In which Keiko, Berial, and Lwaxana perform Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Jake appears to be playing with a Bajoran earring with a sullen despondency. Marta got into a really good science academy 300 light years away, and Jake is 16 so this is the end of the world. But tonight is the Bajoran Gratitude Festival. Jake agrees to go because Sisko is persuasive. But he’s not going to have any fun. Meanwhile, by this point O’Brien is willing to voluntarily sit at the same table with Bashir, but he’s not quite at the point where he doesn’t regret it. O’Brien has been running Bashir ragged in Keiko’s absence. Turns out Bashir is a poor substitute for Miles’ wife. Miles misses her terribly, but will not ask her to stay, given that he’s the one who encouraged her to go, and as prompted by Bashir.
Kira gets a break from playing air-traffic controller to cut tinsel and wish everyone Peldor Joy, and send a confusing signal to Odo before mentioning her boyfried, Vedek Berial.
Berial steps off the shuttle and is all smiles for Nerys. Keiko steps off the shuttle and instantly complains about everything, but I’m going to give her a pass just this once, because of who was also on the shuttle, force-feeding Molly just buckets and buckets of candy.
Odo’s giving instructions to his stand-in, some poor Starfleet schmuck who’s evidently getting holiday pay, when in comes Lwaxana, sweeping in like a great colorful sweeping thing. She’s heard about the Changeling-Founder situation and has come to comfort Odo. Possibly to seduce him. She leaves to go freshen up, but appears to be suffering some terrible headaches.
Kira and Berial remind us that Bajoran priests aren’t celibate. And complaining about Kai Winn is foreplay for them. Kira has to go help set up, and leaves Berial alone to contemplate his blueness. Keiko and Miles are, meanwhile, swooping in and out of sniping at each other… again. Great start to the Bajoran Gratitude Festival.
At said festival, there are fire-jugglers, contact jugglers, acrobats, and fun chemical reactions. The festival is about putting troubles behind you, and symbolically burning scrolls over the course of the day to incinerate all of your problems. And the next creepy inexplicable phenomenon comes in the form of Jake having a weird momentary headache and then having his mood reverse 180 degrees.
So… there’s fire on the station. I’m going to assume they overrode the fire suppression systems, rather than assuming that the Cardassians didn’t have fire suppression systems. Or that the Federation didn’t install them the instant they took over. It does, however, make me wonder if they have a standard checklist for taking over space stations. I’d imagine the Cardassians might, but most of the time when the Federation expands it’s a benign takeover. I guess it was this time, too.
Jake goes up to Kira, gives her a popsicle stick, and asks her out while she’s walking with Berial. Can’t fault his taste in women, but his grip on reality is somewhat more flawed. Meanwhile, Berial has wandered over to Jadzia. Why, it’s almost as if a powerful psychic practitioner were suffering some sort of mental affliction and broadcasting pent-up emotions where they don’t belong.
Lwaxana is dancing with Odo, without his consent, and then dragging him down to Quark’s where we can go on a long sweeping shot to Keiko and Miles, who are less snippy, until Keiko mentions the survey will be taking longer than initially thought and it all goes to hell again.
I have no idea how Kira escaped from Jake, but he’s trying to find her and gets intercepted by Ben, who is doing his absolute best not to slap his 16-year-old son upside the head. Quark is also giving Ferengi marital advice to O’Brien, and I choose to believe that by giving such truly terrible and culturally inappropriate advice, Quark was employing some good old reverse psychology. Let’s dispense with the fiction that Quark doesn’t know what he’s doing. Quark knows exactly what he’s doing.
Okay, there’s fire pretty much everywhere on the station today. All contained, but still. Berial and Kira finally have some alone time, but now that he’s obsessed with Jadzia, the comedy of errors is in full swing. In fact, the love-polyhedron has now expanded to include Jadzia’s infatuation with Sisko, which is especially worrying because it means a 300-year-old bellyworm is succeptible to whatever mental influence is going around, and it’s targeted someone it was a father figure for. Benjamin probably still thinks of Curzon when he looks at Jadzia. Sisko calls the doctor and the doctor said “Jadzia’s in perfect health and is screwing with you.” In fact, she was screwing with Bashir. She’s under a ‘fluence, but she’s not stupid.
Miles goes back to Keiko to try and make up, and offers to resign if it means he doesn’t lose Keiko. She tells him she’ll think about it. Life sucks all the time for O’Brien. Right before the party starts, Kira and Bashir compare stories and finally figure out something’s going on. They also both start to get headaches, and immediately lock faces.
Lwaxana can’t read Odo’s emotions but she can read his face. This is very, very odd – he doesn’t have millions of years of social evolution coupling brainstates to facial muscles. What he has is a ‘childhood‘ where he was rewarded for being entertaining and an isolation that led him to try to fit in, but he still ought to be the absolute best bluffer since Data was updated with a psychology program. Maybe Lwaxana is reading him as being sufficiently flustered that he’s forgetting how to make regular expressions?
Sisko, increasingly annoyed, sends Odo down to the infeirmary, where he gets to see Kira and Bashir sucking face with each other. Odo is not happy about it. Things at the party also deteriorating now that every part of the love… dodecagon? are all in the same room. But lo, what’s this? Keiko shows up at the party in The Red Dress. Hey, at least Lwaxana’s mojo is doing some good, because it may be about to cause Sisko to punch out a priest in self-defense. Or no, Jadzia does it instead. Lwaxana gets another headache and this time Quark, who let’s remember ought to be immune to Betazoid powers, but also maybe I guess not, jumps Keiko and has to be dragged off by his ears.
So yes, it turns out that Lwaxana does in fact have some sort of Betazoid telepathic fever that transmits her emotions onto others, enhancing any minor infatuations into full-blown crushes. So yeah, all those pairings? Totally canon. You’re welcome.
The time has come for Keiko to go back on her trip, and O’Brien sees her off only to be met for a game of raquetball. There are worse things he could be doing to damage his elbow, I suppose.