(written from a Production point of view)
Doctor Bashir ends up falling in love with a new officer when he develops a way for her to function in a high gravity environment. Meanwhile, Quark receives a death threat from one of his former associates.
- "Medical log, stardate 47229.1. Chief O'Brien and I have been working overtime to prepare for the arrival of a new cartographer. Ensign Melora Pazlar is the first Elaysian to join Starfleet, and as such, requires special accommodations."
Doctor Bashir and Lieutenant Dax are in the infirmary, testing a wheelchair designed for Ensign Pazlar. Dax expresses amazement that the specifications are even in the replicator's database, saying she hasn't seen a wheelchair in over three hundred years. Bashir reveals that they weren't. It was, in fact, Pazlar herself who had sent him the design, due to the fact that her normal anti-grav unit won't work on Deep Space 9, a situation that Bashir likens to the troubles they had with integrating Starfleet cargo lifts. Before they can discuss it further, Major Kira chimes in over the comm system, informing Bashir that the Yellowstone has just docked at airlock 14. The doctor responds, telling her they're on their way, before taking the wheelchair and heading out with Dax.
On the Promenade, Bashir tells Dax how Ensign Pazlar must have had a hard time even getting to the station, since she grew up on a planet with such a low surface gravity. Before Dax can reply, Chief O'Brien interrupts them, explaining that he has done the best he can with installing ramps but that the Cardassian design has made it difficult. Bashir explains he has also been making some modifications to her chair, but O'Brien points out there are still a lot of places where she won't be able to get to. Dax suggests they can help her by using the transporter but, as Bashir explains, Melora Pazlar won't have it. She insists on getting about, herself, once her basic needs are met, a stipulation that Bashir greatly admires. He goes on to say that he has examined all of her medical files, in preparation, then checks with the chief that her quarters are all ready. "I even have the bumps on the head to prove it," the chief jokes, commenting on the low-gravity system he has installed.
In the airlock, Melora is experiencing some difficulty walking. Using a walking stick, she makes it to the entrance-way before Dax and Bashir appear round the corner. "Ensign Melora Pazlar reporting for duty," she greets. Dax introduces herself and Bashir, though Melora already recognizes him from their subspace communications. She notices her wheelchair, or "trolley car" as she calls it, and begins walking towards it. Dax offers her some assistance but Melora abruptly refuses it. Taking a seat in the chair, she notices that it is different from the one she has practiced on. Bashir clarifies, saying he wanted to give her as much mobility as possible, but offers to change it back if that would help. "No, I'll adapt," she adamantly replies, before driving it down the hall. As they walk over one of the ramps O'Brien installed earlier, Dax explains she will be accompanying Melora on her upcoming survey mission in the Gamma Quadrant at the request of Commander Sisko. Melora objects, taking it as a sign the Commander thinks she needs extra help to get the job done, but Dax points out the Commander wouldn't let any ensign take a runabout into the Gamma Quadrant the day after they arrive. As the group approaches Melora's quarters, she rather apathetically asks Bashir if he has made any modifications to her quarters, as well. He courteously replies that everything is as she requested it. With that, Melora says it was nice to meet them and heads over the ramp and into her room. Dax and Bashir exchange a confounded look before heading off, themselves.
In Quark's, a Yridian man named Ashrock is admiring one of the Rings of Paltriss. He says there are only eighty of them and Quark just happens to have forty two in his possession, but wants one hundred and ninety nine bars of gold-pressed latinum for them. Quark proposes they "seal the deal" over a drink and so goes behind his bar to grab a bottle. As he approaches the doorway to his bar, a shady figure enters. Quark immediately recognizes him and is visibly unnerved by his presence. Fallit Kot is his name, and in a typical Quark way, he begins to flatter him with compliments though he isn't buying it. Leaning in closer, he tells Quark that he has business with him, that he has come to kill him.
