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Equilibrium


Production no.: 450
Teleplay by: René Echevarria
Story by: Christopher Teague
Directed by: Cliff Bole
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: October 15, 1994
 
Lisa Banes ....................
Jeff Magnus McBride ....
Nicholas Cascone ..........
Harvey Vernon ..............
Dr. Renhol
Joran
Timor
Yolad


An informal dinner party is held by Sisko in his quarters for all his senior staff. Sisko is doing the cooking, watched with great interest by Odo, who doesn't need food but says he's fascinated by its preparation and the humanoid preoccupation with eating. Sisko lets him stir the soufflé. He tells Bashir that he learned to cook in his father's restaurant. Bashir is unhappy to learn that beets are on the menu. Dax finally makes it, as Kira observes Odo's efforts with a smile and tells him he looks "cute". Odo seems a bit unsure how to take that.

Meanwhile, Dax finds a keyboard of Jake's, and tries a few notes, saying that none of Dax's hosts have ever had musical ability. "You would think one of us would have been born without a tin ear," she notes, but her playing seems to belie her words. "That's lovely," Bashir says appreciatively, but Dax sharply says, "Quiet!" The notes fall out of tune, and she seems frustrated that she can't get the piece right. She doesn't know what it is; she's never heard it before. Somehow it disturbs her.

Dax is trying to hum the tune later while she plays chess with Sisko. She can't get it out of her head. "Do me a favor," Sisko says. "Try." But Dax is so distracted that she makes a bad move, and Sisko checks her. "Curzon always suspected you were a cheat," she says with uncharacteristic coldness. "Don't play innocent with me, Benjamin. We both know you were trying to cheat me here. So why don't you just admit it?" She upends the board, scattering the pieces, and storms out. Sisko looks after her in bewilderment and concern.

Kira comes up to Dax in the replimat, hoping she might want to talk about what happened. Dax says there's nothing to talk about. "You can't really think he tried to cheat you," Kira says, and Dax gives her a hard look. "I knew you'd take his side." Kira is confused; Dax tells her to leave, then when Kira doesn't, says, "Fine, I'll go." When Kira catches her arm, Dax actually threatens her, until Kira takes her hand away, looking puzzled. "That's the first smart thing you've done since you walked over here," Dax says, and leaves.

As Dax walks through the Promenade, suddenly it seems as if everyone disappears, and then she sees a strange robed and hooded figure wearing a mask. She hears the melody playing, eerily distorted. Frightened for no apparent reason, she looks around, and the figure is gone, but then she sees it again in another place. It removes its mask to reveal another mask beneath. Dax runs, and the figure blocks her way, again revealing yet another mask. She backs off, and bumps into someone -- Quark. The Promenade is back to normal, and there is no sign of the figure.

Deeply distressed, Dax goes to Bashir for an examination, and Sisko is there for her. She apologizes for the horrible things she said to him; he tells her not to worry about it. "And I used to think Curzon had a temper." "I don't know what's wrong with me," Dax says worriedly. "I feel like I have so much anger inside, and I don't know where it's coming from." Sisko asks if she has any sense of who the masked figure was, and Dax tells him he seemed familiar somehow, but she doesn't know from where. "And the music -- Benjamin, I have to find out what that music is." Sisko suggests that she have the computer try to find a match.

Bashir asks if Dax has experienced any hallucinations before; she says no, and neither have any of her previous hosts. "According to your file," Bashir says, "the only major trauma the Dax symbiont ever suffered was when Torias Dax was injured in a shuttle accident." Torias was Dax's fifth host, the one immediately before Curzon, and the records state that he was comatose for just under six months. The doctors couldn't keep his isoboramine levels up. Isoboramine is a neurotransmitter that mediates synaptic functions between the host and symbiont; when Torias' levels fell to under 40% of normal, the symbiont had to be removed. And now, Jadzia's levels are at 73% of normal. Bashir can't see any immediately obvious cause for this. "Julian, am I in danger of rejecting my symbiont?" Dax asks. Bashir says he wouldn't worry about that yet, but they need to get the levels up. He suggests taking her back to the Trill homeworld to be examined by the doctors at the Symbiosis Commission.

They leave in the Defiant for Trill, with Sisko admitting to Bashir that he hadn't thought he would ever get used to a new Dax. "But if anything happens to Jadzia -- " "I know," says Bashir. "I feel the same way."

Later that night, Dax visits Bashir as he reads in bed. She's having trouble sleeping, and was hoping for a little company. Bashir tries to reassure her. The doctors at the Symbiosis Commission know more about this than he does. "I can't believe I'm going back there," Dax admits. "I spent three years as a Trill initiate, and in all that time I hardly ever left the complex. After I was joined I swore I would never step foot in there again." She remembers all the tests they put her through. "Considering the risk of rejection," Bashir reminds her, "you can't really blame them. If they were to put a symbiont in an unsuitable host, they'd both be dead in a matter of days." 

