Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


2 stars

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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86 comments on this post

Mon, Dec 12, 2011, 10:59am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Aug 9, 2012, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
my favorite part was when Bashir "Bashir deconstructs Melora's sarcastic defensiveness with equally pointed remarks"

fun dialogue. the rest? meh.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
Very sappy, but it could have been worse. I give it a "meh" rating.

Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 6:17am (UTC -5)
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.)
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 8:40am (UTC -5)
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 (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 5:30am (UTC -5)
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
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 8:59am (UTC -5)
@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.
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Apr 7, 2015, 4:33am (UTC -5)
This is one of the few shows that stunk from beginning to end.
Adam C
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 2:40am (UTC -5)
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.)
Fri, Jun 26, 2015, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Jun 27, 2015, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
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?
Sat, Jun 27, 2015, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 12:49am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
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 (UTC -5)
"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.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
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 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 (UTC -5)
@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 (UTC -5)
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.
Paul Allen
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Asks for no special treatment, to the point of arrogance and annoyance.

Then asks for special treatment to use a runabout alone.

Sat, Feb 20, 2016, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
What is love? I'm no ladies man myself but I've always thought that it's quite possibly the most complex emotion/situation a person can ever experience. Well, apparently it's not. It's nothing more than simple infatuation which can completely run its course within forty-eight hours.

I do not like romance-of-the-week stories. Every once in a blue moon one can be good (TNG: "Lessons" was okay) but most are just bad. "Melora" is easily one of the worst offenders. So, since they apparently still had absolutely no idea what to do with Bashir's character they just decided to throw a little romance in his direction instead of actually doing something with him. Not only is that a complete waste of Bashir, it also shows a complete lack of understanding of what love actually is. If they had attempted to say that Bashir and Melora were just infatuated with each other it could have worked. But, nope. We're honestly supposed to believe they're in love. She shows up to the station, has dinner with Bashir that very night (with some rather unpleasant undertones of Bashir falling for a woman he has never met - a la LaForge), has zero-G sex with him the next day and is instantly in love. Then they're completely fine with ending it all a few days later because.... that's what true love is? (As an aside, Bashir's dopey fascination with the low gravity environment is stupid. It's nice to know that Starfleet doesn't have its doctors go through zero-G training. Because, you know, who would ever need medical attention in zero-G.... in space?)

Most gulling, for me anyway, is the first scene between Melora and Dax in the runabout. They go on for what seems like forever about romance in Starfleet and long-distance relationships yet never once bring up a rather obvious choice - how about one of you sacrifice your damn career! Of course, we can't bring that up on Trek, can we?! Every time we even get close to the subject the character's career always takes precedence. The O'Briens are the closest we get to the issue, ever, and even then neither one has to give up the career since Keiko eventually continues hers on Bajor. God, this drives me crazy! It would be perfectly acceptable for Melora (or Bashir for that matter!) to give up Starfleet for the relationship. But, apparently, the writers can't grasp the concept that a career isn't the 100% entirety of a person's life.

Then there's the attempt at social commentary involving disabled people which just falls flat on its face. For someone who doesn't want any special treatment due to her disability, Melora sure spends a lot of time requesting special treatment. But never mind that. The important thing is - what is the message, ultimately? That disabled people shouldn't be focused on due to their disability? That we should treat them like anybody else? Well, if that's the case, maybe it would help if the episode didn't focus so much on the fact that she's in a wheelchair. This isn't a story about a person who just happens to be in a wheelchair. The fact that she's in a wheelchair is the single most essential element of her character. Well done! It's always nice to see a rather worthy message completely flushed down the toilet by the execution.

Oh, and there's also a B-plot involving some guy who has an evolutionarily impossible appendage over his mouth (seriously, how could a species evolve like that?!) who wants to kill Quark. It goes nowhere and does nothing (aside from a momentary laugh from Odo) until it literally head-butts itself into the A-plot. At that point, as William B said, it goes from painful to very painful. The less said about it the better.

DS9 had been doing so well since "Duet". But, sadly, it looks like that narrative strength finally ran out.

Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Hello Gentle Sentients!

I recall that Melora was supposed to be a regular on the series (I'd even seen a very, very early shot that had included her in it, maybe in Star Trek magazine), and was initially glad they were allowing her to have her moment, since it was sort of pulled out from under her. And then I watched the episode...

If this is what we would have come to expect from the character, I'm glad they ejected her out into space (okay, maybe she left on a ship, but I've always wondered).

For me, this is the definition of a bad, one-star episode (as opposed to the fun, stupid one-star ones that I might still watch sometimes).

Have a great day... RT
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 12:37am (UTC -5)
Personally preferred this episode over invasive procedures two episodes back. At least with this episode i kind of could give a damn about the characters in the main plot. I couldnt care less two episodes back.
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Came here just to say that this character was annoying AF.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Bashir is 1) a creep, and 2) an unethical/unprofessional doctor. Did they base his character on the doc from "The Love Boat?"
Thu, Apr 13, 2017, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
I actually enjoyed this while watching--it was only at the end when I questioned it. I kept thinking I knew what direction the episode was going to go and it kept surprising me, so I didn't mind it. Yeah, it was stupid for all the reasons above, but I liked the chemistry with Melora and the Doctor. (I initially thought she was going to drop him flat after she was strong)

