You remember when everyone and their mom hated the ending to ENT because the final episode was more about TNG and the franchise as a whole versus being about the actual show itself?I guess that's the problem... they couldn't have given us much. Deep Space Nine has very little to give at this point, due to the finality of the ending. I'd say they went there just for the sake of fan wank, but it's Lower Decks, Ensign Kim. Fan wank is part of the job.
That's kind of how I feel about this. This is Lower Decks. The episode had moments of Quark being Quark and Kira being Kira. But the episode was firmly first and foremost still about our Lower Deckers doing Lower Decker things and focusing on their character journeys/growth. It just so happened to also take place on DS9 this week. That's how it should be. I don't blame anyone for the impulse of wanting a meaningful DS9 reunion (despite disagreeing with the notion) but this show would be a very poor venue for such a thing.
I dunno how I feel about labeling Lower Decks "fan wank" either. There is very obvious that element to the show and it's a strong one. But it's very rarely not in service to something more meaningful. And on the contrary, I think the show actually manages to harness it in ways that's productive and beneficial to the franchise and its setting as a whole. It's been really great to see the Star Trek setting from a different perspective. A perspective that acknowledges all this whacky stuff that happened in the other TV shows really did happen, and how your average joe would react to living in a world like that. It's probably done more to make the Star Trek Universe feel like a place that's lived in than any other entry to the franchise in a long time. Maybe ever.
We always hear Picard or someone else in their shows tossing out one liners being like, "Oh, I remember that other captain from my academy days!" in passing in order to give some dire scenario they walk into additional but cheap meaning. And one of the great things about Lower Decks is that it's showing junior officers networking and moving about and making those connections that later in their careers they'll be all like, "Oh yeah, Admiral Riker, I learned a lot about being an officer when I served under him on the original Titan," or, "Ah yes, Captain Tendi, you'll never believe some of the shenanigans we used to get into on the old Cerritos."