A character-driven farce, in which most of the major cast and several recurring characters get massive crushes and/or are comically crushed upon.
Jake is sullen because his now-former girlfriend Mardah has left for school, but reluctantly agrees to attend the Bajoran Gratitude Festival with his Space Dad. O’Brien is jittery because Keiko and Molly are visiting from Bajor. Misanthropic Odo accepts Kira’s warm invitation to participate in the festivities, and Kira doesn’t notice how disappointed Odo is to learn Bareil will be visiting. Little Molly greets her daddy by puking on him, and Lwaxana enters with, “I should never have given you all that candy.”
Lwaxana is very attentive to Odo, who is comically terrified. Bareil seems to be a bit jealous about Kira’s friendship with Dax.
As the ceremony begins, Lwaxana gets a headache, and so do Jake and Bareil. And wasn’t little Molly sick, too?
Within a few moments, a grinning, swaggering Jake has professed his love for Kira, Bareil is following Dax like a puppy, and the most wholesome couple in all of the Star Trek canon, Miles and Keiko, are griping at each other. Like the opposite of comic relief, their sincere scenes add dramatic gravitas.
It’s a silly episode but it’s also polished farce, like a classic Frasier or MASH episode, where the writing, the comic timing, and cinematography convince us that everyone involved was having a blast. Of course we know that the midlife hot flashes of Lwaxana the amorous telepath have something to do with the cringeworthily mismatched pairings, but it might as well be Puck and Oberon enchanting the Niners with magical herbs.
I found myself rolling my eyes but also grinning and sometimes exclaiming out loud.