The first Ezri Dax episode begins awkwardly (as it should) before finding its footing in a Dax/Garak story. Stepping into a beloved role and making it her own for a single season is a thankless task for Nicole DeBoer and the writers, requiring lots of issues to be addressed. Foremost? Worf, who gets the B story. As Julian and Quark get to know Ezri better, the hopelessly confused Worf takes offense. Even without the other guys in the picture, he can't accept Ezri. "How can I honor the memory of the woman I loved when she is not really dead?" Giving Ezri and Worf their own separate stories to deal with the issue is a productive formula and a fun exploration of a science fiction idea that other television shows can't do.
It is, of course, Ezri who gets the lion's share of the episode, with the writers returning to the idea of a counselor for the crew. It's a good idea that helps differentiate her from Jadzia, and Deanna Troi need not fear the competition. Ezri is the opposite of Starfleet's best and brightest, having a naive immaturity more often seen on teen shows than Star Trek that can be uncomfortable but interesting to watch.
Unfortunately, writer Echavarria does her no favors with his "pscyho babble", coming across as someone who doesn't actually have any training impersonating a therapist. (It makes Sisko look silly as well, since his continual assertion that she should skip the rest of her training seems, in light of her job performance, like an insult to therapists who've actually taken the pains to learn what they're doing). Actually, a significant part of the problem with the way Ezri's therapy sessions are written is oversimplification, a problem with the episode on the whole. With a predictable formula that includes triumphs and setbacks at just the times a veteran TV fan would expect them, the episode contains little that's memorable. But the point of the episode isn't really to surprise or amaze but to simply integrate Ezri into the show, and on this count, "Afterimage" succeeds.