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

Season Index

22 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.)
Yanks - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 8:40am (USA Central)
I normally skip this episode, but I watched it last night.

We see anti-gravity trays carrying all kinds of stuff around in TOS, but she has to have a wheelchair? The can't create a suit that compensates for her? "Cardassian construction just isn't compatible"??? Really? No gravity plating/technology on DS9? or something mechanical that actually works? eeesssh....

In order to have less that "1" gravity, which is what DS9 would have, the biggest delta would be that one. Would she really be that tired by just standing up? She always seemed out of breath. While I think it's far stretched to conceive a planet that has "such low gravity", this is SCI-FI so, OK...

I did enjoy Bashir putting her in her place with her constant jabs. Very appropriate but don't you think someone at the academy would have corrected that? She got to the point of whining and to Sisko to boot! She didn't want any help doing anything accept listening to her complaining that she didn't want any help. If I were Sisko, I would have sent her packing, or had her put her nose on the circle on the chalk board or something. Just seems convenient that our lover boy Doctor has to be the one to address that.

I kind of like that this is a "Grass isn't always greener" episode. I thought there was good chemistry between Melora and Bashir and didn't find his medical discovery all that atrocious.

What was the "B" story again? :-)

2 of 4 stars for me because I liked the Klingon "chef" :-) How hard can that job be? lol
Ian G - Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - 12:34am (USA Central)
This is a pretty dull and ponderous episode that try's to make some sort of ham fisted point about accepting handicapped people that would be fine in a 90's public service video but not Star Trek. Melora's predicament seems silly in the midst of all the medical marvels of the ST universe. The episode then degenerates further into a meaningless one off love story with her and Bashir. Melora herself is unbearable throughout, at first she's angry at everyone for no reason, then she's just a sappy love interest. Through all this we are slapped in the face by the script and told how awesome she is at everything lest we think all people with disabilities are meek and worthless.
Andrea - Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 5:30am (USA Central)
I really, really, really HATE this episode, i found it insulting. It basically says that if you are disabled, you are not a person, you are a disable, and it's your disability that defines you, not your own personality, and that trying to cure that disability would be a bad thing, because you are "denying who you are". do I have to explain why this is bullshit? and the fact that this was written by a disabled writer makes me cringe even more. and then there's the little fact that the writer is "cheating": Melora isn't really disabled, she comes from a planet with a lower gravity (and can somebody please explain me how such planet would retain an atmosphere? but that's another story..) so in that context the whole "denying who you are" thing makes sense, buuuut the fact is that this episode wants to be a clear allegory for disability, so the writer wants to "cheat" us into thinking that makes sense in the context, while in the larger context (the one of the allegory) it really doesn't, because (and i feel bad for having to spell this out) a person is NOT defined by his/her ilnesses, try to exchange disability with AIDS and you'll get what i mean. and don't try to bullshit me: disability IS an illness. it's not homosexuality, which is something that somebody IS and it is part of his/her personality, and partly (key word being partly) defines who he/she is, disability is an illness, that in some cases can be cured even now (not to talk about the 24th century..), and i challenge you to find ANY wheelchair bound person who would turn away a cure for his/her disability because "that's what i am". and here's another problem with the writing of this episode, it's the 24th century, disability is gone, if you break your spine a quick travel to the infrmary and you'r good as new, but hey, we have to hammer on an half assed message about... something.. so let's make up a bullshit reason about her turning down the cure. i hate this episode
Robert - Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 8:59am (USA Central)
@Andrea - I think maybe you are giving the writers too much credit. I'm not sure this episode is an allegory for anything except having a bunch of ideas and nothing useful to do with them.

Some background... Melora was originally supposed to be DS9's science officer. They had a character bio lying around collecting dust and decided to use it. While Melora clearly was an allegory for the struggle of dealing with a disability, she wasn't exactly disabled. They seemed to go from a story about overcoming disability to the little mermaid (they even cited in) in less than 30 minutes.

So the writers had a cool character (she floats!!) with a chip on her shoulder from sort of being disabled and having people treat her poorly (even though none of our mains do) that of course our Doctor can melt in under 30 minutes (Trek lightspeed romance). He then finds a cure in minutes of looking and it switches to a little mermaid story. Oh and a Quark story is in there too. It was a mish-mash of ideas that were slopped together, not necessarily an offensive allegory.

