Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Meridian”

“Meridian”
Written by Hilary J. Bader and Evan Carlos Somers and Mark Gehred-O’Connell
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Season 3, Episode 8
Production episode 40512-453
Original air date: November 14, 1994
Stardate: 48423.2

Station log: Odo joins Kira in the replimat and their conversation about taste and eating is interrupted by Tiron, someone she met in Quark’s the previous night. Tiron hit all over her then and he attempts to take another shot at her, forcing Kira to pretend that Odo’s her lover to get rid of him.

Sisko has convinced Starfleet to let the Defiant explore the Gamma Quadrant despite the Dominion threat for reasons passing understanding. They investigate a gravimetric disturbance in a star system that has no planets—and then a planet suddenly appears with thirty human inhabitants.

They make contact and invite the crew to dinner. The planet is called Meridian, and it only intersects with this dimension every sixty years. In the other dimension, they become noncorporeal beings of energy, aging only when they’re corporeal. One of the natives, Deral, hits on Dax like whoa. He also explains that they’re the descendants of an expedition that crash-landed on the world centuries ago. Their numbers are diminishing, especially since they’re only corporeal for a limited time—and that time keeps shrinking. At the moment, it’s down to twelve days, and as it gets shorter, eventually the planet will cease to exist. Dax and Sisko offer to help out, using the Defiant’s resources to try to determine what’s causing the destabilization.

On the station, Tiron expresses displeasure with one of Quark’s holosuite programs. What he wants is Kira, and he’s willing to pay top dollar for it. Quark is reluctant at first, especially given the challenges of recording Kira’s image, but he takes it on. He fakes a summons from Morn and then announces that she’s his one millionth customer: she wins some champagne, five free spins at the dabo table, and a free hour in the holosuite (the latter being the important part, as he can record her image once she’s inside). But Kira hates the holosuites (as Quark well knows), and so she gifts the free hour to an ensign who’s having a birthday.

The one thing the Defiant has that Meridian doesn’t is scans of the sun when Meridian was in the other dimension. They find a gamma-ray burst just before the planet’s reappearance, so O’Brien launches a probe. While they wait for the probe to do its job, Deral takes Dax on a walk through all the pretty parts of Meridian, eventually winding up smooching a lot.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

In addition to getting romantically involved, Deral and Dax also are able to figure out a way to stabilize the dimensional shifts. That’s the good news; the bad news is that it’ll take more than the five days they have left to perform the stabilization. The next time Meridian appears, it’ll remain for thirty years. However, Deral wishes to stay with Dax, so he decides to leave the settlement and come back with Dax to DS9.

Quark gets his hands on a high-level clearance that enables him to access Kira’s voiceprint, retinal scan, psych profile, and other personal info that he can use to create the holosuite program. However, Odo detects the download, and alerts Kira. But Kira doesn’t want to arrest him, she wants revenge. So she and Odo muck with the program so the holosuite superimposes Quark’s head on Kira’s body. Tiron is, to say the least, displeased.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

Deral has second thoughts about leaving. Meridian has a future now, and there are only thirty of them left. Dax, however, has worked out a way for her to shift with the planet and the people when the changeover happens, so she can be with Deral even after they go to the other dimension. Dax hands Sisko a request for sixty-year leave of absence. They have an emotional goodbye, with Dax saying that she’s looking forward to existing as pure consciousness after being a humanoid for centuries, and Sisko saying she can call him “Old Man” for a change when she gets back.

She beams down to Meridian to prepare for the shift. But something goes wrong—Dax’s presence destabilizes the shift and they have to beam her back or the planet will be destroyed. Once she’s beamed off, the shift occurs as normal, leaving Dax without her wubby for six decades.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: Meridian turns to energy every sixty years because of reasons. The Defiant is able to scan the sun and determine how to fix it, but it won’t take until the next shift. Meanwhile, the transporter somehow magically makes Dax compatible with the shift—or at least it’s supposed to, as it actually fails to adjust her quantum whatever properly.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Apparently Sisko thought it was important to convince Starfleet to let them continue to explore the Gamma Quadrant. It’s unclear exactly why they need to continue to explore the GQ, unless Sisko also counts poking beehives with a stick among his hobbies.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is genuinely touched when Quark tells her she won prizes for being his one millionth customer. She’s less touched when she realizes that Quark is making a holographic blow-up doll for Tiron.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

The slug in your belly: Dax informs Deral that her spots go all the way down. I’m sure you were all wondering. She also comments that Curzon fell in love every other week, which is consistent with what we know about the old man.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Shortly after assuming humanoid form for the first time, Odo tried to eat. It wasn’t a very edifying experience, as he has no taste buds. It was also messy, though he refuses to go into specifics. (However, given the lack of internal organs, one can, perhaps, make a guess or two…)

Rules of Acquisition: Quark is willing to do anything for money, including the massive risks involved in getting an accurate holoimage of Kira for a skeevy dude.

