(written from a Production point of view)
Jadzia falls in love with a scientist on a planet whose inhabitants shift between this universe and a plane of pure energy, re-emerging every sixty years. Back on DS9, Quark tries to obtain a holo-image of Major Kira for an erotic holosuite program for a wealthy patron.
In the station's Replimat, Major Kira is sipping a hot cup of replicated coffee when Odo walks up to her. They sit together at a table and discuss the sensuality of food and drink, and the difficulty that Odo has in appreciating that sensuality by virtue of the limitations imposed by his Changeling physiology.
Just then Tiron approaches Kira and explains that he regretted her early departure from Quark's the night before. However, Kira's unimpressed and clearly anxious to make Tiron go away… so she tells Tiron that Odo is her lover. Hands are held, eloquent platitudes are exchanged all around, Tiron bids Kira farewell before leaving the Replimat crestfallen, Kira thanks Odo enthusiastically for playing along, and Odo is left staring at the hand Kira held after she leaves for Ops.
The USS Defiant is in the Gamma Quadrant on an exploration mission cadged from Starfleet notwithstanding the threat of Dominion attack. Gravimetric distortions are detected in the nearby Trialus system, so Commander Sisko orders Jadzia in to take the Defiant into the system for a closer look.
When Lieutenant Dax scans the planet in order to determine where it came from, they discover a settlement on the southern hemisphere of approximately thirty people, which shortly hails the Defiant. Sisko responds and describes his confusion; the woman at the other end of the connection introduces herself as Seltin Rakal, explains that her planet exists largely in a separate dimension that intersects with that of the Defiant and its crew, and invites the senior staff of the Defiant to the surface for first meal.
Once on the surface Sisko, Dax, Bashir and O'Brien sit down to eat with the inhabitants of the settlement. After some pleasantries, Sisko and Dax discuss with Seltin and Deral the nature of the planet's dimensional shifts. It is explained that the cause of the dimensional shifts is unknown but thought to be related somehow to the behavior of the system's sun. Seltin and Deral go on to explain that after each dimensional shift the planet, named Meridian, ceases to exist in normal space and its inhabitants become beings of "pure consciousness" until things shift back after 60 years, at which point everything is "just as [they] left it" since the planet is not subject to the normal passage of time while it is dimensionally shifted. Bashir says that he can see the appeal in this dimensional shift.
Back on the station, Tiron melodramatically explains to Quark that he couldn't stand his time in the holosuites, as he found it extremely boring and isn't likely to find it any more interesting, but describes what he really wants: a holosuite program built around Kira. Quark suggests that such a thing will be very expensive, and in response Tiron offers a bar of latinum and one of the rings from his left hand as payment. Deeply impressed by the suggested price, Quark remarks on the difficulty of the task, to which Tiron responds by baiting Quark over his reputation for getting things. Quark hesitates briefly, but promises to deliver the holosuite program Tiron's asked for. However, Tiron refuses to pay until the program is completed and deemed acceptable.
On Meridian, Deral explains to Dax that the inhabitants of the planet are descendants of an expedition that was stranded there a millennium earlier, and that their numbers have dwindled since they can only reproduce when they're not shifted out of the "normal" dimension, and those spells are growing progressively shorter, with the current phase lasting only 12 days. Deral goes on to explain that eventually the planet will be too unstable to shift back, at which point the planet and all of its inhabitants will cease to exist.
Later, Sisko promises Seltin that he will do everything he can to help. Dax and Deral announce that they are beaming up to the Defiant to scan the system's sun.
Kira walks into Quark's only to discover that she's been declared the millionth customer. Quark tells her that she's won a number of gifts, including a beverage, a free spin at the dabo table and a free hour in the holosuite with a program of her choice. Kira's quite pleased with herself since she's never won anything. However, she points out that she doesn't like holosuites and tells Quark that she's going to give her free holosuite time to Ensign Quintana since it is his birthday. Kira excitedly takes her turn at dabo, however.
