Star Trek DS9: Melora
(Bashir asks Melora on a date!)
"I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive. But I'm used to being shut out of the 'Melora' problem. The truth is there is no 'Melora' problem. Until people create one."
- Melora Pazlar
When Dr. Julian Bashir replicates a power wheelchair for DS9, Trill Science Officer Dax remarks she hasn’t seen one like that in 300 years. Bashir explains it’s for their guest Melora Pazlar, who’s alien body hasn’t adjusted to Earth level gravity. She’s an assertive woman. She doesn’t want anyone’s help, and does her best to be independent.
Then, Dr. Bashir asks her on a date. At first she is sarcastic, and asks if they’ll go dancing afterwards and how nice of him to think she needs a friend. When Bashir shows honest concern for her and tells her she’s on the attack, she relents and they go to a Klingon restaurant. During these outings, Dr. Bashir mentions a surgical procedure that could free her of the chair. She accepts his offer and they go back to her quarters and kiss in zero gravity.
Melora is in a roundabout with Dax, and mentions the procedure to her; including that it may reduce her ability to be in zero gravity, and she feels like she has to choose between two worlds. I’ve experienced this feeling of two-ness thousands of times. It comes from having to prove your ability so often, and the fear of loss of control. Dax calls her situation “Like The Little Mermaid”. After the second procedure, Melora falls down and is taken to the infirmary. She asks “What kind of architect would deliberately design a raised lip before an entryway?” which I thought was a distinctly ADA-sounding remark, and show Star Trek’s maturity with that.
In a subplot with Quark the bartender, an assassin, who’s name I’m not sure how to spell so I won’t butcher it, is out to rob and kill him. The assassin steals Melora and Dax’s roundabout to get off the station with Quark. Melora deactivates the gravity, and knocks him out. Afterwards, she decides she can’t give up zero gravity, her homeworld, but still joins Dr. Bashir in the Klingon restaurant at the end.
I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this episode, in fact, it’s my favorite. One of the advantages of DS9 is that it’s a post-ADA, post-Gene Roddenberry series, which means they weren’t required to show the Federation as a utopia. So, you get to see more conflict. Specifically, Disability Rights conflicts, like Melora’s defensive nature, or her complaints about the building, and Little Mermaid dilemma. Bashir wants to help, and I think he does him teach her to be less defensive, but her path has to be her own. Lastly, I identify with Melora being in a wheelchair.
I liked that it showed a bit of romance too, which was one of the things missing with Geordi. The romance made me more emotionally invested, and I think it let me see how Bashir was able to get her defenses down by addressing her as someone worthy of love; not just a patient. Off-handedly, I wondered if Bashir’s own disability had something to do with his wanting to date her and hide his imperfection. But, I’ll address that in the next episode.