Victory is life: Apparently Talak’talan was bluffing when he said that the Dominion would view any further incursion into the GQ as an act of war in “The Jem’Hadar,” since the Defiant encounters no Jem’Hadar patrols. Their fear of same is given lip service in the teaser, when O’Brien says they can’t beam down to a planet for fear of being attacked by the Jem’Hadar while “picking flowers”—and then they spend the next hour beaming down to a planet a lot.

Tough little ship: Unlike “Equilibrium,” the use of the Defiant here instead of a runabout makes sense because of the Dominion threat. Why the Dominion threat is being risked remains unclear.

What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Tiron apparently owns his own holosuite. Makes you wonder why he’s using Quark’s in the first place.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Let’s see: Tiron has the hots for Kira. Kira pretends to be Odo’s lover to get rid of him. After Kira leaves, Odo looks longingly at the hand Kira held when she was pretending to be lovers with Odo. And Dax falls in total love in a few days.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

Keep your ears open: “I want Major Kira.”

“What are you going to do with Kira in a holosuite? No! Don’t tell me! I don’t want to know.”

Tiron expressing his wishes, Quark asking the obvious question and then wisely thinking better of it.

Welcome aboard: Jeffrey Combs makes his first of many many many appearances on Trek as Tiron. He’ll later have two different recurring roles on DS9, as Weyoun and Brunt, and a third as Shran on Enterprise, and he’ll make single appearances as other characters in “Far Beyond the Stars,” Voyager’s “Tsunkatse,” and Enterprise’s “Acquisition.” Christine Healy plays Setlin, while this week’s Robert Knepper moment is longtime character actor Brett Cullen, best known the past few years for his recurring roles on Lost and Person of Interest, as Deral.

Trivial matters: Combs originally auditioned for the role of William Riker on TNG, so it’s amusing that he was cast in his first actual Trek appearance by director Jonathan Frakes, the man who actually got the role.

The image of Kira’s body with Quark’s head was supposed to be Nana Visitor wearing a foam headpiece, with the image of Quark to be superimposed over the headpiece in post-production, but she was still feeling the claustrophobic aftereffects of the Cardassian makeup from “Second Skin” and couldn’t do it. Body double Leah Burrough filled in for her.

This episode is obviously based on the musical Brigadoon, about a Scottish village that only appears once every century. Co-executive producer Ira Steven Behr has always been a big fan of the musical, and the notion of a Trek episode based on it was originally his.

Walk with the Prophets: “Next time we see each other, I’ll probably be a great-grandfather.” What an awful episode. The A-plot feels like a mid-level TNG episode, and not a particularly good one. In fact, in some ways, it reminds me unfavorably of both “The Masterpiece Society” and “The Outcast,” with an unconvincing love story amidst a tale of the crew helping a planet technobabble their way out of something. It’s absent the controversy of the latter, at least, but it’s also absent the philosophical questions of the former. Worse, it sets the precedent that the Dominion won’t follow through on their threat to keep the Federation out of the Gamma Quadrant and does so for absolutely no good reason that the script bothers to supply (especially since there’s nothing about Meridian that requires it to be in the GQ; why not just have it be a star near Bajor that they’re checking out the gravimetric disturbances from?).

Ultimately, as with every romance-in-an-hour episode, it’s on the back of the guest actor to make it work, and Bret Cullen doesn’t pull it off. His sodden attempts at chemistry with Terry Farrell fall completely flat (tellingly, there’s more emotional depth to Dax’s single-scene talks with Bashir and later Sisko than in any single moment between Dax and Deral). His reversal in deciding to remain on Meridian is unconvincing (any society so reliant on one person is going to fail, even if they get thirty years instead of twelve days next time), and the willingness of either Deral or Dax to uproot their lives (and in the latter’s case, her very state of being) for each other is never at any point even a little bit convincing. The script tries to insist that Dax has thought it through, but Sisko’s concern that she’s buggering off to spend sixty years as a light blob with someone she’s known for a week is never properly addressed.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

The B-plot is only mildly more interesting, if for no other reason than we see the sleazy underbelly of holo-re-creation, something we saw treated with kid gloves on TNG in “Booby Trap” and “Hollow Pursuits” and insufficiently addressed in “Galaxy’s Child.” Unfortunately—and this is surprising, given who’s playing him—Tiron creates very little impression, either. He’s neither sleazy enough nor pathetic enough nor menacing enough to work. He’s just sort of there. And, again, Quark does something horrible (cf. “Invasive Procedures”) and there are no consequences, beyond his never getting paid for his time. Yes, Kira and Odo’s practical joke is entertaining, but it feels more like the solution to a sitcom plot than something that two characters as serious as Odo and Kira would implement.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Meridian

An episode that could possibly have been good, but fails to manage even the dregs of a decent story.

 

Warp factor rating: 1


Keith R.A. DeCandido thinks, therefore he is.

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