** (2 stars out of 5)
Despite the very real threat the Dominion made, (wherein they would pulverize anyone found in the Gamma Quadrant) the Defiant traipses back and starts MAPPING. As O'Brien puts it: 'picking flowers'. I know Starfleet loves to explore, who doesn't? But isn't this like flying across the Neutral Zone and urinating on a Romulan's boots?
What do they gain from this? Languid, irritating villagers on an even more irritating planet. The paradise world Meridian regularly disappears into a non-corporeal dimension for 60 years, returns unchanged for 2 weeks and vanishes again. Since this other dimension doesn't sound like it offers anything, why don't they just evacuate? Answer: they are impossibly, irritatingly tranquil.
Handsome Deral Handsomeface asks how far down Dax's markings go. "All the way." she says. You just put your liver spots together and blow! A promising beginning blossoms into a dull, dull whirlwind romance of tree-climbing and mild strolling. After briefly offering to go live with Dax, Deral mopes about having to leave his vital career (of eating fruit and lying around followed by decades of utter nothingness) until Dax agrees to tinker with her own quantum structure so SHE can throw her life away and move in with HIM.
It goes horribly awry. Meridian leaves without her. (Even I can't quite believe that Bashir would risk suffocating Dax by botching her molecular modifications ON PURPOSE.) And yet suffocating in space does seem preferable to a relationship with Deral.
Tiron hires Quark to design a custom erotic holo-program with Kira in a starring role. She dodges his attempts to snap her image, and she and Odo catch him hacking her personnel files. They turn the tables and give the final holo-wench the face of Quark. Tiron is not a satisfied customer.
Neither am I! This could have been the WHOLE story: Quark following Kira to the gym, to the shower, to Naked Church(!)... well, you get the idea.
"Meridian" somehow needed to make me care about Dax's hook-up and tragic loss. Not make me think back fondly on Troi's tepid romance in 'The Masterpiece Society'. Possibly it could have been done in song: this was meant to be a musical, at least in the planning stage. Would that version have been dreadful, or bring out the emotion that was utterly lacking?