I'll definitely agree that Erika Hernandez carried those books. But the story was great on so many other levels that you can almost ignore that the Caeliar were pretty much a deus ex machina. I fondly recall how Geordi told Picard where to go and how to get there when he wanted to build a thalarion weapon for example. Garak's interactions were awesome(politics suits him), Bacco's character was interesting. Even Necheyev and Jellico had an interesting dynamic. And the stakes were much higher. I liked Inyx's definition of love too... "she makes eternity worth contemplating."
I did literally shout when I realized where the Mantillis survivor story was going. Even if yeah... humanity is at the center of EVERYTHING in the Trek universe.