Monday, April 29, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: Meridian

 Deep Space Nine, Season 3
Airdate: November 14, 1994
53 of 173 produced
53 of 173 aired


The crew of the Defiant discovers a strange planet in the Gamma Quadrant that appears for only a brief snippet of time in our dimension. Dax must make a momentous life choice when she falls in love with one of its residents - should she continue on with her life and career and cultural obligations as a joined Trill, or join bloody Brigadoon after dating some schlub for three days? Her answer may surprise you...
Oh no! Boyfriend... fading! Just like any memory of this episode!


Matthew: Romance stories with an alien of the week have a huge hurdle to overcome - we have to both believe in and care about a relationship that didn't exist before the current episode, and the episode has about 20 minutes to achieve this. Well, Meridian didn't achieve it. We are subjected to numerous boring, slow romance scenes in which Dax and Deral make goo goo eyes at each other. Here's the thing - my mind casts almost unbidden to "The Masterpiece Society," another trek yarn in which a female main character is smitten by a male paramour she's just met. So why is "Masterpiece Society" so much more interesting? Well, it has a better sci-fi idea for one, but also the paramour has a certain level of complexity and inner conflict that makes him interesting, both for Troi and for us. Deral is just bland. I couldn't even hate him, like I did Devonani Ral in the much better episode "The Price." Where's the conflict? Give us something interesting, not just a bunch of smarmy tree climbing.

Kevin: Dear Lord, was this episode boring. I don't care about anything going on or anyone in it. The previous episodes you cite, particularly The Masterpiece Society work better because the attraction was believable and the lead character's actions credible. Troi wasn't leaving the Enterprise, she just has a brief relationship which she immediately acknowledged clouded her judgment in her interactions with the colony. I mean, even if it just meant giving up her career and moving to another planet, it would still be character assassination to think she would do so. But seriously, she'll never see her family again. How could she seriously contemplate this? I don't think even with better chemistry or with a more compelling lead would this have made sense. Jadzia contemplating throwing her life away for a relationship will happily get a far more credible outing in next season's Rejoined.

Matthew: The B story is an interesting twist on "Hollow Pursuits" - is it illegal to replicate a living person on the holodeck for sexual enjoyment? I could see the issue hinging on consent, which Kira clearly doesn't give here. Anyway, it's not given room to really breathe, and any reasonably astute viewer must be moved to ask: what the hell does it have to do with anything? Granted, it's more interesting than the A story. But come on. Give us even a tenuous connection. We also are introduced to Odo's thing for Kira. It works in this episode, despite whatever romantic horrors we will be subjected to down the road.

Kevin: I agree that this presents an interesting problem that they never really address. But why all the work to get the picture. I doubt that Barclay got detailed scans of everyone before creating his program, and the holodeck has displayed the ability to synthesize fully realized characters with a few voice commands. What other information was the holocamera going to get and did the guy care that much about that level of authenticity? The humor was well played with Kira and Odo, but it was certainly not enough to rescue a plot that just made me feel dirty.

Matthew: The pacing is a huge issue. 35 minutes in, we get the idea of Jadzia staying on the planet? Why not introduce this sooner? Why not just tell us that Dax and Deral have been romancing, and cut to the interesting part, instead of waiting for so long? It worked in "Silicon Avatar"...  But the bigger problems are these: 1. The reason they can't be together is lame technobabble (quantum blah blah blah) as opposed to an actually interesting emotional conflict; 2. How is it that Jadzia sacrificing her career and life is better than this dude sacrificing his? We aren't really made to believe that this place is of any special significance, it's just the remaining crew of a crashed ship. Who cares if he leaves? Why the hell don't they all? There was no justification given for Deral's desire to stay, especially given the prospect of nailing Terry Farrell for the rest of one's natural life. Also, aren't there repercussions for the symbiont and for Trill society? Forget just the fact of leaving Trill society, what about sitting in a transporter booth baking for an hour?

Kevin: It is never explained at all why they don't just leave for a new world based on a different Lerner and Loewe musical like My Fair Lady or Camelot. That would make a fun episode. Thirty people isn't enough to build a society even without this problem. This is just a stack of contrived problems. Worst of all, Dax doesn't go, but because another contrivance got in the way. She made an incredibly stupid and unbelievable decision and didn't even get the redemption of changing her mind at the last minute.


