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Prodigal Daughter

Production no.: 561
Written by: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by: Victor Lobl
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: January 2, 1999
Kevin Rahm ................
Mikael Salazar .............
John Paragon ...............
Clayton Landey ............
Leigh Taylor-Young .....

Sitting with Bashir, Kira, and Odo at Quark's, Ezri is none too happy to learn that she's inherited 51 cases of gagh that Jadzia ordered for Martok's birthday party. It has finally arrived, but just describing the behavior of the different varieties makes her queasy. Bashir, for his part, is unusually quiet; he's waiting for O'Brien to get back. But when the transport arrives, there's no sign of the Chief. That's what Bashir was afraid of. Making a difficult decision, he goes to Captain Sisko.

Sisko is furious when Bashir tells him the truth about where O'Brien went: not to Earth to visit his father, but to New Sydney, looking for Bilby's widow, with whom he had been corresponding, and who disappeared a few weeks ago. Now Bashir is worried because he hasn't heard from his friend in three days. He tells Sisko that O'Brien did try official channels first, but the New Sydney authorities weren't very helpful, and Starfleet has no jurisdiction there. "So he decided to turn into a one-man police force," Sisko fumes. He orders Bashir to write him a detailed report on everything he knows about the situation.

The captain has a word with Ezri, whose family happens to live in the same system as New Sydney. In fact, her mother is an important business leader in that system, owner of the sixth largest pergium mining facility in the sector. It was the fifth, until recently, when the Ferengi found a large deposit on Timor II. Sisko asks if Ezri's mother would be willing to intervene with the local authorities, and Ezri says she's sure she would. But she looks troubled; she admits she hasn't spoken to her mother in almost six months. The last time was just after her joining, marked by Ezri saying, "Hi Mom, it's me, Curzon." Her mother wanted her to come home to recuperate, but Ezri disagreed, and it wasn't exactly the first argument they've had, either. However, Ezri is willing to put aside her personal differences with her mother to help find O'Brien.

Ezri makes the dreaded call to her mother, Yanas Tigan, who speaks to her warmly, though it's clear she's still not quite sure how to treat her unexpectedly joined daughter. But she promises to do what she can to locate O'Brien. Her help does not come without a price tag, though: Ezri finds herself railroaded into coming home for a visit.

When Ezri arrives at her family's home, she is greeted by her brothers, Norvo and Janel. The police haven't found anything, but there are a few leads. Finally, their mother joins them, and embraces Ezri. She asks Janel about someone named Lorkin, whom she wants paid and gone by dinnertime. Norvo says he's still working on the third-quarter review.

As Yanas takes Ezri off, Janel talks to Norvo about the broken waveguide which is the reason Lorkin is being fired, though he says ominously that a brand new waveguide doesn't just break. "You mean Bokar was behind it?" asks Norvo nervously. Janel says, "He's trying to send us a message. The Orion Syndicate doesn't take no for an answer." But he insists that he can deal with Bokar; they don't need to tell their mother.

At dinner, Ezri tells her mother and brothers about life on DS9 and the adjustments she has had to make to being joined. She ends up rambling somewhat. "There's times when the computer asks me to identify myself, and I have to think about what to say. Or worse yet, there's days when I wake up and I don't even know if I'm a man or a woman until I pull back the covers." Yanas is as understanding as can be. "Don't you worry. We'll take care of you, won't we?" The brothers agree to this.

Later, Ezri visits Norvo in his room. He's her favorite brother, a dreamy, artistic soul, but he is extremely critical of his own work, and himself in general, an opinion reinforced by a recent rejection from an art academy. "I'm not very good, Zee. I never was. All this -- it's an indulgence. Just like my other 'hobbies' -- poetry, music. I can't concentrate. My mind wanders. I don't have the discipline it takes to succeed." "Those are Mother's words," Ezri tells him. "I know, because I've heard them too. She wasn't right about me, and she's not right about you either." Norvo says he's fine with things, and they need him here, but Ezri insists, "Norvo, you could do so much more. I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I just want you to know that I still believe in you." With a sad smile, Norvo thanks her, and she goes to bed.

The next morning, Yanas confronts Ezri with the fact that Norvo is lying in bed with a hangover, and that he has defaced one of his own paintings. "He's not happy here, Mother, can't you see that?" pleads Ezri. But Yanas says that's nonsense. All she's doing is trying to encourage him, but Ezri says she's only made him feel trapped and powerless. "You've barely spent one night in this house and you think you can analyze our entire family," Yanas accuses. "You don't know your brother anymore, Ezri. He's a fragile young man who needs to be cared for." "He is a grown man who needs his freedom," Ezri says. "You're smothering him." Yanas asks what Ezri knows about raising children; Ezri replies that she has four lifetimes' worth of memories to back her up.