And as to your point about nobody ever turning down a cure, I will point out that some of the deaf community is against cochlear implants and this episode struck me a lot like that. Once you get one you gain some amount of functionality back from your disability but you can't exactly go home again.
Alistair - Sun, Nov 9, 2014 - 6:57pm (USA Central)
This one was already done on TNG, and it was done a lot better. "Ethics", anyone? I do have to defend the weird suit that Melora wore to walk though, that's pretty much exactly what Worf was using and I find the idea that even in the future, there are still some medical problems we can't solve interesting.
MsV - Tue, Apr 7, 2015 - 4:33am (USA Central)
This is one of the few shows that stunk from beginning to end.
Adam C - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 - 2:40am (USA Central)
It’s pretty bad on its own, but as an inspection of Bashir, it’s legit. And very sad, in a way.

One thing that we learn over the course of the show is that Bashir is a profoundly lonely man. Oh, sure, if it isn’t screwed down, he’s the man to screw it, but as far as emotional intimacy goes, it’s not there for him. Part of that is the tinkering and puttering done to his brain, making him almost as smart as Cytherian Barclay; part of it is the arrogance that goes with the extreme intelligence. He doesn’t mean to push people away, but he does it nevertheless.

So here’s Melora, who does the same thing for her own reasons. Bashir forges a connection with her because he recognizes that aspect of himself in her. And that’s how we get to Bashir’s first attempt to construct the perfect woman. (I don’t think his doormat Dax daydream counts, although Terry Farrell was quite hilarious in that role.) She’s got the moxie, the strength of character, but she needs the strength of body or it won’t work. So Bashir, possibly thinking, “Yes! This is my chance!”, tries to make Melora the woman he wants. When she turns down the treatments in the end, she’s effectively turning down Bashir as a potential mate, and that hurts.

Over the course of the series, this aspect of Bashir’s personality will be revisited enough that the seed planted here is worth note, even though the episode on its own is mediocre.

(Also, the B plot should either go away or be fully developed. The idea of Quark double-crossing a business partner and reaping as he’s sown is pretty great, but it’s given such minimal development here that they shouldn’t have bothered.)
methane - Fri, Jun 26, 2015 - 12:36pm (USA Central)
Yanks said: "We see anti-gravity trays carrying all kinds of stuff around in TOS, but she has to have a wheelchair? The can't create a suit that compensates for her? "Cardassian construction just isn't compatible"??? Really? No gravity plating/technology on DS9? or something mechanical that actually works?"

They did mention somewhere early in the episode that anti-grav technology doesn't work on Deep Space 9...something about the Cardassian construction.
dlpb - Sat, Jun 27, 2015 - 6:38pm (USA Central)
They did mention somewhere early in the episode that anti-grav technology doesn't work on Deep Space 9...something about the Cardassian construction.

You mean something about lazy writing?
Yanks - Sat, Jun 27, 2015 - 8:57pm (USA Central)
methane is right dlpb.

BASHIR: Her normal anti-grav unit isn't going to work here. Same problem we had with the Starfleet cargo lifts. Cardassian construction just isn't compatible.
dlpb - Mon, Jun 29, 2015 - 12:49am (USA Central)
My point was that that is lazy writing. It's an excuse pushed in for no reason other than to explain something that is nonsense.
dlpb - Mon, Jun 29, 2015 - 6:23pm (USA Central)
Although, to be fair, they had to be lazy there to make the story they wanted work. It can be forgiven.
William B - Tue, Jul 28, 2015 - 12:18am (USA Central)
"Melora," take one: The difficulties faced by, um, everyone when a disabled woman comes to use the non-accessible station, and her rough experience thusfar makes her misinterpret everything that everyone says as a mark against her. She swings wildly between HOW DARE YOU EXPECT THAT I NEED SPECIAL TREATMENT and YOU JUST TRY BEING IN THIS CHAIR THEN YOU'D UNDERSTAND, and comes across as passive-aggressive. Of course, Bashir is already smitten before she arrives, responding to Dax' comment that it sounds as if he already knows her with "I FEEL AS IF I ALREADY DO," arrogantly believing that having read a person's files allows him to peer into that person's soul. (Actually the teaser-setup is especially reminiscent of "Galaxy's Child," with Bashir as Geordi and Melora as Leah.)

