Worf is testy through the flight and in a bad mood by the time they touch down on the paradise planet. He's unimpressed by the artificial world. They meet Arandis, Curzon Dax's final lover (as in really final), and Worf immediately grows jealous of Dax's friendly behavior. They then cross paths with Pascal Fullerton, leader of the New Essentialism Party, who preaches a return to traditional Federation values and against the frivolity of places like Risa. Worf seems to agree. In fact, all he wants to do is see the New Essentialists speak rather than vacation with Dax. Meanwhile, Quark has run off to bang some locals, while Bashir and Leeta seem to be hitting on everyone except each other, to Worf's disapproval.
Worf refuses to go swimming with Dax and instead drags her to the Essentialists' speech. Fullerton argues that diversions like Risa are making the Federation weak against its many enemies. Dax and Worf start arguing about the validity of their message. When Bashir and Leeta arrive, kissing each other, Worf has had enough and confronts them on their loose relationship. They explain that they're conducting the Bajoran Rite of Separation, a way of breaking up that celebrates the relationship they had. When they excuse themselves to "work out some final details," the Essentialists storm in and hold everyone at phaserpoint.
Dax disarms an Essentalist but finds that their phasers are empty. Fullerton explains that it was simply a demonstration to show that no one is ever safe. Worf sees wisdom in the stunt and quickly goes back to arguing with Dax. He accuses her of not respecting him, and she accuses him of trying to control her. While Bashir and Leeta conclude their separation ritual, Dax does some sensual sculpting with Arandis. Worf discovers her and becomes infuriated by her perceived lack of fidelity. He runs off to the Essentialists and tells them that he knows how they can drive everyone off Risa.
Dax talks out her problems with the others, and Bashir notes that getting to understand her was quite difficult. Dax counters that understanding Worf is also hard. But they're interrupted by lightning and thunder. The Essentialists arrive and announce that they've hacked Risa's weather machines to ruin its weather for several days as a reminder that everything on the planet is artificial. Everyone's vacation is ruined for a while, and people start packing up. Dax criticizes Worf about his role in the stunt, but he's unrepentant. Unbeknownst to him, however, Fullerton plans on going much further with the demonstration.
Dax finally confronts Worf on why he's so stiff and serious all the time, unlike most Klingons. Worf confesses that, growing up among humans, he was always the largest and strongest. During a soccer game, he accidentally headbutted a fellow player and killed him. Since then, Worf learned restraint, and it's now who he is. Dax hears him but once again begs him to trust her. They are interrupted by earthquakes. Fullerton has cranked the weather machines to overdrive, and they're ripping the planet's surface apart. Worf confronts him and takes back the controls. Fullerton warns that Worf is putting the safety of the Federation and its values at risk, but Worf says that trust is a Federation value, and they must trust its citizens to do what is necessary when the time comes.
Risa is back to normal, and everyone is preparing to head out. Dax takes Worf aside and invites him to go for that swim. Worf never did put on a bathing suit, so Dax suggests he wear nothing at all.
This episode provides examples of:
- Afraid of Their Own Strength: Worf tells Dax of how, when growing up on Earth, he accidentally killed a classmate during a soccer game. He was devastated by guilt, and the incident taught him that humans are more fragile than Worf. Ever since, he has been mindful to restrain himself in the company of others.
- Amicable Exes: Bashir and Leeta came to Risa as part of a Bajoran tradition of separating on good terms by having lots of sex with each other and other people. Everyone is impressed (or disturbed) by just how amicable they are, right up until after the relationship has officially ended...
- Beach Episode: Everywhere on Risa seems to be a seaside resort. It was filmed in Malibu.
- Bullying a Dragon: Fullerton backhands a Klingon across the face. Worf quickly demonstrates how bad of an idea this is by seizing Fullerton by the collar and effortlessly hauling him off the ground with one hand, then flinging him like a ragdoll into the wall.
- Casual Kink: Worf and Jadzia's sexplay has been known to lead to broken ribs. Way past Safe, Sane, and Consensual if you are human, but confirms what everyone always suspected about Klingons.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Granted he does turn into a major league complainer, but Worf goes along with everything Dax wanted to do for vacation. And is still treated like he's being uncooperative. Probably the most ludicrous is when he points out that she has chosen a drink she's actually allergic to and she continues arguing with him in response.
- Debate and Switch: Jadzia and Worf start out arguing about whether they trust one another, but it ends with Worf joining the New Essentialists.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When Worf finds Jadzia and Arrandis getting a little too passionate with sculpting, he smashes the horga'hn she gave to him, and joins the New Essentialists in disrupting Risa.
