Anonymous asked: What's the story behind how Avery Brooks and the rest of the cast/crew handled Rejoined?
Well, I’m just going off what I’ve read on the Memory Alpha article on the episode, but from what I can glean everyone was really positive and proud of the episode.
According to Ronald D. Moore, “some felt betrayed, didn’t want to see this in their homes. An affiliate down south cut the kiss from their broadcast.” Similarly, René Echevarria says, “my mother was absolutely scandalized by the episode. Shocked and dismayed. She told me ‘I can’t believe you did that. There should have been a parental guidance warning’.” Steve Oster says that a man called the show and complained, “you’re ruining my kids by making them watch two women kiss like that.” Much of the public response mirrored that of the famous Kirk-Uhura kiss in the original series episode TOS: “Plato’s Stepchildren”.
There is a story regarding the man complaining about his kids seeing the kiss: It was a production assistant who took the call. After hearing the man’s complaint, the PA asked if the man would’ve been okay with his kids seeing one woman shoot the other. When the man said he would be okay with that, the PA said “You should reconsider who’s messing up your kids”.
Both cast and crew stand by the idea that this episode was not actually about homosexuality, any more than “Plato’s Stepchildren" was about inter-racial relationships. Director Avery Brooksis very clear about this: “it was a story about love, and the consequences of making choices out of love. The kiss was irrelevant.” Just as clear is writer René Echevarria ”we could tell the story without ever talking about the fact that they are two women.” Ronald D. Moore makes a similar point: “it deals with homosexuality and sexual orientation and tolerance, but I’m very proud of the fact that nowhere in the episode does anyone even blink at the fact that these are two women. That’s the part that sails by everyone on the show.”
Avery Brooks reinforces the notion that this is just a simple love story in Charting New Territory: Deep Space Nine Season Four, a documentary in the special features of the DS9 Season 4 DVD; “It’s a love story after all. What’s extraordinary about it, you know, the love of your life, and somehow that love is taken away, and you have a chance, another chance, you know, a hundred and fifty years later, to be together again. It was an extraordinary story. I thought it was important that we tell this story honestly and truthfully about love, and so it’s not about sex, or same gender or any of the above, even though, obviously, in our world, that’s what people started to look at, but I mean it was so important for me to tell that story honestly and truthfully, especially for the people who have suffered, you know, in our world, needlessly, because of love. I was adamant that we were not going to sensationalize this kiss, because, again, I mean, you know, for Star Trek I suppose, or even at that time, you know, for television, prime time television, it was a big deal.”
Also in the Charting New Territory documentary, Terry Farrell reiterates the fact that ‘lesbianism’ is not an issue in the episode; “I think because “Rejoined” was such a sensitive subject, it was very important to show that it was just a choice, and no one judged Dax for her choice, and everyone supported her as a friend, and they were really concerned about her heart getting broken, because she was going to have to give up being a joined Trill. She was going to be banished from her land, she’d have to change her way of life, but not because of her love for this woman, but because it was from the past. It was appropriate for my character to have this moment, it wasn’t the ‘big lesbian kiss’ to get you to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and of course my character could run up against something like this and it would make sense. And it’s an interesting, topical, very Gene Roddenberry-esque way to have the show done.”
In the same documentary, Ronald D. Moore makes a similar point; “To the audience, you’re playing out this metaphor of a taboo that you’re not supposed to be involved with somebody, and the audience sees these two women who are in love together, but the show will never ever comment on it, because it’s really about this Trill taboo, this completely other issue. But the idea of homosexual love is staring the audience in the face no matter what they do, but we never have to mention it in the show. It just became this lovely tale about these two forbidden lovers that just couldn’t get over that one had died and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, and here they come together in these two other bodies, but what they once felt for one another is still there, but the societal taboo was so strong that one of them had to back out, one of them wasn’t willing to take it all the way. It was just a lovely bit of Star Trek because it really was an allegory for our society, and that’s ultimately what Trek does best.”
This is one of Terry Farrell's favorite episodes. In particular, she admires the way all of the resistance and controversy which Dax and Lenara Kahn face from others is inspired by taboos in Trill culture, and has nothing to do with gender or lesbianism. She also admired the way that director Avery Brooks directed the kiss in a non-sensationalist manner. (Crew Dossier: Jadzia Dax, DS9 Season 2 DVD, Special Features) Of his direction of the kiss, Brooks has said, “People want to hype stuff like that, but I wasn’t going to have it.” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Susanna Thompson was also a fan of Avery Brooks’ directions of this episode; “It was my first time working on Star Trek where a director wanted me to come in prior to the first day you start shooting, and so he got Terry and I together. I felt very safe with him. And being an actor, he understood all the technical ramifications that you’re sort of distracted with on any given day. But he also knew that this episode was going to be a little controversial because there was a same sex kiss. He was so good at keeping us safe and protected, but also giving us such a great space to be brave.” (Hidden File 04, DS9 Season 4 DVD, Special Features)
Ira Steven Behr commented “I know they [Paramount Pictures] got a lot of negative feedback, which only goes to prove a point I always believed in, which is that science fiction fans and Star Trek fans are much more conservative than people want to believe, and this whole Gene Roddenberry liberal Humanistic vision is truly not shared by a significant portion of them”.