Meanwhile, in Sisko's office, Bashir and Dax are discussing Melora's situation with the commander when she arrives in Ops. She wheels her way over to Sisko, who welcomes her to the station. Seeing Bashir and Dax, she asks if she is late, if the meeting has already begun but Sisko says he was just being informed about her request to pilot the runabout alone, something she expresses a wish to have been involved in. The commander states he regularly has briefings from his senior staff regarding personal issues and this one is no different. As they enter Sisko's office, she apologizes for sounding overly sensitive and explains that she is used to being shut out of the "Melora problem", though she believes there is no Melora problem until people create one. She further objects to Doctor Bashir being present, saying she doesn't want to be treated like someone who is ill, though Commander Sisko doesn't see anyone doing that. "Try sitting in the chair, commander," she argues. "No-one can understand until they sit in the chair." Calming down slightly, she illustrates the struggle she has been through since leaving her homeworld, that she has always spent her time in one chair or another since. She shows her cane to Sisko and explains it is made from the wood of a garlanic tree and that her family gave it to her when she left. She reveals how only a handful of Elaysians have ever left her planet, but she knew she wanted to be one of them, how she dreamed of exploring the stars when she was a child and that no chair or Cardassian station is going to stop her from attaining that dream. Sisko admires her but reiterates his concerns about sending her into the Gamma Quadrant alone. Melora says she can focus on the job better but Sisko denies her request; Lieutenant Dax is going with her. They are due to leave tomorrow at 0730.
A little while later, Bashir visits Melora's quarters and asks her how she is finding the low gravity environment they have created for her. She describes the experience as "like slipping into a hot tub at the end of the day." Bashir jokes that he is a shower man himself before examining a photo on the desk, showing her and another man. He asks if it's her husband or boyfriend but she doesn't answer him. Instead, she apologizes for her choice of words in the commander's office. She says she didn't mean to attack Bashir directly. He knows that she didn't mean any personal offense by it but nonetheless points out that she does a lot of "attacking", an attribute that she demonstrates when scorning Bashir's offer of friendship by telling her to call him Julian instead of Doctor. He makes her realize how others perceive her, how she is always on the defensive, and then surprisingly, asks her out to dinner at the new Klingon restaurant on the Promenade. She accepts, much to his delight.
In his bar, Quark is hard at work trying to appease his latest "customer" with a delicious home-cooked meal, starting with Vak clover soup. Quark's "former associate" picks up the dish and pours the soup onto the floor, right in front of Quark. Still thinking he can change his mind, Quark offers up some Jumbo Vulcan mollusks sautéed in Rhombolian butter. Kot takes a bite as Quark explains the game of dabo and how his two "excellent tutors" (dabo girls) can show him how to play. In an attempt to change his mind, Quark makes it clear that he wants Kot's stay on the station to be as pleasurable as possible and, to that end, proposes a toast to "old friends". "To old debts," replies Kot.
At the Klingon restaurant, Bashir orders some racht, a double order of gladst without the sauce and a side order of zilm'kach. He hands a plate to Melora but she is immediately offended by it. Bashir, thinking her reaction is due to how the food looks, reassures her it tastes good, but that's not what she means. Speaking in fluent Klingon, she barks at the chef to provide racht where she can see the blood running through the veins. The Klingon laughs, noting, "I like a customer who knows what she wants," and snatches the plate from Bashir, flinging it and the food behind him. After a few seconds spent behind his kiosk, he returns with some live racht, as ordered. "There's nothing worse than half-dead racht," Melora jokes.
As Bashir finishes off the last of the racht, he recounts a story to Melora. He tells her of how, when he was ten, he and his father were trapped on Invernia II during an ionic storm, and while they were waiting it out, he found a sick Invernian girl. When the storm passed, his father went to get help but it was too late and the girl died in front of his eyes. It was only later he found out that a simple herb, which grew all around them, could have saved her life. Melora asks if that was the reason he decided to study medicine, but Bashir jokes he first decided to study tennis though he later found out he was better at medicine. She laughs at him and there is a moment of silence as they gaze into each other's eyes. Melora suddenly breaks the silence and decides it's time to go. She has an early mission in the morning and wants to get some rest.
The next day, Dax is walking down the corridor on her way to meet with Melora. She presses her door chime but there is no response. She enters her quarters but she isn't there either and isn't replying to her communication attempts. The computer tells Dax that Melora is on docking level 22, section 14. When she arrives, she finds Melora on the floor; her supports have malfunctioned. She explains how she had come to the storage bay as she wanted to get an additional astrometrics array for her upcoming mission, but wasn't paying attention and fell.
In the infirmary, Bashir is tending to Melora's minor injuries. He tells her they aren't serious, though she'll have to postpone her mission to the Gamma Quadrant until tomorrow. She is upset with herself, saying that, if she had just paid attention, she would have been fine. Bashir explains to her that, in space, no-one is completely independent; they all depend on each other to some degree.
