If I was asked to sum up this episode in one word it would be this: Pleasant. It's not great, but it's not bad, it has some good character moments and it manages to be enjoyable without being anything special.
The main plot involves Jadzia and Odo discovering a village where the townsfolk are disappearing, so they decide to help out because they're the good guys and that's what good guys do. The twist in this plot is that most of the villagers are holograms living in a program made by a refugee of the Dominion. It's not a ground-breaking story, it's just pleasant. So pleasant that it would later be copied almost entirely for an episode of Enterprise, but they added a phaser-fight because bitches love phaser-fights. There's some nice moments for Odo, but the best thing for me as a returning viewer was hearing the folk-tales about the Changelings, it adds to their mythos in a subtle way prior to their (unplanned) introduction next season.
The least effective of the three plots revolves around Kira and Bareil and how they hook up. Firstly, Odo has a security staff, why is Kira the one that takes charge of keeping Quark in line and not one of the deputies? And how does Quark know that Kira and Bareil like to fantasise about getting it on with each other in front of the Council of Ministers? This plot didn't need the Quark angle, Bareil could just have shown up and gotten Kira all hot with his attractive creepiness, but I guess that wouldn't have fit in with the "shadowplay" angle of the story. But other than the Quark thing, it's a fairly pleasant story.
My favourite story revolves around Jake and his dilemma about not wanting to join Starfleet. In once sense this was a smart move in defying the audience's expectations and it further distances Jake from Wesley, but in the long run it's hard to deny that it hurt the character as he doesn't have a place in the long-running arcs of the show. In the final season Nog is a more important and visible character even though he's not part of the main cast, and all because he chose to join Starfleet. But ignoring the future problems with the character, this is still a nice story for Jake, and for The Sisko himself as he doesn't take it personally when Jake tells him the truth and only wants Jake to be happy. It's a nice pleasant story.
Form of... a spinny thing: 12