Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine



Air date: 11/1/1993
Teleplay by Evan Carlos Somers and Steven Baum and Michael Piller & James Crocker
Story by Evan Carlos Somers
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Ensign Melora (Daphne Ashbrook), an Elysian woman confined to a wheelchair due to her homeworld's lower natural gravity, is temporarily assigned to DS9, bringing with her a chip on her shoulder and a defensive attitude that the fascinated Bashir instantly finds challenging. Meanwhile, and old "friend" that Quark testified against (Peter Crombie) and had sent to prison years ago comes to the station and threatens to kill the Ferengi barkeep.

"Melora" is another small DS9 drama about unique perspectives, but this episode doesn't really seem know what it wants to say. It merely rambles with dialog scenes that don't really have any long-term significance to Melora's situation—and Melora herself thus comes off as a severely undefined character. First the story makes Melora unlikable and closed-off (she wants to be completely independent and attacks anyone who tries to give her help), then it suddenly makes her open to possibilities when Bashir far-too-easily stumbles over a medical procedure that could allow her to walk in normal gravity—an idea that, dramatically, is both too obvious and doesn't offer any interesting insights.

What really hurts are two awkward, forced Runabout scenes. One involves Dax and Melora talking about "romance in Starfleet," which feels so oddly out of place and is directed with such uncertainty that the scene seems to belong in a soap opera. The other big mistake is the finale where the bad guy from the B-plot takes Melora, Quark, and Dax hostage in a Runabout, and is resolved with the corny idea of Melora disabling the gravity to subdue him. The best summary of this ending would be to take the word "clever," find a word that means the exact opposite, and apply it appropriately.

The episode isn't awful; some of the Bashir/Melora chemistry works, particularly the scene where Bashir deconstructs Melora's sarcastic defensiveness with equally pointed remarks. But proceed with caution—this episode doesn't end up saying much of anything.

Previous episode: Cardassians
Next episode: Rules of Acquisition

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5 comments on this review

Robert - Mon, Dec 12, 2011 - 10:59am (USA Central)
I just recently watched Melora. It was an interesting concept, but they made a mess of it. I thought the wheelchair and the braces were anachronistic. By the 24th century, we could surely have a wheelchair which can go over obstacles, and some sort of suit which can aid in walking. That suit looked like something from the 1940's. And I can imagine someone being from a low gravity planet, but not THAT low, if gravity were as low as she was used to, her home planet couldn't even retain an atmosphere. But I can overlook those details. And Bashir being amazed at low gravity seems peculiar. We viewers might be amazed by low gravity, but people in star Fleet would be used to it.

I agree, the episode doesn't seem to know what it wants to say. The part about where completing the therapy means you can never go home again seems to come out of nowhere. We seem to get nothing more out of this episode than "buildings should be wheelchair accessible", which is a good message, but hardly groundbreaking. But does accommodating people with handicaps end there? Why is a treatment that lets people walk unassisted a bad thing? That's the sort of thing we are supposed to expect from the future.
LastDawnOfMan - Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 6:20pm (USA Central)
Agree that the doctor being so "amazed" by low gravity was just ludicrous. And the arbitrary restriction that the cure would not allow her to ever use low gravity again because it would "confuse her motor neurons" was just pitiful. Sounded like bad science out of the 19th century. This episode, where they can't even figure out how to make decent wheelchairs, or powered exoskeletons, really badly contrasts with later episodes, where they, for instance, know how to analyze and transport an entire universe. I mean, really? I think the idea for this character had a lot of potential, but why not think it through a little better? I would have liked to see her in future episodes had they worked her scenario out in halfway sane fashion.
azcats - Tue, Oct 1, 2013 - 2:00pm (USA Central)
my favorite part was when Bashir "Bashir deconstructs Melora's sarcastic defensiveness with equally pointed remarks"

fun dialogue. the rest? meh.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 3:34pm (USA Central)

Very sappy, but it could have been worse. I give it a "meh" rating.

Dusty - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 6:17am (USA Central)
Mediocre, but not as bad as I feared--just another example of the writers figuring out what worked on this show ('Vortex', 'Necessary Evil' and their ilk) and what didn't ('Q-Less', 'The Passenger', and this). Melora's character started out unbearable and turned out okay. The "handicapped person OF THE FUTURE" thing was heavy-handed and sappy, and Bashir found the cure way too easily. Basically, the characters kind of worked but the story didn't. It was too convenient and simplistic for a show like DS9, and nothing really meaningful was said.

(Did anyone else notice that not even the writers could figure out why Melora survived a phaser shot to the chest? The best they could do was have Bashir speculate for one sentence about "neuro-stimulants." Groan. The more I think about this plot the more it's going to disintegrate. I'll just stop now.)

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