These two are at odds until the following exchange happens in Melora's quarters:

BASHIR: Julian. I'm no longer your doctor.
MELORA: I see. You've decided I need a friend.
BASHIR: Was that an attack? You see, you do it so well, with such charm, it's hard to tell.
MELORA: I really don't mean to --
BASHIR: Sure you do.
MELORA: I beg your pardon?
BASHIR: Of course, you mean to. All of these broad shots you fire it's your way of keeping the rest of the universe on the defensive. Has to be. You're too good at it.
MELORA: Well, it always seemed to work pretty well. Until now.

Ah. So, Julian is the first person ever to identify Melora's conversational pattern, and, as happens with all defensive people, the first time someone identifies that they are defensive, the defenses drop and they are primed to fall in love for the first time! No, that is not how this works. "Until now" presupposes both that Bashir is the first person *ever* to call Melora on her behaviour, or even to push back at all, and further her new openness to him implies that he really cut through years of personal barriers with one pointed remark. And, you know, no.

In any case, the drama about a person dealing with accessibility, and the question of what she can/cannot do, sort of dissolves. This is a romance now.

"Melora," take two: Now they go to dinner, and it turns out isolationist, angry Melora who keeps everyone at a distance speaks fluent Klingon and knows exactly how to argue her way into getting quality racht. The Klingon restauranteur laughs and they share a knowing smile and rapport. It's not even that Melora's aggressive arguing with the Klingon is an extension of her prickliness in act one, which endeared her (deliberately) to no one, it actually comes across as a practiced, carefully honed ability to negotiate with Klingons. The main function here is to undermine Bashir's conception of Melora as "wheelchair lady," for him to start thinking of her as an exceptional person in her own right rather than being defined as her own person, and I do think her having very specific individualized interests fits with this -- but her cosmopolitanism does rather run counter to her entire personality as established up to this point, which the episode was fairly careful to establish is how she acts all the time.

Time for her to show him her world! OK so it's been established that she comes from a low-gravity planet, which is why she has weaker muscles than the class-M humanoids and has trouble with Earth-style gravity. Fine. Which means that in her quarters, designed presumably to emulate her home planet, it should be about half gravity and she should be walking around norm -- NOPE SHE FLOATS AROUND IN ZERO-G. Wait, so, why does she not ever want to experience her own planet's gravity in her inner sanctum, rather than the artificial zero-g? Or is her planet actually, like, near zero gravity, and everyone...floats around until they float off into space? What? And Melora and Bashir seem to have equal strength in zero-g. Bashir, a Starfleet officer going out into space, has never been in zero-g? What if he has to perform surgery and the gravity goes out?

The "low-gravity planet" thing started as an excuse to do a show about disabilities from a Space perspective. The problem is that there is no "planet of disabled people," but, fine -- until they disregard the premise they've established. Anyway, one way to interpret things, though, is that Melora is a somewhat prickly woman with some significant impairments that make it hard for her to function on others' terms, but she has a rich, complex inner life which she largely does not let others into. In this sense, the Melora story is basically similar to Sarina's in "Chrysalis." So she is maybe something like an autism-spectrum person, ill suited in some senses to traditional interactions but still capable, and coming fully into her own in her own space. That's interesting, if a bit at odds with the wheelchair-WHY IS THE STATION NOT MORE ACCESSIBLE very clearly physical-disability-focused stuff. But okay.


Anyway, of course, Bashir dates a woman for like two minutes before he decides he can change her into a completely different person, which leads us to:

"Melora," phase three: CAN MELORA BE CURED?

It is pretty funny that the reaction everyone has to Melora walking on the bridge and handing her report to Sisko is excited back-patting for Bashir along with comments about how this project of his will earn him some great papers in prestigious journals. I may give her flak, but Melora's concern that people look at her and only see her Otherness/"disability" seem pretty accurate. Anyway, in this section Bashir cures her life-long genetic condition in ten minutes, but then does Melora really want to be "cured"? Because, you know, disability blah blah but isn't she denying who she is if she gets out of the chair and -- stop.