But who the hell came up with that idiotic alien nose thingie? How would eveolution EVER come up with something that blocks the mouth? Good lord. The B-plot really sucked--mainly because I knew Quark was never in any danger--but it sucked balls because of that stupid alien face.
Tue, May 2, 2017, 11:52am (UTC -5)
i liked this episode because bashir finally gets some *ussy (anti-grav style no less!!!!)
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
At this point in time, pre-Discovery and including the Animated Series, with the reboot movies tacked on at the end, going chronologically this episode is halfway through all Star Trek on film. So at least it has that going for it. For now.
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 7:23am (UTC -5)
Extremely mediocre episode. What bothered me endlessly was how Melora's borderline insubordination in the beginning is never even commented upon.
I know Starfleet isn't strictly military, but an ensign being rude and even hostile to superior officers without anyone even saying something?
James Alexander
Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 6:52am (UTC -5)
to be honest I don't see the point of this episode.
it could have been used to introduce a new character but Melora wouldn't appear again until the Star Trek Titan novels, could have been an opportunity to talk about disabilities and overcoming challenges but didn't really go for that angle, and overall it was very very boring.

the only scene that really stuck out to me was when Melora got rid of her equipment and was floating around in her quarters, but that got used for a really sappy scene with Doctor Bashir. seriously, I thought that should have been really cool but it just wasn't.
and Bashir didn't come out of this looking too good either. the writers made him fall in love with his patient in the space of an hour, which didn't give it the sense of emotional impact, that it could have had if they built up the romance as a subplot through the season.
not to mention that Melora came off as way too vulnerable, which in turn made Bashir seem like he was preying on her.

as for the gear that Melora was dragging around , surely we would have advanced past that by the 2370s. nearly four hundred years into the future and we're giving people leg braces and really heavy wheelchairs.
come on, think of more advanced stuff, even in the minor details. surely she'd have an anti-gravity floating wheelchair like Professor Xavier seeing as this is the 24th century. hell, Bashir could invent something for her as a way to show off.
James Alexander
Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Gooz, I would say that Bashir came off that creepy because Melora wasn't written strongly enough.
she got turned into this really vulnerable, almost helpless, character, just sitting around and waiting for the good doctor to make it all better.

if she'd been written with more strength and could actually look after herself, Bashir might not come across as a complete creep any more.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Boring, meaningless episode -- easily the worst of DS9 S2 so far. The "action" part is among the worst in Trek when the 2 subplots connect in the hostage escape scene. And the Melora character is a confusing mess. Bashir's a strange dude as well -- his attraction for Melora doesn't seem to come about logically and even if they somehow have a bit of chemistry, it has no payoff. Was this supposed to be a mainly romantic episode or something else? Not clear.

I thought this might be some examination of the problems a handicapped person faces -- resenting others for trying to be excessively helpful or something like that. Melora was annoying initially and then flicks a switch (Bashir's interest in her) and becomes tolerable.

Bashir comes up with some cure to allow her to walk normally (eventually) -- this happens too easily and quickly for me and then we go through Melora's wishy-washy bit about the tradeoffs of keeping with the treatment.

I will say that the bit about reduced gravity was nice to see and I'm surprised it isn't used that frequently on Trek. Here's one species (Melora's) that is all about reduced gravity. I think reduced gravity is used more in the movies (bigger budgets) where damage can cause the gravity plating to fail, but it doesn't happen enough in the TV series and that's a tad unrealistic, for me.

The B-plot with Quark and his former associate was lame. The guy says he's going to kill Quark -- and given that it's believable, isn't that worthy of some punishment or detention? Odo, whatever he thinks of Quark and his activities, doesn't do his job here.

The 2 plots -- completely independent -- then meet near the end in this lame hostage scene and Melora gets phasered but survives due to Bashir's treatment and uses reduced gravity to subdue Quark's "buddy". Very lame stuff that is hard to believe.

Barely 1.5 stars for "Melora" -- overwhelming feeling is that this was a waste of an hour. Slow, boring -- could have done much more with the handicap issue and trying to make a career in Star FLeet. Bashir, other than his dealings with Garak, is a weird/uninteresting character so far. Quark's situation just lacked tension. Overall, 2 weak subplots that got weaker when they intersected.
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
Fallit Kot's "nose" was just plain unrealistic. Why would evolution OR intelligent design prefer such an obstacle of own's mouth? Seemd to me like a mistake of the make-up-department - or an elaborate joke on their part. Somehow it made Fallit Kot even more devious.
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
This episode gets alot of hate, but I thought it was a pretty good slice-of-life episode, providing you ignore its contrived "action climax" (why aren't Trek writers ever confident enough to focus on simple, mundane plots. Not everything need be a dramatic crisis!) .

Anyway, there's some style here, some good zero gravity sequences, and Sisko gets a couple nice scenes (the way he handles the disabled guest star is quite original). Unlike Jammer, I also liked the Dax/Melora runabout scenes, but then I pretty much like anything Dax does.

And of course this is the episode where the KLINGON CHEF!!!! is introduced. I wish he appeared in more episodes.
Intrinsic Random Event
Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 3:11am (UTC -5)
Wasn't much into this episode, though it did make me think that Starfleet would have had to alter their academy requirements for all sorts of different beings, and we seldom get an insight into that.
But overall it was worth the sit-through to see the Klingon chef!!
Kinda like the Swedish chef... but far less Swedish...
I really would like to see a Klingon Iron-Chef competition, that would be brutal.
Wed, Jul 25, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek romance episodes live or die on the strength of the chemistry between the two actors. Unfortunately for "Melora", Bashir and Melora don't have enough to justify this waste of an hour.

1 star.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 6:05am (UTC -5)
Klingon chef, Sisko's interactions with Melora, and Odo's smile when he pictured Quark meeting his demise were definitely the highlights for me in this episode. The rest of it felt awkward and even forced at times. Two stars is about right.
Thu, Nov 29, 2018, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
Kinda silly, especially the girl talk on the runabout.

Very light fare.
Fri, Nov 30, 2018, 3:23am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode more than a lot of other people it seems. I found the questions it throws up about inter-species romance really interesting, and having more depth and complexity than is usual for this topic in the star treks.

The choice Melora confronts shows how heavy the sacrifices are for someone who dedicates their life to space travel. Melora - like many others - is someone who will never be able to feel at home. Her career and ambitions have alienated her from her home planet, but outside her home planet she’s alienated from everyone else because of where she’s from.

