Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Meridian” (part 2 of 3)

The crew is sitting on pillows around a set of tables with the villagers. We focus on Dax, who’s sitting next to a man named Deral, and he’s fixated on her. He starts things off by asking about Dax’s “markings” (I know they’re Trill spots, but that’s what Deral calls them). He wonders if they’re decorative. In return, Dax asks about his “markings”… which are barely noticeable.

Yep, they’re saving on the old prosthetics budget again this week, by using a minor makeup appliance to distinguish the guest aliens from everyone else. In this case, it’s a yellow-green bit of makeup around his temples, which extends to his eyes.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Stop staring at my ass, pal. I know Klingons.”

Deral continues by asking Dax how far down her spots go, and to her credit, she simply says, “All the way.” (And she would certainly prove this later.) She also makes a “Damn, you’re direct!” face, while O’Brien watches with a barely concealed smirk.

Deral is, I guess, one of those awkward types, and with any other actor it would come off as somewhat charming. But Brett Cullen was badly miscast, in my opinion. Rather than give off a charming sense of awkward likeability, he comes off as a bit of a schmuck. Later on, he’ll inadvertently come off like a serial killer.

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Seltin notices Sisko isn’t eating. It turns out his curiosity is bigger than his appetite, which eventually means it’s time for us to take an infodump. Put simply, the planet exists in two dimensions, shifting back and forth. Deral has been doing research on the phenomena, and thinks it has something to do with the planet’s sun.

Seltin exposits that the planet’s other dimension enables them to exist as pure consciousness without form. And when they return to this dimension, they return to corporeal form, and everything is as they left it. Accordingly, they only age when they’re in this state.

Dr. Bashir remarks that the dimension shifting has its obvious advantages. Deral replies that they always enjoy coming back to corporeal form, and to prove it, he goes back to flirting with Dax.

And so, as it turns out, the villagers shift back and forth every sixty years. And the creators of Brigadoon pick up a royalty check.

Yes, the A plot of this episode is based partly on a musical from the 1950s about a Scottish village that only appears once every hundred years for a day. But it sure beats seven shades of shit out of having the entire script loosely based on an Anne Rice novel.

Back on the station now, Norman makes his way through Quark’s place, finding the Ferengi tending bar. He asks for a drink, and Quark expresses surprise (okay, he sounds more bored than anything else, not that I blame him). As it turns out, Norman has left a holosuite before his reserved time was up.

For those of you not keeping score, the holosuite on DS9 is basically the Trek equivalent of a VR brothel. Just take the holodeck from The Next Generation, boil down the idea to its basest level, and you have the concept down pat.

Norman explains that staying the full hour was unnecessary. Quark remarks on how effective that particular program is (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more) but Norman replies that the program—much like this episode—was “dull. Boring, boring, boring!” To which Quark replies in turn with an admittedly funny, if predictable, line.

Quark: I’m 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 offers to let him try a different program for free, but Norman wants something that isn’t in the catalog. Evidently, a picnic with a pleasure goddess isn’t doing it for him. And what he wants instead doesn’t even exist as a holosuite program. Oh boy. You all see where this is going, I assume?

Quark doesn’t, and asks Norman what he wants exactly. He says, “I want Major Kira,” and so help me god, Jeffrey Combs delivers the line in such an overdone, creepy manner, that it’s frankly amazing. The only thing that could make this even more unpleasant is if he unhinged his jaw while saying the line.

Actually, the script itself finds a way to achieve that level of unpleasantness: Quark asks what he plans to do with Kira in there, and Norman gives Quark a “what the hell do you think?” look, after which Quark decides he’d rather not know. I think you speak for all of us, pal.

Quark is completely repulsed, but needless to say, he agrees to help out anyway. It seems he’ll have to get Kira into the suite so he can record her image, which is a tricky task, given she can’t stand the things. Holosuites, that is. Not Ferengi bartenders.

Back in the village on Meridian, Deral and Dax walk and talk. He points out a garden with a pond beyond a forest—none of which we actually see. And then Dax shifts the conversation back to the planet. Specifically, she wonders about the low population.

Deral tells her the villagers are the descendants of a stranded expedition party, and that their numbers have dwindled over the centuries, because they can only reproduce when in humanoid form. Why? Because the script says so.

He also explains that their time in humanoid form has been getting shorter and shorter, to the point where Meridian will return to the other dimension in just twelve days. Eventually, the planet will only be around for a few minutes each time, and at some point, it’ll cease to exist altogether in our dimension. Why? Because it’s in the script, and we have to go to a commercial break.

Back from the break (did you buy everything in the commercials? If so, that’s kind of weird. Especially if you’re watching this on DVD), Seltin is accepting Sisko’s offer to help understand why this is happening. Dax and Deral appear, and Dax wants to run some Treknobabble scans on the sun.

