TNG may have introduced the Trills to Star Trek, but DS9’s Jadzia Dax improved them by pushing boundaries at a conservative time for the franchise.
- Lt. Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine improved the Trill species by having a new personality, unlike Beverly’s love interest in TNG.
- The Trill design changed in DS9 to avoid limitations on Terry Farrell’s appearance, opting for spots instead of a rigid prosthetic.
- DS9’s Jadzia Dax had a more symbiotic relationship with her symbiont, expanding on the joining process and personal identity.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the Trills, but it was Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine who ensured that the species lived up to their full potential. In the TNG episode “The Host”, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) had quickly fallen in love with Ambassador Odan (Franc Luz), who was a Trill. At this point in Star Trek‘s timeline, not much was known about the Trill and their society. It therefore came as a huge shock to Beverly when her new love was revealed to be a symbiont which survived through transplants into other hosts.
When Odan was killed in a shuttle crash, Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) offered to be the new host. Riker was the first human Trill host and effectively gave up his body to the Odan symbiont. This was in sharp contrast to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Jadzia Dax, who was a unique individual that also happened to retain the memories of the symbiont’s previous hosts. This caused a legal nightmare in DS9‘s season 1 episode, “Dax”, in which she stood trial for crimes apparently committed by her predecessor Curzon.
Why DS9 Changed The Trill From TNG
The Trill design was changed for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine due to how the rigid forehead prosthetic looked on Terry Farrell. Paramount executives believed that the style of prosthetic worn by Franc Luz in “The Host” would have restricted Farrell’s looks too much. Instead, the designers decided on a pattern of spots that would run from Terry Farrell’s forehead down to her neck and sides. This was a substantial difference, but given the nature of episodic television in the 1990s, and the Trill’s sole appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the production team largely got away with it.
It wasn’t just the Trill design that changed in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, however. Lt. Jadzia Dax definitely retained Odan’s magnetism and passion, suggesting it was a Trill trait. However, Jadzia had more of a personality than Will Riker had when he was the host for Odan. Although Captain Jean-Luc Picard detects some of Riker’s personality traits during “The Host”, his Number One’s personality had effectively been replaced by that of the Odan symbiont. By contrast, Jadzia had a more symbiotic relationship with her symbiont, and was a combination of her experiences and those of Dax.
DS9’s Dax Greatly Improved On TNG’s The Host
In “The Host”, Odan is resolutely the same man when he’s in the body of Will Riker, to the point that he even continues his relationship with Beverly. If, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia was just Curzon in a female body then the trial would have been over in seconds. What makes “Dax” a more intriguing episode than “The Host” is how it approaches a classic Star Trek moral dilemma. Because Curzon is proved innocent, the episode never actually settles whether Jadzia is liable for her predecessor’s crimes but it does expand on how the joining process works.
In “The Host” there’s a strange implication that the Trill hosts are empty vessels ready to receive their symbiont. Jadzia Dax and Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) proved that there was so much more to that. It’s why Sisko fights so hard to have Jadzia exonerated, not just because he believes Curzon was framed, but because he believes that she’s an individual who should not face judgment for her predecessor’s transgressions. This is a far more compelling story than Dr. Crusher having to decide if she wants to continue a romance with the Odan symbiont while he’s in the body of Will Riker in “The Host.”
Jadzia Dax Later Improved Upon Doctor Crusher’s Tragic Love Story
When the Odan symbiont’s new Trill host arrives, Beverly is shocked to discover that they’re a woman. While Odan is keen to continue the relationship, Beverly declines the offer, stating that “our ability to love won’t be so limited“. It’s supposed to be a comment about how to maintain a relationship with someone who keeps changing their body. Given Star Trek‘s squeamishness over LGBTQ+ issues like Garak’s queerness in DS9 it does feel that it was the network executives, and not the 24th century that had a limited ability to love.
It’s interesting that Odan sought to resume their relationship with Beverly while in two separate host bodies. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined” it’s revealed that it’s forbidden for two Trills who were in a romantic relationship to resume their union in new bodies. When Jadzia Dax met Lenara Kahn (Susanna Thompson), they immediately fell for each other due to their predecessor’s marriage together. It was an allegory for intolerance against LGBTQ+ communities, and finally pushed the boundaries that Star Trek: The Next Generation had prevented Beverly Crusher from breaking.