I also thought the love story between Melora and Bashir had a darker edge than people give it credit for. We get the sense that Bashir’s infatuation with Melora will probably not last, and that his interest may be more in her science-project/research paper value. Even on their first date all he talks about is how much he’s always wanted to be a doctor and ‘save’ people etc

Obviously the ep was heavily referencing Hans Christian Andersen’s original, and very dark fairytale ‘The Little Mermaid’. Down to Melora’s mermaidy hairdo. Although this episode ends happily (and admittedly a little stupidly with that shuttle scene) you get a sense of the tragedy that could have been had she gone through with Bashir’s procedure.
Sat, Jan 12, 2019, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I think "Melora" is beautifully done; it's one of my favorites of the series. The writers merge science fiction, romance and social commentary very well and the result is enchanting. The interactions between Bashir and Melora are engaging, funny and disarming. The delicate presentation of Melora's struggles with her disabilities is sincere and heartfelt. The scenes of Bashir and Melora "flying" are charming and uplifting. I also think the final scene in which the Klingon plays music near the table where Bashir and Melora are seated is both emotionally resonant and humorous.

I read above a number of others disliked the episode and I found that surprising. But, to each his own. I loved the episode.
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 11:09am (UTC -5)
the only problem I have with this episode is that they didn't show bashir and melora bouncing around during anti-grav sex. would have been fun to imagine the fun in it.
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Another episode where large portions of the plot depend on the station's personnel not doing their job, and where Quark is presented as everybody's chew toy.

This time, Quark reports to Odo that he's received fucking *death threats* by Fallit Kot - a guy who has a sufficient motive to kill him. And still, we're supposed to find this amusing, and to sympathize with a fascist asshole like Odo. Despite the fact that threatening to kill somebody is most definitely a crime, and despite the fact that Odo considers Fallit Kot "a man with nothing to lose", he still doesn't do anything to stop this criminal, and even jokes about wanting to buy a piece of Quark's soon-to-be-dead body.

Because of Odo's refusal to do his job, Fallit Kot ends up going on a crime spree, where he commits the following acts:
- Theft of a large sum of gold-pressed latinum, some priceless artifacts, and a runabout ship,
- Abduction of Quark, Melora, and Dax,
- Trying to force a Starfleet ensign to open fire on another Starfleet ship,
- Attempted murder of Quark and Melora,
- Murder of Ashrock.

...all because Odo was too busy chuckling over the idea of Quark being killed to do his job.

Conveniently, Odo is absent from the rest of the episode after he tells Quark that he doesn't plan to prevent his murder. Otherwise, the writers couldn't have written around the fact that by the end of the episode, Odo should be in a cell.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Fri, May 24, 2019, 11:08am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed it. Sixth HIT in a row for season two for me. I don't remember even my much beloved TNG having a run that good!

Also Melora = Allara from Orville, but in reverse. Has to be!
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Urgh. This episode was uncomfortable while I was able-bodied, when I watched all through DS9 a few years ago. I couldn't bear it as a now disabled person; it's the only episode I skipped after the teaser. From what I remember, based on the reviews -

'CMO's log, We've been working overtime':
AM: didn't pick up on it
DM: Oh great, of course making accommodations is such a burden on the able-bodied people *rolls eyes*

Julian likes Melora after just reading about her:
Able-bodied me: Julian's immature woman-chasing strikes again, sappy
Disabled me: the embodiment of inspiration p*rn (the entire foundation of his admiration is 'she's so inspiring to overcome her challenges, isn't she amazing?!') blech.

Why doesn't she use the transporter?:
AM: Huh, I don't know
DM: It's about independance and the freedom to go where you want without having to rely on others. Unless she had her own transporter device? [I would find that cool, but that doesn't mean every disabled person would.]

Julian alters her wheelchair specs:
AM: arrogant, obviously that's not what she wanted but his intentions were good
DM: WOW how dare he presume to know better than the disabled person what she needs?! Modifying someone's wheelchair without permission is awful. His intentions may have been good but HE SHOULD HAVE ASKED

Melora is defensive, hostile:
AM: that's not called for
DM: that's still not called for. If there are backstory reasons*, they really need to explain them; if not then their only portrayal of a disabled person is insulting because it plays right into the perception of 'I was only trying to help but that ungrateful disabled person bit my head off'.

[Actually, in the real world most of us will only get defensive if unwanted 'help' is *forced* on us, usually because the abled 'helper' just wants to feel good about themselves, isn't actually thinking about us and genuinely helping, and their actions are neither wanted, needed, or even safe sometimes. If someone *offers* to help, most of us will appreciate the offer and politely decline if we don't need assistance. #JustAskDontGrab]

*Just read Memory Alpha, and there are some feeble reasons. I don't buy them as being any justification - I understand frustration and the weariness of going over the same things again and again, and the 'talking about me without me' - but this was a new group of people, a clean slate, and it's still uncalled for. There are ways of comminicating one's needs assertively without being horrible.

Some nice little bits about accessibility (the Cardassians didn't have Melora in mind, and the world doesn't have disabled people in mind. Legislation has been in place in much of the Western world for years now, and still the majority of places aren't accessible. Just putting in a ramp does not make a building accessible)

Overall the teaser can be summed up in one word: Ableism.
So, so much ableism.

The flying scene:
AM: Huh ... it's kinda sweet? Not sure what to make of it
DM: Still not sure what to make of it? If you squint reeeeeally hard, they *might* be making a point about removing barriers and getting to know the person, not the disability? Maaaaybe? Or that disabled people might have struggles in everyday life but that doesn't mean our entire lives are hopeless and tragic?

