Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Meridian"

**

Air date: 11/14/1994
Teleplay by Mark Gehred-O'Connell
Story by Hilary Bader and Evan Carlos Somers
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Sorry to hear you say that, but if you're asking for a refund, forget it. The contract specifically says that satisfaction is not guaranteed." — Quark to his customer

With the airing of "Meridian," every major character on DS9 has earned the spotlight for an episode in which they have a love interest. Okay—everyone except Odo who does not typically involve himself in the same emotional relationships as humans (and Bajorans and Trills and Ferengi and...).

Trek love stories are just about always unsatisfying. They follow a basic formula that is nearly impossible to deviate from because some unwritten rule states that the particular week's love interest has to be gone by the end of the episode. The biggest problem is that within the given one-hour time limit, the characters have to meet, fall in love and separate. Consequently, everything happens too fast, important dialogue opportunities are missed and in the end it just seems forced.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying relationship stories on Star Trek can't work. I'm just saying that writers don't take the risks they should and instead compromise the characters with conventional conclusions. These relationships should inhabit the subplots of multiple episodes to develop and really be effective.

While in the Gamma Quadrant, the crew of the Defiant discovers a planet called Meridian dwelled by a small village of people. The unique thing about Meridian, however, is that it shifts between two dimensions, the second in which the planet exists solely as energy without matter. (Comment: One laughable element of Star Trek is how the population of an entire planet can consist solely of one village of 50 people. Call it extreme dramatic simplification if you will.)

Dax falls in love with a Meridian inhabitant, a man named Deral (Brett Cullen). The relationship is set against Meridian's unstable phase changing and the threat that the planet may go out of phase forever. There's a surprising amount of forgettable technobabble buried in this episode, all of which can fortunately be ignored because it's basically irrelevant to the core of the story.

Unfortunately, the scenes between Dax and Deral are nearly equally irrelevant. They're extremely typical and, frankly, quite boring. What the teleplay should have done was use Dax's eight lifetimes of intelligence and wisdom to inspire some thoughtful, meaningful dialogue. Lines like "Later we can go back to your room and count each other's spots" are cute and all, but the script misses some major opportunities. Instead we get predictable, mediocre (and nearly gag-inducing) scenes such as Dax and Deral climbing a tree or walking down a hillside together while commenting on the beautiful scenery (though it is nice to have some outdoor location filming for a change). And this sappy score is dreadful—excruciatingly reminiscent of some of the original series' love themes. Not much of a comeback for Dennis McCarthy, who scores his first episode of DS9 since returning from working on the Generations feature.

What are very relevant are the peripheral scenes. This episode works well for Dax's character as she decides to abandon her career (and life as she knows it) to stay with Deral on his phase-shifting world. The show's highlight comes in a wonderfully directed and performed scene between Sisko and Dax, who say goodbye to each other forever. These minor moments are so much stronger than the episode's mainstream, which is exactly the problem with "Meridian"—the peripheral scenes are engaging while, on the other hand, the chemistry-lacking scenes between Dax and Deral can basically be thrown out the window.

Keeping the episode lively is a humorous (albeit forgettable) B-story taking place on DS9 as Quark tries to fill a "special order" for a holosuite program. It's an enjoyably unimportant comedy involving an obsessed visitor (Jeffrey Combs) who requests a sexed-up holosuite image of Major Kira. The results are entertaining, with a deliciously hilarious—and equally unconventional—payoff. Though completely unrelated to the main plot, it adds an acceleration boost to the episode.

As expected, "Meridian" ends on a sad note, but it feels like somewhat of a cheat because the ending is based on contrivance rather than character decision. Plus, it seems like a really crappy thing to do to Dax's character. It's just the same old stuff.

The disappointing aspects of "Meridian" demonstrate just how well TNG's sixth season "Lessons" worked as a relationship story. That was a story with thoughtful discussion and memorable moments where Picard stepped back and analyzed his life. That's what "Meridian" needed.

Previous episode: Civil Defense
Next episode: Defiant

Season Index

34 comments on this review

Jake - Sun, Aug 31, 2008 - 10:46am (USA Central)
Along with "Rejoined," "Lessons" is probably my favorite Trek love story. Picard and Dax really examined their lives in those episodes and, as you pointed out "that's what 'Meridian' needed."
Connor Steven - Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - 7:47pm (USA Central)
If anything, a ** rating flatters this episode. A pile of sappy, rushed and gag inducing garbage.
Dimitris Kiminas - Mon, Apr 6, 2009 - 8:54am (USA Central)
I just can buy that a person like Dax who have lived so many lifes (and have been both a father and a mother in them) would fall so deeply in love in 10 days that would decide to abandon everything for her love. I find it totally out of character.

