Production no.: 478
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore & René Echevarria
Story by: René Echevarria
Directed by: Avery Brooks
First satellite airdate: October 28, 1995
Susanna Thompson .....
Tim Ryan ...................
James Noah ...............
Kenneth Marshall .......
As Bashir and Quark watch, Jadzia Dax reveals a new old talent -- sleight of hand, a legacy of Tobin, one of her previous hosts. Quark can't figure it out, and Dax tells him no wonder; his head's full of latinum. With that, she pulls a strip out of his ear. "Ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Jadzia Dax!" Bashir proclaims, and Dax takes a bow before leaving the bar.
She goes to Sisko's office, where the Captain has asked to speak with her. There is a Trill science team on their way to the station, to conduct field tests on an experimental technique for creating artificial wormholes. He has given them permission to use the Defiant. What Sisko particularly wants to let Dax know is the fact that the leader of the team is Dr. Lenara Kahn. He offers to let her take some leave time. "No, I'll stay," Dax decides. "I can handle it...I've never let my past lives interfere with my job, and I'm not going to start now. I'll be fine."
The transport arrives, and Dax, Worf, and Kira are there to greet the older Trill man, Dr. Hanor Pren, who steps out of the airlock, followed by Dr. Bejal Otner and his sister, Dr. Lenara Kahn. "It's been a long time," Dax says quietly to Lenara, who agrees. As the other Trills follow Worf, Kira asks Dax, "You know that woman?" "I know her," Dax acknowledges. "She used to be my wife."
Bashir and Kira later try to explain the situation to Quark. The Kahn symbiont, now joined to Lenara, had a previous host named Nilani, who was the wife of Dax's fifth host, Torias. Quark finds it all very complicated, and he's not amused when Bashir pulls the latinum-out-of-the-ear trick on him. Kira comments to Bashir that she doesn't understand why Dax and Lenara can't pick up where they left off, if they still are in love. "Ah, now there's the rub," says Bashir. "Even if they do harbor feelings for each other, it's strictly against the rules of Trill society for them to acknowledge it in any way." There is a taboo against having a relationship with a lover from a past life, which is referred to as reassociation. "The whole point of joining is for the symbiont to accumulate experiences from the span of many lifetimes. In order to move on from host to host, the symbiont has to learn to let go of the past, let go of parents, sibling, children, siblings, even spouses."
"I don't understand how two people who have fallen in love and made a life together can be forced to just walk away from each other because of a taboo," declares Kira. Bashir tells her that the few cases of reassociation known have all resulted in the parties involved being exiled from the Trill homeworld, the symbionts no longer permitted to be joined to new hosts. "So you see, even if Dax does harbor feelings for Lenara, she can't take that risk. For a joined Trill, nothing is more important than to protect the life of the symbiont. Nothing."
Getting ready for a reception, Dax is running a bit late when Sisko enters her quarters, noting humorously that Curzon was late for his 100th birthday party. He offers to let her back out of this occasion, but Dax tells him, "I'm going to be working with Lenara for the next week. I have to get used to being around her. Stop worrying about me, Benjamin. I'll be fine." Then she puts her combadge on upside down. Sisko wordlessly fixes it for her.
The reception begins with a toast to the project. Eventually Dax and Lenara wind up together at the buffet table. They know very well that the whole room is surreptitiously watching them. "Seems a shame to disappoint them," comments Lenara. "Maybe we should do something." "Well, we could get into a screaming match," Dax offers, "and start throwing things at each other." Lenara smiles. "Not bad. Or I suppose we could throw ourselves at each other, profess our undying love for each other, in our complete disregard for Trill society." She notes that her brother's head would explode; he's been a nervous wreck since they arrived. "Well, I'll tell you what I told him. We're both mature adults and we can handle this." "I agree completely," Dax assures her. "It'll be fine."
The two of them shake hands with mock seriousness, and go off to different areas. But then they look at each other across the crowded room, and both of them know that there are still strong feelings between them.
