Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Meridian
October 25, 2015 8:03 PM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Brigadoon IN SPAAAAAAACE! Will our crew be able to science the ---- out of this one? Plus, everything you never wanted to know about the holosuite but were too squicked out to ask, or, you thought the one with Barclay in TNG was TMI...

From Memory Alpha:

- Some members of the DS9 staff consider this episode to be the weakest of the season. For example, writer Hilary J. Bader says "Of all the stories I've done for Star Trek, "Meridian" is my least favorite"; writer/producer Ronald D. Moore claims "I don't think anyone likes the show. I don't think we liked the show. This one just went wrong. It never jelled"; and visual effects supervisor Glenn Neufeld says "A classic case of making it up as we go. I don't want to talk about it."

- This episode features the first appearance of Jeffrey Combs on the series, as well as on Star Trek. Combs, who had originally auditioned for the role of William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was cast as Tiron by this episode's director, Jonathan Frakes (who actually got the part of Riker).

- The garden set of Meridian, where Jadzia and Deral engage in a relationship, was filmed at the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California. The house of Deral is a reuse of the set used for the temple in TNG: "Masks", and was built on Paramount Stage 18. The backdrop seen outside the house was actually a 270-degree backdrop borrowed from Walt Disney Studios, where it had been originally created to be used on Mary Poppins. The aerial view of the settlement on Meridian was a reuse of a shot previously used in Star Trek: The Next Generation's sixth season episode "Birthright, Part II".

"This is Odo... my lover." - Kira
posted by Halloween Jack (11 comments total)
 
Wow, that was pretty terrible. And I say that having watched Plato's Stepchildren in the same morning.

It's especially bad coming after the terrific "Civil Defense" episode. I wonder if the fact that they did so many rewrites to get that episode right left them too burnt out or time-crunched to get this one right.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:28 PM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they picked the worst possible character (Dax) to put into the love story plot. Dax has lived and loved many times, and she should have the wisdom to know that days-old infatuation is not something to abandon your career and go run off to a planet where she doesn't know anyone else, where no one has ever even seen a Trill before, much less have the medical facilities to care for the unique needs of a joined Trill. And where there will be no Trill to accept the symbiont if Jadzia dies before the 60 years are up. It's an absolutely fucking crazypants decision for the character as she was written.

Bashir would have been a much better choice. He's still young and dumb enough to make this sort of life-altering decision based on days-old infatuation, and he had that one-that-got-away ballerina in his past, which could make him decide that he's not going to let this new love get away. Not that this would have saved the episode. It would have just made it less awful.

While I usually love any Odo-Kira interaction I can get, the fake-boyfriend scenario feels like the writers rummaged through Romantic Cliches 101, and didn't think for a minute about whether this scenario fit Kira at all. She's never had a problem telling dudes where they can shove their amorous intent, and there isn't anything in the story that tells us why this dude is different. Rene plays his part beautifully here, and that's the best part of the episode for me, but gah, what a terrible B-plot to go with the terrible A-plot. I suppose it's a good thing that they put the two sucky parts together into one terrible episode, instead of splitting them up, and ruining two episodes.
posted by creepygirl at 9:18 PM on October 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Huh. I remember thinking this one was pretty good, although it has been a while. If nothing else, it's got the hologram sex fantasy fake-out with Quark's head on Kira's body.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:56 PM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


The silly Brigadoon stuff is why this is one of my least favorite episodes, but I still love the scene with Dax and Sisko where they talk about her decision. That friendship is one of my favorite relationships on the show.
posted by thetortoise at 2:15 AM on October 26, 2015


I was waiting for this episode to pop up for discussion. I am running about two episodes ahead of our rewatch currently, so I saw this one a few days ago. I kept waiting for the interesting twist to make the episode have something at stake... Nope. I was really surprised when it just turned out to be "Welp, Jadzia can't go with them..."

What creepygirl pointed out is all true to me - Jadzia should be about the last character to fall in love in a few days, although few of the characters could have reasonably pulled this off. It does raise an interesting question about a kind of mental and spiritual fatigue on the part of Trills... Do they ever get tired of carrying on?

