Though I initially found myself enjoying this latest episode of DS9, long before the end I had come to find it tiresome, and well below the standards of season 3 thus far.
For this episode, the team reverted to the old trick of parallel plots, completely unrelated to each other, which immediately suggests that neither is really strong enough to stand up on their own. Unfortunately, the two tales were so far apart in tone, approach and physical space, they were unable to lean on each other. It was a bit like that old sketch on the BBC Radio comedy Hallo Cheeky, where the gag was that due to timing running late, three completely disparate programmes would be broadcast simultaneously, the mike cutting between the three performers to create wonderfully idiotic double entendres.
This one wasn’t funny, though.
The sub-plot certainly wasn’t, although that was supposed to be the comic story, and was led-off in the open. Tiron (the first of multiple appearances in differing roles by Jeffrey Cmbs), an alien ‘colleague’ of Quark’s, fancies himself a great deal, but he also fancies Major Kira more than somewhat, so she resorts to pretending Odo is her lover to throw him off. Thwarted, Tiron – a study in self-regarding petulance from his alien make-up onwards – demands a custom holosuite programme from Quark, starring the Major.
Much hilarity (hem-hem) ensues as Quark tries to get a holo-profile of our favourite redhead, but by the time he succeeds, Odo and Kira know enough of what’s going on to blow the deal by tinkering with the programme to give Tiron the legs of the Major (at least, I hope that was Nana Visitor) but the head of… Quark. Boom boom.
In the main, and serio-tragic part of the story, the rest of the cast is in the Defiant, exploring the Gamma Quadrant when a planet, Meridian, literally pops into existence before their very eyes. Meridian alternates between dimensions, one the corporeal universe of the Gamma Quadrant, the other a non-corporeal dimension where the diminished population, even the planet, exists as purely consciousness.
Unfortunately, something is out of balance. Meridian has been incorporeal for sixty years, but its physical state will last only twelve days before it shifts back for another sixty years. Needless to say, if you’ve only got a body for twelve days every half century, it makes things like conception, pregnancy and birth a bit dodgy, which is why the Meridianites are down to only 30, and not much of a gene pool.
One of those thirty is Teril, a widower. Teril is strong, handsome, virile and played by a young Brett Cullen, with whom I’m much more familiar for his recurring role as Nathan in Person of Interest. Teril quite clearly fancies the knickers off Jardzia, and she’s not entirely disinterested in his underthings either. But, wait, this is not merely lust at first sight (how could it be in a prime-time series from 1994?), it’s real, genuine, actual love.
Teril decides to leave to be with Jardzia, but his conscience troubles him over his people, his home, his friends. So she decides to stay with him, take leave of absence from Starfleet for sixty years. It’s a tremendous, loving sacrifice, but the problem with this story, with all such stories, is that this is part of an ongoing, prime-time TV series and it’s impossible to vest a moment’s emotion in the course of the story, because you know she’s never going to leave with him, and what’s more, this love-of-eight-lifetimes will be forgotten by as early as the next episode.
The dramatic tension is negligible.
In the end, Meridian starts to shift into phase but Jardzia doesn’t. Indeed, she’s acting like an anchor, holding the planet back and threatening to destroy it until she’s teleported out. End of story, except for Jardzia’s heartbreak. I just need time, she tells Sisko, adding sotto voce ‘sixty years’, which would be moving if it even got as much as sixty seconds before the credit roles.
This half of the story was well-made and well-formed and could have been good if it had been possible to develop any kind of investment in the possibility of Dax going with Teril. Since that was zilch, so too was the episode. There’s always next week.