Back on DS9, Quark is pacing nervously at the bar. Kira enters, so Quark leads her to the middle of the bar and announces that she’s his millionth customer. Amidst the applause, Kira is annoyed and uninterested. And then Quark mentions prizes. Why yes, they are suddenly changing the station’s strong second-in-command—not to mention former Bajoran resistance fighter—into a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal. If she’s suddenly in a clown outfit, and Quark has his retarded brother bring out three boxes for her to choose from, I’m leaving.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Alright, Nana. Here’s the payoff for appearing in this crappy subplot. The Maserati is in the parking lot.”

Naturally, one of the prizes is a free session in a holosuite. Kira gives this to some random ensign, foiling Quark’s plan. Yes, it really is a sitcom. The only thing missing here is a laugh track. And funny material.

Caption contributed by Ed

“It types the info into the computer, or it gets the hose again!”

Back on the Defiant, Sisko, Dax and Deral look over scans of Meridian’s sun. They find out it gives off gamma bursts just before the planet materializes, so Sisko has O’Brien send a probe into the sun’s corona. Meanwhile, Deral is suddenly at Dax’s side, staring at her in a way that can only be described as disturbing.

Tip to guys: a brief glance indicates you’re interested. A brief glance with a smile indicates that you’re interested, and also have no prison record. A long, lingering glance inches away from her indicates you want to make a suit out of her skin.

Deral asks if she always bites her lower lip while concentrating, causing Dax to smile. Deral smiles too, and good lord. I know a person can’t really help how he or she smiles, but this actor should never do it. Ever. Period.

The probe is launched, and Dax reports it’ll take a while before it begins transmitting data. All the better for Deral, who’s apparently more interested in hitting on Dax then worrying about the survival of his planet.

Deral: [speaking in a low, creepy voice the actor probably thought was sexy] Well, I’m sure you have things you need to do.
Dax: [adjusting her collar, guess it’s a bit hot in here. Or, it could be she’s realizing this dude is a bit weird.] Not really.
Deral: What a coincidence. Neither do I.

Looking over Brett Cullen’s filmography, I don’t think he’s ever played a serial killer, but I think his performance here clearly shows he wouldn’t be half bad at it.

On the planet, Deral and his next victim—um, I mean Dax, walk through the garden Deral mentioned earlier. Deral says that things aren’t going the way he planned. Meaning, I think, that he left his machete in his other pants. Dax replies that Seltin didn’t seem too happy to see the two of them together.

Deral launches into a tirade about how the entire village has been fixated on him finding a new companion ever since his wife died years ago. Naturally, this is made out to be the 24th Century equivalent of some snippy sewing circle, full of middle aged women. Or, put more simply, The View.

Dax asks why he’s waited so long, and Deral replies that he’s just been “waiting for the right woman to fall out of the sky.” And that should prove right there that this guy is not all there. Either that, or the writers were on autopilot for this one, and decided to just crib dialogue from a Harlequin novel.

Dax says that sort of thing doesn’t happen often. Deral creepily replies:

Deral: It only had to happen once. Don’t worry about Seltin. After all, we both know this is just a harmless little walk.

Soon to be followed by a harmless little rock to the head, and concluded with a harmless little skinning, gutting and stuffing.

Deral suddenly gets an urge to climb a tree, and Dax follows with a look I’d like to think is apprehension about being around this Section 8 nut bar, but is actually a fear of heights.

Deral: Don’t tell me in eight lifetimes you never climbed a tree.
Dax: That’s how I know I’m afraid of heights.

Wow, eight lives, and all of them crapped themselves at the thought of heights. Now there’s a coincidence! Anyway, this is obviously meant to show us that Deral is such an all-around special guy that he can make Dax try something she’s never done before in all her Trill lifetimes.

Caption contributed by Ed

“And this is where I killed my first victim!”
“I know. He’s still hanging up there, dork.”

Deral says he won’t let her fall. He climbs up and sits on a branch, and then helps Dax up, and they sit together while soft music plays.

Well, this has been simply barfalicious thus far. Any other cheesy love story clichés we haven’t covered? I guess there’s no time for a musical montage where they go to a carnival, and Deral wins a stuffed animal for Dax, or they ride a merry-go-round and eat ice cream together. But there just might be enough time for one of those shots where the two lovers see each other from across a field, and run towards each other in slow motion.

Caption contributed by Ed

“You smell nice, like my first dead girlfriend!”

Deral says this is one of his favorite views, and Dax nervously remarks that it’s hard to believe it could all be gone in two weeks. I’d be willing to bet that she’s got no problem with heights at all, and all of her lifetimes were spent climbing trees and mountains with reckless abandon, and the only reason she told Deral she was scared was because she wanted to keep as far away from him as humanly possible.

A kiss is narrowly averted when Dax almost falls (or escapes; sometimes the two can look very similar). So they climb down and end up at a pond, where Deral gets her to try some kind of berry he plucks out of the water. Hope that’s not an icoberry. After a bit more banal dialogue, they finally kiss, and we thankfully fade away to a commercial break before the corniness can consume us.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Meridian"

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