All in all, a really dull episode. Part of the double-edged sword with the show, I guess; the heights are so high that any lows stand out in harsh relief.
posted by Slothrop at 6:15 AM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is one of those episodes that's as disappointing as it is, I think, because you can see what the episode could have been, even (to anthropomorphize for a moment) what the episode seemed to want to be despite the efforts of its creators otherwise. "Meridian" seemed to really want to be about sex, and further about love and/or romance peeking its head out in the oddest places and times, but Brigadoon IN SPAAAACE is what the showrunners wanted and by the Prophets that's what they insisted it be. Which is too bad, because there was something charming about Deral's straightforward flirting with Jadzia and her equally enthusiastic response; you can practically see Sisko and O'Brien thinking at each other, "yep, they're gonna bang." She's been around the block more and longer than anyone else on the crew and she can completely understand wanting to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh while you can (especially as Curzon, nudge nudge, nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat). Similarly, while I agree with creepygirl that Kira don't need no help to tell off a creep, I think that she got a bit of pleasure out of using Fake Boyfriend to twist the knife a little in the dude who wouldn't take no for an answer, the huge irony being that she was too preoccupied to see who was really getting the knife there. They're neat little moments, but they could have been spun out into so much more; here's how I would have done it.

The A story starts much as it does in the real episode, with Deral and Jadzia hooking up. There's more ambiguity about the corporeal phase of the Meridianites' lives, though, with Seltin, the colony's leader, mentioning that some of the inhabitants prefer the noncorporeal phase of their existence, but not really going into it. (Speaking of whom, there's a very mild similarity with "Paradise" in that they're both small, women-lead colonies, but as villainous as Alixus is, at least she's a fairly well-developed character, unlike Seltin.) She also mentions the local woman that she either thinks that Deral should be hooking up with or that he may have shown some interest in earlier (the actual episode never makes this clear; the other woman is never seen, and it's oddly unresolved for something that is brought up more than once). Deral is obviously uncomfortable with the subject and changes it. The crew also discusses the unstable nature of Meridian, which is less certain in this version; it could go permanently noncorporeal, permanently corporeal, or simply be destroyed from the stress of switching back and forth. The crew go off to science the shit out of the problem, and after some prodding by Jadzia, he finally reveals that he's had a thing going on with the local woman during the noncorporeal phase, but she's uncomfortable with a physical relationship, so they have a sort of uneasy polyamorous agreement. After O'Brien and Jadzia come up with a plan to make Meridian permanently corporeal, Seltin finally reveals that, for many if not most Meridianites, the noncorporeal phase is a feature, not a bug; many of them came to the planet deliberately to escape the prisons of their flesh, for one reason or another, at least for an interval of time; many of them spend the corporeal phase in the part of the colony that the landing party doesn't initially see, laying in bed doped up on tranquilizers so that they don't have to think about being meat. Seltin would rather that the crew try to tip Meridian toward being permanently noncorporeal, even though that carries the greater risk of having the planet simply cease to exist like a soap bubble. Deral, meanwhile, knows that he can't leave Meridian (basically, no one can, once they've gone through the transition to noncorporeality once), and wants Jadzia to stay, insisting that he's finally found someone for whom he feels an emotional connection to equal the physical attraction. Jadzia lets him down gently, saying that it's a common phenomenon with joined Trill because they've led so many different lives that almost everyone finds something in them to relate to, but that she's got a responsibility to the symbiont (again, per creepygirl above), and that she'll try to catch him during the next corporeal phase, even though she may be a different person next time.