That last one in particular, I can definitely believe given the general reaction of a large portion of the fanbase to the way women are portrayed in the series.
I personally think that’s why it’s an interesting episode though - it wasn’t prejudice based on orientation, the fact that they were two women didn’t bother anyone at all, it was all about this taboo in Trill society.
And, from what I remember of it, I don’t think it really gave a clear answer to that in terms of right or wrong - Dax was willing to accept the consequences of that decision, grave as they were, but Kahn wasn’t, so I didn’t really see it that they were being persecuted as such…
'The Outcast' is definitely more of a straight up allegory, in that respect, with a right and a wrong. But I always saw 'Rejoined' as more of a tragic love story…
Then again, the more I think about it, the whole idea of one partner being willing to ‘come out of the closet’ for love vs the one who wants to go along with society no matter how they feel does make it more of an allegory.
But I’m gonna have to say that I disagree with the Symbiosis Commission’s ruling - why should they, or anyone else, have a say in who anyone chooses to love?
Isn’t that the point of the episode?
We’ve already established that the Symbiosis Commission is a dodgy entity at best, though of course it could be argued that they’re doing what they do for the best interest of the symbiont - to expose their lies would certainly upset the status quo and send Trill society into chaos.
But isn’t that what persecutors always say? That they’re doing what’s best for ‘society’ at large? Entities like that never do things to be mean, they do it because they think they’re right, and that they know best, but who are they to restrict the individual freedom of hosts or symbionts?
I actually think it would have been interesting to see what happened when the Symbiosis Commission’s lies had been exposed - or if Dax and Kahn had been willing to fight back against this taboo.
To me that’s more interesting than just accepting that the Symbiosis Commission knows best and Kahn was right not to re-associate with Dax, but that’s just my opinion ;)
See, my take on the episode is that (a) to me, the taboo makes sense in Trill society and (b) it’s dishonest, in that it tries to have its cake and eat it - “no, no, this isn’t about homophobia on Earth WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE”.
I don’t see the ban as being “Why are you trying to tell people who they can and cannot love?”, it’s reasonable worry about the influence of past hosts and/or the symbiont on present hosts. Choice of a host is done based, at least partly, on ‘what can this new host contribute?’ What new skills, activities, events will it share with the symbiont? So you switch between male and female hosts, hosts who are scientists and hosts who stay home to raise the kids, artists, gymnasts, all kinds. You don’t have symbiont Zono in host Trella who was a chemist and the next host is a chemist and the next host after that is a physicist just for a change - you choose the host based on the widest range of experience that the symbiont will hold in memory.
Now, the Trill and especially the joined Trill we see in DS9 are different from the Trill as we were introduced to them in TNG. There, they do come off as creepy: when Riker has to be an emergency host for the Trill that’s been romancing Beverly Crusher, he (it?) immediately starts back up with what is supposed, I imagine, to be romantic pursuit but comes off as a combination of creepy stalker plus meat-puppet (Riker and Crusher have never previously shown, nor subsequently show, any romantic interest in one another and when practically the first thing Trill Riker does is call her by the pet name ‘Dr Beverly’ that Odan used, it naturally freaks her out).
Then the symbiont gets a new Trill host, and it’s Kareel, a female, and this is a step too far for Beverly. Now, maybe Beverly’s rejection of Kareel can be read as homophobic, but really when a perfect stranger rushes in and starts declaring how much she loves you, I think it’s a bit much to expect the other party to accept that.
So the problem as I see it, the problem that the ‘taboo’ tries to address, is: how much of what memories former joined Trill possess influence them? When Dax (Jadzia) meets Kahn (Lenara) again, and Kira asks her “Do you know her?”, she replies “She used to be my wife.”
Turns out that Jadzia doesn’t mean she and Lenara had been married, but that when the Dax symbiont was in a host called Torias, and the Kahn symbiont was in a host called Nilani, those hosts were married.
The whole situation is complicated by the fact that Torias was killed in a shuttle accident, so there’s a lot of unfinished business between him and Nilani.
And given that we see in the rite of zhian’tara. the personality of a previous host can be overwhelming (Jadzia’s habit of folding her hands behind her comes from a previous host; Curzon and Odo want to continue to be linked). So how much of Jadzia and Lenara falling in love is Jadzia and Lenara, as separate from Torias and Nilani (and Dax and Kahn)?
And if Torias and Nilani get their second chance through Jadzia and Lenara, why not a third chance through another pair of hosts? And so on and so forth?
I think that is the problem the ban on reassociation is trying to avoid: a little clique of hosts and symbionts reliving the same lives over and over again in a form of serial immortality where the same personalities and associates continue on. Think of the Goa’uld from “Stargate” for how it could go wrong.
Besides, phrasing it as “how dare they say who you can and cannot love?” doesn’t address the fact that the ban (or taboo, if you prefer) seems to cover all reassociation; we know Dax’s former hosts have been parents (both fathers and mothers). We don’t hear anything of Jadzia Dax keeping in touch with her children and grandchildren by former hosts.
