Overall Rating: 7.5
This is a story possessing a lot of pathos, some surprisingly colorful guest characters, and a well-told simultaneous portrait of an old friendship (between Sisko and Dax) and a new moral identity (Jadzia Dax vs. Curzon). In the writers' later zeal to make Dax exotic and omni-sexual, I fear some of her strongly principled and moral beginnings as a character were sometimes overlooked, but in this episode, her character is deeply compelling...if a bit misguided.
Following an attempted kidnapping by authorities from Klaestron IV, we learn that Dax is accused of treason and the murder of General Ardelon Tandro - a hero to his people, if not in his real life. The punishment for those offenses being death, Sisko and Odo must work to save her from extradition for a crime allegedly committed by the previous host to the Dax symbiont, Curzon. In an attempt to stall for time, Kira orders that there be a Bajoran extradition hearing and Sisko uses the opportunity to raise the moral question of whether a joined Trill should be held criminally responsible for the actions of their previous hosts. Odo, meanwhile, conducts an investigation into the events in question on Klaestron IV, uncovering an illicit love affair between Curzon Dax and the wife of General Tandro - on the surface, an excellent motive for murder until the truth about the General is revealed.
The regular characters and the guest roles are written very richly in this episode. We enjoy a curmudgeonly Bajoran judge, a war widow with a dark secret, and some very touching moments between Sisko and Dax which begin to lay the foundation for a revival of a very old friendship. The script flows very nicely; but, in the end, shies away from the kind of boldness that could have made this episode an enduring classic like TNG's stunning second season piece entitled "The Measure of a Man" when the proceedings are concluded not by a clear moral message handed down in a final verdict, but by exculpating evidence delivered at the speed of plot by the one eye witness who could testify as to Curzon's whereabouts at the time the treasonous transmission was sent - General Tandro's widow. I am of the opinion that Hollywood's favorite position - "let the viewer decide" - is often a cowardly shield, and this is an example of a potentially great script being tainted by cowardice.
Anne Haney's portrayal of arbiter Els Renora - charged with deciding whether the Bajorans would extradite Dax - was very well done (and pretty humorous). DS9 scores again in finding talented guest stars! Rene Auberjonois, Avery Brooks (doing a little less annoying scene chewing than normal!) and Terry Farrell were all outstanding in their roles. Not much to complain about here.
I'm torn. On the plus side, Jadzia (and Curzon before her) apparently feels so guilty about her affair with a married woman (despite the love they obviously shared) that she is willing to throw her life away to protect the reputation of the widow Tandro. She is so committed to keeping her promise that she drives Sisko to the brink of taking a swing at her with her refusal to say anything at all in her own defense. Her devotion to her principles and the guilt she feels over Curzon's failings are admirable.
On the other hand, the writers make it clear that without the critical exculpating evidence, the arbiter would have no choice but to allow Dax to be extradited. Morally, that's the WRONG answer. It would only be the appropriate response if it wasn't abundantly clear that Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax were completely different people. In a world where we accept that the soul exists, we cannot prosecute one soul for the crimes of another. The writers' focus on the MEDICAL rationale for believing that Jadzia and Curzon were unique (two minds linked like networked computers) is understandable, but misses the point. They had an opportunity to make a much stronger moral argument.
ODO: "You know...that wall is going to have to come in about five meters..."
QUARK: "What? Why?"
ODO: "...of course if we move in the wall, all your second level Holosuites are going to have to come down..."
QUARK: "Come down?! Why?"
ODO: "Station regulations...new building codes...ever since the Provisional Government took over, they've got their hands into everything and I'm the one expected to enforce all their new rules. I think that bar is going to have to move further from the entrance..."
QUARK: "This is blackmail!"
ODO: "No! It's just business! And business...is business..." - Ah Odo and Quark banter...
"Damn it, if you were still a man!" - Sisko implying he'd like to punch Jadzia for her refusal to talk about the affair.
"I'll get right to it...I am a hundred years old. I intend to be here until supper, not senility." and "Gentlemen, I said this would be an informal hearing...not riotous!" - Arbiter Renora
"Not only does that compromise Bajoran security...it also...annoys us." Kira to Ilon Tandro following his abduction attempt regarding the Klaestron alliance with Cardassia. I love the tendency on DS9 to have main characters respond to people ticking them off with smart-alecky wise-cracking. :)
A runabout class vessel can travel at approximately Warp 7 according to every tech manual I've ever seen on the subject of Star Fleet ships. At that speed it takes about a day to reach Cardassia and one to two weeks to reach Earth. As far as I can tell, the extradition hearing in this episode took about six hours including the two recesses. There was no evidence that days passed. And yet somehow, Odo was able to reach Klaestron IV, interview the widow Tandro twice, run a complete scan of the communications logs during the time surrounding the alleged illegal transmission that led to this warrant, and uncover evidence of Curzon having given gifts and spent a lot of time with the widow Tandro...and then return to DS9 just in time to deliver the final evidence. We know that a freighter traveling at Warp 5 or so takes 9 hours to reach the Badlands...just how close is Klaestron IV to Bajor? The next star system over? This seems unlikely.