Kira tells Odo about the pleasure of drinking too-hot coffee and, in order to escape the attentions of the smarmy merchant Tiron, role-plays that she and Odo are lovers. (She doesn’t notice how Odo reacts when she takes his hand.)
On the Defiant, a “commander’s log” lampshades the fact that this episode features a random exploratory jaunt in the Gamma Quadrant, despite the recent episodes carefully setting up the Dominion War story arc.
When the Defiant stops to study the plot contrivance particles from a Space Thing, a planet suddenly appears out of nowhere. The cheerful leader Seltin invites Sisko to “first meal,” where another resident, Deral, flirts with Dax, who responds in kind. We learn that in a few days, the planet Meridian and its 30 or so residents will slip into another dimension, where they will exist as pure consciousness for 60 years.
We don’t really need to know why the planet phase-shifts into a dimension where everyone exists as pure consciousness. We just need to see Deral feed Dax a spoonful of fruit.
The surprise is that there’s no villain in this low-stakes romance episode, during which Sisko gets invited to play ball with the village children.
The romance doesn’t actually feature a montage, but it does feature Dax saying, “I can’t remember the last time I did this. Stroll through a garden, climb a tree, eat fresh berries by a pond. What comes next? (They kiss.) I think I’m starting to remember.”
Bashir seems to be over his crush on Dax, or if not, the the writers didn’t choose to explore whatever lingering feelings he may have. Instead the episode focuses on Dax’s romance with a man from a Brigadoon planet, and what that means for Sisko’s friendship.
The climax, showing everything and everyone on the planet starting to ghostify while Dax remains solid, depends a lot on people staring at screens and infodumping the scanner readings, but I remember being impressed by actually seeing so much of the Space Thing from Dax’s viewpoint.
The comic B-plot back on the station features Quark trying to appease his rich customer Tiron, who can’t have Kira, but is willing to pay for the right holosuite experience.
I was happy for Dax during the romance sequence, though Avery Brooks as Sisko brought so much gravitas and depth to his lines that Sisko’s relationship with Curzon, mentioned only in dialogue, seemed so much more real than Dax’s potentially career-ending love for Dural, which we saw unfold before our very eyes.