Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lesbian Kisses And Body Switches When Dax Is "Rejoined" With A Prior Love!

The Good: Great acting, Nice message, Interesting character development
The Bad: Somewhat unsatisfying resolution
The Basics: When Jadzia Dax falls for a Trill who used to be married to one of her past hosts, chaos erupts on DS9.

So little is known about the Trill, a joined species in the Star Trek universe. When they were originally introduced in Star Trek The Next Generation's "The Host" (reviewed here!) they looked very different from how they evolved. Indeed, from their first appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the form of Jadzia Dax, the Trill biology, physiology and sociology was redefined. As one of the less strong subplots in the series, the Trill are explored and in "Rejoined" we learn even more about them.

Jadzia Dax is surprised to learn of a famous Trill scientist visiting the station, a woman named Dr. Lenara Kahn. The reason she is surprised: Dax and Kahn used to be married. That is, the hosts to the Dax and Kahn symbionts were married many many years ago and Dax's host at the time died rather abruptly. Jadzia and Lenara quickly become friends and, defying an ancient Trill taboo, they become romantically involved and face banishment.

Basically, all one needs to know in order to understand this episode is the basics of the Trill. The Trill have both a host an a symbiont, which lives inside them and together they make a unified being. Jadzia Dax, therefore, is the union of Jadzia (the humanoid) and the far far older Dax (the symbiont). When Dax was joined with Torias (a male humanoid), he was married to Kahn and its female host. Torias died, leaving Kahn's host a widow and now, about eighty years later, Jadzia Dax and Lenara Kahn meet. The intricacies of what the Trill are and this whole time line are, blissfully, included in the episode.

The magical thing about "Rejoined" is that the issue of lesbianism never once comes up. No one aboard Deep Space Nine or from the Trill delegation cares that both Jadzia and Lenara are women. The objection to their relationship is solely framed in the edicts of Trill society, which states that individuals from a symbiont's past life should not be brought into the new host's life. It's a crime called "reassociation" and the punishment is banishment. So, while Sisko and Lenara's brother both try to convince Jadzia and Lenara to not get involved with one another, their only argument is over the fate of the symbionts.

This makes for an interesting problem and it asks the age old question, "what price does love come at?" In this case, the price is the symbionts' futures and that's a risk most hosts will not take. In Trill society, the strongest obligation the host has is to insure the safety and future of the symbiont. In some ways, this is the teen male fantasy episode. When Jadzia and Lenara do allow their passions to get the better of them, their kiss is easily one of the steamiest and most erotic lesbian kisses ever to grace television, certainly the best of the few to appear on network (non-cable) television.

But the episode is framed around the character conflicts and developments and it's very intelligent in keeping the characters central. While Dax and Kahn are clearly the two most important characters, others have their chances to shine as well. Worf, still acclimating to Deep Space Nine has a wonderful dialog with the Trill when they are welcomed to the station and he also has a chance to get used to the bridge of the Defiant as the Trill scientists attempt to create the first stable wormhole. Similarly, Dr. Bashir has a wonderful part when he chaperons Dax and Kahn when they have dinner.

In the end, the episode does hinge on Jadzia and Lenara and their character journeys take the entire length of "Rejoined." They explore deep emotions, a love that is one of the most true of the series, and they are forced to choose between their love and their obligations. Personally, I think their ultimate decision should have gone the other way; it would have made for a far more compelling rest of the series, especially in light of later events with the Dax character.

Avery Brooks directed "Rejoined" and he does an admirable job of bringing out the best in Terry Farrell. Farrell is both strong and vulnerable and she manages to portray Jadzia excellently as a woman fighting simple memories and establishing a bond based in the present. Farrell makes Jadzia both frazzled and strong-willed, as appropriate and her malleability throughout the episode greatly aids the believability of the conflict.

Deserving at least equal credit is Susanna Thompson. Thompson portrays Lenara Kahn magnificently and is more than simply a pretty face, teenager's fantasy in the piece. Instead, Thompson manages to establish almost instantly a chemistry with Farrell that makes their character's attraction easily believable. Without her ability to convey the same range of emotions at Farrell, this episode would have failed.

And Star Trek finally does the whole "gay rights" thing perfectly. Two women have a relationship and the sexuality aspect of it does not matter. What could be a more positive message for the future than that? It's an easy sell for anyone who enjoys gay/lesbian/bisexual stories and/or has hope that in the future such concerns will not be of any real import.

Despite Lenara Kahn's name being dropped in a future episode, the fact that nothing actually becomes of the artificial wormhole project sends this episode out of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But just because it is not necessary, does not mean it is not worthwhile.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the turnaround season by clicking here!

For other works with the wonderful Susanna Thompson, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Once And Again - Season 2
Once And Again - Season 1
"Frame Of Mind"
"The Next Phase"


For other Star Trek episode, DVD set or movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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