In the B story, again it begins much the same way, but involves less shenanigans with Quark trying to take Kira's picture (his involvement in the actual episode kind of tips the skeevy-Quark needle into the redzone, although seeing his head holo-Photoshopped onto Kira's body is kind of funny); Tiron is more directly involved in the scheme, and gets arrested by Odo for the hacking attempt, and in the hoosegow Tiron tells Odo how envious he is of him, and bitterly muses about how Odo can be anyone he wants, but obviously chooses to be this sort of semi-abstract humanoid archetype, and how he, Tiron, wishes he could not be so obsessed with his appearance and lack of success in getting a real date. (The crushing irony here being that not only does Odo not think of himself that way, but it seemed that, before Kira grabbed his hand in the Replimat, he wasn't even necessarily aware that he was that attracted to her.) It seems like it would be a stretch to make Tiron even semi-sympathetic, and it would be for most actors, but as we shall see in later seasons, Jeffrey Combs (who is, of course, very good here) can not only excel in that sort of coldly-creepy role, but can also pull off the impressive trick of making a creep more sympathetic while not really diluting or compromising the character. The B story ends with Tiron apologizing to Kira in Quark's with Odo observing, and then the Bajoran militia member that Kira gave her free holosuite session to shows up to claim it; she's a technician who actually recognizes Tiron (he made his money off inventions, including one that has actually benefited Bajor directly), and she was planning to use the holosuite session to run engineering simulations; he reveals that that's one of the reasons why he has his own holosuite, and they walk away to geek out together. Kira shrugs, says "you never know what's really in someone's heart", and walks away herself, leaving Odo all po-faced.

Anyway, that's what I would have done if I were the king of the forest.

Not queen, not duke, not prince.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:23 AM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think they picked the worst possible character (Dax) to put into the love story plot...Bashir would have been a much better choice.

I agree, for all the reasons already mentioned. Bashir would have been an easier sell, not least since he spent a fair portion of the first season acting as though he was in a love story plot.

There are so many other problems with this; I want it to work, because the Sisko/Jadzia scenes are great, and the ending to the Quark plotline is...visually stunning.

It's been a long time since I've seen Brigadoon. But, iirc, there's a clear arc to it: there's an initial mystery (what is happening with this town?); an evolving love story that leads to the discovery of the mystery (the character cares about a person, and therefore the town); the premise of the mystery precludes the love story (the character cares about the situation of the town, but can do nothing); and then resolution and reunion (but in fact, they care so much that they can reunite with their love).

Here, the initial mystery (where did this planet come from?) is resolved before we meet anyone at all; the love story evolves from an interest in the place (why is this happening, and how can we help?); the premise of the mystery doesn't seem to preclude their love (she can decide to stay); but then it does stop them from being together (because science, she can't stay).

At every turn, we lose the tension of the original story -- the characters and viewers know what's going on with the town (the specifics of why its appearing and disappearing matter less than that it is doing that); there's no indication that Jadzia couldn't stay other than her character's motivations -- which don't make sense, so we expect a twist that never comes; and then she, in fact, cannot stay and so...the story just ends. She doesn't strike up a correspondence with the alternate-dimension, she doesn't reminisce about her love in future stories. The minor tension of love denied is denied any kind of resolution.

There's no drive here; the stakes are incredibly low, but the writers still devote a lot of time to resolving what feels like a non-problem -- I think they would have been better off jettisoning the whole subplot of the planet's synchronizations destabilizing and simply gone with 'sometimes we're here, sometimes we're not' and left it as a love story rather than as a love and also science! story.
posted by cjelli at 8:34 AM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


The A story is dire, but the comedy B story is great. I loved that Quark is so much more open about how the holosuites are actually used.
posted by marienbad at 2:40 PM on October 27, 2015


Ugh...space hippies.


On the other hand, it was funny to see someone who actually creeps Quark out.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:24 PM on October 27, 2015


Guh, this is such a weak episode. In fact! Its weakness always makes me forget that it's a DS9 episode instead of a TNG. For some reason I *always* recall it as being about Troi falling in love with some phase-shifting alien. Because let's be honest, that's totally a Troi-focused kind of TNG plot.

The only thing that redeems this one is the punchline to the B-story.
posted by rocketman at 10:09 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it's possible for me to care less about a plot than I did about Jadzia falling in love with that dude. One thing I thought they should have focused more on is how they existed as beings of pure energy on the other side. Having that be the appeal for Dax and not some pretty tepid romance would at least have made some sense for her.
posted by Copronymus at 5:21 PM on October 30, 2016


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