When Pah-Wraith-possessed Gul Dukat took up his phaser and slew Jadzia Dax in the Promenade's Bajoran Temple, my first thoughts, naturally, were for Worf.
This was just one of many conflicting emotions, though. Like a Vulcan suffering Pa'nar Syndrome, I was conflicted. As a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine viewer enthralled with weekly developments of the Dominion War (the greatest serialized event in television from now until the 24th Century), I was quite impressed with the Orbs on Deep Space Nine's producers to kill off one of its principal characters. But when I realized I'd never get to see Terry Farrell and her spots travel to Risa again, I recognized that I'd be joining the Son of Mogh in mourning.
The Dax sybiont was saved, however, and despite previously established canon that a Trill should really never be around her past lovers, she ended up back on Deep Space Nine, albeit in a new form.
If Jadzia was Ginger, Ezri was Mary Anne. The new Dax came aboard with wide-eyed enthusiasm in the form of pixieish Canadian actress Nicole de Boer, who celebrates a birthday this week. It ain't easy to fill the shoes of a beloved character after six seasons, but by playing up the "same but different" angle inherent in the Trill species, the producers got to bring us a lovable new cast member without totally screwing up the established dynamic.
Nicole de Boer already had her sci-fi bonafides in check having starred in Vincenzo Natali's cult film Cube. If you haven't seen it, it's as if Samuel Beckett did a rewrite on one of the Saw movies. It begat two not-so-hot sequels, but the original still holds up. For those with really sharp eyes, NdB was also known as an occasional supporting player is some of the old Kids in the Hall sketches. (Look for Bruce McCulloch's "We Broke Up" video to have your memory jogged.)
Ezri Dax (nee Tigan) is a great example of how Star Trek's utopian future can't prepare for everything. When Jadzia died, the Dax symbiont (the sentient worm-belly, if you need a refresher) was being raced back to Trill, but was not going to survive the journey. As the only Trill on board, Ezri, a young ensign, ended up being "joined," despite having none of the rigorous psychological training for such a fate.
De Boer's portrayal of Ezri walked the line between somewhat overwhelmed but also eager to perform the duties at hand. The "first day of school" gag didn't last too long, and continuity hawks (like myself) got to see that Deanna Troi wasn't the only mental health counselor in Starfleet.
The Trill concept is one of the more unique ones in Star Trek, and while we got to hear Jadzia and Sisko regale us with tales of Curzon, to witness Ezri's adjustment to the Dax symbiont is a genuine treat for longtime fans. Most of Ezri's early adventures had her "along for the ride," much as Troi would have been on the Enterprise. With the Dominion War in full throttle, however, this didn't mean she wasn't in danger.
The episode "Field of Fire," something of a space station whodunnit, was arguably the one in which de Boer got to strut her stuff the most. An assassin is on the ship with some gun that can see through the hull of the station - and Ezri must commune with her not-so-nice previous host Joran. She got to wear a cool eye patch and everything.
Over the course of the seventh season, Worf and Ezri learned to have a meaningful post-Jadzia relationship, despite some bumps along the way. (One of those bumps included sleeping together, but they thought they were about to get killed by the Jem'Hadar, so we'll have no judging here.) In time, Ezri and Dr. Bashir nurtured a relationship, which was awkward for everyone considering how many times Jadzia turned him down. Then there's also that whacked-out episode where Ezri realizes that Bashir and O'Brien are trapped inside of Luther Sloane's mind, where they went searching for a cure for Odo's morphogenic disease. I dunno; it made sense at the time.
Ezri even popped up in the Mirror Universe, but not joined with the Dax symbiont. (I mean – come on, what woulda been the CHANCES!) More importantly, de Boer had an opportunity to make fanboys' heads explode by showing up with punk rock hair and making out with Intendant Kira Nerys. She turned out to be a good guy, though (in a Han Solo-ish way) and left it implied that she was going backstage to get frisky with Mirror Universe Leeta. I have the whole episode on tape if you want to borrow it.
While I would have loved to celebrate the end of the Dominion War with my beloved Jadzia Dax, I can't deny that having a new (and yet familiar!) character helped propel the final season a little bit. It was just enough fresh air for a show that had so many factions, double-crosses and reversals. (Who'd've ever thought Damar would end up a good guy, huh?)
Post-DS9 Nicole de Boer had a nice run on the Michael Piller-produced USA Network sci-fi thriller series The Dead Zone and guest shots on Stargate Atlantis, Haven and, most recently, Perception. Those who read the DS9 "relaunch" books know that Ezri Dax eventually became a Captain, taking the center seat of the USS Aventine after the commanding officers were killed in a Borg attack. Last we heard from the Aventine, it was sent to a far outpost to snoop out activity from the mysterious Tzenkethi.
I'm sure I'm not alone in admiring Ms. de Boer and her late addition to the Deep Space Nine cast. Let us know how the Dax changeover went for you when you first watched season seven. If you don't have anything nice to say, please keep it to yourself - it is the woman's birthday, after all.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.
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