It may be that strictly the ban is only on joined Trill who were formerly spouses reassociating, but the way Bashir explains it to Kira makes it sound as if the taboo extends to all family from past lives:
But in order to move on from host to host, the symbiont has to let go of the past… let go of parents, children, siblings, even spouses
So to sum up, I think making it an allegory or metaphor or subtext for homophobic prejudice (and let’s not beat about the bush; that’s how it’s taken and read, whatever the intentions may have been) muddies the waters. The ban in itself is not irrational; the story would have been just as forceful had Lenara been Jadzia’s grand-daughter by a former host and that taboo had been called out about reassociation; the fact that we can’t be sure how much of the rekindled relationship is genuinely Jadzia and Lenara in love will never be resolved simply because they can’t divest themselves of their symbionts (as joined Trill they will die if the symbiont is removed) and be free of that influence of the past hosts to make up their own minds.
That’s why I think that, no matter how clumsily “The Outcast” handled it, at least it was clear that Soren was acting out of her own genuine identity, which is why it works better than “Rejoined”.
The whole premise of “Rejoined” is that the ban on reassociation is simply stupid, and I think that it can be argued that there are good grounds for the ban.
As for “how dare they forbid our love”, we do that everyday: sorry, you’re too young to get married legally, you’ll have to wait another three years. Sorry, you can’t marry another spouse if you’re already married and are not going to divorce. Sorry, you can’t marry until your divorce has gone through. Sorry, you can’t marry your half-brother even if you didn’t grow up together, only met as adults, and really love each other.
So phrasing it in terms of “They’re so cruel to be against True Love” - for me, at any rate - undercuts the whole argument they’re trying to make. As I hope I’ve demonstrated, I don’t think it’s about trying to regulate love, there may be good grounds for caution about reassociation, and by confining the examination of the taboo as it affects a sexual/romantic relationship instead of a familial one, they failed to argue that the ban is merely based on prejudice and bigotry.
I don’t see it as being dishonest because one of the tried and true staples of Star Trek have been the thinly veiled allegories for real life situations or issues - if anything, this one just tried to be less of an allegory and more of a tragic love story - but there’s no reason it couldn’t be both.
And I do understand why the ban exists and how it would make sense for Trill society - essentially, they don’t want to have an exclusive club of symbionts who only interact with each other.
That said, I find it really interesting to consider how this ban may have come about - was it the symbionts who… what, didn’t believe in their own self control and therefore needed laws to stop themselves just continuing from where they left off? Or the unjoined, who didn’t like the idea of the Joined becoming even more of an elite class than they already were?
While I can understand how it could have come about and why it makes sense… that doesn’t mean I agree with it.
After all, Curzon was perfectly capable of living his own life without trying to find Kahn - and the other hosts were clearly able to resist reassociation - but was that because of the law, or just because they wanted to live their own lives? Why does there need to be a regulation against it?
To me that implies that this is something that needs to be controlled - which implies that the symbionts and hosts are unable to make their own decisions about their lives, and while the reasons may be sound that doesn’t mean it’s not taking away the individual freedom and liberty of those who might otherwise choose to reassociate.
I actually wonder more about those familial reassociations - wouldn’t you be curious to find out what happened to your children? Or grandchildren? To not allow symbionts to even find out what happened to their families after they died just seems unnecessarily cruel to me.
What if Nilani and Torias had had a young child? How could you explain to that child that all of their father’s memories were inside another person now, but that they were never allowed to see or talk to them?
What if BOTH of them had died young? Would the child be raised an orphan, by the state, even though the symbionts were both alive and in new hosts? Don’t they have a responsibility to take care of the life their past hosts brought into the world?
I just don’t think the issue is so black and white as ‘reassociation is bad’ end of story.
After all, isn’t Dax already reassociating by being friends with Sisko? He’s been Dax’s friend through three lifetimes! And Ezri returns back to DS9 after she’s joined to Dax. Why is that not taboo?
By your own reasoning, if the whole purpose of joining is to live a new, different life, then hosts shouldn’t be allowed to keep their past hosts’ friends, or work in the same environment - why is the limit family or romances? How is maintaining a friendship over lifetimes any less or more destructive or dangerous than seeing your family again, or rekindling a romance?
Or Jadzia’s oath to take down the Albino with Kang, Kor and Koloth in ‘Blood Oath’ - isn’t that just as much reassociation?
As for your examples of regulating love, you’ve just made my point for me - it wasn’t long ago that same-sex marriage was illegal! That even being in a same-sex relationship was a crime that meant imprisonment.
Just because our society has laws against certain things doesn’t mean those things are necessarily wrong or that those laws are never going to change. I’m sure there are plenty of people in polyamorous relationships who don’t feel the law against marrying two or more people at once is right or necessary.
Just as people in same-sex relationships are fighting for their right to marry even as we speak.
So I’m sorry but as well reasoned as your arguments are, I’m still not convinced that the ban on reassociation really is right - but that was why the episode worked. Because Dax felt that love was more important, but Kahn didn’t.
The way I see it it wasn’t a matter of right or wrong, but one person being willing to stand against society for the person they loved, and the other not being willing to.