Overall Rating: 5.5
This episode suffers from two big flaws - bad timing (given its proximity to Children of Time, in which we learn just how obsessed with Kira Odo is) and horrible romantic line writing.
A full recounting of the bad pick-up lines and break-neck courtship speed can be found at the DS9 Encyclopedia.
Hm...Rene Echevarria doesn't usually misfire this badly on a characterization element. He is responsible for several prior episodes detailing how much Odo loves Kira...how much she controls his decision making process and effects his emotions. It stikes me as fundamentally odd that Odo would be so ready to give himself to someone else and so hurt when that budding relationsihp turns out to be a lie. I could see him taking comfort in the companionship of another woman (though probably not romantic comfort...a la his relationship with L'waxna Troi)...and I could definitely see someone in Arissa's position mistaking a need for safety for a genuine interest in intimacy with Odo...but I can't see such a potent romantic entanglement developing for the same man who will, in about two weeks, kill 8,000 people to be with Kira.
Unfortunately, Echevarria is also usually better at writing romantic lines. Maybe he also felt the awkwardness of the situation for Odo and couldn't make it work...or maybe the lines themselves aren't that horrible but they seem that much worse to me because I can't imagine Odo uttering them to anyone but Kira, but the courtship (whirlwind fast as it is) feels wrong from the start and the lines don't help. It's even weirder when Kira actually starts giving Odo advice and mentions that she wants him to feel for someone the way that she does for Shakaar...a very sweet sentiment that shuold have CRUSHED Odo. Speaking as someone who has been madly in love with a woman who didn't love me back, that kind of sentiment, while well intended, always makes the unrequited lover feel as though their heart has been surgically removed and stomped on. But Odo's reaction seems to be to...go for it with Arrisa?? We should have at least seen another temper tantrum in his quarters, followed b y a convincing exchange with Arissa that made us believe he was grabbing his chance to be close to someone as a surrogate to the person he really wants. That's not how it feels...it just feels...wrong.
Also...with everything going on now in the DS9 universe, the filler episodes are going to start hurting more and more...we want to get to the point by now...the Dominion arc is interesting enough to carry the show largely uninterrupted and every time you diverge from it and fail to develop one of the characters instead...you are going to annoy the viewer.
Sorry Rene...I'm one of your biggest fans, but this script is...kind of bad. Not going to be too hard on you, but this makes the viewers very uncomfortable and part of the reason is the way it wrecks Odo's character.
Rene Auberjonois does a solid job with what he's given, but Dey Young was pretty unimpressive in her role, especially after her memories are returned to her.
Tiny ding for annoying whirlwind romance...sorry, I can't let it slide entirely that these things always immediately lead to sex in Trek.