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Equilibrium (episode)

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DS9, Episode 3x04
Production number: 40513-450
First aired: 17 October 1994
49th of 173 produced in DS9
49th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
333rd of 728 released in all
Caves of Makala
Teleplay By
René Echevarria

Story By
Christopher Teague

Directed By
Cliff Bole
Unknown (2371)
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Jadzia Dax is plagued by disturbing hallucinations that allude to the dark past of the Dax symbiont.



Commander Sisko is preparing food for a dinner (with some help from Jake) for Doctor Bashir, Major Kira, and Odo. Odo assists with the mixing for a soufflé, with difficulty at first, and Kira comments that she finds it cute. It turns out that Sisko used to help at his father's restaurant in New Orleans, Earth.

Bashir discovers that the meal contains beets, something he obviously is none too fond of. Dax arrives and asks what smells so nice. In response, Bashir mentions the beets as a major ingredient and she notes her approval.

Sitting down at the table, Dax finds Jake's keyboard instrument. He had taken lessons but had not proven to be terribly musically adept, unfortunately. Dax notes that throughout her seven lifetimes, she'd ended up with a tin ear and no musical ability. She begins playing a tune on the piano, but cannot recognize it.

Act One

Later on, while playing chess with Sisko in his office, Dax keeps humming to herself and is totally distracted from her game. She takes one of his bishops, leaving a move open for Sisko to move a knight and put her king in check. She asks where the knight came from and he points out that she was distracted. She then declares that he must have made an illegal move to attract her attention and that Curzon had always thought that he was a cheat. Dax then upends the board and storms out of the room.

Later on, she is in the Replimat having a drink and Kira comes by to ask her what is wrong. Dax asks if she's come from Sisko to apologize for his behavior. Kira says she is worried about Dax after she'd heard about the earlier incident. Kira cannot believe that Sisko would have tried to cheat but Dax insists that Kira leaves. Before she has a chance to do so, Dax stands up to leave, but Kira catches her arm. Dax tells Kira to remove her hand before she does something that she will regret. Dax stares at her for a moment and then storms off, onto the Promenade.

As she walks along, the place seems to be deserted, then the light seems to change, and she spots someone watching her from the second level. She turns around to find that figure behind her. It is wearing a robe with a cowl and has a smooth mask on. The figure removes the mask with one hand, revealing another mask beneath it. Dax turns to escape and the figure has now appeared in front of her again, tearing the second mask in half, revealing a third underneath.

She turns about again and suddenly runs into Quark, and the Promenade is back to normal with the masked figure having vanished.

Act Two

At the infirmary, Bashir checks Dax over. She apologizes to Sisko for the horrible things that she had said to him earlier. He suggests that she input the music into the computer to let it find out what it is. After a brief discussion of her symptoms, it arises that Torias (the Dax host prior to Curzon) had fallen into a coma after a shuttlecraft accident, forcing the Trill to eventually remove the symbiont due to low isoboramine levels. A quick check of Jadzia shows that her own isoboramine levels are dropping and are now at 73% of normal, thus she might be rejecting the symbiont. They decide to take Jadzia to the Trill homeworld to see if any solutions could be found.

On the bridge of the USS Defiant, Bashir and Sisko discuss not having Jadzia (the host) around anymore and how much they would miss her if she were gone. That night, Dax cannot sleep and goes to talk to Bashir. She discusses her time as an initiate, the tests she endured, the pressure she put on herself, and how going back as a patient was worse than being there as an initiate. She also comments that she was afraid of doctors, while Bashir notes that as a child he was terrified of doctors. As he grew older, he wanted to find out what they knew, and that's what ended up leading him to medical school. After the discussion, Bashir offers to let her stay over, even allowing her the top bunk. She agrees, but insists on the lower bunk because Curzon once fell out of a tree. She falls asleep almost immediately.

Now on the Trill homeworld, Jadzia discusses some of the tests with Bashir. She notes that they had to make a small incision on her side to insert the scanner to scan the symbiont. Doctor Renhol enters the room and notes that Jadzia was the only initiate to successfully reenter the program after being dropped. She notes that Jadzia is on a benzocyatic regimen to compensate, but that she does not need to stay at the hospital because Bashir could administer the treatment. The doctor and Dax make an appointment for the next day for a follow-up and lunch. She then excuses herself to assist an initiate.