Someone mentioned in the comments Julian getting praised in Ops as Melora walks for basically 'curing' her - in isolation it could be taken as okay, but in the context of what I remember from the episode, it's basically 'yay abled saviour well done you for rescuing this tragic person and giving them the opportunity of a normal life' - blech, again.

I also seem to recall Melora really only spent her free time with the Dr. That just strikes me as so lazy, so 'medical model' - she's disabled so of course(!) she spends time with the doctor - !!! as if a disabled person's identity revolves around their disability. (and URGH I still can't get past how he fell for her initially because of her disability),
- In-universe I understand that it was a character episode for Bashir, it's just unfortunate he was also the doctor. It might have felt less unsettling if the character falling for her and spending time with her were, say, an engineer, but with the established characters that wasn't really possible. An unfortunate situation with a result that just didn't sit well with me.

The conclusion, again I don't know what to make of it. Perhaps I might have to watch it to see how well her decision was explained.

Maybe it's a good thing the episode didn't go with the abled/'normal' saviour conclusion? After all, any 'cures' in the real world come with a huge price and are extremely rare (think, exoskeleton suits, wheelchairs that can climb stairs - all prohibitively expensive) and for some people such as in the Deaf community, autistic people, their disabilities are an integral part of their identities and they wouldn't change it. If the world were made truly, fully accessible, they would have zero problems.
But then, those of us disabled by chronic illness - despite fully embracing our disabled identity - would very happily have our health back given the chance! The most that the majority of us can hope for, however, is increased accessibility and understanding.


Having read Memory Alpha and seeing how it ends - and having sorted my feelings out - I might be able to watch it again. I'll have to see. I just remember feeling profoundly unsettled through the entire episode before, because I really felt it had the potential to say something but completely missed that opportunity.

I didn't mean for my first comment (I think?) to be an SJW tirade; this episode was the only one to leave me feeling so conflicted and so deeply uncomfortable (even though I was watching it at the time as an able-bodied person). And I do like Julian as a character overall, by the end he's certainly one of my favourites; just the writers unfortunately chose to play the VERY long game with him. Underneath the initial arrogance and lusting after women though, there are glimmers of a good heart - I remember him making me cringe a bit early on when I first watched DS9 through, but not hating him.

Just remembered - did someone mention this was written by a disabled writer?! Oh yes, @Andrea did. My heart just sank again. I mean, it might not have been completely ableist, but for a disabled writer to completely miss the mark is really disappointing. Many of us do have to struggle with internalised ableism but one would hope before putting something out so publicly, it would have been scrutinised a bit more carefully. *sigh*

My final niggle is that Of Course the disabled person was played by an able-bodied person - however, as it was way back in 1993 I can forgive them. (House M.D. on the other hand ... !! I can only recall three disabled actors in the entire eight years. That's disgraceful for a medical show.)

End rant. Thank you Jammer for both your thoughtful reviews and hosting space for our varying opinions, and debate. I haven't read all of TNG, DS9 and VOY yet but it is so interesting to come and read analyses of certain episodes - really adds an extra layer for me as someone who doesn't usually have the brainpower to think too much about what I'm watching! I hope to get through the three sets of reviews some day.
[If Farscape had been your thing, I imagine your reviews and the comments from regulars here would have been fascinating!]
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Me again. Y'know, I've just realised why this is such a big deal to me. Sloppy representation might have been okay if she were a supporting character, and/or her disability were incidental. But not only is she the central character, her disability IS the story - so it HAD to be done right. That's the responsibility they chose to take on and I'm not sure they get a pass just because it was the 90s.
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
@ MusicalTurtle,

I respect that your position on this comes from personal experience and it's interesting to read your take on it. But I would like to comment on this specifically:

"But not only is she the central character, her disability IS the story - so it HAD to be done right. That's the responsibility they chose to take on and I'm not sure they get a pass just because it was the 90s."

I know you already prefaced this with that it doesn't get a pass just because it was in the 90's, but I think that detail really does matter. At that time certain shows like DS9 (and Frasier, as recently discussed) tried to make a big deal about representing certain lifestyles in a positive way, or at least as being viable. And yet, being the era it was, it was going to come with a sort of cheery and sometimes simplified tone that IMO is highly indicative of TV and film from 1985-1995. The optimism of the time sometimes wiped away ugly details. That may be called a flaw, but I'm not sure it's quite fair to blame DS9 itself for it.

In this ep we are given the usual scenario: some unpleasant situation walks in the door. In this case it's a disabled person with a bad attitude, but I think that allegorically it means that for all the positive talk many people in the early 90's still had a sort of disdain for disabled stuff, like making places accessible and that sort of thing. So there was likely a clash in the culture between being increasingly understanding, versus the whole "ugh why do we have to be inconvenienced by this crap" self-serving attitude. So yes, they give Melora a bad attitude here, but I think it's sort of like us getting the POV of someone having to annoyingly cater to a disabled person when all they see is the wheelchair. Sort of like "well I guess we have to treat this person special but it's aggravating to go through all that." What I think the episode is doing is saying that, no, actually it's a real person and not a wheelchair, and that the 'annoyance' that comes with the handicap will go away when you get to know her and see her as a person rather than a disability. In terms of the structure of the episode Julian warming to her is roughly on par with him seeing her more as a person and less as a project. And actually that's a good place for him to be as a character too, since he tends to objectify people in terms of "hot woman, should pursue", or "patient, should heal".

Where the episode may be lacking, and maybe what you're picking up on, is that it doesn't really give us her POV at all. What we see is *other people* experiencing the initial annoyance, then learning stuff, then warming to her, with a happy ending where understanding is achieved. So it's all from their side of things, and we don't get her side to much of an extent other than when we refuses to change her lifestyle to suit them. But even then it's sort of showed as how they would receive the refusal, not so much her perception of all these things. Maybe that is a failure on its part, and maybe it's a 90's style failure, but I do think the spirit of the thing was to show that their initial annoyance was due mostly to not knowing her better, even though it certainly might come off as her having an attitude problem. That's sort of an issue in general with using a scenario as a placeholder for a social situation.