@Jammer, your bot-elude maths are becoming more and more complicated. Aren't you afraid that you'll reach a point were some of your readers won't be able to answer them? :))
Tex - Tue, Mar 2, 2010 - 1:26pm (USA Central)
I can't believe this gets the same star rating as Civil Defense, which Jammer seems to loathe. Watching this again made me realize that most stories which focus on Jadzia are garbage.
Eric Dugdale - Wed, Dec 8, 2010 - 9:21pm (USA Central)
I managed to ignore the A-plot for most of it...and in the process had to ignore most of the episode. The B-plot was entertaining...though I couldn't stop imagining that it was Weyoun ordering the holosuite program. Coombs' voice here is identical to the one he uses as a Vorta.
Nic - Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - 9:45pm (USA Central)
There's only one good scene in here, it's the scene between Sisko and Dax. But even that doesn't completely work because I never believed Dax would really abandon her career (for which she worked so hard) for a man she just met a few days ago, and that's not even mentioning the fact that they have no chemistry. None of the pseudo-science in the episode is remotely believable. And even Jeffrey Combs couldn't make Tiron an interesting character.

1 star. I think this is the worst episode since "Move Along Home" (to which I would give 0.5 stars)
She can Deep Space my 9 - Sun, Mar 6, 2011 - 12:26am (USA Central)
So far, it looks like everyone, including myself, shared the same reactions to this episode.

I, too, found the A plot a re-hash, and a poor one at that, of the typical 'love stories' that clutter and drag down both TOS and TNG. I would have thought that concerns regarding serialization wouldn't be as important on DS9 given it's season-spanning plotlines and Operatic story arcs. But the old rule about characters ending the show where they started seems to be prevalent in DS9 as well.

I even found myself fast-forwarding through the sappy cliched love scenes to get back to the Quark plot. I do have to give Dax and Sisko credit for their emotional scene aboard the Defiant, it was touching, moving, and sincere.

Unfortunately, as others have noted, that scene and Quark plot are the only things that make this episode remotely watchable. 1 star here.
Jay - Sat, Oct 22, 2011 - 6:50pm (USA Central)
Jadzia really violated every established protocol for putting the well being of the symbiont above all else, particularly the "6 hours having her (and its) molecules scrambled in the transporter"...
Jack - Tue, Dec 27, 2011 - 11:50am (USA Central)
^ Not to mention taking the Dax symbiont out of the joining rotation by skipping town, er, universe on a ghost planet...
Pat - Sun, Jan 15, 2012 - 2:34pm (USA Central)
I totally agree. Jadzia is full of passion and embraces live but would she really "run off" with a guy she just met a few days ago and abandon her career, her friends... I'm just not buying it.
The only scene that really works is the one between Sisko and Dax. You really feel the chemistry and extremely strong bond between them. In my opinion this is actually the most important and most credibly relationships on ds9 (maybe even on all of Treck). The main reason why Jadzia's death left such a big hole in session 7.
Ilya - Fri, Feb 3, 2012 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
Here's a question - why are these people willing to stay on the planet? They've spent who knows how many years as ghosts, for maybe a year in their bodies. They are all over food, and Deral, for one, looked ready to drag the first person he saw into bed; Jadzia just happened to be sitting next to him at the wrong moment.
So, why go back? They have Defiant in orbit. They can go where ever they want. They can see if their own civilization is still around, found a new colony, or just go their own ways. They are not stranded anymore.

And, oh, as the TNG episode where Riker and Crusher killed a room full of unborn clones pointed out: You Can't Maintain a Civilization With 50 People!




(unless they are aliens)
Duge Butler Jr. - Sun, Apr 1, 2012 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
The concept of this episode was kind of interesting but the writers, having given us Equilibrium only a few episodes before highlighting the importance of the Trill symbionts and their need to preserve them- even at the expense of the hosts, seemingly decide to chuck all that out the window with no explanation or consideration. None of the characters, not even Sisko, brought that up as a reason why she can't so easily decide skip off to another dimension for several years. I realize that getting permission from the Symbiosis Commission would've taken up time that they didn't have before the planet phased again but that just makes it more obvious that Jadzia totally suspended all rational thought and placed her love life above her duty to her Symbiont (not even to mention her neglect of her duty to Starfleet). Knowing what we already knew about Jadzia, her characterization in this ep rang horribly false.
Lt. Fitz - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 3:48am (USA Central)
I can't believe no one seems to notice the biggest problem with this episode. Why are the administrators of a space station out doing exploration? And on an unstable prototype warship? Isn't that the job of people like Picard and ships like the Enterprise? I understand that there is only so much that can happen on a space station, but having the lead doctor of a space station out on exploration missions seems totally wrong.