Conceding that eternal truth of Trill life, Dax then confesses that she's always been afraid of doctors. Bashir tells her that he was too, when he was younger. "They seemed to know everything. It was as if they held the power of life and death in their hands. I used to think that if I didn't behave, they'd make sure I got sick. Then as I got older, I decided that I wanted to know what they knew, be as smart as they were." But he learned in medical school that all he wanted to do was help people. "That's what doctors are there for, to help. So there's really no reason to be afraid of them...Now if that little story didn't put you to sleep, I don't know what will." "You're a very dear man, Julian," Dax says warmly. He invites her to sleep in here, and she gratefully takes the lower bunk.

On her homeworld, Dax is put through a battery of tests, and Sisko and Bashir meet Dr. Renhol, who was part of the team that evaluated Jadzia as a host candidate. She has put Dax on a benzocyatic regimen to bring her isoboramine back up, and there has been a 3% improvement already. Everything seems as if it'll be okay in no time.

Dax is in much better spirits when they return to the Defiant, although Bashir orders her to go to her quarters and rest. On the way, however, she begins hearing the music again, and has another hallucination of the masked figure. "Who are you?" she asks. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" the figure says, seeming to refer to the music. He disappears as two uniformed men charge toward her; she tries to run, but is caught. All of a sudden, she snaps out of it, and finds she has been struggling with Bashir.

No one can figure out why Dax had another hallucination, since her isoboramine is up some more. Renhol thinks perhaps the sudden rise might have triggered it. Dax says the men who attacked her in the hallucination were from the Symbiosis Commission. "Hallucinations often take the form of latent anxieties," says Renhol, "and we all know the time you spent here wasn't that easy for you." But Dax notes that the uniforms they were wearing were from over a hundred years ago. And none of her other hosts had bad memories of this place. "With seven lifetimes worth of memories, it's no surprise things would get a bit jumbled," Renhol reassures her, and leaves.

Dax wishes she knew what the hallucinations meant. Bashir suggests that she may still have issues to work out about her time here. "I don't need therapy, Julian, I need answers," Dax says. Then she thinks of the Guardians -- unjoined Trill who have devoted their lives to the care of the symbionts, and know more about them than anyone.

The three of them go deep down into the caves of Mak'ala, filled with pools of milky gray liquid in which the symbionts swim, communicating with each other via energy discharges. A Guardian, Timor, comes into view to test the liquid. "Just making sure they're comfortable," he explains distractedly to Bashir. "Checking the ion concentration, temperature, viscosity. They get very cranky if everything's not perfect. You don't want them cranky." He breaks off the conversation when he sees Dax. "Something's wrong," he says, and places his hand on her belly. "That is not good, not good at all. Tell me, how bad are the dreams?"

Dax tells him they're hallucinations, but Timor corrects her. "Actually, they're memories." But the balance is off, between host and symbiont. "Someone's not playing fair. It wouldn't be Dax...so it must be the host." He doesn't mean the problem is with Jadzia necessarily, but with any one of the hosts. Timor leads her off for further examination.

When Dax rejoins Sisko and Bashir on the Defiant, she says Timor is convinced her hallucinations have something to do with a previous host of hers, but he's not sure which one. She will go back tomorrow. Sisko gives her some good news -- the computer has identified the music. It was written 86 years ago by a Trill named Joran Belar. Dax doesn't recognize the name, but when an image of the man is brought up on the monitor, she suddenly begins having another hallucination.

A Trill doctor is working in a room in the Symbiosis Commission. The masked figure moves up to him stealthily, and stabs him with a needle-like weapon as Dax watches, unable to make a sound. "He left me no choice," the figure tells Jadzia, who asks him again, "Who are you?" She touches his mask, and it shatters. The face underneath is that of the man she has just seen on the Defiant bridge monitor -- Joran Belar. Sisko and Bashir watch as Dax has a seizure, going into neural shock.

She is brought back to the Symbiosis Commission, where Renhol works desperately trying to stabilize her. Her isoboramine has dropped dramatically. Renhol wonders if something from the wormhole might be affecting her. They can't rule anything out. If Dax's isoboramine isn't raised to an acceptable level within 48 hours, they will have to remove the symbiont. Sisko protests that that will kill Jadzia. "I'm well aware of that, Commander," says Renhol. "But Jadzia would be the first to tell you that our primary responsibility must be to the symbiont."

When Sisko and Bashir go back to the caves and find Timor, the Guardian seems ill at ease for some reason. He claims he was only speculating when he told Dax her condition had something to do with a previous host. "Now if you gentlemen would excuse me, the symbionts need me." "Jadzia needs you, too," Sisko says urgently. "She's dying." Timor says he's sorry, but there's nothing he can do. "What's going on here?" asks Sisko. "Did someone tell you not to pursue this?" Timor tenses up, but asks why anyone would do that. "I hope your friend recovers. I truly do." He pleads being busy and walks away.

Sisko wonders why anyone would want the Guardian to keep quiet on this. "You'd think that someone doesn't want an investigation of those past hosts." "I can't think of a better reason for such an investigation, can you?" Bashir asks. Remembering that Jadzia collapsed when she saw Joran Belar's picture, they decide to find out more about him.