When she is fit to leave, Bashir escorts Melora to her quarters. As they are walking down the corridor, he comments on some work Nathaniel Teros did thirty years ago, regarding low-gravity species. Melora recognizes his work, but discounts it as not having any practical success though Bashir thinks the principle was sound and, with modern advances, she may be able to walk in "normal" gravity in the future. As they arrive at her quarters, Melora asks him if he would like to come in. Initially hesitant, Bashir declines to allow her some time in low-gravity, but Melora invites him in anyway. Disengaging the gravity, she flies out of her chair, doing a backwards somersault in the air while Bashir looks on in amazement. She asks him to join her and the two float into the air together where he thanks her for allowing him to experience it with her. As they hang in mid-air, Melora tells Bashir that the man in the photo is her brother, before they lean in and kiss each other.
The USS Orinoco arrives in the Gamma Quadrant with Dax and Melora onboard. As they lay in their course, Melora asks the computer if there are any Vulcan etudes on file then asks it to play something by Delvok. Dax confesses she doesn't see Delvok as a Vulcan, as there's too much emotion in his music, but Melora likes it. "It's pretty," she says. Turning to Dax, she asks if there is room for romance in Starfleet. Dax believes she has fallen for Doctor Bashir's "charming bedside manner". Melora laughs but, on a serious note, thinks their two species are completely different. Dax tells her, however, that she once knew a hydrogen-breathing Lothra who fell hopelessly in love with an Oxygene who were together for fifty-seven years, despite the fact they could only spend forty minutes a day in the same room as each other. Melora tells Dax of two Academy friends who got engaged, even though they were being assigned to different ships. They agree that "love across light years" is hard but, as Dax puts it, "Look at the alternative."
Back on the station, Quark has gone to see Odo about Kot, but he is surprised to hear the security chief is already aware of him. Odo explains how Kot has recently been released from a labor camp after the attempted hijacking of a shipment of Romulan ale, and Quark's name appears right next to his on the indictment. Quark maintains he had nothing to do with the hijacking itself and was only the "middle-man", though Odo believes he sold out Kot to avoid himself going to the labor camp. Quark tells Odo of Kot's plan to kill him, to which Odo can only smile at the prospect. He begs Odo to do something about it. "I'll do my job, Quark," he tells the Ferengi, who nods and leaves the security office. "...Unfortunately," mutters Odo.
In the infirmary, Bashir is working away when Melora enters. He explains to her that he has been going over Nathaniel Teros' neuromuscular adaptation theory and that he believes he can make it work for her. Melora is extremely excited with the prospect, so much so that she begins to laugh in elation. If it works, she may be able to walk without her servo controls and without the chair.
A security deputy has brought Kot to the security office, where Odo is waiting for him. Kot asks if he has done something wrong. Odo replies that they both have something in common; they don't like Quark. However, he isn't prepared to let Kot kill him. He insists that he is not planning to kill Quark and their history is just that – history. Odo says, "You can tell a man's intentions by the way he walks," and, according to Odo, Kot walks like someone who's carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders. "It must be the memory of those Romulan bricks I carried for eight years," he replies. Odo knows he is up to something but he has no reason to keep him and so allows Kot to leave, keeping a close eye on him as he does so. On the Promenade, Quark approaches Odo and asks what his opinion is of Kot. Odo admits he believes he is a man with nothing to lose and gives Quark a comm badge so he can stay in contact with him at all times. He jokingly tells Quark that, if Kot does kill him, he would like to purchase a piece of his body, as per Ferengi tradition.
Back in the infirmary, Melora is laid down on a biobed while Bashir runs some tests on her. She describes a warm sensation down her back, the result of the neuromuscular therapy. The Doctor decides that she has had enough of the treatment for today. He asks her how she feels and if she can use any of her muscles in the "normal" gravity. At first, there is nothing, but as Bashir checks over his calculations, Melora begins to move her toes and then one of her legs. He ascertains her neural pathways are beginning to adapt and she may be able to begin walking within the hour.
In Ops, Sisko asks O'Brien for an update on an upgrade he's installing on the station. He reports he has been able to get it up to 70% of a standard EPS but is then interrupted mid-sentence by the sight of Melora standing by herself on the turbolift. She approaches the commander with her first day's mission report. Sisko is noticeably happy for her but, as O'Brien jokes about Bashir getting his name in the medical journals, Melora begins to look unsettled and stumbles into Bashir. The doctor adjusts her servo controls to compensate as it is just the first day's treatment wearing off. Helping her to the turbolift, the two of them head to the habitat ring.