Oh, and yeah, I didn't believe that Dax would do this at all. Hundreds of years of life and still hasn't learned not to throw everything away on a quickly-developed infatuation?
William - Thu, Sep 13, 2012 - 6:08pm (USA Central)
I feel generous giving it one and a half stars.
Cail Corishev - Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 9:39am (USA Central)
I like the Trill concept about as much as Jammer likes the Ferengi, and Dax herself bores me to tears, so this episode didn't have much of a chance with me. If this gets 2 stars, I give Civil Defense 35. But like others said, it's like the symbiont didn't even exist here. (It's revealing that it's never mentioned in a fairly detailed review.) If Jadzia were a 28-year-old human woman with a couple of ordinary romances in her past, I could buy that she'd fall in love and change her life overnight. But Dax has been married, as both husband and wife, had kids, and (seemingly) experienced everything the quadrant has to offer. If anyone should be jaded enough to avoid love at first sight, it should be Dax.

Dax is also, if anything, an adventurer. Even if I could convince myself that Dax saw the chance to live with 50 people in a ghost town for a while as a new kind of adventure, there's the practical fact that Trills kinda need to be close to other Trills, just in case a new host body is needed in a hurry. Dax wouldn't necessarily care about its duty to stay alive for Trill society, but it cares a whole lot about its own survival, as we saw when it was stolen. Shifting into another dimension for years takes a big risk with that for little gain.
Maestro - Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - 6:24pm (USA Central)
It's like... there is one good line in this episode. Jadzia stating "I just need some time... ... ... 60 years or so".
DG - Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - 5:59am (USA Central)
The best part of this entire episode was the first scene, with Kira and Odo and Kira telling Tiron that Odo's her sweetheart, and just watching Odo's face the entire time.

You can SEE how bad he wants that to be TRUE!! And knowing it's just an act.

Other than that, this episode was complete crap. I kept wanting Dax's new beau to just die. Or be a founder. Or be a something! Besides just... boring.
Rodion - Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - 1:41am (USA Central)
The A-story in this episode is among the worst material this series ever produced. It is unwatchable. With that said, I loved the B-story involving Quark and Tiron. The hideously saccharine Dax stuff juxtaposed with the hilarious, perverted Quark plot is jarring. Had to fast-forward large parts of the episode, though. Jammer's 2 stars are generous in the extreme (I also loved Civil Defense, which got the same rating).
Michael - Mon, Jul 1, 2013 - 12:47am (USA Central)
One thing I have been struck with as I have rewatched DS9 in order has been how Odo was played as clearly being in love with Kira for years before it was officially revealed. Was that a choice by the actors, or did the writers intend for that to happen eventually?
T'Paul - Thu, Jul 4, 2013 - 4:46pm (USA Central)
Implausible (what does Jadzia find so interesting about this guy), boring, typical Star Trek a planet is a village, blah, blah... Agree that this did not deserve a 2.

Nice to see Mr. Combs.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 6:42pm (USA Central)

The worst episode of DS9 thus far. The relationship between Dax and the alien makes no sense at all.

1/10
Dusty - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 5:50am (USA Central)
Wow. I guess this COULD have worked, if the actor had more chemistry with Jadzia and their scenes together weren't so corny. Everything happened way too suddenly; it was like her and the alien were playing a trick on everyone or something. The romance in 'Rejoined' was well paced; this one wasn't. Thank goodness they never came back to it.

I have to say, though, that the B-story with Quark, Kira, and the alien perv was hilarious and came to a fitting end.
Vylora - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
This is one of those episodes that stuck in my mind as pretty unique. The idea of a phase-shifting planet between dimensions is imaginative. Sort of akin to the TOS and VOY eps about temporally displaced planets. Unfortunately this ep also stuck in my head as being another neat idea with a bad story. The review here and most of the comments are pretty spot on but the rating a bit forgiving despite the amicable enough b-plot.

"...it seems like a pretty crappy thing to do to Dax's character." Indeed.

1 star.

Andrew Taylor - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 3:37am (USA Central)
This is a clear 1 star mess. Dax and Deral had no chemistry, their dialogue was stilted, and the whole relationship was so rushed. Was their a proper discussion regarding the symbiant?

Totally pointless.

However, the light B-story is pretty funny stuff, which is perhaps just enough to make it 1.5 stars. It marks Jeffrey Combs' first appearance in DS9, so it's a bit of an easter egg to see him here.
Quarky - Fri, May 9, 2014 - 12:59am (USA Central)
Why couldn't Jadzia phase shift like everybody else? They never explained that. Jadzia should have accidentally called Worf Deral on her deathbed.
gata4 - Fri, May 16, 2014 - 4:53pm (USA Central)
awful and tedious are two minds that come to mind.
lizzyann - Wed, Jul 2, 2014 - 12:39am (USA Central)
I think, to enjoy this episode, you need to be drunk.