Back on the Defiant, Bashir prescribes rest for Dax, who notes that she could never sleep in the afternoon. Sisko suggests lying down, closing her eyes, and not trying to think, something that worked for him. She left them to head to her quarters, and as she moved down the hallway, she encounters the figure she'd previously seen on the Promenade. She asks who he is and he replies "It's beautiful, isn't it?" A door opens, and two Trills come through and try to kidnap her; as she fights them off, she is just about to punch one in the face, and it turns out to be Bashir.

Act Three

Back in the hospital, Bashir can't understand why Dax is still hallucinating as her isoboramine levels have risen another 6%. Jadzia notes that her attackers in the hallucination had been from the Symbiosis Commission, wearing uniforms from over a hundred years ago, long before she had been an initiate herself, but none of her other hosts had bad memories of being there. Sisko notes that the computer still has not figured out the piece of music that Jadzia had been humming earlier. Despite Bashir's suggestion of therapy, Dax insists that she needs answers and suggests visiting the Guardians, a group of unjoined Trills who devote their lives to the care of symbionts.

They go to the symbionts' breeding pools in the Caves of Mak'ala and watch two symbionts surface and communicate with each other with electrical impulses. A Guardian, Timor, enters and begins using a testing instrument in the pool. He seems very distracted as he checks to ensure that the symbionts are comfortable and not cranky; after all, they get very demanding when they are cranky. He comments that he sometimes doesn't know why he puts up with it and asks about the weather, before saying that he misses sunshine. He then recognizes Jadzia as Dax and immediately recognizes that something is wrong. He asks about her dreams and points out that they're actually memories. This is due to an imbalance between host and symbiont and that someone isn't playing fair, and that it could be any one of her prior hosts.

Back on the ship, the computer finally discovers the piece of music and that it was written by Joran Belar 86 years previously. The name is not familiar to Jadzia, but his picture is and immediately brings back a memory of what appears to be a Trill doctor working at a desk. The masked figure appears behind him holding a weapon shaped like a spike which he then plunges into the ear of the working man, killing him and stating that "he left me no choice!" Jadzia demands to know who the masked figure is and reaches to remove his mask, which shatters and vanishes in a flash of bright, white light, revealing Joran. The hallucination over, she falls into neural shock.

Act Four

At the hospital, she begins to stabilize, and it is noted that her condition is worsening again and that if her isoboramine levels, now at 51%, do not rise within 48 hours, the symbiont will have to be removed, killing her. It is suggested that dynametric fields from the wormhole might be causing it.

Sisko and Bashir visit Timor, the Guardian, and ask for his help. He merely recounts what he had already told Dax and insists that he can't help. He acts scared, and both Bashir and Sisko wonder why and are curious as to why an investigation of the past Dax hosts is unwanted.

They return to the Defiant and begin investigating Joran Belar and find that his record consists of merely a birth date and death date, but also that the file has been altered substantially. In a comparison with the Dax records, it turns out that Belar died on the same day as Torias Dax, which was the same day that the symbiont had been put into Curzon. A check of the musical schools reveals that Yolad Belar had been registered.

Contacting Yolad, they discover that he was Joran's brother. Yolad has trouble remembering much, but does note that Joran entered to become an initiate but was dropped after his second year. Apparently Joran had killed the doctor who recommended that he be dropped and was killed himself while trying to escape. It turns out that Joran had a violent temper. However, about six months before the incident, Joran had contacted Yolad and had seemed more confident and attributed this to being joined, but Yolad cannot recall the name of the symbiont. Some further checking of the records leads Sisko to theorize that perhaps the Dax symbiont had been put into Joran Belar before being put into Curzon.