In her quarters, Bashir explains that, with each progressive treatment, her muscles will get stronger, but unfortunately she won't be able to use the room's low gravity field or she could risk confusing her body's motor cortex. She begins to thank Bashir for all he's done, but he stops her. She let him fly for the first time, so he is repaying that by allowing her to walk. After giving her a kiss, he leaves, saying he'll see her in the morning.
Meanwhile, Quark has also gone to his own quarters. He enters with a drink in his hand and tells the computer to put on the lights, though nothing happens. At first, he thinks nothing of it, but soon realizes Kot may be in the room. Carefully placing his glass on a table, he makes his way back to the door. He tries to call Odo but Kot grabs him by the neck. Quark pleads for his life, offering Kot one hundred and ninety nine bars of latinum, the profit he would get from the sale of the rings. "It's a start," Kot growls, releasing him.
Bashir and Melora are in the infirmary. Melora complains at how every one of her muscles ached the night before but Bashir says the effect will improve over time, and her next treatment should last for several hours. She seems happy but she misses experiencing low gravity and asks Bashir if she would be allowed to do it occasionally. Unfortunately, he is worried that if she did, she would experience a loss of fine motor control, meaning her ability to perform complex tasks would be affected. He reassures her that if she does change her mind, the effect is reversible for the next few days and all she has to do is say so.
Later on, she and Dax are on the Orinoco, resuming their cartography mission in the Gamma Quadrant. As she heads for the forward controls, she stumbles slightly, indicating her treatment is starting to wear off again. As she takes her seat, she explains to Dax how she is in two minds about the treatment. On the one hand, it would give her more freedom than she ever dreamed, but on the other, she wouldn't be able to go back to her homeworld for anything more than a short visit. Dax compares her situation to The Little Mermaid, an old Earth fable by Hans Christian Andersen. Melora asks if she lived happily ever after but Dax remains silent.
On the station, Quark and Kot are meeting with Ashrock in an airlock. After the necessary introductions, Ashrock hands his bag of latinum to Kot while Quark hands over the rings. However, once Kot has finished checking the payment is there, he pulls out a weapon and shoots Ashrock in the chest. He quickly forces Quark to grab both the latinum and the rings and makes an escape down the corridor.
In the security office, Odo has been alerted to the weapons fire and orders a security team to that section, but when they arrive, they are fired on by Kot who heads down another corridor, where Dax and Melora are just disembarking from their runabout. He forces them back inside and orders them to depart the station.
In Ops, Sisko, Kira and O'Brien are tracking the runabout as it leaves the pad. The commander orders a tractor beam to be locked onto the ship as he opens a channel to Kot. He instructs him to return to the station immediately but there is no reply. The tractor beam is engaged and the runabout comes to a halt. Kot orders Dax to open a channel to the station and demands that Sisko release them or he will kill a hostage. Sisko offers to negotiate but Kot stops him, mid-sentence. He turns to Quark but then changes his mind and shoots Melora. A charge is sent tearing through her body as the servos overload. Bashir, who has just arrived in Ops, looks on helplessly as she falls to the deck. Kot orders him to release the tractor beam before closing the channel. Sisko then orders Kira to beam himself, O'Brien and Bashir onto the Rio Grande and wait ten seconds before releasing the tractor beam.
Back on the Orinoco, Kot commands Dax to take the runabout through the wormhole and into the Gamma Quadrant, with the Rio Grande in close pursuit. As Kot instructs Dax to go to warp, Melora quietly regains consciousness in the background. Kot asks if the phasers are online but Dax refuses to fire on the Rio Grande and, if he kills her, he won't be able to fly the ship himself. As she confronts him, Dax notices Melora crawling towards the transporter pad and buys her enough time to deactivate the gravity on the runabout. Kot floats into the air while Melora pushes off and slams him into the bulkhead.
On the Rio Grande, O'Brien is monitoring what is happening, reporting that the ship has dropped to impulse. Sisko and Bashir immediately transport over to find the situation has been contained and Kot apprehended.
Back on the station, Bashir and Melora are at the Klingon restaurant, talking. Bashir seems enthusiastic that her treatments will work but Melora has decided not to go ahead with them. Though she wants to be independent, she fears that if she continued with the treatments, she wouldn't be an Elaysian anymore. She thanks Bashir for getting her to realize she can depend on people. The Klingon chef then appears and begins to entertain everyone with a Klingon folk song. The couple sit and hold hands together as the chef weaves in and out of the tables. "I want to remember all of this," Melora smiles.
