The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Melora

DS9 plays host to Ensign Melora Pazlar, a cartographer from a low gravity world, who has had to learn to adapt to standard gravity in order to serve in Starfleet. Melora is fiercely independent and determined to succeed in her mission by herself – can Dr Bashir convince her that it’s fine to occasionally rely on others?

DS9 keeps up the Star Trek tradition of dealing with issues in this episode, with a thinly veiled metaphor for people with disabilities. Whilst TNG had a blind man as a main character, technology made him able to see, and we rarely saw the difficulties that he faced – in fact, the VISOR was more of a convenient plot device that saved the day. But here, Melora faces real challenges – in “normal” gravity she is forced to wear an exoskeleton and use a wheelchair, something that most people in the Federation haven’t even seen outside of a museum. Bashir gets excited about ‘fixing’ Melora, but ultimately she rejects it – the utopia of the Federation shouldn’t be about using technology to make everyone the same, but about creating an environment where people can be different without feeling disabled.

There’s also the inevitable romance element between Bashir and Melora; maybe it’s just the change from him perving over Dax, but it was actually pretty well done. The same can’t really be said for the tiresome B-plot in which yet another victim of Quark’s schemes returns to the station and threatens to kill him – until this plotline combines with the main story for the denouement, this part feels more like filler.

Bashir’s background

  • Bashir’s father was a Federation diplomat. When we meet him later in the series, he will have changed careers more than once since then.
  • Bashir originally wanted to be a professional tennis player, until he realised he was outclassed by the competition. Tennis has survived until the 24th century as a professional sport, where Sisko’s beloved baseball has not.
  • A past incident where an alien girl died because the Bashir family didn’t know about the local herbal cure may have contributed to Julian’s desire to become a doctor.
  • Even if his relationship with Melora is mostly acceptable, Bashir does do the Geordi thing of looking up all her files and essentially falling for her before they even meet.

Other points

  • Are Melora’s hair-pearls a natural part of her body? If not, surely they are non-regulation.
  • Kot must sure win the prize for most ridiculous facial prosthesis. Why would any race have an obstruction in front of their mouth?
  • DS9 is apparently incompatible with standard Federation antigrav technology. Does that mean that repulsors need to be built into the deck floors?
  • Obviously it’s for the benefit of us human viewers, but surely Dax would refer to Trill folklore rather than an Earth fairy tale? I guess she might be a fan of Earth literature.
  • Why wasn’t Melora assigned to a starship instead of doing random one-off missions here and there? She’s only an ensign, for one thing – how does she have the rank to choose her own missions? Or maybe this is a standard thing for young cartographers, to get a breadth of experience.
  • Racht is yet another Klingon dish which appears to be live worms. I wonder if it’s as tasty as gagh.

Summary – Melora: Fancy a night out at the Klingon restaurant?

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