Not that I'm greatly defending this ep, it's one of my least favorite ones. I'd just sort of at least give them credit for trying.
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
@ Musical Turtle
Thanks for sharing. It certainly gives us a little insight into how much perspective can change when circumstances change.

I did not like the episode but mostly for the whole "Julian is at it again" story line.
I just want to throw in that Melora isn't actually disabled. She came from a planet were everybody was like that. So being dependent on anybody is maybe a bit more annoying. She could just do a full Cartman and say:

But I get it. The episode is about disability/disadvantage. good points.

And don't forget. Disabled people got that episode which is meh but think about what the transsexuals got... a sex change for Quark and gay men were completely absent.
So hey representation... Sorry I couldn't find a good representation meme. They were mostly no taxation without representation memes... :(

Peter G. makes some good points. They probably meant well back then but I guess this is another one of those moments were perspective is king. 1993 pretty forward thinking, 2019 not so much. There was also a Frasier episode about a disabled guy... check it out. It is the lowest rated episode of the first five seasons! :D It's called "The friend"
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -5)

"And don't forget. Disabled people got that episode which is meh but think about what the transsexuals got... a sex change for Quark and gay men were completely absent."

Representation done wrong is worse then no representation at all, tough. I was actually astounded to learn that the writer of this episode was himself disabled, because Melora (both the episode and the character) annoyed me to no end.

And it's not true that the LGBT people didn't get anything. They got "rejoined" which - in my view - did everything right on this front: It managed to demonstrate that same-sex relationships are a non-issue in the 24th century, while ALSO giving us a compelling "gay rights" allegory.

Of-course, I'm not gay myself, so feel free to dispell my enthusiasm for that episode :-)
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
"Of-course, I'm not gay myself, so feel free to dispell my enthusiasm for that episode :-) "
Well, if you ask me that nicely and as the God Empress of the LGBT community!
Would you be shocked to hear that the number of countries that discriminate gay men is substantially higher than the number of countries who discriminate lesbian women?

I'm also not surprised that you liked seeing two very attractive women kiss. :)
Seriously though both are portrayed as cerebral, thoughtful scientists. Compared to this episode "Rejoined" definitely holds up when it comes to being progressive.
Top Hat
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 11:12am (UTC -5)
This was very interesting commentary, MusicalTurtle... I can't help to think more than this wretched episode deserves. I do find the point interesting that Melora is not strictly a disabled person, but an alien who travels outside of environments her species has evolved for. Does the euphemism "differently abled" apply more strongly? After all, the problem is the environment around her, nothing inherent to her body.

Would this episode had made more sense without the science fiction twist (which in a lot of ways fails to make sense -- shouldn't Melora be way less humanoid if she evolved in such a different enviornment?) and simply been told about a more conventional disability? Does it even make matters worse -- Melora's problem is that she's strayed too far "out of her lane" into a world that she's ill-suited to?

PS: I read it long ago, but there's an essay specifically about this episode called “No Ramps in Space: The Inability to Imagine Accessibility in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” It was in this academic collection:
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Trying to write this through brainfog right now so apologies if some of it doesn't make sense or it goes off on tangents and not actually addressing the comments to which I'm responding.

@Peter G. Very good points, and regarding POV I think that's probably the overarching problem with it. If it had been written by able-bodied people I think I *would* have given it a pass because it was the 90s. Learning that it was co-written by a disabled person (he's credited with the story and on the teleplay) is what aggravated me so much. But as I said, nobody is immune from internalised ableism, and many disabled people today, even of the younger generations, still struggle with it. It's just frustrating that they blew such a potentially great opportunity.

People feeling inconvenienced by making accommodations is unfortunately still something we come up against a lot. Anything more than a token ramp (which may or may not even be useable) is usually questioned at least, refused at worst. I suppose that is one good point for the episode - they did willingly do everything she needed to the station before her arrival, Julian's unauthorised specs change notwithstanding.

@Booming I think Melora not actually being disabled is why I felt so conflicted back when I first saw it, not sure if it was supposed to be about disability or what. But seeing it so very obviously depicted with medical devices (all the bracing, the wheelchair, the cane) this time around I knew it was definitely intended to portray a sci-fi version of disability.

I have no idea what other representation was or wasn't around at the time so can't really comment on anything else (though I agree Quark in drag was truly terrible, but I have no idea what level of offensive that was).

@OmicronDeltaThetaPhi "Representation done wrong is worse than no representation at all" - indeed. Bad representation does give opportunity to discuss why it was terrible, but only in certain circles. The rest of the viewership only see the bad representation and hear nothing to dispute it.

@TopHat interesting questions! Your first paragraph kind of aligns with the real-world social model of disability, which is what I was hinting at re: deaf and autistic people, and disabled people with purely physical disabilities - in a fully accessible world, many disabled people would genuinely have no problem. It's people like me who are disabled through chronic illness with inherently unreliable bodies that muddy those waters ;)

Re: straying too far out of her lane, historically and even still today (though it is better now than it was) disabled people have struggled with having very low expectations put on them*, which feeds the problem of inspiration p*rn. Not expected to be able to learn, to love, to live independently, to work, to make useful contributions to society. So in my view, Melora working so hard to leave her planet and do beyond what was expected of her is possibly one thing they actually got right!

*Either that or having excessively high expectations - able-bodied people using para-athletes or other well-known disabled people and saying 'they can do it so you should be able to as well'. Or seeing all disabled people as the same, 'my friend's disabled aunt can do this that and the other so you should too' even though they don't have the same disability (although even the same disability will affect everybody differently anyway).

I will have a look at that essay. I'm not usually involved particularly with politics around identity and representation (although my initial rant might call that statement into question).

