Episode 4.6: Rejoined

Oh, how far the world has come in 20 years. This episode ranks fairly early in televised same-sex kisses, which is typical of Star Trek’s desires to push social boundaries before they are culturally accepted. This ranks with the TOS episode Plato’s Kiss (Ep. 3.10) where an early televised interracial kiss occurs between Kirk and Uhura. What’s elegant about how this episode is structured is that nowhere in the episode does any character express concern about Dax and Kahn being of the same sex. It is only the Trill taboo of reassoication that is discussed. This allows a doubled-edged allegory. DS9 explores homosexuality through symbolism of an alien society and portrays the challenges members of the LGBT community face. Simultaneously, DS9 can portray a world where homosexuality is a norm. Both are be done concurrently and with great plausibility. This is the advantage of sci/fi.

Dax, Kahn, and reassociation are infused with allegory. Reassociation is considered “unnatural” by Trill society; this is (to me) a clear reference to the NIV translation of the Biblical text of Romans 1. There is also a veneer of a “legitimate” reason against reassocation: that hosts might get lost in the past an not move on to experience more. This mirrors, in my opinion, thin reasons some Christians give for opposing LGBT rights. I see the Trill perspective then as intended to represent (at a very high level) this specific Christian perspective. Most of the episode is Dax and Kahn working closely together, being tempted. The nature of Torias’s death exacerbates the tension they have; there was so much unsaid between them, so much emotion. These feelings are where their struggle hinges. Ultimately, I think this episode does well in what it intends to do: create a space where the conversation around LGBT rights can be had amongst the audience during a time (1990s) when it wasn’t a pleasant conversation to have. The actual kiss wasn’t overdramatized; it was simple and intimate. Dax and Kahn had good chemistry between them. They had an appropriate nervous interactions. After the accident, Dax and Kahn have a passionate embrace together where they desire to never be apart again. Afterwards, however, only Dax retains this desire; for Kahn, the price to be paid for reassociation is too high and not outweighed by the love they have.

I do want to mention the conversation between Sisko and Dax when she expresses to him her desire to reassociate with Kahn. Sisko is a fierce friend to Dax to do what he did. He honestly challenged her on the social consequences of her choice. DS9 didn’t fully endorse acceptance nor rejection of reassociation (given the allegory and the early 90s air date, firmly endorsing acceptance would have been difficult). However, Sisko’s words do force Dax to engage with the consequences of her actions. She would be shunned by Trill society and her host would be the death of the Dax symbiont. He tells her of her own desires: that she herself values the fact that Jadzia is but a link in the chain of Dax. His argument isn’t about any sort of broad social context; rather he narrows the focus onto her and reminds her what it is that she has striven for in her life. As long as Dax is able to clearly see both what is currently in front of her (Kahn) and what decisions she has already made (her legacy in the Dax line), then Sisko would fully support any decision she makes.

Random Thoughts: 1) I have read some challenges saying that this episode doesn’t actually address homosexuality because the situation involved “an alien who used to be a man” and that Dax was actually kissing as a symbiont, not as the host. While I appreciate this perspective, I think it misses the intentional allegory. 2) I want to emphasize that not all Christians hold now (or even held back in the 90s) this perspective I outlined above. I myself support and desire full equality for the LGBT community both inside and outside the church. My perspective is (I hope) much more holistically considerate of a person. None of us should be solely defined by our sexual orientation or behavior. 3) In Christian culture, Romans 1 involves the most explicit discussion of same sex interactions of anywhere in scripture and, (in my opinion) it is the key verse any informed Christian opinion must address to develop a position of the topic. 4) I’d like to hope that Star Trek pushing these boundaries helped instigate the cultural conversation that formed in the 2000s around LGBT rights. The change in public opinion in the US on same sex behavior and general LGBT rights has been immensely fast, in historical terms. Over the course of 20 years (1996 to 2016), the approval of same sex marriage in the US nationally went from about 25% to 60%. Since just 2006, it went from about 40% to 60%. 5) I also tend to think of this episode alongside the TOS episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (Ep. 3.15). This was another episode that used sci-fi trickery to challenge a poor social norm (racism). 6) Quark’s “future” thoughts on how magic work are amusing (such as beaming the egg into Dax’s mouth). 7) Bashir is a true friend to Dax. He sits through a dinner with her as chaperone and is bored out of his mind! 8) I really looked at the station this time (during the opening sequence). Such a comforting sight to me. 9) Avery Brooks directed this episode. He absolutely loved it and felt it was a great episode. 10) Dax often gives off a cool exterior, even if her interior is boiling over with nervousness. It peeks through here when she puts her commbadge on upside-down. 11) I’m highly amused by Worf’s jokes: “It is better you do not know.” 12) This is Worf’s first command of the Defiant. 13) The artificial wormhole is very different than the Prophets’ wormhole. It is angry, red, and triangular. 14) Much of Dax’s willingness to flaunt the rules comes from Curzon. 15) Torias was Dax’s 5th host, Jadzia Dax’s 8th. With his early death then Joran, Lenara was only 1 host removed from being married to Dax. 16) The plasma fire was green. This is standard in Star Trek. I’m not sure if that would be accurate or not in real life. 17) When trying to convince Kahn to stay with her, Dax gets on her knees. I’m honestly not sure if that was intended to represent her begging or proposing. 18) Susanna Thompson, the actor who plays Lenara Kahn, has also portrayed the Borg Queen in VOY.

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~ by Joshua Black on July 16, 2017.

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