Act Five

Back in the hospital, Jadzia's isoboramine levels have dropped to 44% and Renhol is preparing for surgery to transfer the Dax symbiont to a new host. Sisko and Bashir confront Doctor Renhol about the Joran Dax incident. Since only one in a thousand candidates are acceptable, initiates are put through rigorous testing, since poor choices would result in the symbiont being rejected within 3-4 days and thus both host and symbiont dying. However, Joran and Dax had been joined for well over six months, despite Joran being a poor candidate. The Symbiosis Commission wanted to hide this fact and had put a memory block into Dax when it was transferred into Curzon, and are now willing to let Jadzia die to continue the cover-up. Sisko threatens to expose the cover-up unless Jadzia is saved. It turns out that nearly half of the Trill population is capable of being joined and the Symbiosis Commission did not want the symbionts to become commodities, items to be sold to the highest bidders and to be fought over. With this ultimatum, Sisko takes the decision out of Renhol's hands. Renhol says that in order to stabilise the synaptic functions between Jadzia and the symbiont, Joran's memories must be brought to the surface and reintegrated with the others. Sisko argues that Jadzia is strong enough to cope with the risks involved, and that ultimately it's her decision to do so.

After her recovery, Jadzia visits the Caves of Mak'ala again and enters one of the birthing pools. A symbiont approaches her and sends its electrical communication to her. Joran emerges from the pool and Jadzia invites him to become a part of her. They hug and he vanishes into her with an electrical surge, awakening the memories from his host period in Jadzia and Dax once again.

Back on the station, Dax sits at a porthole in her quarters, and Sisko enters the room. She asks if he was checking up on her, and he comments that he is just ensuring that she is okay. She comments that Bashir had been in 15 minutes earlier doing the same. She states the importance of knowing one's past in knowing one's self, then sits down at the table with her piano and begins playing.

Memorable quotes

"Beets are a very misunderstood vegetable."

- Ben Sisko

"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been."

- Jadzia Dax

Background Information

Story and script

  • The origins of this episode are to be found in the magic show of Jeff Magnus McBride who portrays Joran Belar. Michael Piller saw McBride's show, loved it, and commissioned Christopher Teague, a mutual friend of his and McBride, to draw up an outline for a story based on McBride's act. McBride's show revolved around a use of masks, and the repeated removal of what is seemingly a single mask only to reveal another underneath (something which happens in the episode itself). Teague's story originally involved a kind of intergalactic circus coming to Deep Space 9 with a magician who is revealed to be a murderer, but nobody on the writing staff was keen on the idea. René Echevarria then modified it to focus on Odo and a series of disturbing dreams, before Ronald D. Moore suggested switching the emphasis of the plot to Dax, as he felt that masks were a good metaphor for the Trill species in general. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • René Echevarria partly based the penultimate scene, where Dax accepts Joran's memories, on a scene in the Peter Shaffer play Equus. In that play, the word 'abreact' is used as a psychological term to describe the relieving of a trauma, and Echevarria felt that that was exactly what was happening in this scene.(Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • Jay Chattaway composed the music for this episode, which was his favorite installment of the first three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He commented, "It was the show where it was revealed that one of Dax's former hosts was a composer. The music had to have a thematic quality for her to play it on a keyboard and hum several times. I was also able to develop this theme into the score for her nightmarish flashbacks. The time factor on that was [...] 'Here's the show; we need a keyboard thing, we need it tomorrow!' Under those circumstances, I'll do several versions, though in the case of 'Equilibrium,' they chose my first version. I thought that was an extremely well-written show and a great opportunity to have music as an integral part of the story. It didn't hurt that I personally worked with Terry Farrell, helping her to learn that tune. It took her only three attempts to get it under control. She's very bright. I was really impressed." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 49-50)


Video and DVD releases

Links and References

Main Cast

Guest Stars

Uncredited Co-Stars


Bajoran wormhole; Blackened redfish; beet; Belar, Yolad; benzocyatizine; Caves of Mak'ala; coma; Dax, Curzon; Dax, Joran; Dax, Torias; Federation; isoboramine; kilometer; New Orleans; "Old Man"; orrery; Promenade; raktajino; Replimat; Sisko, Joseph; Symbiosis Commission; Tenaran Ice Cliffs; Torvin; Trill; Trill (planet); Trill Guardians; Trill symbiont

Previous episode:
"The House of Quark"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3
Next episode:
"Second Skin"

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