Matthew: Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell have a very nice scene upon their presumed farewell. A well written scene? No. A well acted scene? Most certainly. Brooks showed his emotion, but it didn't feel overdone. Farrell did a nice job throughout the show of indicating her attraction to Deral, even absent a solid motivation in the script. I liked Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman as well, their scenes had a nice comedic bite.

Kevin: The main cast have certainly hit their stride in letting their characters overcome a bad script. I even liked Nana Visitor's rebuffing Quark's "millionth customer" shtick until she finds out she won something. It was really cute.

Matthew: The guest cast was a bit hit or miss for me. Jeffrey Combs made a big impression right away, and it's easy to see why he was invited back so many times in the franchise. He really just tears into lines, and his voice is singular and interesting. Brett Cullen just didn't interest me. To be fair, nothing on the page would have made this so, but the actor didn't add anything, either. Christine Healy really reminded me of Brenda Strong from "When The Bough Breaks." That's a fine thing, even if it doesn't amount to a whole lot.

Kevin: Jeffrey Combs was wasted on this episode. I think he's really on par with Armin Shimerman as an actor of almost unparalleled talent and the ability to make almost any dialogue interesting. I liked Healy well enough as the leader. If only her people were a more interesting one to lead. But yeah, Cullen was just a non-entity.

Production Values

Matthew: Well, we've seen this garden before. It looks too manicured to be a real, natural place. It dragged me out of the story a bit. The Brigadooners were wearing what is now standard issue mid-nineties Trek Alien Fashion. We've seen it before, and we'll see it again on "Insurrection." It is what it is, and it doesn't really do it for me. I miss the more diverse fashion of TNG episodes like "First Contact," or even, heaven help me, "The High Ground."

Kevin: I wish they had just gone all out and found a Scottish village to film in. The fashions were fine for me. I prepare defaulting to basic knitwear over sparkly spandex any day.

Matthew: As far as optical effects go, I thought the planet phasing could have been done a bit better. I liked the notion that Dax was suffocating, but the transparency didn't sell me on Dax being exposed to a vacuum.

Kevin: Both the planet and personal phasing effects were a little underwhelming. It was the classic "make it blue" of effects work. In the plus column, the visual gag of Quark spotting Kira spotting him through the holocamera was pretty well done and pretty funny.


Matthew: My irritation level at the A story had me feeling like a 1, but the B story redeems the show just enough to keep it in 2 territory if you ask me.  The actors made those scenes just interesting enough to keep me from completely checking out. But the romance is an utter failure.

Kevin: Yeah, I can't quite justify a 1. The B plot is pretty funny in place and Kira and Quark act the hell out it, but this is still an excruciatingly boring episode and it deserves a 2 from me as well for a total of 4. 


  1. No way! Did you guys forget about Civil Defense??

  2. We accidentally tripped an old Cardassian security program and it deleted the post.

    Actually, we caught that error this morning. We have the podcast for it all recorded, we just mixed up the publishing order. It should be out on Thursday or Friday.

  3. Hahaha very nice! I didn't expect a podcast for that episode but I'm pleasantly surprised! I'm thrilled to see you guys doing podcasts more frequently again! The dark days of very few podcasts around season 5 of TNG are long gone!

  4. The most unbelievable part for me is Dax deciding to stay behind and remain on the planet to be with some guy she's known a total of 15 minutes. Or 1 day and 15 minutes. it was so ridiculous. I didnt buy it even one bit. He was boring yes but in a more reserved kind of way. If dax goes for Neanderthals like Worf, I dont see why she would for this guy, who is pretty much the exact opposite of what Worf is (another reason I dont buy her relationship with and attraction to Worf).

    Anyway, in this episode if she wanted to fuck him, she should have done that and it would have made much more sense as a fling with an alien thing, But trying to pass it up as her having fallen deeply in love and is therefore staying was unbelievable and silly. 'Seriously?" I thought. She is going to give up her career and her existence s a Trill and maybe even jeopardize the Symbiont to be on some phase sifting planet with some hot shot she met 5 minutes ago? What, was this episode written by contest writers who know nothing of Star Trek?

    On a personal note, the garden where Dax and her new lover stroll through is the Huntington Library, which is my most favorite space here in LA. I have spent a very many hours at that same Lily pond, napping, writing, talking and snapping pics so to see such a familiar place on screen like that is kinda fun.

    By the way, Jeffrey Combs has such a sexy just occurred to me watching this episode again.