The next day, everyone involved in the project gets down to business, modifying the Defiant's systems. Pren goes off for a component, leaving Dax and Lenara alone for the first time. Their conversation turns from the work at hand to the way Torias used to tell Nilani she was making a fuss over nothing, which was because his being a pilot made her nervous. "I've never had quite this much trouble sorting out my feelings from those of a past host," Lenara confesses, and Dax knows what she means. "Probably another good reason why we're not supposed to spend much time together," Lenara continues. "We'd probably just get lost in the past."
They get back to work. Then Dax tells Lenara that Nilani wasn't panicking the day before Torias died. "Torias should have listened to her. The shuttle was not ready for a full impulse test. But Torias had to do it anyway, and he was wrong. And whatever part of me is still Torias is very sorry, and wishes he'd listened to you." Lenara nods quietly, and after they attempt to refocus, Dax suddenly says she's having dinner with some friends tonight -- actually, just her and Julian -- and invites Lenara. Hesitantly, Lenara accepts.
Dax rather desperately enlists Bashir later, and while he has plans, he recognizes that it would be less awkward if she and Lenara had a chaperone. So, gallantly, he accepts -- and that night, he is bored out of his skull as the two Trills chat merrily away about past lives, including Torias and Nilani. "The irony is, you and I have more in common than Torias and Nilani ever did," Dax remarks. Finally, Bashir gets a call from the infirmary and escapes. Dax says she'll make this up to him later.
The talk gets more serious. "It's really good to see you again, Dax," Lenara says sincerely. "That sounds so strange. I mean, I'm looking at a different face, hearing a different voice, but somehow, it's still you." "I know," says Dax. "Every time I start to think of you as just Lenara, you'll smile or laugh, and suddenly it's you." They find themselves holding hands, not knowing that Pren is watching them.
The Defiant heads out the next day to start preliminary tests for the artificial wormhole project. Pren notes quietly to Bejal that Dax and Lenara seem quite friendly now, and that they had dinner last night, alone. "What are you trying to say?" asks Bejal; Pren replies, "I shouldn't have to say anything." "Then don't," Bejal says. The test proceeds, and for a few moments, a new wormhole is actually created. Dax hugs Lenara in joy, and Pren gives Bejal a meaningful look.
Later, Bejal and Lenara have lunch together, discussing the next step, and Lenara passes on a suggestion Dax made when she stopped by her quarters last night. Bejal asks how long she stayed; Lenara becomes aware that her brother thinks something is going on between her and Dax. She leaves, but he goes after her. "I'm sorry. Look, I'm your brother. You tell me nothing's going on, then nothing's going on. I just want to hear you say it." "There is nothing going on," she says. "All right?" "All right," he finally says.
Dax is exercising in her quarters when the door chimes and Lenara comes in, agitated. She tells Dax about the unpleasant conversation with her brother. Dax suggests that maybe they shouldn't spend time together. "It'll just give people the wrong idea." "Or give them the right idea," Lenara says. Dax is uneasy. "I don't think we should have this conversation."
"Would it do any good?" asks Lenara. "Would it change how either of us feels?" Tensions rise as the two of them finally admit it to themselves -- they're still in love after all these decades. "Are your eyes open?" Dax asks gently. "Do you know what the risks are?" Tears spring to Lenara's eyes. "I thought I'd gotten over you. It's been so long, and so much has happened. And now I know I haven't." Dax tenderly embraces her. "I've missed you. I've missed you so much," she whispers. And then, softly at first, then with growing passion, they begin to kiss. Lenara breaks it off. "I'd better go." As she hastily leaves, Dax sits down, overwhelmed by emotion.
Dax confesses everything later to her best friend. Sisko asks what she wants to do. "Throw myself at her," Dax says. "Profess my undying love and my complete disregard for Trill society. A joke Lenara made at the reception. Doesn't sound so funny anymore, does it?" She realizes from his look that he doesn't think she should pursue this, and asks why. "Because I remember what Curzon used to say about reassociation," Sisko tells her. "That it didn't matter whether he agreed with the taboo or not, because the price for violating it was too high -- exile."
