Yay! A Kira episode! We like those here at Right Fans.
Whenever the writers decide to pen an episode about the Occupation, we usually end up with a better-than-average (or even excellent) product -- and the current episode is certainly no exception to that rule of thumb.
Memory Alpha discusses all the details here.
This script's greatest strength, I think, is the fact that it challenges Kira's black-and-white view of the universe. Like, for example, the folks who attack Herman Cain for not actively participating in the Civil Rights Movement, Kira has always prejudged any Bajoran who cooperated with the Cardassians instead taking up arms in overt resistance. Up until this point, Kira has used "collaborator" as a blanket pejorative, ignoring the very real differences between the Bajorans who collaborated out of desperation and fear and the ones who did so in order to earn a profit or become lords of petty fiefdoms. Those Bajorans who fall into the latter category - like Basso in this episode or Vaatrik in Necessary Evil - don't deserve our sympathy. Those in the former category, however, are an entirely different story.
As a viewer, I understand Meru's choices at every stage because real people have been forced to make similar choices throughout history. (Women were pressed into service as sex slaves and comfort women in Nazi Germany, for instance.) We know that trusting Dukat is a foolish thing to do. We know that Dukat is a treacherous snake (who, oh by the way, is liable to call you up for the express purpose of ruining your day). But Meru doesn't know these things. What she sees is an opportunity to provide for her children. Like most people, she's not thinking in broader political terms. She's thinking about the here and now -- and that makes her exquisitely vulnerable. Given this, do I personally feel sorry for Meru? Absolutely yes!
At the same time, I'm happy that Behr and Beimler managed to avoid the pat sentimentality of an ending in which Kira takes pity on her mother and forgives all. Nana Visitor is right -- such an ending would not have fit the character. In order for Kira to set aside her ingrained antipathy for Bajoran collaborators (which is not entirely irrational, mind) and come to terms with her mother's decision to stay with Dukat, she will have to mull on the Orb of Time's revelation for quite a while.
The characterization in particular is excellent throughout.
The performances aren't perfect, but they are strong.
SABR Matt would like me to note that this episode stands as an implicit argument against legalized prostitution. Wherever prostitution is sanctioned by a society, exploitation of the kind seen here usually results.