DS9: still inspiring debate more than quarter of a century later! Thank goodness most of the rest of it was better ;)
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 2:05am (UTC -5)
It's kinda hilarious (in a bad way) that the crew of a space station on which different SPECIES work together, make such a big deal of something as simple as making access for a wheelchair. You'd think such a place would need to accommodate a far bigger spectrum of diverse needs, like extreme temperatures or unusual breathing mixtures or the-devil-knows-what-else, on a daily basis.

Yes, I know that in Star Trek 99% of the aliens are basically humans with prosthetics. And in an ordinary episode this would be fine. We just accept it as a conciet needed due to the constraints of television story-telling.

But when you have a story like "Melora", the rediculousness of it all suddenly becomes evident. In short, this is a story that shouldn't have been made in the first place (even if they fixed all the problems).
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 2:35am (UTC -5)
"I do find the point interesting that Melora is not strictly a disabled person, but an alien who travels outside of environments her species has evolved for. Does the euphemism "differently abled" apply more strongly? After all, the problem is the environment around her, nothing inherent to her body."

The same could be said about many of the "disabilities" in the real world, though.

People in wheelchairs would be able to do everything a walking person could do, had they lived in a suitable environment. Does it really make a difference, whether this ideal environment actually exists on some planet or not? The only reason these people have such a hard time in the actual world, is that we live in a society that takes walking for granted.

And the simple fact is that the word "disabled" nearly always refers to some kind of external standard: You can't be "disabled" in a void. It's always in comparison to some set of requirements for being "able-bodied" which is - in the end - a largely social construct.
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 3:17am (UTC -5)
The whole wheelchair thing is pretty dumb itself. Didn't we already see a hover chair in TNG "Too short a season". Plus they have hover beds, hover everything but disabled people still have to use wheelchairs?!

*I just read that they actually wanted to use the Hoverchair from TNG but didn't because it wouldn't have looked well in the DS9 surroundings...
Top Hat
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 6:33am (UTC -5)
@Omicron, that's precisely what I was getting at. The phrase "differently abled" might help reshape the language, since "disabled" has an edge of "there's something wrong with you," rather than that society and your environment fails to accommodate your needs. This episode seems like wants to make a statement about the way we construct disability, but it's too muddled to say anything coherent.
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
@Booming They said in-episode that hover-whateveritwas wasn't compatible with Cardassian tech

@Top Hat "The phrase "differently abled" might help reshape the language, since "disabled" has an edge of "there's something wrong with you," rather than that society and your environment fails to accommodate your needs."
That's actually why the disabled community are generally trying to reframe disability as the social model (disabled due to lack of accommodation) rather than the medical model (your body doesn't work, with a side order of 'you are inferior'-connotations).
BTW, "differently abled" is *generally* a phrase used by abled people trying to skirt the word 'disabled' because they're uncomfortable with it, and it's therefore not a phrase that sits well with most disabled people. However I appreciate your thinking behind it and am not accusing you personally of skirting the issue, just explaining why that phrase is problematic :)

"This episode seems like wants to make a statement about the way we construct disability, but it's too muddled to say anything coherent." - After coming to terms with how the episode made me feel, I think I agree with you there. The remark about the station being inherently inaccessible and the flying scene certainly show glimmers of that.

I watched the whole episode some time after commenting and processing the discussion, and noted they did do some things well, e.g. offering help, respecting Melora's answer to the offer, not being condescending, etc. Maybe I should go through and note all the good things at some point in the interests of balance!
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
@Omicron They do sometimes reference accommodating different species; at the beginning of 'Improbable Cause' they altered the atmospheric gaseous mix (which corroded the carpets in the quarters! But they were happy to keep the atmosphere, and just replace the carpets with something else), and the Breen have their refrigeration suits. However I agree with the overall sentiment of your comment; one really would expect accommodations for various differences to be mentioned much more often as a normal part of the daily operations of a space station.

The most common mention is of Cardassians' preference of warmer temperatures; it certainly doesn't count as an extreme difference but it is a difference that is casually mentioned fairly often. I think one of the Weyouns said the Breen homeworld ('frozen wasteland') sounded quite comfortable, but the Vorta evidently function fine in ordinary humanoid temperatures anyway. Maybe they have a tolerance for an extreme range of temperatures - useful, actually, to visit all sorts of planets as Dominion representatives!
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
I think 2 stars is spot on. Although I might give it an extra 1/2 star for the scenes with the Klingon chef. I think my favorite Trek series would be a spin-off featuring them at guy!! Maybe in like a reality cook-off “Gladst in the City” starring Chef K’Taz.
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
'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!'

He also mentioned it in season 4 The Quickening.

I gather they had altered the timeline in Trials and Tribblations which led to Bashir being genetically modified.
Jim Witte
Tue, Feb 25, 2020, 10:34am (UTC -5)
> By the 24th century, we could surely have a wheelchair which can go over obstacles

Heck, it's the twenty-*first* century, and we *already* have the technology to make wheelchairs that can go over (simple) obstacles. I don't know if anyone is making a wheelchair with such, but they could.)
Tue, Jun 30, 2020, 6:10am (UTC -5)
Julian having intercourse with M'lora was well done. The sexual chemistry between the two actors is superbly done. 1.5/4 for me
Sat, Aug 1, 2020, 9:28am (UTC -5)
This episode was painful to watch! It's the first one in the series that I've actually only thrown on in the background as it was so cringeworthy from the start.

What really confused me is we knew they had to make accommodations for her due to her home planet, but then with the whole wheelchair thing and her yelling at Sisko about you don't know until you've been in the chair honestly had me thinking she was faking being disabled. Was confusing since she could walk around with that exoskeleton thing but then would lash out at people about being confined to the chair. It took me a bit to actually clue in that they were trying to say her home planet being different makes her actually "disabled." Jeeze.

