with Joran. As well as "Equilibrium", he also featured in the third season episode "Facets", where he was 'embodied' by Sisko.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- A script for this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- The Starfleet cadet uniforms used in "Valiant" make a cameo in the photograph of Ilario and his Academy friends.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.7, 5 July 1999
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Counselor Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys
- Michael Bailous as a Bajoran security deputy
- Uriah Carr as a Human civilian
- Amy Kate Connolly as a Human command division officer
- Brian Demonbreun as a Human science division officer
- Kathleen Demor as a Human operations division officer
- Judi Durand as Deep Space 9 computer voice
- Chris Kelly as Zim Brott
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Shauna Lewis as a dabo girl
- Johnny Martin as Bertram
- Angus McClellan as an Human operations ensign
- Dan Magee as
- Valerie Ann Miller as Greta Vanderweg
- Chuck Shanks as
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- Susie Stillwell as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
- Tom Morga as stunt double for Leigh J. McCloskey
- Unknown stuntwoman as stunt double for Nicole de Boer
20th century; 2278; 2353; 2372; Alpha Centauri; Bajor; Bajorans; Bolarus; Bolian; Brott's co-spouses; bullet; bullet hole; centimeter; Chandler, Raymond; chemical; cherub; classmate; co-husband; combustion; computer console; coonskin cap; counselor; counter; crime novel; Crockett, Davy; dampening field; Dax, Audrid; Dax, Curzon; Dax, Jadzia; Dax, Torias; Dax symbiont; displaced targeting; docking ring; doctor; Earth; exographic targeting sensor; Fanalian tea; Federation; Ferengi; fetish; fighter pilot; frontiersman; frying pan; forensic psychology; goggles; Grissom casualties; Grissom survivors; habitat ring; Hammer, Mike; heart; helmsman; holosuite; hunter; Ilario's siblings; knife; lighter; line of sight; melon; micropaleontologist; micro-transporter; Milky Way Galaxy; Mora V; mythology; name; New Sydney; novel; packrat; petty officer; photography; powder burn; projectile weapon; Promenade; prototype; Quark's; Rackham, Martin; radiogenic; raktajino; regenerative phaser; replication pattern; rib; Ricktor Prime; Rite of Emergence; Sally; Sappora system; Saurian brandy; science lab; science officer; scientist; serial killer; service record; sober; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Security; Stone, Jason; tall tale; targeting display; Tigan, Mr.; toast; TR-116 rifle; transporter device; tricorder; tritanium; Vulcan; Vulcan suspects; wedding;
Chu'lak's personnel file
- "Field of Fire" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Field of Fire" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Field of Fire" at Wikipedia
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