On the bridge of the Defiant, a probe with shield modifications is being sent into Meridian's sun. Once the launch goes off Deral, who's been steadily romancing Dax since she first came to Meridian, gives her an invitation back down to the planet for some quality time… which she accepts with mock bashfulness, as Sisko and O'Brien observe them from the other side of the bridge. Once on the surface of Meridian, Deral explains to Dax that he's a widower who's been "waiting for the right woman to fall out of the sky" – and that Dax is that right woman. Deral leads Dax into a tree and moments later they lean in to kiss, but Dax loses her balance and they climb down, instead. However, after a little more time they finally do share a passionate kiss.
Later, Sisko contacts Dax to announce that they've obtained more telemetry from the probe, and throws in a few good-hearted jibes about her acceptance of Deral's affections. With the telemetry data downloaded onto a PADD, Dax is able to work out a way to keep Meridian in normal space for more than thirty years, once it has shifted out and back again.
Meanwhile, at the station Odo is with Kira on the upper level of the Promenade, and spies Quark attempting to take a holo-image of Kira from the mezzanine of his bar. Once he's been caught, Quark tries to weasel his way out of the situation, but Kira simply throws Quark's holo-imager over her shoulder and down onto the main level of the bar. She warns Quark that if she catches him again taking a holo image of her, she will make him eat the imager.
Back on Meridian, Dax explains that her idea will work, and will in fact equalize the time between dimensional shifts – but that the needed changes won't be completed until Meridian has already shifted back. This is at odds with Deral's desire to start a relationship with Dax, which she's entirely willing to reciprocate, so he offers to leave Meridian with her and return with the Defiant to the Alpha Quadrant.
In Quark's, Tiron is waiting impatiently for Quark to finish the new holoprogram. Quark has obtained the encryption key for Kira's personnel file, and with this development he assures Tiron that he'll be able to finish the new program before Tiron leaves the station in two days.
However, Quark's efforts have not gone undetected by Odo. In his security office, Odo informs Kira of the security breach and that he traced it back to the Ferengi bartender. He offers to arrest Quark or have Kira do it herself, but the major has a better idea…
Back on Meridian, Dax and Deral are cuddling, but a distracted Deral concedes that he'd stay on Meridian if he could have Dax there with him. She offers to use the transporter buffer to make her physiology compatible with the demands of the dimensional shift, which greatly pleases a shocked Deral.
Later Dax goes back to her quarters on the Defiant to put in a request to Starfleet for a 60 year leave of absence, which Sisko supports in spite of the fact that the prospect tugs on his heartstrings. The commander tearfully tells Dax how much he will miss her, and she emotionally tells him the same.
Again in Quark's, the Kira holoprogram is complete. Tiron goes into the holosuite to inspect his purchase. However, the Kira character has been altered… the body is Kira's, but the head and voice are Quark's! Tiron storms out of the holosuite and thence out of the bar, promising to do his best at ruining Quark's reputation. As soon as Tiron stomps out Odo and Kira step in, asking Quark if he's gotten "another satisfied customer."
Finally, after many emotional goodbyes, Dax is ready to beam down to Meridian and undergo the dimensional shift. Once it begins, however, something goes wrong – the others are shifting, but Dax isn't, and the bridge crew of the Defiant determines that the anomaly is threatening to tear Meridian apart. O'Brien goes to transport a dying Dax back to the Defiant… which allows the planet to complete its dimensional shift.
Later, Dax is alone in her quarters, beside herself with grief. Sisko comes in offering remorse, but Dax says that she'll "just need some time." After Sisko leaves, she sits down in a corner and says, "just sixty years or so."
"Odo, I know you don't need to eat, but did you ever try it anyway?"
"Once. Not long after I was first able to assume the humanoid form."
"… And since I don't have taste buds it was very unsatisfying. Not to mention messy."
"I'd rather not talk about it."
- - Kira Nerys and Odo
"… We were having such a pleasant conversation."
"As I recall, you were the one doing all the talking."
- - Tiron and Kira
"I wish we'd had time to beam down to the surface and take a closer look."
"Yeah, but I'd hate to have run into a Jem'Hadar patrol while we were down there picking flowers."
