WARNING: As this article is a review of DS9's "Facets", some facets of the article may contain spoilers -- so choose carefully.
In brief: A mixed bag. Some good spots and some atrocious ones -- on the whole, watchable but a bit thin.
Brief summary: As part of the Trill Rite of Closure, Jadzia meets Dax's past hosts via the bodies of her friends on DS9. Meanwhile, Nog trains for the entrance exam to a Starfleet Academy preparatory program.
I suspect that my impression of "Facets" may actually be more positive than most, simply because the episode builds a bit off of "Equilibrium", from early this season. That in itself doesn't make it a positive ... but based on the fact that few people other than myself liked "Equilibrium", I figure most people will like "Facets" less than I did.
"Facets", however, felt like a substantially thinner show than "Equilibrium" in many respects. While Dax conversing with past hosts is an interesting character concept, it's potentially difficult to work an entire show (or three-fourths of one, in this case) around that one idea. Thus, things had to be inserted to make things "more lively", most particularly the fight between Jadzia and Sisko/Joran, which felt extremely forced.
Oddly enough, though, while the show felt thin in places it also felt as though we weren't spending enough time with some of the earlier hosts. We got good-sized doses of Joran and Curzon, and a reasonable amount of Leela, but all the others seemed to be almost throwaway moments (as evidenced by the fact that one of them, the one Leeta embodied, didn't even get a name!). Given that this was supposed to be a fairly deep character exploration of Jadzia, it seems a bit surprising how little of the actual conversations we got to see. The show, at times, ended up feeling like a Trill survey course as a result.
"Facets", then, was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there seemed too much time devoted to the "Dax meets past host" concepts, and on the other hand there seemed not nearly enough. That's
a difficult situation.
When you're in that situation, a lot's going to depend on the execution -- and it's there that "Facets" managed to pull itself up a bit. While there were certainly a few false notes here and there, on the whole I thought "Facets" was pretty well presented.
One of the big false notes, however, was the return of an action I've railed against every time it's shown up on DS9 -- namely, Quark being talked into something by having his ears fondled. I've said before that I consider it an exceedingly crass action -- what made it worse in this instance is that Dax was the one doing the fondling. In the past, most of those "negotiating" with Quark were people like Vash, whom I've never much cared for and who seemed quite capable of, to put it bluntly, effectively prostituting themselves for a favor (or at least promising such). But Dax? This moment just didn't work at all for me -- actually, it put me on my guard against the episode for about the next half hour, and it was only a number of good scenes that let me relax again.
[A related issue surrounded the almost snickering way in which Quark embodying a female host was presented. While Sisko's chuckle over what Quark had just agreed to do seemed fine, and Quark was easily the best choice for "sexist man forced to play against type", the whole thing still felt as though embodying a female host was inherently demeaning for a male, which I don't like one bit.]
Many of those good scenes revolved around the main issue Dax had to face -- her own self-confidence. In particular, the scenes bringing that issue up were among the best of the show. Jadzia's scene with Sisko/Joran was quite nice (due in no small part to Avery Brooks managing to be extremely chilling), at least up until the unnecessary physical jeopardy, and the interplay between Jadzia and Odo/Curzon was top-notch. After everything that's been said about Curzon over the years, by Sisko, Dax, and others, it was definitely a plus to be able to see some semblance of the man -- and I have to say that he fulfilled my expectations quite fully. I've known a few people very much like Sisko's description -- manipulative, selfish, and arrogant, but so charming that they usually get away with it -- and Auberjonois managed to convey that so well that I was getting a few reminders of those people while I watched Curzon in action. (Another trait that's usually gone along with that is avoiding talking about anything serious if you can help it, and I was intrigued to note that that was part of Curzon's makeup, too.)
So, heading into the last minutes of the show I was impressed with a lot of the key issues surrounding Dax this show and how they were handled. Some of that was taken away, unfortunately, with the "revelation" that what was going on was Curzon's hidden love for Jadzia. First of all, I have tremendous doubts that this is something
Jadzia wouldn't have already known -- certainly, depending on exactly how much of one host's personality is available for the current host to draw on, she wouldn't have any particular reason to know many of the things revealed to her this week, but I have a lot of trouble believing that passions like this apparent one could be kept so totally hidden, particularly when it was while Curzon was already Curzon Dax. Secondly, I'm just tired of every hidden motive and hidden secret being some smoldering passion. Sometimes people do things just because they're jerks -- and I don't particularly think that having to take back a personality in love with you is any more of a great challenge than dealing with the fact that part of you was somewhat boorish. I usually
defend DS9 against accusations of being "too soap-opera-like", but this is one time I'd be tempted to agree. [As a related issue, there was a lot of emphasis on Jadzia's beauty this week. Just once, I'd love to see the same emphasis placed on a male character. Just once.]
The main story of "Facets", then, was kind of a mixed bag. In terms of acting, I was pleased -- on the whole, most of the "past hosts" managed to come through extremely well, Leela, Joran and Curzon in particular. In terms of writing, I was about half-pleased.
The secondary story, Nog studying up for exams, struck me as fluff, but it was fluff that worked out reasonably well. I've never been all that enchanted with the "Nog wants to be in Starfleet" direction the character's taken, but this worked out fine -- Quark's behavior, though as annoying as ever, at least made sense given his opposition to Nog's path; and Rom's threats to Quark actually did more to deepen that character than effectively all of "Family Business" some weeks back. It seemed something to kill time within the context of the episode, which it shouldn't have, but it was at least a decent case of filler.
That about covers it. "Facets" is, on the whole, a decent show, especially when it's concentrating on Dax herself and not on side issues -- but it's still getting bogged down in things a little too much to really be a solid piece of work.
So, some short takes:
-- The Whovian in me was chuckling over the name of Dax's first host. When I heard the name "Leela", I had to think "well, Kira's probably a good choice to host that one, yeah ... just keep her away from knives!" :-)
-- Nog training in the runabout was a throwaway scene, but I appreciated seeing Jake knock on the viewscreen. Always an amusing image.
-- I thought the reference to Fermat's Last Theorem was a little forced, particularly since there's no reason a different species would be calling it that.
-- "Has anyone ever told you you're a magnificent scoundrel?" Great line, and I was definitely chuckling at Odo/Curzon's giving Quark a startling performance.
That should do it. So, to wrap up:
Writing: On the whole decent, but spotty. Only the Quark-fondling was really bad, but I think things could've been a little more solid.
Directing: I have to say I didn't notice that much, good or bad. Certainly reasonable.
Acting: Solid on the whole.
OVERALL: Hmm. I think a 6 feels about right -- decent but not great.
Changeling, Changeling, who's got the Changeling?
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"He wants to be a writer -- there's no profit in THAT."