While job shadowing O'Brien, Jake admits that he doesn't want to join Starfleet. Turns out O'Brien's dad wanted him to be a cello player. "You've got to live your own life," says the Chief. O'Brien doesn't fiddle around.
Speaking of fiddling, (or was that diddling?) Vedek Bariel stops by to see Kira. They have opposing religious views, but, boy, do they enjoy a game of springball. It's just like she used to play with her brothers, only hopefully without the smooching. Bariel is worth her while! So when she finds out Quark did the matchmaking only to keep her ridged nose out of his nefarious schemes she only beats him up a little bit.
Do the missing villagers have something to do with the big matter-antimatter reactor in the town square? Why does no one ever leave the valley? How did local girl Taya become the identical cousin of little Clara Sutter from the Enterprise? Why do Data and Odo avoid romance in favor of spending time amusing prepubescent girls?
Taya's Grandpa Rurigan is miserable at the loss of his daughter, but utterly fatalistic. Turns out he built everyone and everything in this valley: he's the only non-hologram here. It's a re-make of the world he lost to the Dominion. There's no phone, no lights, no motor-cars. There's no holo-dogs leaving holo-poops on the holo-lawn. But with his fantasy disrupted, he's ready to pack it all in.
Odo's impassioned plea to fix and reactivate the village always makes me misty: our fantasies are important, and the characters in them are real. Because they're real to us.
"Shadowplay" would be a lesser work without Kenneth Mars as good-natured Colyus. Ken Mars died last year, but you probably saw him in something (maybe The Producers or Young Frankenstein) since he had a 45 year long career. Personally, I found him endearing as the addled Dr. Hunterhanker in my beloved cartoon 'Freakazoid!' Which kind of proves the point: the characters we love live forever.