“I’ve lived seven lifetimes and I have never had a friend quite like you.”

There are important episodes of Deep Space Nine that can be regarded as silly, fun, or timely. “Rejoined” is a silly episode of Deep Space Nine that takes itself way too seriously to be anything more than a shameless male fantasy dressed up as some kind (I don’t know what) of social/sexual commentary. The reason the episode fails so spectacularly is because of the science fiction framework. Science fiction works brilliantly as allegory and metaphor for politics and war, but it loses the battle when it comes to sexuality and racism. I brushed on the topic of racism with my review of the episode, “Code of Honor” from The Next Generation.

Sexuality and gender were also touched on in episodes such as “The Outcast” and “Cogenitor,” but the arguments always fall flat because of the science fiction/futuristic context, mainly because we’re not dealing with humanity. Instead, we’re being told a story through the eyes and mentality of alien species. Jadzia Dax, as a Trill, is not human, and the “Dax” portion of her knows no sexuality. It is merely a slug that inhabits bodies that can either be male or female. How much of what Dax imparts on the male or female host is another matter, but in “Rejoined,” we’re not left with much in the way of speculation as to how much influence these little slugs have over the bodies they ride.

Rather than deal with the very real possibility of complete identity loss, we’re subjected to a cheesy soap opera, a “lost love” story, and strangely-hot girl-on-girl action between Terry Farrell and the appropriately (equally) beautiful Susanna Thompson as Trills who were once married in previous bodies. Yes, it seems even in the future with slugs riding humanoid hosts, tens still want to get with tens. I know I sound flippant about it (maybe partially) but wouldn’t it present more of a storytelling challenge to actually tell a love story about parasitic slugs, or possibly a “forbidden romance” between two men, or two homely souls, or a couple mismatched by decades?

That’s part of the reason why I find the story suspicious, but I’ll get into that later. Jadzia is a character that has always inspired sympathy in me because I don’t know what I’m seeing or responding to when it comes to her. Is she Dax, or is she Jadzia? What is Jadzia? Oddly, we know more about Ezri, Dax’s later host, than we know about Jadzia. It’s hard not to think of them as puppets being manipulated by their symbiont slugs, possessed of a passion they don’t actually share, but in 1995 (when the episode premiered*) it was viewed as groundbreaking (because of the same-sex element) and romantic, and somewhat annoyingly in 2022 as empowering and “progressive.”

Watching it again for the purposes of this review, I found it unintentionally funny, particularly in seeing Jadzia nearly throw away her career to run off with her ex as well as Farrell attempting to channel her inner aggressive male pursuing Lenara Kahn who was once her wife in another lifetime. Yes, this is a very silly episode. I don’t know. Maybe Jadzia can’t help but make silly choices. Remember that time in the Brigadoon pastiche, “Meridian,” when she was willing to give up her corporeal life to remain on a planet of noncorporeal beings because she got hot-in-the-pants for Goodwin from Lost? Dax can be incredibly stupid sometimes. But she’s also funny and smart and beautiful, so we’ll give her a pass.

In the 2019 documentary, What We Left Behind, Ira Steven Behr seemed to think “Rejoined” was about sexual identity and “trans-rights issues.” It isn’t. “Rejoined” is a science fiction soap opera about aliens and joined species and slugs and lust and irresponsibility and, ironically, a loss of true sexual identity. It’s more like an “acquired sexual identity” as we’re witness to Jadzia and Lenara’s minds being raped. This isn’t a sweet story of forbidden love. It’s an exploitative tale of emotional manipulation, but the writers don’t want us to believe that.

The forbidden love angle is all wrong for an episode of this type. There’s no reason former lovers in different bodies shouldn’t get together, and the rule smacks of fascism. Any rule that infringes upon another person’s privacy (or lays out conditions upon which we are permitted to love) is fascistic, and there’s nothing more private than intimate love. Lenara’s brother, Bejal (Tim Ryan), watches them like a hawk like they’re mischievous little girls, meanwhile Dax’s friends, Sisko (episode director Avery Brooks) among them, offer her support and encouragement. The best scene in the episode has Sisko tacitly reminding her how valuable his friendship can be. It’s a beautiful moment that belongs in a better episode.

There are scenes of attempted self-sacrifice (which now begin to grate on me in my old age), reaffirmation of love, and ultimately, loss and regret. Like a soap opera. “Rejoined” may succeed in getting a couple of hot chicks to kiss (the reason the episode was produced, in my opinion) in a different context than we’re used to being lectured about, but it fails in the message, and the reason it fails is because I’m not sure what the message is supposed to be. Is it let girls make out? Is it let aliens love? Again, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that this “high-minded,” “artistic” message of an episode was made by dirty old men who get off on girls kissing (and I mean sloppy wet kissing), and that’s what I call “entertainment!”

*”Rejoined” premiered 27 years ago today.

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