DS9 Season 2, Ep6: “Melora”

Sometimes you’re watching Star Trek and everything is going really well. You’re like, “hell yeah, I love Star Trek! Keep it coming! This is the best!” And then out of nowhere an episode appears to punch you square in the face with its awfulness. This is one of those episodes. It is so bad that, when I’m making lists of bad DS9 episodes, I frequently forget to include it because my brain is blocking out the memory to protect itself. This episode feels like the worst missteps of NexGen, and it’s unfortunately a momentum-killing blemish on what is otherwise an extremely strong season. But the internet is in some ways like God, and content providers are in many ways like Abraham: the internet will call to you from on high to personally destroy something you really really love, like your favorite kid or your favorite Star Trek series, and you will obey, because, internet – and everybody gets a good story to tell later.

Synopsis: We start the episode with a voiceover, and right away we can tell things are going to go badly because it’s a Bashir voiceover. That’s Sisko’s job, and the change-up can only mean that we’re going to spend the whole forty-five minutes on Bashir, and he seriously cannot sustain an episode by himself at this point in his development.

Bashir explains that he and Irishy have been working overtime to make the station ADA compliant for a visiting cartographer named Melora, who is the first Elaysian (eee-LAY-shun) person in Starfleet, and needs everything rigged up real special for her alien needs. Elaysisan people, you see, live on a low-gravity planet, and when they leave and go other places they can’t move or walk around easily.

It’s never a good sign when Star Trek brings on some random person as “the first (random alien) in Starfleet,” it almost always means that they wrote a Very Special Episode so gut-wrenchingly appalling that they had to create a whole new race of people to foist it upon.

On the station, Bashir is riding a HoverRound in circles as Jadzia watches him, amused. Apparently she has not seen a wheelchair in more than three hundred years, so I guess that means we eradicate all lower-body and spinal injuries in the future, good job team. Also I guess it means that none of the Trills who hosted the Dax symbiont ever ran into Captain Pike, who was kind of famously in a wheelchair less than a century earlier. Bashir says that the specifications for the thing weren’t even in the replicator, which I assume means he built it with his own hands at three o’clock in the morning.

Apparently Melora usually travels around with some sort of anti-gravity device that won’t work with Cardassian technology, which is why they had to rig this up. Kira comm badges in to let them know that Melora has docked, and as Bashir and Jadzia walk over, he lectures her incessantly about how it must feel for this woman to suddenly have so much more gravity around than she’s used to, blah-blah-blah. Irishy comes up to let Bashir know that he did his best with the ramps, but Cardassians obviously hate the disabled and there are still a lot of places on the station she won’t have access to. Jadzia asks if they could use the transporter to beam her around to different places on the station, and Irishy says that would be a great idea – if Melora hadn’t already sent word that that was “unacceptable.”

Jadzia is all like, “wait, what?” and Bashir admiringly says that Melora was the exact same way at the Academy, refusing any assistance beyond her basic needs, and she’s extraordinary. Bashir says this in a really creepy, admiring way, which leads me to wonder a couple of things:

1) How much “research” has Bashir done on this woman, exactly? Did he create a hologram version of her to talk to while he futzed around with her wheelchair?

2) Why are we supposed to admire this woman for refusing to let them transport her around the station? All I see here is a woman who forced two men to spend several weeks constructing ramps, calibrating wheelchairs, and basically turning their station upside down when she could have just transported from place to place with already present technology. Transporting her isn’t just not a problem, it’s actually less trouble than what she asked them to actually do. I bet it isn’t a convenience thing at all, I bet she just has some philosophical hippie objection to transporters, like she thinks they give people autism or something. I bet she’s like the Jenny McCarthy of transporter technology.

Bashir goes on to say that he knows she’s extraordinary because he pulled all her personnel and medical files to prepare. Could he be any more Geordi LaForge right now?

In the docking bay, Melora, whose whole body is encased in Forrest-Gump-style braces, is breathing heavy and staggering around like she’s that one kid from The Secret Garden. You know, the one you wanted to punch. She introduces herself to Jadzia and Bashir, and notes that she and Bashir spoke on skype earlier. Bashir is all like, “nice to finally meet you in person,” and pulls this smile that he obviously thinks is really slick. God, ew.

Jadzia offers to help her into her chair, and Transporter Jenny McCarthy is all like, “I’M FINE,” and staggers over like Frankenstein’s Monster to do it herself. She comments that Bashir has modified the chair, and Bashir obviously thinks he’s about to get a compliment, because he proudly says that he wanted to give her as much mobility as possible. She passive-agressively says that she’s been practicing on the model she requested at home, but it’s fine, really, she’ll just adapt, she guesses.  Continue reading