The episode's radical course-corrections really do feel odd, because, yes, it is true that the episode sets up the Bashir/Melora romance early on, and it is plausible that Bashir might work on "the Melora problem," and so it's not as if they are completely disjoint. But there are such huge shifts in tone and personalities of the players that the episode can never gain full focus. Bashir was attracted to Melora specifically because she could show him how to fly, which makes little sense but let's go with it, and so he knows he is depriving her of that, but only half-registers it. Didn't Bashir say he's her friend, not her doctor? What exactly is it that Bashir and Melora have to build a romance on, when they stop interacting except as doctor-patient soon? Is the issue of accessibility of the station, and how people treat the disabled, still on the table or is it gone?

Anyway, as a physical disability metaphor, the idea that she must give up zero-g flying and ever visiting her family for an extended period again pretty much trashes real-world counterparts. Maybe one could argue that a deaf person regaining their hearing fully might lose touch with the deaf community and so lose something fundamental, and certainly "curing" *psychological* "disabilities" is tricky business. It may be that the often-present trope of the person with physical impairments not wanting those impairments to be cured magically does have particular resonance and means something, so I don't want to dismiss it entirely. But, you know, if being in a wheelchair is part of who someone is, that is *still* not the same as Melora's home-planet/family issue.

Also, like, exactly how cumbersome is her antigrav equipment that works literally everywhere except DS9 and apparently the Runabouts? That's an important question because Melora's probably only going to be here for a week, "Mapping the Gamma Quadrant" or no.

What is interesting about this is what the Melora problem says about Bashir -- he falls for her because of her determination and then her openness to experience and her rich internal life, then finally settles on totally fixing her/rebuilding her from the ground up. The mixture of affection for who she is and desire to remake her into who he thinks she should be gets repeated in "Chrysalis," which by hitting on a better metaphor (the genetically engineered-autistic thing) manages to suck less (though I don't think it's a good episode). And I guess, to get into extra spoilery territory, in a lot of ways these go beyond just immature male romantic worship issues and into something specific to the formative event of Bashir's life. In this episode he talks about the time where he saw a woman dying and found out he *could* have saved her, and that no doubt is part of his zeal to solve all problems when they appear. But I think the reveal that he was genetically engineered does explain some of his behaviour. Jules Bashir was "defective," and out of "love" (?) his parents "fixed" him. As long as Bashir keeps that secret close to his chest and also remains grateful for it, he must believe that the truest act of love is to "fix" people. There's an inability to leave well enough alone that comes down, in part, to his own feelings of inadequacy as the guy he was before his IQ was tripled.

So that's interesting in retrospect -- but it hardly comes out much here. And so Melora decides, ultimately, that she is going to stop the treatments, because The Little Mermaid. But wait!

"Melora," take four: HOSTAGE CRISIS! Angry guy shoots Melora for some reason, because he's mad at Quark, etc., I can't be bothered to focus on this much. She's dead! Wait, she's not dead, because the treatment saved her, which, uh, I guess it is good that she got those treatments, right? Or, wait, does that *mean* anything or is that a pure plot contrivance to wring small amounts of excitement in a flagging script? And then Melora gets the big heroic moment of, ha ha ha, turning off the gravity and then, like, ramming into the guy, because, you know, that is not going to look ridiculous and also make the guy seem really pathetic and thus everyone else look awful for not being able to stop him. It is not so much that Melora *couldn't* use her skill set to her advantage, but the way it happens is so silly in look that it's hard to deal with.

And on a matter of teleplay construction: if you are going to have Melora save her day with her (still wrong, because her planet was low gravity and she should be able to walk in low gravity rather than fly in zero-gravity which anyone can do anyway but I digress) zero-g skills, thus proving that it's best to have a physical impairment, shouldn't that be the climax of the personal plotline as well -- i.e., shouldn't Melora have realized at *that point* that she absolutely needed to "stay true to herself" or whatever, rather than a few minutes before so that this whole unfortunate incident could be excised entirely? I mean, it's not that I require strict adherence to teleplay structure but it usually is best to break it only for a good reason, and this episode is already doing badly.

Anyway now that Melora has decided not to get any more treatments, the show is over, because, you know, those other parts about the difficulty of Starfleet romances and the Bashir/Melora love connection and also accessibility issues are no longer relevant. The episode ends without so much as a postscript that she's never coming back, though we maybe could have expected that.

I really have next to nothing to say about the Quark subplot; it is largely somewhat painful until it intersects with the Melora plot, until it becomes *very* painful.