The argument is interrupted by Janel, who comes in followed by a police officer named Lt. Fuchida, and by none other than a bruised, battered, and handcuffed O'Brien, who is surprised to see Ezri. Fuchida explains that O'Brien wasn't very friendly when he was found, but he removes the handcuffs. Most of his injuries are courtesy of the Orion Syndicate. Ezri asks if O'Brien found anything on Bilby's wife; O'Brien replies grimly, "I found her. She's dead."

Morica Bilby's body was found in a river, her identity confirmed by a DNA scan, and O'Brien is convinced that it was the work of the Orion Syndicate. The police found him being beaten up by a pair of Nausicaans whom O'Brien believes were trying to scare him away from tracing her murder back to the syndicate. Fuchida is skeptical that the syndicate would kill the widow of an operative; they're too much into "loyalty". He leaves after telling Yanas to contact him if she needs anything else.

O'Brien tells Ezri the tale over dinner, and she promises to put in a good word with Sisko. "It may take a lot of good words, but I'll talk to him." Then Yanas comes in. Even though O'Brien isn't a mining engineer, she's wondering if he could take a look at one of their drills which no one seems able to fix. O'Brien agrees. "It's all right. It'll be good to get my hands on a problem I can solve for a change."

Ezri goes to see Norvo, who wakes up in the middle of piles of torn and broken artwork, an empty bottle of brandy on his desk. Since O'Brien has been found, he wonders if she's leaving, and she says not right away; she wants to talk to him about what he did last night. "I get drunk, I become an art critic," Norvo shrugs. Ezri can see that he's terribly depressed, but he doesn't want to be psychoanalyzed by his sister. "This situation isn't that complex, Zee. I am wallowing in self-pity and acting out my frustrations by throwing tantrums." He jokes that suicide is out because their mother wouldn't like blood on the carpet. Impulsively, Ezri suggests that he come back to DS9 with her, as a break from home, to clear his head. Norvo seems tempted, but something's holding him back. "There are some things going on that are complicated." He won't say what. Ezri points out that their mother can pay an accountant to do what he's doing for her. "Think about it," she says.

In the Tigan family mine, O'Brien determines that the transtator on the drill is the wrong type, and Janel realizes that it may have been deliberately mislabeled. They're interrupted by a man named Thadial Bokar, who suggests that maybe it wouldn't have happened if Janel hadn't fired Mr. Lorkin. Janel will persuade his mother to rehire the man, if he knows what's good for him (that's the implication). Bokar turns his attention to O'Brien, whose name he recognizes because, he says, he has friends in the New Sydney police. As for himself, he claims he's a commodities broker attempting to establish business ties with the Tigan family. Janel tells O'Brien he wants to speak privately to Bokar.

"Sabotaging our drills isn't going to convince me to do more business with the Orion Syndicate," Janel says to Bokar when O'Brien is out of earshot. Bokar is concerned about O'Brien, whom he says is with Starfleet Intelligence; this is news to Janel. So is the name of the woman O'Brien was looking for: Morica Bilby. "Now, of course, I haven't heard from Morica Bilby in quite some time," Bokar says. "Rumor has it that she's dead, but I wouldn't know anything about that. What I do know is that Chief O'Brien should leave this system. Quickly. Before something happens to him."

Back at the Tigan home, Janel lets O'Brien know bluntly that there's a lot of work to do around here, and the sooner he's on his way, the better. "Your brother seems eager to get rid of us," O'Brien observes to Ezri, who enters after Janel leaves. She doesn't know anything about a Thadial Bokar, since she makes it a point to know as little as possible about the family business; O'Brien voices his suspicion that Bokar is with the syndicate -- and that Janel is being pressured by them. Ezri can't believe that either Janel or her mother would have anything to do with the syndicate. Since there's only one way to find out, O'Brien asks if she has access to the family's financial records.

At the mine, Norvo approaches his mother about the possibility of going to DS9 to spend time with Ezri, but Yanas insists that this is a bad time for a "vacation", and reminds him of the review he still has to do. Defeated, Norvo slinks away.