But there is a lot to enjoy for ds9 fans--a b-plot that includes not only jeffrey coombs' first appearance on ds9 but also an entertaning odo/kira scene.

And if you skip the "romantic" scenes (although I actually think that Dax is absolutely the most plausible person to know that she's in love in a week--300 years ought to give you the ability to recognize love when you find it), the a-story is fun. The technobabble is entertaining, and Jax and Sisco are great.

Also, Sisco and the colony leader have the Best Chemistry Ever. Has anyone written fanfic on that?
Yanks - Thu, Jul 17, 2014 - 7:53am (USA Central)
Always a skipper for me.

The best part about this episode was the "B" story. Loved Jeffery Combs and thought Quarks efforts to make some coin at Kira's expense were pretty funny.

This is the worst writing for the Dax character in the entire show. 7 lifetimes of knowledge/wisdom/experience and she lets her loins do the talking? Leave Star Fleet? ... Sisko lets her? .... I'll say again... Sisko lets her?

***multiple face palms***

In “ReLOINed” she can’t control herself either. Didn’t she want to leave Star Fleet then too?

The most enjoyable part of this episode is Odo's face when Kira calls him her lover.

"Yes, sweetheart." ... lol

1 star for me, and that's generous I think. (I love Jeffrey Combs)
Domi - Wed, Sep 3, 2014 - 3:06pm (USA Central)
Here is another example of a DS9 episode automatically getting a 1/2 to 1-star bonus for the sake of being a DS9 episode. The love interest between Jadzia and Deral was as bad as 7of9 and Chakotay. And Avery Brooks hasn't had acting this poor since the pilot episode, he looked like a child actor in a school play. The B-story was better!
Robert - Wed, Sep 3, 2014 - 3:40pm (USA Central)
@Domi - 2 things to consider.

1) Trek romance-of-the-week stories are almost universally bad, whereas 2 regulars starting a relationship should probably get a little more work. Comparing it to C7 is a bit of an apples/oranges situation.

2) The sci-fi idea behind the Meridian planet actually is cool. I'd give it half a star for that, and a half star for Jeffrey Combs' first appearance being an "amusing enough" B plot.

That said the first ever DS9 episode to score 1 star is Fascination and Meridian is at least as unfortunate as that.
William B - Wed, Sep 3, 2014 - 3:47pm (USA Central)
As an aside, I think the inspiration for the SF idea of "Meridian" is probably the musical "Brigadoon" (Scottish village appears for only one day every hundred years).
Robert - Wed, Sep 3, 2014 - 3:56pm (USA Central)
Ah, one of the only good things about the episode wasn't even original :P
Sonya - Sun, Oct 5, 2014 - 12:26pm (USA Central)
Jammer wrote: "Keeping the episode lively is a humorous (albeit forgettable) B-story taking place on DS9 as Quark tries to fill a "special order" for a holosuite program. It's an enjoyably unimportant comedy involving an obsessed visitor (Jeffrey Combs) who requests a sexed-up holosuite image of Major Kira. The results are entertaining, with a deliciously hilarious—and equally unconventional—payoff. Though completely unrelated to the main plot, it adds an acceleration boost to the episode."

I don't know how I would have viewed this plot in 1994, but in 2014, I think it's important to talk about whether this is a violation. We all know what the obsessed visitor would have done with Kira's character/body in the holosuite. We know that Kira did not want her image/psychology used for that purpose or any other. If the visitor would have succeeded, would this have been a type of sexual assault and/or ethical transgression? Remember how creepy Geordie in TNG was to Leah? Isn't it possible (and perhaps likely) that holosuite fantasies with non-consenting "real people" would lead to blurring the lines in the real world? What recourse, if any, would Kira have had if the visitor had succeeded with his objective? Bad enough that her body was shown with Quark's head.
Dusty - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 11:12am (USA Central)
"If the visitor would have succeeded, would this have been a type of sexual assault and/or ethical transgression?"

Sexual assault on Tiron's part? I would say no. It's all a simulation. An ethical transgression by Tiron and Quark? Yes, absolutely. In this case it doesn't bother me because the B-story was clearly done for laughs. There was no doubt that Tiron would fail to seduce Kira, real or simulated--the only question was how.

You bring up an interesting point though. Was the issue of recreating real people on the Holodeck for selfish purposes ever seriously dealt with, or was the Holodeck always just a plot device and a moral gray area?

Maybe the more experienced Trek viewers can answer this question.

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