1 star.
Eddington - Tue, Aug 18, 2015 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
Interestingly, they would use this concept of unwieldy assistive technology in a more mocking sense with the Doctor's mobile emitter backpack contraption in Author, Author's "Photons, Be Free".

Sadly, it was more effective there.
Elliott - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 - 4:37pm (USA Central)
Teaser : **, 5%

So, those Cardassian “incompatibilities” with Starfleet's antigrav tech have created a dilemma for a new officer about to be stationed at DS9. The officer, Ensign Melora Pazlar, is severely immobilised due to the relative strong gravity on the station. This issue raises a few technical nitpicks which should be gotten out of the way. First, shouldn't the gravitational stress on Melora's circulatory system and vital organs be of some concern? If the gravity is so strong that her voluntary skeletal muscles can't get stand her up straight, how in the world can her heart pump blood to her brain? Second, so is every M-class planet the same size and shape as Earth or do all aliens just put up with a higher or lower gravity when on Federation starbases/ships? Best not to burrow too far down that rabbit hole I suppose.

On the other hand, there is a subtle touch that I do like about this situation: Cardassian technology does not make accommodation for the disabled, just as I imagine Cardassian society does not either.

Anyway, Bashir has apparently studied up on her (in his typically creepy fashion) in his preparation for her medial needs. The remainder of the teaser establishes two things: Melora is kind of a bitch (“chip on her shoulder” is a little more generous) and portraying practical technology in futuristic settings is dangerous. Melora's wheelchair is as advanced a wheelchair I have ever seen...in 1993. Next to technology which warps the fabric of reality, dematerialises whole people safely and creates objects (including, ironically, this very chair) out of thin air, the device really feels like a prop instead of a part of the Universe we're observing.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Plot B: A Yuridian customer of Quark's buys a lost relic from the barkeep (nice to see him in action again). Interrupting Quark's capitalistic exploits is a menacing visitor with one of those impractical nose prosthetics who announces he's come to kill Quark. Of note here is an above-average musical score, unafraid to delve a bit into the emotional depth of the scene. Very welcome.

Plot A : Melora is introduced to Sisko. The camera chooses to make the most of the height differentials between the chaired ensign and her upright superior. She brings up the “Melora problem,” indicating she has a history of being defensive about her “condition.”

In Melora's quarters, Bashir picks up a photo of her and a man, and if you look, indeed it's a photo of them *flying in the clouds.* So sorry, William B., apparently that is exactly what her planet is like. It's damned stupid from a scientific perspective, but I'm willing (at this point) to be generous and point to the Little Mermaid source material as a justification for this idea—Elysians “swim” around their planet like fish in the sea, not to mention Elysium is the Greek equivalent of heaven, free and wistful fields of paradise.

I'm glad that Bashir calls out Melora's bullshit early on rather than forcing us to endure it for a few acts. I'm actually going to disagree somewhat with my esteemed colleague, William B., regarding the conceit that Bashir was the first person to notice her behaviour. I don't think that is what we are to infer here; I think rather that Bashir's attraction to her (based on a genuine psychological predisposition which you elaborated on) supersedes the more common “I won't insult you because you're in a wheelchair and I feel sorry for you” reaction that most people exhibit. Calling out someone's bullshit is a sign of emotional investment, something it seems clear that Melora has been very careful to avoid.

Alternately, her line “it's always seemed to work...until now,” doesn't need to be taken at face value. It's entirely possible if not probable that she says this on purpose, because the attraction to Bashir is mutual. It's a very classic flirtation tactic, really.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Plot B : Quark lays out a table for his would-be assassin in an attempt to mollify (his word) him. That's pretty much it.

Plot A : Bashir takes Melora to the new Klingon restaurant so we can get that painful scene where Melora tries to impress us by how many times she can roll her 'r's. I don't have much to add to what's been said already other than to point out that the restaurant's only adornment is a giant symbol of the Klingon Empire. In other words, this is the Klingon equivalent of one of those restaurants whose primary decoration is an overstated and garish American flag. Make of that what you will.

Retcon notice : Bashir mentions that his father had been a Federation diplomat, which, if I'm not mistaken flies directly in the face of “Doctor Bashir, I presume.” Oh my god, bad continuity! Call the media!

Anyway, Bashir shares a little of his backstory and, feeling feelings, Melora calls it a night.