- - Jadzia Dax and O'Brien
"The gravimetric distortions are intensifying, but they don't seem to be coming from the star itself."
"But where else could they be coming from? There aren't any planets in this system."
"There are now."
- - Jadzia and O'Brien
"I was admiring… your markings. Are they decorative?"
"No. Are yours?"
"No. …If you don't mind me asking… how far down do they go?"
"All the way."
- - Deral and Jadzia
"Especially if you've been looking forward to it for sixty years."
"That's a long time between meals."
- - Jadzia, Deral, and O'Brien
"Oh, for that kind of money, you can move into a holosuite. Now, what is it you want?"
"I want… Major Kira."
"Kir- What are you going to do with Kira in a holosuite? …No. Don't tell me. I don't want to know."
- - Quark and Tiron
"After eight lifetimes as a humanoid, existing as pure consciousness… might be interesting."
"Next time we see each other, I'll probably be a great-grandfather!"
"Good, then I can call you Old Man."
- - Jadzia and Sisko, finding it impossible to hold back their giggles
"Do you think you'll be done overhauling the station by the next time I see you [sixty years hence]?"
"I doubt it."
- - Jadzia and O'Brien
Story and script
- Mark Gehred-O'Connell's original title for the episode was "Prophet in the Wind". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 10)
- "Meridian" is based on Brigadoon, a musical about a magical Scottish village that appears only once every one hundred years. Co-Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr, an admirer of Brigadoon, confessed to originating the idea about making an episode based on the musical. Of his idea to do a Star Trek show based on Brigadoon, Behr says "I am a moron." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Mark Gehred-O'Connell commented: "["Meridian"] is an outer space version of Brigadoon, with Dax as Gene Kelly. It's really a fun story. We know that Dax has had many romantic entanglements over the course of three hundred years, but this is the first time that Jadzia Dax has fallen in love. That's the angle on which I'm building this script. There isn't a whole lot of jeopardy or danger and there are no bad guys. In that sense, it's a lot like "Second Sight". It's a light story in many ways, but it has emotional weight for Dax, and it's very appealing. All of her friends have to realize that this is her first romance. Sisko is used to thinking of Dax as old Curzon, and it comes as a shock to him". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 10)
- The hologram consisting of Kira Nerys' body and Quark's head was supposed to be Nana Visitor's body with Armin Shimerman's head (in make-up) inserted in post-production. Although Visitor was scheduled to appear in the shot, it would have required her to wear a foam rubber head, which would be replaced by Quark's head. However, Visitor was still reeling from claustrophobia as a result of the Cardassian make-up she wore for "Second Skin". When her make-up artist, Camille Calvet, attempted to place the rubber head on her, Visitor panicked. Thus, body double Leah Burrough filled in for her. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- 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. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
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- 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". That shot was a composite of a Thai jungle picture, taken by Dan Curry, and a maquette of the Carraya IV Romulan prison camp. For "Meridian", the shot was slightly modified to match the full-scale set of Meridian. To dispel the notion of it being a walled prison, a large hall was added to the depiction of the model, matching the full-scale set, a small building was put outside the walls with other walls and watch towers either being removed or modified. 
