Incremental progress meets Zeno’s Paradox

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Froborr
    April 19, 2016 @ 9:44 am

    Bravo! I've always felt like there has to be a redemptive read for this episode, but I've never been able to find it myself.


  2. Dustin
    April 24, 2016 @ 11:04 pm

    Clearly, unambiguously, this is Terry Farrell's best episode yet. If, until now, I'd been unable to understand her approach (and the writers') to her character, this is the one that would illuminate it.

    I love everything she does here. But especially, taking note of her comment about the personalities of the host and symbiont being balanced, I love how she refers to herself in varying ways. Sometimes as Dax talking about its host in the third person, sometimes as Jadzia talking about her symbiont in the third person. Each one taking some umbrage, and some pride, from something in the other's past. Farrell's voice is subtly different in each of these scenes, too. Her mischievous side, expressed in a bold and impish voice, shines through: the tongo playing, the casual sex (at least, that's how I immediately read the scene). Her intellectual side is brilliantly expressed, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a Trek actor other than LeVar Burton handle technobabble as naturally as Farrell does here. And, of course, the powerfully empathetic and nurturing aspect that takes over at the end of Arjin's training, settling, once and for all for this pair of brilliant beings, how distinct they are from the entity that came before: taskmaster Curzon.

    But where I depart from your reading of Dax, Josh, is in your insistence that she's defined by some sort of conjoining of male and female "energies." This bothers me quite a bit, and feels too much like gender essentialism, coding Jadzia's empathy and tenderness as female, and her intellect and strength as male. I realize that the character is trapped in the context of late 20th Century sexual politics, and is always going to be a bit hobbled by them, and it further occurs to me how many opportunities Trek missed to use joined Trill in exploring transgender issues (though maybe it was for the best that a bunch of cis het male TV writers raised on garbage like Heinlein didn't try their hand at it). But I see Farrell's approach to the character, in her voice and her posture, as breaking apart the gender duality, disregarding the silly idea that there's any such thing as a quality or "energy" residing exclusively in one sex. Jadzia was a woman, true. Dax's prior host was a man, and Dax itself is . . . whatever a symbiont is. Together, they're several men and women simultaneously, countless attitudes and characteristics comingling in a distinct person who is, not agender, but maybe pangender (Tumblr fans would doubtless correct me for using these terms so imprecisely, and I'd welcome it!)

    Funny, how the actual crisis of the episode, the expanding proto-universe, occupied so little of my thoughts. I guess because the moral dilemma never seeemed seriously posed to me. Of course they were never going to kill it and would always have found a way to preserve it.

    Sorry these comments are so long. I'm catching back up to the blog and I've a lot of pent-up thoughts.


  3. Daru
    May 16, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

    So much I enjoyed about this post – what a great read! I adore the idea of the tiny universe and what a great episode for Jadzia. Interesting points regarding gender above Dustin and I like what you are saying about the concept of Jadzia being pangender or something more.


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