Melora has a little accident, prompted by her own unwillingness to be dependent. Intellectually, I realise that a lot of this “we must depend on each other” stuff is pretty shallow, but Ashbrook and Siddig do a very good job at making this all seem very human and gentle. The chemistry they demonstrate (not easy for a guest character) warms up and shapes the straight-forward philosophical issues to make them palatable.

William B. is completely right that no Starfleet officer should be “astonished” by the feeling of zero g, but again, I'm generally moved by three things, the convincing acting, the stylish cinematography and the invested score. Melora chooses this moment to point out that her fellow merman in the photo is her brother and she and Bashir share a first kiss.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

I feel really guilty disagreeing so often with William B in this review, but this seems like the right spot to address Melora's cosmopolitanism. It seems very clear to me that her borderline savant-like knowledge of other cultures is a natural characteristic of someone who is very intelligent but socially isolated. I do object to the ease with which she bartered with the restauranteur because knowledge of a thing is no the same as practice, but it makes sense that she would fill the void in her life left by a lack of personal relationships with many hobbies and interests.

The runabout scene with Dax and Melora is actually pretty okay; nothing groundbreaking, but Ferrell does an unusually good job at balancing her “I've been alive for 7 lifetimes” with “I'm a goofy party girl” shtick. Typically in Trek romances, the romance itself feels incredibly rushed because it's squeezed into the space of a 45-minute TV show with ray guns, and here is no different, except that a rushed, exceedingly premature assessment of romantic feelings actually fits in perfectly with these characters. Both Melora and Bashir are socially awkward, brilliant and naïve. The story has cleverly taken an inherent weakness in Trek tropes and carefully adapted it to serve a particular narrative by being very wise about its character interplay. Kudos.

Plot B : Quark reports his assassin to Odo (what's his name? Phallic Cock? eesh), who knows all he needs to know about how Quark sold the man out for his freedom, even if “justice was served.” This plot maybe going nowhere, but best exchange of the episode has to be:

QUARK : He threatened to kill me!
ODO : [bemused smile]
QUARK : What?
ODO : Nothing. Just a passing thought.
QUARK : Odo he means it!...You've got to do something.
ODO : I'll do my job, Quark...unfortunately.

Plot A : Regarding Bashir's 10-minute “cure,” it should be borne in mind that Melora is the only Elysian in Starfleet. Bashir says he simply dusted off an old theory from 30 years prior that probably just didn't hold interest for any medical researchers until this situation. It's a little flimsy, but not unreasonable. Melora is delighted at the prospect of shedding her prosthetics (aren't we all) and chair.

Act 4 : **, 17%

Plot B : Phallic Cock is brought in for questioning by Odo. Bearing in mind I'm writing this during 2015, when the scandal of police brutality and other social relics from the Bush/Clinton era of crime-crackdown is of primary focus in the USA, I have to say that Odo's remark, “you can tell a man's intentions by the way he walks,” to be very unnerving.

Then again his hilarious line to Quark, “You people sell pieces of yourself after your dead...I'll buy one,” to mitigate this well enough.

Plot A : Julian is technobabbling his freaking ass off and has bestowed on Melora her first treatment, allowing her to move just a little bit. Music swells, closeup on Melora's smile. And jumpcut to Sisko, “How's the upgrade coming?” Very clever, Mr Somers. Very clever.

Mobile Melora steps onto the bridge and she is immediately treated like an object of curiosity and speculation—again. This is where the episode begins to sink a bit...we can already tell where this is heading. They may have been able to mitigate the romance cliché thus far, but one can already see the obligatory breakup being built.

Plot B : Phallic Cock ambushes Quark to kill him and Quark actually manages to save himself by promising to pay “199 bars of gold-pressed latinum.” Eh...this completely undermines what made the assassin at all interesting. That he can be bribed out of his revenge is really disappointing.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

Bashir is continuing the treatments on Melora. To his credit, the moment she expresses any doubt about her treatment, he immediately tries to understand and discuss her concerns, like a good doctor should.

Back to the runabout for girlchat round 2: mythology trumps science again, I'm afraid. Melora apparently can't return to her home planet after she's treated which makes no sense at all, since Bashir was perfectly capable of flying around with her in her quarters, but like Dax says, “The Little Mermaid.” This will unfortunately be the episode's ultimate undoing, I'm afraid.