On the Defiant, they access the Trill central database, but can find nothing on Joran other than dates of birth and death -- odd, since there is a wealth of detailed information on each of Dax's hosts. The data compression ratio is off, indicating that the file was once much larger. On a hunch, Sisko has Bashir call up Dax's records to compare them with Joran's. Joran died on the same day as Torias Dax. They start a search for enrollment records of all Trill music academies during Joran's lifetime. There is no listing for him, but there is a Yolad Belar, possibly a relative. Bashir establishes a comlink with the man.

Yolad Belar is a very old, unjoined Trill who says Joran was his brother. Sisko and Bashir have hit pay dirt. They did indeed graduate from the same music academy, the old man confirms. He doesn't recognize the name Torias Dax, but mentions that his brother was a candidate for joining. The Symbiosis Commission claims Joran was dropped from the program after his second year, and murdered the doctor who recommended dropping him. He was killed trying to escape the scene.

Sisko notes that Yolad doesn't seem convinced of that. "I believe he killed that doctor," Yolad says. "My brother had a violent temper. But about six months before that happened, my brother contacted me. He sounded different, somehow -- more confident, even colder than usual. When I asked him about it, he laughed. He said he was different. That he'd been joined." But Yolad doesn't remember the name of the symbiont. "I loved my brother, Commander. In spite of all the things he did, I loved him."

Sisko thanks the old man for his time. "Doctor, call up Dax's records. I think I'm beginning to understand what's going on here." They scroll through the file, to Torias's section. "According to the official records, after Torias died, the Dax symbiont was put into Curzon. What if that's not what happened? What if Dax was given another host before Curzon? A host who should never have been given a symbiont?" "A host named Joran Belar," Bashir finishes.

Things are looking grim for Jadzia, and Renhol is ordering a doctor to prep the new host for surgery, when Sisko and Bashir come in. "It's over, Doctor," Bashir says. "We know about Joran Belar." "I don't have time for this, Commander," Renhol protests. "The symbiont is in danger." She insists she can't do anything for Jadzia. "Can't? Or won't?" Sisko challenges. He resents having to watch Jadzia die to protect the secret. Renhol tries to pretend she doesn't know what he means.

"I'm talking about the fact that eighty-six years ago, the Symbiosis Commission mistakenly gave the Dax symbiont to Joran Belar." The Commission altered the records, Sisko goes on, and tried to erase all knowledge of Joran from the symbiont's memory. Bashir puts in that the memory block is now deteriorating. "What possible reason would anyone have to create that sort of elaborate cover-up?" Renhol blusters.

"We wondered about that ourselves," says Sisko. "What was it about Joran that had to be hidden at all cost? The fact that he never should have been selected as a host? No, that simple error in judgement wouldn't be enough, would it? There had to be something more. Something that would shake the very foundation of your society." Renhol still attempts to stonewall as Bashir asks her how many Trills are suitable for joining. And what would happen if a symbiont was joined with an unsuitable host? "That doesn't happen," Renhol insists, but when pressed, she says that rejection would set in within three or four days. This should have happened with Joran Belar as well, Bashir notes. But Joran was joined for six months.

Sisko takes over. "If a man like Joran Belar can be joined successfully for that long, how many others can be joined as well? Hundreds, thousands -- certainly more than the Symbiosis Commission would have us believe. And that is what you've been trying to cover up all along, isn't it? That's why you're willing to let Jadzia die. I'm not interested in exposing your secret, Doctor. All I care about is Jadzia. And I promise you, if she dies, I will see to it this entire planet knows why."

This threat finally breaks Renhol's resolve. If Sisko exposes the Commission's secret, it will cause chaos in Trill society, because symbionts are relatively scarce compared to the actual number of potential hosts. As a result, the symbionts would suffer, becoming commodities to be purchased or fought over. "Nearly half our population is capable of being joined. That's what we learned from our unfortunate experience with Joran Dax. Now do you understand why you must not reveal the truth?" "Do you understand my terms?" asks Sisko. Renhol says it's not that simple. To save Jadzia, they must stabilize her synaptic functions, and allow Joran's memories to surface and be integrated. "What if Joran's personality overwhelms Jadzia? Are you willing to risk that?" Sisko says it's not up to him. It's Jadzia's life, and her decision. Defeated, Renhol wakes Jadzia, and Bashir tells her she has a choice to make.

Later, Dax goes to the symbiont pools, wades in, and waits. A symbiont communicates with hers, zapping her with energy. She sees a man rise out of the pool, a man whom she recognizes as Joran. "You know who I am," he says. "You're a part of me," Dax tells him, and tenderly embraces him, the energy dancing all around them as a new peace floods into her mind.

Back on DS9, Sisko checks in on Dax, about fifteen minutes after Bashir did the same thing. "I'll be all right," she says. "I just need some time for me to sort things out." "I suppose it would have been easier if you'd never found out about Joran," Sisko comments. "No," Dax tells him. "I'm glad I did. If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been." After Sisko leaves, she sits down at a keyboard and begins to play the haunting piece of music that will always be with her.


  • The episode was inspired by a performance by magician Jeff Magnus McBride, who played Joran (both as the masked figure and the man Dax embraces in the symbiont pool).