The only funny line in it was when she made some comment to Julian about "What kind of an architect would deliberately design a raised rim at the entrance to every door?"
Sun, Aug 2, 2020, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
While this was for sure a meh episode, I will say the point (or at least attempted point) seemed pretty obvious to me. That ultimately, given the choice of enhancing her ability to handle a higher gravity environment or retaining her identity as an Elysian, she came to the eventual realization that retaining her cultural identity, even if it means being perceived by others as being disadvantaged, was the more important choice.

And yes, I'm, watching this series (for the first time) in 2020. So far, it's holding up surprisingly well
Chris L
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
@MusicalTurtle -

Your review and discomfort are spot on, I think. I spent a few months confined to a wheelchair, and it was eye-opening to say the least. I won’t pretend to understand permanent disability, but I do know enough to know how completely clueless most able-bodied people are about how to treat the disabled, and how completely inadequate most ‘accommodations’ are. Little things like, after a snow storm, the stairs to buildings are often salted adequately, but wheelchair ramps? Skating rink. Or automatic door buttons placed behind the door hinge so you press it and then dodge a moving door and go around to get through.

I could understand if this episode were written by an able-bodied person, but it is kind of shocking coming from someone disabled. I understand pride and the desire for independence and not wanting unnecessary accommodations made, but Melora is just a bitch about it. Like when Sisko makes the completely reasonable requirement that someone goes with her to the Gamma quadrant, because nobody goes alone without vast experience. She loses her shiat and lashes out at everyone. I could understand her appealing initially and explaining that she prefers to work in zero g and that is easiest if she goes alone, but surely an accommodation or compromise could be made on the runabout? Don’t starfleet officers have zero g training?! Why not say: okay, we’ll turn the gravity off/way down for this mission, but Dax/someone still goes with you as a matter of policy. That would seem reasonable, and considering how accommodating the ds9 staff are trying to be, I would think that Dax would be willing to do that. It’s weird they don’t offer that and also that she doesn’t ask for that when she is alone with Dax on the runabout.

Also, I think some people are focusing too hard on how a humanoid could evolve on a low/zero g planet. I kind of always assumed that it is a race of people that originally came from a regular planet, but have lived on some sort of moon or small planetoid for several generations. Thus, their bones have turned to chalk and muscles weakened. Kind of like Belters in ‘The Expanse’.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 1:59am (UTC -5)
"Extremely mediocre episode. What bothered me endlessly was how Melora's borderline insubordination in the beginning is never even commented upon.
"I know Starfleet isn't strictly military, but an ensign being rude and even hostile to superior officers without anyone even saying something?"

Indeed, it wasn't realistic. "Rude guest star joins the main cast for an episode" can work. In Data's Day the Vulcan (Romulan as it turned out) Ambassador was noticeably rude - but she wasn't part of the Starfleet hierarchy. In numerous TNG episodes Ro Laren was rude too - and got in trouble for it. But simply inserting a bolshy, unprofessionally difficult Ensign into the DS9 cast and seeing them completely overlook her behaviour made no sense.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 2:56am (UTC -5)
The disabled person being the problem and acting difficult while the normies are not. Never seen that before...

In the original draft, written by a disabled person, it was actually the other way around. The normies were the once creating the problems and the disabled person was the one who had to deal with that but for some very easily understandable reason they didn't do it that way.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 5:36am (UTC -5)
"The disabled person being the problem and acting difficult while the normies are not. Never seen that before...

In the original draft, written by a disabled person, it was actually the other way around. The normies were the once creating the problems and the disabled person was the one who had to deal with that but for some very easily understandable reason they didn't do it that way."

Imagine that, human beings caught up in their own narrow perspectives.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 5:56am (UTC -5)
I get it but in this case it is more about the vast majority often perceiving people who are outside the spectrum of normalcy as bothersome or problematic and switching that around is less easy to digest so they didn't.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
@Booming well that's because they probably are bothersome and problematic. If I have to, say, install a ramp so that one employee in a wheelchair (out of say 50) can access my business, that is bothersome and creates problems.

Doesn't mean I shouldn't be bothered mind you. Many good and necessary things cause bother and even problems.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Yeah and that is why certain groups are often portrayed as being unfriendly or whatever you want to call her behavior so that the normals can feel justified in being annoyed of the groups these people represent.
In essence they turned a script by a guy in a wheelchair that wanted to shine a sympathetic light on how it is to be disabled, especially in connection to the problems normal people create, into a script that made disabled people look shitty.
To give a visual representation of what they did.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Not sure if someone above has addressed this, but another part of the problem with this as a portrayal of a disabled person is that part of the sci-fi premise in the window dressing (her home planet) actually makes it so that she's not simply *disabled* but rather differently abled. Unlike the euphemism used by some now, to indicate they are "abled" but not in the way of the majority (which is really a dishonest way of saying they are indeed disabled in that one aspect but have other abilities), in the case of Melora she really isn't disabled at all, just unsuited to that particular Earth-like environment, whereas in her native environment she no doubt is vastly superior to Sisko and the others. She breaks the direct parallel to disabled people and instead makes it more of an adaptation issue. Within context of this show, she's as disabled on DS9 as someone now on Earth is who has a 2 am - 10 am natural sleep cycle. They will be at a disadvantage if the majority rule is that you're at work from 9-5, but it's not so much that they're disabled sleep-wise since they would be perfectly functional if work started at 11 am, but rather just poorly adapted to the current social structure and would do better perhaps than other people if it was other than it was.

Because of this and other mixed messages I've never thought this episode worked pretty much at all. The one possibly nice premise, of someone who loves zero-G, could never work in a series that won't afford cable budgets all the time to have flying scenes. If this was shot now it would be a whole different story.
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
I thought the beginning was strong because of the portrayal of her as being extremely independent, sometimes to her own detriment. I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of how some disabled people can over-compensate for how shittily society treats them.
Sun, Oct 11, 2020, 11:24am (UTC -5)
This episode had one nice line: “What kind of an architect would deliberately design a raised rim at the entrance to every door?”

