Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Many Faces Of Dax Are Revealed In "Facets"

The Good: Wonderful acting, Good character work in the end
The Bad: Somewhat lame plot, unimpressive special effects
The Basics: When Jadzia Dax undergoes a Trill ritual, Odo and Jadzia are faced with tough decisions about the future in "Facets."

Often, there are visual cues to events in science fiction that are added for the viewer rather than for the sensibility of the plot. The camera will hold on a character who has just been possessed, the invading alien will be given a "tell" like a little spine on the back of the neck or, in The X-Files, there were gratuitous shots of shapeshifting aliens and black oiled eyes. In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "Facets," there is an equally ridiculous visual effect that seems to be for the benefit of the audience.

In "Facets," a Trill Guardian arrives on the station to help Jadzia Dax undergo the jantara ritual. This is a sacred ceremony in Trill society whereby the Trill Symbiont (in this case Dax) relinquishes its memories of the former hosts and allows them to become manifest once again in another's body. This way, the current Trill host (in this case Jadzia) has the opportunity to learn more directly about each past host. The past hosts possess various crewmembers and everything goes fine until Sisko allows Joran to possess him and the insane artist attacks Jadzia. Recovering from that, Jadzia must confront her fears and doubts made manifest by Curzon. Unfortunately, Curzon, who is inhabiting Odo, seems to have a new agenda . . .

There are two fundamental problems with "Facets." The first is the visual effect that happens during the jantara ritual. As the previous host comes out of the symbiont and through the Guardian and into the person it is going to invade, there's a white fog effect that is used. This is, apparently, a visual effect designed to clue us in to what is happening. The problem is, this insults our intelligence as viewers of this show. We've been told what is going to happen, they undergo a ceremony, we have enough imagination and intellect to fill in the gap without needing a visual clue.

The other problem is the somewhat idiotic move on the part of the characters. That is, having the psychopath inhabit the body of the most physically strong character seems rather asinine. It's roughly equivalent to letting a serial killer out onto a playground and giving them a knife. It would have made far more sense to have Joran, the psychopathic host introduced in "Equilibrium" earlier in the season, inhabit one of the less physically adept characters: Leeta, Bashir, Quark or O'Brien come right to mind. As it is, they put him in Sisko and figure that putting him behind a forcefield will do the trick. Sigh. What a load.

Outside these two problems, the episode works quite well. What stands out is the character work and the acting. The character work culminates in the latter half of the episode between Jadzia and the Curzon/Odo mix. Curzon and Odo find the blending that the jantara forces on them quite intoxicating and both are severely affected by the change. Thus, it is easy for us as viewers to see why Curzon wants to stay in Odo and why he would let him.

But the significant character work is in Jadzia. Here she is forced to confront her past, an experience that has left her with significant feelings of inadequacy, due in large part to Curzon's treatment of her before she was joined. Jadzia has the unique opportunity here to ask the man directly responsible for her childhood problems questions and it's a compelling bit that anyone who has ever wanted to confront their childhood demons will find intriguing.

What binds the episode together and makes it all plausible is the acting. "Facets" is basically an acting workshop for those on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Never is this so evident as when Kira is inhabited; she does a classic acting move of going from rest to action, as if under hypnosis. If you've sat through a single acting class, you'll recognize the techniques. But Visitor sells us on it, as do the other actors. Here they screw up their faces, change their body language and alter their voices to convince us they are someone else entirely and they sell us.

Terry Farrell earns her paycheck here and she deserves a lot of the credit for keeping the flow of the episode up. Instead of dragging, Farrell creates a link for us, an anchor in what we know and expect and as a result, the viewer is left feeling like they are a part of this, as opposed to simply watching an acting exercise. Farrell's realism and acknowledgment of each of the others as they become completely different individuals sells us on how this can be happening.

The real acting credit goes to Rene Auberjonois. Rene convinces us the moment Odo and Curzon join that something special has happened. He manages to create a character that is such a perfect blend between the figure of rumor Curzon has become and the man of order Odo is. Rene has a difficult task, to take a beloved character and change him ninety degrees without making him seem like a parody. He does it. Perfectly.

This episode is accessible to those who are not fans of Star Trek Deep Space Nine as everything is well explained from the beginning. Those people will find a wonderful story about confronting one's childhood demons and inextricably stepping into adulthood.

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


For other Star Trek reviews organized by the episode or movie's ratings, be sure to check out my specialized index page by clicking here!

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

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