- Easily Forgiven: Worf facilitates an act of terrorism on Risa and suffers no consequences. While a character does point out that the Risians are unlikely to prosecute, one would think that the Federation and/or Starfleet would have something to say about one of their own openly breaking the law.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Everyone is gawking at everyone on Risa. Worf in particular is stunned by both Dax and Leeta in revealing clothing.
- The Fundamentalist: The New Essentialists are pretty much this trope without the usual religious trappings: a group of social conservatives who make preachy speeches about declining moral standards, the need to return to traditional values, etc. When their words fall largely on deaf ears, they turn to what amounts to terrorist tactics to make their point.
- Funny Background Event: As the episode opens, Morn delivers flowers to an attractive female Starfleet officer, who seems very taken with both them and him.
- In My Language, That Sounds Like...: The O'Brien are considering the name Sean (presumably after Miles' ancestor Sean Aloysius from "Bar Association") for their son. Odo objects since it sounds like the Bajoran word for "swamp".
- Interspecies Romance: Everyone is getting busy with every species.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: While staging a raid on the solarium and sabotaging the weather control systems are unquestionably criminal actions, they don't amount to much more than scaring and inconveniencing people. However, Fullerton then decides even that won't send a lasting message, and decides to set off a series of earthquakes, putting peoples' lives in jeopardy.
- Limited Wardrobe: Worf refuses to ever remove his Starfleet uniform because he's never ready to relax and enjoy his vacation. It also helps hide the fact that actor Michael Dorn didn't quite have the physique to portray Worf's overpowering strength. Worf even lampshades the franchise's use of this trope, asserting that Starfleet uniforms are comfortable in virtually any situation.
- Literary Allusion Title: From John 8:7.So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her".
- Mistaken for Cheating: Worf believes Leeta and Bashir are cheating on each other when he sees them getting intimate with other partners, but it turns out that they're there to partake in a Bajoran breakup ritual which includes such things, with everyone involved aware of what's going on. He also thinks there's something going on between Jadzia and Curzon's former lover Arandis, though she assures him there isn't.
- Mood Whiplash: In the midst of a relatively light episode focusing on the relationships of the characters on a pleasure planet, Worf confides in Dax that he actually killed a friend as a child.
- My Greatest Failure: In this episode, we finally learn why Worf is so uptight for a Klingon—he was much more enthusiastic in his youth, until he accidentally killed a friend during a soccer match. He's kept his emotions on a relatively short leash since then.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: Leeta shows her navel deep cleavage while explaining Dabo to a Risian male.
- Out with a Bang: Turns out Curzon met his end on Risa, courtesy of too much "jamaharon," implied to be a sex act of some description.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: According to Quark, there are 178 different words for rain on Ferenginar. "Right now, it's glebbening out there. And that's bad."
- Please Dump Me: Leeta and Bashir go to Risa to enact the Bajoran Rite of Separation - a tradition that couples use to end a relationship amicably.
- Series Continuity Error: According to this episode, Curzon Dax died during jamaharon with Arandis. Previous episodes had established that he died in a hospital on Trill, "yelling at doctors and friends who were trying to keep him alive for one more miserable day", and that Jadzia herself was in the bed next to his at the end, ready to receive the symbiote.
- Sexy Flaw: Leeta admits that she has the hots for Rom, much to the consternation of both her ex Bashir and Rom's brother Quark.
- Ship Tease: This is the first official acknowledgment of the Leeta-Rom romance.
- Weather Manipulation: Risa's mild weather is maintained by weather control systems. When Worf sabotages them for the Essentialists, the planet reverts to its natural weather: rainy enough to make even a Ferengi miserable.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The New Essentialists want to put an end to frivolities like Risa so that the Federation can focus on existential threats. Worf sympathizes with their sentiment, but he decides that it's not for them to enforce their beliefs.
- What Does She See in Him?: Bashir outright asks Jadzia why she's with Worf.Jadzia: Because he has the courage of a berserker cat and he has the heart of a poet.
Quark: And the brain of a pigheaded idiot.
Jadzia: Yeah, sometimes.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Jadzia chews out Worf over siding with the New Essentialists, saying the only reason he'd do so was to get back at her.
- You Need to Get Laid: After repairing the solarium the New Essentialists trashed, Arandis expresses the opinion Fullerton is in dire need of some jamaharon. A lot of jamaharon.