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February 11, 2013

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 25 - Melora

After the wonderful Cardassians, you would think that Deep Space Nine was on an upswing. Unfortunately, that would not be true. "Melora" has to be the worst episode of the series so far, worse than Q-Less, and that's saying something! This episode is so bland and boring that I couldn't even find a quote for the end of this review. A couple of Quark's (Armin Shimmerman) lines come close to being quote-worthy, but they're too long. "Melora" contains the three killer B's: Bad Acting, Bad Dialogue and Bad Plotting. Put this mish-mash together and you get the fourth killer B: plain, simple, Badness.

A new cartographer is coming to the station on a mapping mission to the Gamma Quadrant. Her name is Melora (Daphne Ashbrook), and she's from the low-gravity planet of Elaysia. Because of this, when she's in normal gravity, she must use a wheelchair and leg supports if she's walking. She also comes bearing an enormous chip on her shoulder because she's tired of everybody trying to make special allowances for her. She's the stereotypical "handicapped person with an attitude" that we've seen in all of those "the disabled are people too" after school specials. She bristles when Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks) won't let her pilot a runabout by herself, despite the fact that no newly assigned ensign would be allowed to do it. She does form a special relationship with Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil), though, which quickly blossoms to romance. When Bashir discovers that there may be a way to make Melora able to walk without help, she has a dilemma.

Meanwhile, Quark is confronted by an old "friend" (Peter Crombie) who he sold out to the Romulans eight years ago. Now Fallit Kot is back to exact his revenge. Much Ferengi whining ensues, though thankfully there is no screaming. I think I would have put my foot through my 47" widescreen TV if I had to put up with more of that.

"Melora" is not of the "so bad it's funny" vein of television shows. No, it's just bad. Some shows take themselves so seriously and try so hard to be "relevant" that they make a mockery of themselves. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when it first came out, I'm sure was intended to be a serious movie, but we now laugh at it. We don't laugh at "Melora," though. We resent the 45 minutes we spent with it. The writers go through every disabled cliche; in the book: Melora attacks everybody to keep anybody from getting too close. Dr. Bashir forces her to see that being dependent on somebody is not a bad thing. Dr. Bashir falls in love with his patient (thankfully, though, he waits until she's not his patient to do so, but then he becomes her doctor again when he begins the treatments to make her walk). The Quark story doesn't suffer as much as the Melora story, but it too is fairly standard stuff. Odo (Rene Auberjonois) gets to make some "I don’t like Quark" jokes, in which Auberjonois appears to just go through the motions. There's really not a lot of substance in any of these.

The story also has a couple of incidents of questionable morality. First, there's Melora's decision about Bashir's treatment. I couldn't believe that Bashir would even offer to change who Melora fundamentally is. The low-gravity existence is part of being an Elaysian. Sure, being able to walk while she's in Starfleet would make her life a little bit easier. But she would effectively be cutting off her entire world, her entire heritage. It would be like asking a Vulcan to give up logic so he can better relate to the humans he's going to be working with. It's just ridiculous.

[MAJOR SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH] The second issue is a combination of this episode and the series itself. When Melora ultimately decides not to go ahead with the treatments, Bashir looks completely crestfallen. The final scene has an uncomfortable moment at dinner between Bashir and her, where Bashir apparently struggles to be affectionate to her, the disappointment all over his face. While that could usually be explained as a temporary thing and he'd get over it, the fact that she's never even referred to again says a lot about Bashir that I don't necessarily like. I'm sure it wasn't intentional on the production side of the story, but the way El Fadil played it combined with that fact was actually quite repugnant.

The acting in the episode ranges from passable to atrocious. Crombie is pretty wooden and Ashbrook tries way too hard. El Fadil doesn't have much to play off of, which makes him come off pretty badly too. The zero-gravity scene in Melora's quarters, while it's supposed to be romantic and touching, comes off as very flat. The rest of the cast phones it in too. When even Auberjonois looks bored, you know there's a problem. Wait. Nana Visitor, as Kira, delivers her two lines fairly well, so I shouldn't leave her out. Her "aye, sir" and "the ship [I can't remember its name – Dave] has docked" were well-done. I think she's probably glad she didn't have much to do. Oh, and Ron Taylor is wonderful as the Klingon chef. He does play the role with some gusto.

That's about it. This episode has a couple of inadvertently offensive aspects, but everything else is just bland and boring. After such a wonderful high in the last episode, somebody should have warned them about that cliff they were about to fall off of. Hopefully, the next episode will be better. There's nowhere to go but up.

1 Star


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