I mean, think about it. The station used to be where they forced bajorians to do tasks like processing ore to the point of exhaustion, and they probably didn’t have much energy left to lift their legs above the entrances. So yeah, I thought that that was a nice way to show yet another way the Cardassians are brutal.
Sun, Oct 11, 2020, 2:27pm (UTC -5)

The same folks that designed US Navy ships!! ... lol

I'm gathering that because of the stations mission (processing ore) that the station need the extra rigidity provided by the increased bulkhead support.
Mon, Jul 12, 2021, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
Along with Melora, second season DS9 liked to create some annoying entitled d-bags.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
What I don’t understand is how Melora and Julian both floated around her quarters with the same vigor. In theory, since she needs less gravity to stay her ground, she should be able to just walk normally in her gravity settings and Julian should have stuck to the ceiling. Even if her own gravity settings make her float as well, she should be less floaty than Julian.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
@Victoria, it's not that Melora has more mass, she just doesn't have the musculature and perhaps the bone structure to be able to handle our gravity. She's like someone who lived on the Moon, and the low gravity caused her body to atrophy. In this case it looks like less than even the Moon's gravity, but it's implied that her species really does float around like that (let's ignore the evolutionary issues that brings up). Even if Melora did weigh an order of magnitude more than Bashir, turning down the gravity wouldn't make him rocket up to the ceiling. In zero gravity they'd both float there just the same.
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
I finally rewatched this got the first time since first run because the character was so obnoxious and Julian never experiencing zero G was ridiculous. PARTICULARLY when it can be so easily turned off.

It would have helped if they had cast Melora with a really skinny or oddly proportioned actor that might suggest a radically different home gravity.

However, this episode does benefit from Julian's genetic retcon in how casually dismissive he is of his medical innovation for her.

Tue, Mar 29, 2022, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Yea this episode is strange. It honestly seems like it was mostly written by a child. They are IN space. The station and EVERY ship has artificial gravity of some kind. It makes no sense that Julian would have never tried that before. This gravity stuff is too problematic to ever focus an episode on. It's like the universal translator, it's best left to be NEVER talked about because just raises too many questions. The gravity stuff is an equally large plot hole. Such as.....we've all seen those scenes where a starship is wrecked, on fire on inside, alarms blaring, abandon SHIP! Main power is out, auxiliary power has failed......but that artificial gravity is NEVER affected haha.
Thu, May 19, 2022, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
One of my pet peeves about DS9 (and not just it among the Trek shows) is garish, illogical "alien makeup." It's as though Michael Westmore and his team needed to do something more outrageous than any former effort for each new attempt. In this case, it's the weird nose appendage on Fallit Kot that blocks his mouth and serves no purpose other than "See what effing weird stuff we makeup artists can do!" The whole episode doesn't work very well. It tries way too hard.
Fri, Nov 11, 2022, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
As an ethnomusicologist, I loooooved getting some Vulcan and Klingon music in this one! The discussion about the Vulcan composer between Dax and Melora made up for the rest of that scene for me.

I'm disabled and chronically ill so it was interesting to see this one. It's certainly an improvement over how Pike was handled in TOS "The Menagerie." People in the comments here seem to have a problem with Melora turning down the "cure" for her condition because she would lose a part of herself. I actually found it very relatable. In our early 21st century medicine, treatments for my various illnesses come with so many side effects that sometimes I have to stop the medicine because the new problems it gave me weren't worth the tradeoff of lessening the old problems. Melora realised that the tradeoff wasn't worth it for her, and that's a decision I've had to make many times.

There are also, of course, things that function as disabilities in an ableist world but which are things people consider integral to their identity and wouldn't want "cured." I'm thinking here mainly of neurodivergence. In disability theory, there is a major difference between the "medical model" of disability and the "social model." Under the social model, a disability is something which is only disabling to you because society does not accommodate it, but which in an ideal world would not be disabling. Under the medical model, a disability is something which will cause problems for you regardless of how much the world tries to accommodate you.

Being in a wheelchair can be a "social model" issue in some ways - if all of society had no stairs, good ramps, lifts, etc., you would be much less disabled in a wheelchair than you are in our society. That perspective was touched on here because Melora is not disabled on her homeworld, but is especially disabled on a Cardassian starbase. (Fascists are often notoriously ableist and eugenicist so that tracks.) In other words, Melora's impairment works as an allegory to socially-defined disabilities rather than medically-defined ones. It's sort of like how Patrick Stewart said that there is no "cure" for baldness in the 24th century because baldness isn't seen as something that needs to be cured anymore.

These allegories wouldn't work well with disabilities that are best understood under the medical model, like for example my own chronic illnesses which I would love to have a cure for. The episode's allegory works much better when you consider social model disabilities.
Wed, Jan 11, 2023, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Ah, that dreaded bane of oldschool TV shows: a main character finds a love interest who we know we'll never see or hear from again, rendering the episode pointless. I'm not sure who asked for this story to appear in literally everything. Maybe it was taught in Screenwriting 101: "Mid-season Filler".

For those who might defend this episode (its heart was probably in the right place), just think about the opportunity cost. We could have had an hour of intrigue and excitement. Instead, we got a recycle of an old idea.
Wed, Apr 12, 2023, 7:18am (UTC -5)
I liked this one better than Jammer did. I usually enjoy small-scale Trek, as there are more than enough save the universe melodramas. (As in every NuTrek that was ever flimed, except for some of Strange New Worlds, and most of later DS9.)

Yes the Odo B plot was bad, but the main conceit of the Starfleet Officer who faced the choice of changing to fit in better with the new world, or foregoing that to preserve her heritage, I found to be compelling.

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