"I know what Curzon used to say," Dax says. "And I'm not Curzon." "And you're not Torias, either," Sisko reminds her. She has responsibilities as a joined Trill. "I know this is difficult for you. I know how you feel about Lenara, but I want you to think about what will happen if you pursue this. If you're exiled from Trill, there will be no further hosts for your symbiont. When Jadzia dies, Dax dies. That goes against everything you were taught during your initiate training. You've told me again and again that each host is only a link in a chain, and the life of the symbiont, no matter what happens, must go on." Dax is torn up. "I know that," she says. "And I believe in that. But I also know I love her, Benjamin."
Seeing how much she's hurting, Sisko says that if he were in her position, he'd probably be just as ready to throw everything away, but he would want to be sure that he was ready to pay the price. "But if you're sure, if this is what you really want, I will back you all the way." Dax looks at him with deep appreciation. "I've lived seven lifetimes, and I have never had a friend quite like you." They embrace.
The Defiant goes back out, this time in an attempt to create a permanent wormhole. It succeeds again, but the wormhole collapses, and a blast of energy slams the ship. There's a massive plasma leak in the engine room, where Lenara is with Eddington, and there is no response from either of them. Dax leaves the bridge to go down with a damage control team, and sees an injured Eddington dragging a crewman to safety.
Lenara is unconscious on the floor, separated from Dax by a plasma fire. Rather than vent the compartment when Lenara might still be alive, Dax creates a forcefield to walk across to get to her. She drags Lenara into a Jeffries tube and closes the hatch behind them, as Lenara comes to. They hold each other tight, trembling. "I don't want to lose you, not again," Lenara says. "Never again," affirms Dax.
Dax later enters Lenara's quarters, where Bejal has been caring for her. He thanks her for saving his sister, and leaves them alone. Dax reassures Lenara that the important thing is that no one was killed, and the ship is still in one piece. Lenara should be proud of herself and her achievement. Finally, Lenara shakes off her guilt. There will be a lot of work to do when she gets back to Trill. Dax suggests that she do it here. "With you?" Lenara asks. "The two of us together? You know what that would mean." "I know exactly what that would mean," Dax replies. "But I think it's worth the price."
Lenara comments that her brother just now was trying to convince her that it wasn't. He's only looking out for her, she says. "Everyone is trying to look out for us," Dax remarks ruefully. "Protect us from ourselves. But in the end, all that matters is how we feel, and what we do about it. Because either way, we're the ones who have to live with the consequences." "That's the tricky part though, isn't it?" Lenara says. "Living with the consequences. When you're not with me, when you're not around, it's like a part of me is missing. I want to be with you more than anything. But I don't think that I can do this. Dax, I am not like you. I don't have a little Curzon inside me telling me to be impulsive, to ignore the rules, to give up everything I've worked for."
"Can you really walk away from me, from us?" Dax pleads. "After all this time, we're together. Don't throw that away." Conflicted, Lenara says maybe she just needs more time. "Maybe if I go back to Trill for a while, think it over. I can always come back later." Dax looks at her with emotion. "I wish I could believe you. But ultimately, it comes down to this. If you feel about me the way I feel about you, you won't go on that transport tomorrow. And if you do leave, I think we both know you're never coming back again."
The next day, Dax looks on from the upper level of the Promenade as Lenara arrives at the airlock, her bag over her shoulder. Their eyes meet, and Dax knows that Lenara has made her choice. She watches, heartbroken, but makes no move to stop the woman who quietly turns and steps through the airlock.
The original title of this episode was "Once Joined". Due to the fact that it features a kiss between two female characters, a few stations aired it with the scene edited out, and others left the scene in but broadcast a parental advisory warning before the episode. The original concept was about a male lover from Dax's past.