Friday, 20 December 2013

Ezri: The Killer Counsellor

So there we were at SKoST Towers, drumming our fingers on the oak desk in Clive's 25th floor penthouse, trying to decide what we could do to mark Nicole de Boer's birthday when we came up with this.

So for the first time we're going head to head, human against human (debatable in both cases) to discuss the wonders of Mark's third love after wife and child. So; was Ezri Dax a pretty decent counsellor or, as Clive suggests, was she just a horrific psychological bomb waiting to go off?

For - Mark

We certainly had a good debate over Ezri/Nicole. I confess to a certain defensiveness over 'my little Ezri', to such an extent that we nearly went from throwing opinions... to throwing objects back and forth!

My esteemed colleague makes some very good points (below), a very solid argument. However, let me point out the flaw in his logic – she did make it.

Whilst Ezri Dax (nee Tegan) certainly was jittery from day one, I wouldn't have thought she was much worse than that. In retrospect, I think she handled eight lifetimes being thrust upon her quite well given the circumstances! They could have done much worse, like putting the Dax symbiote into Deanna Troi? She'd have crashed Deep Space Nine... and I'm not even sure how that's possible!

In fact, she made it to such an extent, that the non-cannon authors thought well enough to develop her even further. It's almost as if they knew what I knew. I'd always had a thought of what the character could have become, if Nicole was given more than just one season to define her character. Let's face it, even Kate Mulgrew required more than a single season to develop Janeway's persona.

Speaking of Nicole, I could imagine there was a heated exchange between her and her agent, when she was told of her next 'assignment'. "So let me get this straight, you want me to effectively replace a well-loved but recently deceased main character, becoming her but not quite, maintain a very weak facade amongst so many strong, established characters, AND develop this character in ONE season?"

To her credit, she did it, brilliantly.

My only gripe with this would be that bringing Dax back was risky to begin with, not to poke too many holes, but there are clear rules for Trills and interaction with their past lives, and here we have a newly joined Dax, effectively resuming her old life (with a few twists of course).

Oh, we could go on having our war of words, throwing dictionaries at each other. But the simple fact remains... If the fans didn't want Ezri there, she wouldn't be there. If they wanted Jadzia back, they'd have done it (Micheal Shanks/Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG1?). This is the lovely convenient thing with sci-fi – anything is possible.

As much as I hate to end my argument with a non-Trek reference, I shall hand you over to my counter, as he will likely de-construct all of my comments in great detail, with references, and pictures, and possibly a slideshow with bullet-points, graphs marking the point in time my argument became invalid! Be kind Clive!

Against - Clive

Nahhhh. She was a liability from the second she inherited the symbiont and that's the truth isn't it? That's just all flouncy stuff, Mark!

Let's look at this more objectively. Ezri (sadly) happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to receive the Dax symbiont. Instead of getting her back to Trill, the psychological damage just keeps coming - and for a counsellor you'd think she would have some understanding of this but alas...No.

Not only does she turn up to see a less than happy Sisko in New Orleans but then goes off on a cross-galactic adventure with him. This in turn results in her being back on the front lines at Deep Space Nine with her last host's ex-husband. None of that can be good for your mental stability surely? Add into that the point that her first "patient" is former spy/assassin/devious gent Garak who is always game for a challenge and it's as though her card is marked from Image in the Sand. Garak was never going to be easy to handle with the intricate web of deceit and slight of hand especially for such a young, inexperienced and messed up individual.

If Starfleet were genuinely concerned for their officers would this be a good move? That's a lot of change for anyone to go through - but killer counsellor? OK - let's just think about what we've got here.

You're placing a fairly inexperienced officer into a war zone after a life-changing "operation" and even better, with people that knew her previous incarnation including still-mourning husband Worf. As time progresses I really do fear for her patients especially when we have one installment which hands her a kick-ass phaser rifle as part of a murder investigation. Now for those people in the counselling profession I don't think this would be allowed? Aren't all the situations she's being placed in just going to help tip the scales of sanity? Handing her loaded weapons and trying to understand a killer must be the last thing that anyone should be suggesting here!

As if that wasn't enough she ended up in even more intense action at AR-558 confronting the Jem'Hadar face on rather than from the security of the Defiant or Deep Space Nine. Ok so if we're comparing counsellors then she's definitely more of a tough nut than Deanna Troi and has avoided doing serious damage to any starships however the learning curve is more like a straight vertical line as Starfleet Medical effectively washed their hands of the situation once the joining process had been completed. So much for help in the advanced 24th Century.

This makes her an extremely complex character which is fantastic to watch but at what point was she going to go all Falling Down? Best ask a counsellor to - oh - good point. After that she attempts to help Nog recuperate but that falls flat - now with all the memories, emotions and the like flowing through her surely that role of counsellor is a bit redundant as she can't deal with her own challenges? Let's just remember that when Troi lost her Betazoid abilities in The Loss she became quite ineffective for a while.

Oh - and so we don't forget how about having some "interaction" with your previous host's husband to play on the mind - and then get it together with the doctor that Jadzia turned down?  Some of it was probably involuntary emotions left over from the last host but I certainly would be choosing someone else if I needed some personal guidance. In some ways Ezri seriously puts others and herself in danger while acting

In my own defence I'd like to add that I liked Ezri and de Boer and there had to be a way of continuing with the Dax character but at times it did seem strained. In the expanded universe we know that Ezri eventually makes it to captain the USS Aventine so it sort of works out but here on Deep Space Nine she's totally out of her depth and I don't think she's every quite right. Yes, it makes her a little quirky and multi-layered like a confused regenerating Doctor (Who) but from a health and safety point of view it's not too far akin to handing Garak a phaser rifle on Empok Nor...

So that's our viewpoints - what do you think? Was Ezri just a time bomb waiting to go off (and would had we seen an eighth season) or was she in control of it all? Drop your comments below!

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