I suppose the direction-less feel to a lot of these episodes may be due to the uncertainty about the show moving forward to a seventh season. We ended up with quite a bit of what is basically filler at the end of season 6.
It's possible that they had some plans for how to end the show, but when they got the green-light for season 7 they postponed them and had nothing to fill the gap, so we get a lot of poorly thought-out filler material. Combined with the fact that the opening arc drained a lot of their creative juices early in the season, and season 6 ends with a major slump.
At least we will always have "bollocks".
Unless I decide to go through with the surgery... oh, wait, you're talking about O'Brien? Forget I said that.
The Sound of Her Voice (***½)
This is a pleasant and reasonably enjoyable episode that also happens to be fairly forgettable. The Defiant pick up a distress signal and go on a week-long detour to rescue a captain trapped on a hostile world. By talking with her, the crew find an outlet to express their bottled-up emotions, which helps them to come to terms with problems in their personal lives. This angle of the story is pretty good and pleasantly free of melodrama, it's just people talking and finally grappling the problems they had been ignoring for a long time. O'Brien's problem is particularly interesting because it's about the subtle psychological effects that the war is having on him and his ability to make and maintain friendships. He's not considering leaving Starfleet, and his solution isn't divine intervention from the Prophets, he's just talking. I appreciate that.
That's not to say that the episode is free of melodrama, this episode has some of the worst act-breaks I can remember.
LISA: Stay back. No, don't hurt me.
BASHIR: Captain, what's going on?
LISA: Please, stay back. No, don't! No! ...j/k, lol!
SISKO: How long does she have?
BASHIR: No more than two days.
SISKO: That's not good. We're still three days away.
Oh no! The cheap suspense is killing me!
Not that it matters in the end, it turns out that Lisa has been dead for three years and they've been communicating with her through a magic barrier. It's a pointless sci-fi twist in an episode about people's psychological problems, but it doesn't detract from the story in any real way, it's just sort of there. I suppose there's something haunting about a group of people getting necessary advice about life from a dead woman, but the episode doesn't even try to sell that angle, it's just some bizarre thing that happened. I'm more puzzled by the fact that Sisko didn't check Starfleet's records about the USS Olympia and realise the three-year discrepancy in Lisa's account, but I suppose Sisko might have been busy constructing the flat-pack furniture in his new office on the Defiant.
Meanwhile, Quark attempts to outsmart Odo as part of some scheme or some-such thing. Not a great plot, but it's okay. It's a decent reflection on their complicated relationship, but it doesn't add up to much.
Form of... two barrels: 33