Plot B & A : Quark introduces Phallic Cock to his Yuridian friend who gets himself shot. On the way the plots collide. PC takes Quark, Dax and Melora hostage on a runabout and kills Melora to “make himself clear” to Sisko that he isn't fucking around. Sisko and co. follow them through the wormhole and ensue chase. Meanwhile, Melora wakes up...and shuts off the gravity so she get the jump on Phallic Cock and save the day. Horray?

So, as expected, Melora decides not to go through the treatments because she “wouldn't be Elaysian anymore.” So, if an Elaysian were born unable to fly around due to an actual disability, would he or she also not be Elaysian. What a crap ending. Oh and pile on that Klingon serenade which comes out of nowhere...Ach, get me out of here!

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

“The little mermaid parted the purple curtains of the tent and saw the beautiful bride asleep with her head on the Prince's breast. The mermaid bent down and kissed his shapely forehead. She looked at the sky, fast reddening for the break of day. She looked at the sharp knife and again turned her eyes toward the Prince, who in his sleep murmured the name of his bride. His thoughts were all for her, and the knife blade trembled in the mermaid's hand. But then she flung it from her, far out over the waves. Where it fell the waves were red, as if bubbles of blood seethed in the water. With eyes already glazing she looked once more at the Prince, hurled herself over the bulwarks into the sea, and felt her body dissolve in foam.”

If the writers had had a little more courage we could have had this ending, a real ending wherein Melora kills herself for the sake of her Prince (Bashir). Alas, they chickened out and gave us this vague Deus ex Machina with her treatments somehow making her phaser-proof.

Up until the ending I was enjoying “Melora,” but it totally falls on its face, abandons its mythical origins, abandons its social commentary, abandons its intrigue with the B plot, abandons the surprisingly successful romance. Everything just jumps ship and dissolves into seafoam...

Final Score : **.5
William B - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 - 6:10pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, well, I may have had my own Melora-esque chip on my shoulder when I wrote about that episode. I suppose that picture demonstrates that Melora is supposed to be able to fly on her own planet -- and that this is the mythological background. This is all still very weird and crazy, because the whole idea is that her planet has LOW gravity led to her having, you know, humanoid limbs for walking which are too weak for Earth-style gravity, which goes against the whole zero-g thing in her quarters, and why -- well, okay, I'll stop. This still runs weird interference with the disability story.

It was her easy rapport with the Klingon restauranteur more so than her knowledge of different cultures that bothered me. Her social isolation leading to her having very particular tastes in alien composers and Klingon *food*, and even knowing Klingon language, is one thing, but there is something so easy and casual about her interaction with the restauranteur that really does suggest that she has near-magic ability to deal with others socially, which is absent the rest of the time. It bothers me a little because it did feel like the teleplay was stitched together -- and we end with the Klingon serenade because that's how close she is with the restauranteur. However, there are lots of people who deal with social isolation or difference by cultivating certain personality traits and not others -- like she's akin to the precocious child who can wow adults but struggles with connecting to other children. (Wesley, basically.)

Viewing things as more purely metaphorical, the Little Mermaid stuff sort of works, and especially if we view her zero-g chamber as her ultra-introverted inner life, which she lets Bashir into, and Bashir's excitement at being granted entry into her private life naturally leads to him trying to change her entirely -- which, yes, socially isolated brilliant scientists, likely autism spectrum. That being the case, the episode does have a lot going for it, except that the wires get so *very* crossed because of the several different contradictory stories the episode is telling.

For what it's worth, this is a much better Bashir story than The Passenger, which amounted to nothing, and this does tell us a fair amount about how he thinks, even if it doesn't really gel here. I guess 1 star was pretty harsh, when the episode is more like a confused but well-intentioned and interesting episode like The Outcast than a plodding waste of time like If Wishes Were Horses.
Diamond Dave - Tue, Nov 10, 2015 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
This doesn't work too badly as an 'issue' episode for a while, and I guess Melora is set up as an unsympathetic character earlier on to add weight to her opening up to Bashir. Indeed, this might be the first time we really start to see Bashir as an emerging character - the scene where he calls out Melora on her attitude issues is pitch perfect.

Unfortunately the B-story is eminently forgettable, aside from some quality Odo/Quark interaction, and the melding of the two stories at the end seems like the result of some lazy plotting.

Liked the Klingon restaurant though. 2.5 stars.

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