DS9: S2E06: “Melora”

In which DS9 is not wheelchair-accessible, Melora has no concept of rank-appropriate duties, and nobody likes being serenaded. 

I appreciate that the opening log entry immediately and succinctly describes who the writers think is going to be the A-plot this week. It’s something that was toyed with in TNG but becomes increasingly important as the DS9 writers go out of their way to involve the entire ensemble cast whenever possible in the pursuit of portraying a multispecies, multicultural outpost with a fairly prominent military/civilian divide.

And yet it's not future-y enough.

And yet it’s not future-y enough.

Today’s episode features Bashir, who’s been helping O’Brien make some accomidations for their new, differently-speciesed cartographer. Bashir seems to have gotten the replicator pattern for a wheelchair from Ensign Melora Pazlar. And that tells us a whole lot about the Federation. They have cargo lifters and medical stretchers that use antigrav technology. It should be trivial to build a wheelchair that’s all floaty and uses plorpitron particles for propulsion, but nobody ever has. I mentioned in Q-Less that the doors on the station are more bulkhead-like than we seen in Federation design – a hover-wheelchair would have no trouble with them, but it seems like the Cardassians didn’t factor wheelchair-accessibility into the design of their station – even the civilian sections. Before we get too high-and-mighty, the Federation doesn’t have any wheelchair replicator patterns either – even when we know that there are some spinal injuries that have only recently become treatable.

The reason for all of this is that Melora has very low surface gravity and 1-G environments are too much for her species. Presumably, that also means her planet has a very strong magnetic field in order to keep their star from burning off the atmosphere in a solar wind and prevent erosion. Either that, or she’ll be wearing a breather to modify the atmospheric mix she gets and prevent her suffering from chronic hyperoxia. Also, Melora tends to refuse any help beyond the minimum possible to do her job. Bashir already has a crush on her, too, based on her record. Whether that crush will survive meeting her in person is another question entirely.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!

Quark is in possession of some limited-run works of art by a master sculptor, in the form of ugly squashed gold bracelets, and is in the middle of selling them off when an alien with the literally worst prosthetic ever walks in to terrify him. I say worst prosthetic not because the costume department did a bad job. Far from it. It’s just that this alien species has their nose connected to their chin, which would make eating a Renaissance-faire turkey leg impossible. Or an ice cream cone. No wonder he’s such a humorless cuss.

Ensign Pazlar has now, twice, taken offense at being treated like an ensign, presuming that it’s because she’s less adapted to M-class gravity and requires special accommodations. She has some things to say back about being the one in the chair, but ultimately she is the lowest rank of Academy graduate and she’s not going to get one of the station’s only three permanent vehicles to go into uncharted territory without backup.

Bashir goes to her quarters to flirt at her by calling her on her spiny attitude, and to officially inform her that he’s no longer her doctor. So that he can flirt with her. They go out to a Klingon restaurant.

There's so much happening in this shot.

There’s so much happening in this shot.

Meanwhile, Quark is trying to get into the good graces of Handleface by means of a gourmet dinner and some dabo girls. It sounds more appetizing that Bashir and Melora’s date, which appears to be earthworms, charred seaweed, and apricot slices. Like all Klingon food, it is best when served live, and Bashir has the look of a man who has just heard of sushi only to find out that his date really, really likes fugu. Also of note, Bashir pays with gold=pressed latinum – you can see the chef biting a piece in the background after he pays because instead of having a scanner or anything like that, he is in fact a prospector from the 1850s. As they finish dinner, Bashir tells the story of how he became a doctor. It’s a tragic story, detours into tennis, and ends without a good-night kiss.

Next morning, Ensign Pazlar is found in a storage room with her exoskeletal brace fritzed out, because she tripped on one of the stupid Cardassian raised rims. This gives Bashir the chance to talk to Melora about some experimental procedures that theoretically assist with gravity adaptations, and to have Melora invite him in to her quarters to check out her low-gravity adaptations.  This is not a euphemism, incidentally. But if that gravity is normal to her, I have no idea how her planet retains an atmosphere. The gravity seems significantly lesser than Earth’s moon.

Next day, Melora and Jadzia fail the Bechdel test and talk about romance in general and Bashir in particular. Also about the difficulties of maintaining a relationship via subspace. Could be so much worse, you guys. You might have to deal with relativity, too. Not bitter.

Bashir has been doing some homework and shows Melora some updates to a 30-year-old theory that would allow her to function as a full-gravity resident. Hooray, science. At the same time, Odo has gotten involved in the Quark situation, but not very strongly, apart from giving Quark a commbadge.

The perfect picture of professionalism.

The perfect picture of professionalism.

Now that Bashir is giving Melora the treatments, I believe this makes him her doctor again. The treatments are also not, at this stage, permanent. Plus, Melora shouldn’t use her low-gravity remote. Thus, it will be a difficult transition. ‘Transition’ beaing ‘the rest of her life’ and Melor is having second thoughts about throwing away a core component of her identity.

Quark has managed to bribe his old business partner with the cash from a deal, but old torus-nose screws the deal over and brings security down on their heads just as Dax and Melora are coming back to the station, and the two get used as hostages along with Quark. And it just wouldn’t be a hostage situation if everyone was in perfect health, or of the Mr. Blonde stand-in didn’t kill someone he shouldn’t have.

Sisko, Bashir, and O’Brien go chasing after them. During the case scene, Dax indicates that going to warp without setting a course could get them lost or killed, presumably by crossing paths with a star. It’s also possible that she’s stalling for time. Similarly, former transporter-cheif O’Brien recommends against transporting while at warp, even with the two ships at matched velocities. So there, Abrams.

Melora’s not dead yet, and sneaks her way over to some runabout maintenance consoles to turn off the gravity. At this time, she uses her superior maneuverability in 0-G to body tackle him. Also, she’s not dead possibly because of the treatments, which she won’t be continuing due to the whole ‘identity’ thing.

When the moonlight affirms like a big plate of worms that's amore...

When the moonlight affirms like a big plate of worms that’s amore…

But if there is any universal truth to be gleaned from this episode, it’s that being seranaded in a foreign language while on a date will never not be awkward.

 

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