- Jeffrey Combs commented: "["Meridian"] was my first time on a Star Trek set so it was very exciting. I remember there being a lot of hair. Because I was a new alien, they kept making me change my hairstyle. They would take Polaroids, then come back 30 minutes later and change the hair again. That got to be annoying. That's honestly what I remember about it". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 21, pp. 17 & 19)
- 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 gelled"; 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." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Ira Steven Behr commented "There are some nice things in it, but to make that show really work, we would have needed another $200,000 for opticals. There were some sweet things in the show, some nice moments, but it was tough to do. We were trying to create a society that was not tech oriented, yet there were all these tech questions that had to be answered: what do they wear, how do they live? How do you tell a love story in thirty minutes? It's really difficult. I can't say as a love story the show was really successful". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 87)
- Terry Farrell enjoyed making "Meridian". Farrell commented: "I thought that show was done well. I loved working with Jonathan [Frakes]. But, to be honest, I thought "Rejoined" worked better as a love story. I don't think "Meridian" was as emotionally honest as "Rejoined" in its approach to a Dax relationship and its dialogue. I just fell in love with the guy. Boom! Many people enjoyed that show and, as an actress, I did too, especially the scene where I had to say goodbye to Avery Brooks. Those kinds of scenes are very easy to play with Avery, because he's so supportive of me. If it hadn't been for Avery, I don't know if I would have gotten through our first season". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 14, p. 7)
- Rene Echevarria commented "I think Ira's sister is the one who said it seemed like an original series episode, and I'll take that as a compliment. On the original Star Trek, they often asked the audience to accept a love story, a huge premise or a tragic separation – sometimes all three – in a single episode". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 87)
- David Livingston commented "It was mostly talking. Jonathan got some really nice performances out of Terry and our guest actor. We went back to Huntington Gardens and we found this tree that was great. It was a sweet scene". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 87)
- This episode features the first appearance of Jeffrey Combs on the series, as well as on Star Trek. He would later play the recurring characters of Weyoun and Liquidator Brunt on the series and Commander Shran in Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as many more single character appearances like Tiron. 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).
- During the first meal Deral asks Jadzia how far down her markings go, to what she replies "All the way". It is seen in "Equilibrium" that Jadzia's spots do go down to her feet, as they can be seen briefly in shots of her on the hospital bed at the Trill homeworld.
- This episode marks the return of composer Dennis McCarthy to DS9. He had left temporarily to compose the score for Star Trek Generations.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the Defiant's transporter room.
- This is the first episode in which Sisko goes back into the Gamma Quadrant since the season opener, in which they located the Founders and effectively initiated a cold war with the Dominion.
- Meridian's reveal in the teaser on the Defiant's viewscreen is similar to when the planet Aldea appeared suddenly in front of the USS Enterprise-D in TNG: "When The Bough Breaks".
- A script for this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- This was the last episode of Deep Space Nine to air before the release of Star Trek Generations on 18 November 1994.
- According to a stardate reference from the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Maneuvers", this episode takes place one month after "Caretaker".
- Reference to 47: in the scene before Dax transports to Meridian after spending six hours "having [her] molecules scrambled", O'Brien states "the next dimensional shift should occur within the next 47 minutes".
- Tiron orders a glass of Andorian ale when speaking to Quark about the mediocre holosuite programs. The actor, Jeffrey Combs, would later go on to play an Andorian commander in Star Trek: Enterprise.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.4, 27 March 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Sam Alejan as sciences officer
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Mary Mascari as Bajoran woman
- Unknown performer as
2368; 47; 14th century; 2371; Alpha Quadrant; Andorian ale; Bajoran Military Academy; Bolian; business associate; Cardassian; cloaking device; coffee; contract; corona; corporeal form; dabo; data path; Dax, Curzon; Dax symbiont; decryption protocol; Deral's wife; dessert; dimension; Dominion; Federation; first meal; flower; forest; fusion cycle; Gamma Quadrant; gamma radiation; garden; gravimetric distortion; helio-seismic scan (helio-seismology); hemisphere; holopicture; holo-scan; holosuite; ionization trace; Ishka; isolinear rod; Jem'Hadar; Kandora champagne; Keshara; kilometer; Kylata system; Kylata II; last meal; latinum; M-class; Meridian; money; Morn; non-corporeal (aka non-corporeal state); Old Man; ops; pattern buffer; Pelians; personnel file; phenomenon; Picnic with the Pleasure Goddess of Rixx, A; pond; probe; Promenade; psychiatric profile; pulp; quantum fluctuation; quantum level; quantum matrix; Quark's; Renar; Replimat; retinal scan; rind; sector; Serilians; singularity; spectral scan; Seltin Rakal's species; Starfleet; taste buds; temperature; tongo; tongo player; tree; transporter; Trialan sun; Trialus system; Tuesday; vajhaq; vintage; vertigo; voiceprint
Unused production material
- "Meridian" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Meridian" at Wikipedia
- "Meridian" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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