Working at the computer, O'Brien comes across something that makes him stare at Ezri in sudden suspicion. "Did you come here to find me or to prevent me finding out the truth?" He has learned that the connection between the Orion Syndicate and the Tigan family was Morica Bilby, who was on the company's payroll when she died. "Did you know about this?" "No, of course not," Ezri replies, shocked. O'Brien finally decides she's telling the truth. "Well, someone in your family did, and since they didn't mention it, they obviously don't want us to know...You have to face the possibility that somebody in your family was involved in her death."

O'Brien points out some information on the computer, that Morica Bilby began working for the Tigan company nine months ago, as a "shipping consultant". Her duties are not made clear, but the records show that her salary increased steadily, and the last payment entry is six weeks ago, the day before she was killed. Ezri says her mother is ultimately in charge of the payroll, but Janel has actual control of most of the day-to-day operations, and Norvo has been doing the bookkeeping; any one of them could have known. O'Brien says they need to show this to the New Sydney authorities. "Not yet," decides Ezri. "Not until I find out what's happened. That's an order."

Ezri confronts her mother and brothers with what she and O'Brien have found out. Yanas demands to know what Morica Bilby was doing on the payroll, and Janel replies that they were returning a favor -- to the Orion Syndicate. When the Ferengis started their mine on Timor II, it caused a drop in the price of pergium, at a time when the Tigan family company was overextended, their cash reserves depleted, and a shipment was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar. The syndicate came to Janel and offered him a way out, which he took. "I did what I had to do. And I don't remember you asking a lot of questions when our cash problems were resolved overnight." "Because I trusted you," Yanas retorts. "Obviously it was a mistake." As for Morica, Janel admits that Bokar came to him later and said it was time to return the favor, by giving her a job, albeit one without any actual work. Norvo was supposed to have altered the payroll records.

"You're the one who says there's nothing more important than the company!" Janel challenges his mother. "Well, that's all I was thinking about -- the company! You dumped it in my lap, and I saved it! So don't start complaining now. If it weren't for me, we would have been finished!" Ezri cuts into the mutual blaming to get back to the subject of Morica, and the increases in her salary. Janel says she wasn't "happy" with the payments. But he doesn't know how she died. Yanas doesn't believe him.

"Mother, he wouldn't have killed her," Norvo says, speaking up for the first time. Yanas tells him to stay out of it, and goes on arguing with Janel. "Why won't you listen to him?" Norvo asks. "He didn't do it!" They ignore him -- everyone except Ezri, who suddenly looks at him in awful realization. "Norvo, you don't know what happened to Morica, do you?" He smiles wryly. "I'm the idiot brother. How would I know?"

"Tell me you don't know anything about this," Ezri pleads. Suddenly they both have Yanas' and Janel's attention. Quietly, Norvo relates how he tried to reason with an angry Morica, and realized that their problems would be solved if she were dead. "I took care of it," he tells his mother. "You always said that I was too weak to handle the tough ones. I'm not. I proved it. I handled a problem that you couldn't. I handled it."

The police are called, and Norvo is led away in handcuffs. In shock, Janel rambles about something he has to do at the mine, but Ezri tells him to forget it. After the trial, he needs to go. "Find another life for yourself. Trust me, you'll be happier."

Later, Ezri enters her mother's office, to find Yanas staring into space; she tells her she'll stay for the trial, then go back to DS9. "This isn't my fault, is it, Ezri?" Yanas asks. "I didn't do this, did I?" Ezri gives her the only answer she can, which is to look at her in eloquent silence.

After it's all over, Ezri is back on DS9, where O'Brien joins her at the bar. Norvo has been sentenced to thirty years, which O'Brien admits he thinks is rather light. "I understand why you feel that way," Ezri says sadly. "But you didn't know him, Miles. Norvo was very gifted. When we were young, he had so much potential. Norvo was always the one that we all thought would be something special. And I don't know what happened. I don't know how my brother turned into -- " She can't say it. "I guess I just spent so many years dreaming of ways to get out of that house that I didn't see what was really going on inside, what was happening to Norvo. The endless humiliation, the constant drumbeat of criticism, the way his heart was carved up into little pieces. I should have seen it. I should have tried to stop it." "You can't blame yourself," O'Brien tells her. "You're not responsible for that." "But I am," replies Ezri. "Don't you see? I should have gone home a long time ago."

  • The original concept for this episode was that it would turn out that Ezri's mother was high up in the Orion Syndicate, and in fact had conspired to ensure that Ezri became joined.
  • The set of the Tigan living room was a redressed version of Vic's lounge.
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy, for art direction.