"Just passing through, are you? I bet you have business in the Gamma Quadrant. You always had a sharp eye for fresh territories."
"Oh, I'm not going to the Gamma Quadrant. My business is right here, with you."
"That's right. I've come to kill you, Quark"
- - Quark and Fallit Kot
"My speech wasn't intended to attack you personally."
"I'm sure you never set out to attack anyone personally, but you do seem to attack a lot."
"That's rather insensitive of you, doctor."
"Julian. I'm no longer your doctor."
"I see! You've decided I need a friend."
"Ooh, was that an attack? You see, you do it so well, with such charm that it's hard to tell."
"I really don't mean to..."
"Sure you do."
"I beg your pardon!?"
"Of course you mean to. All of these broad shots you fire, it's just your way of keeping the rest of the universe on the defensive. Has to be. You're too good at it."
"Well, it always seemed to work pretty well. Until now."
"Well, that's the nicest thing you've said to me. Or anybody else. Are you hungry? I came here thinking about asking you to dinner."
"Then afterwards, we'll go dancing, I suppose?"
"Oh, red alert."
- - Julian Bashir and Melora Pazlar
"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 to Sisko, in their first meeting
"I don't need a medical opinion to tell me my own capabilities...."
- - Melora, defending her request to pilot the runabout alone
"I just want you all to know you can depend on me...."
"Okay, you've proven that... what do the rest of us have to do to convince you?"
"That you can depend on us."
- - Melora and Julian Bashir, on her determination to be completely independent
"Oh. It's you."
"Don't be so happy to see me!"
"Alright. I won't."
- - Odo and Quark
"I'd say he's a man with nothing to lose."
"As opposed to me?"
"I have no reason to hold him for now and he knows it. I'll watch him the best I can, but I suggest you carry a comm badge with you at all times. Call me at the first sign of trouble."
"What if the first sign is the last sign?"
"You people sell pieces of yourself after you die, don't you?"
"I'll buy one."
- - Quark and Odo
Story and script
- A character like Melora Pazlar was initially to be Deep Space 9's science officer, because the producers liked the idea of a character who came from a low-gravity environment. However, due to the difficulty and expense of recreating the effect constantly, the character was replaced by the Trill Jadzia Dax. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
- The concept of doing an individual episode around such a "wheelchair officer" remained on the writers' storyboards. Evan Carlos Somers had become familiar with the concept when serving as a Writers Guild intern during Deep Space Nine's first season. When he was invited back to pitch stories in the second season, Somers was successful in reviving the concept by convincing the producers that he could provide insight into the character, as he himself uses a wheelchair; "I didn't think I should let anyone else write this. I could bring some empathy to the character because I am disabled." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93; The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 60)
- After the story-breaking session, Somers gained some ideas and feedback from the writing staff, before going off to write the script. In particular, he wished to respond to the I AM ERROR episode "Ethics", in which Worf's spine is damaged, causing paralysis; "That episode had gotten a little under my skin. Even though Worf is an alien and it's just a TV show, everyone knows we're making statements with Star Trek. Messages and values are being broadcast loud and clear. I resented the message in 'Ethics' – that Worf is worthless now that he's disabled and therefore must kill himself. I'm sorry that the portrayal had to exist at all." Furthermore, Somers recalled that it was "unfortunate that anyone would think that way," regarding Worf's decision to kill himself. "I always thought it would be nice to create a disabled character who's accepted for what she is and doesn't have to change," he says. "The best way to do that on Deep Space Nine was to have Bashir find a cure for the disability, and for the character to turn it down. That was the real driving force behind my wanting to do this episode." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, pp. 60-61)
- Additionally, Somers wanted to create a love interest for Bashir, which was partly down to Siddig El Fadil joking more than once, "When am I going to get a girlfriend?" Somers comments, "The producers had always thought the wheelchair officer would be a man, but I always thought of her as a woman. 'Zero-gravity sex with Bashir' was a prime element to the story in my mind. I also liked the idea that by falling in love with someone who isn't disabled, and having this cure presented to her concomitant to a growing love affair, maybe Melora is doing it for him. How can she turn this cure down? He loves her and he would never want to do anything wrong for her. But she didn't really think it out. In fact, she was surviving, and functioning very well, prior to her arrival on the station. Now, she's faced with a difficult assignment, but when she leaves, things are going to be OK again. She doesn't have to be cured, and she doesn't have to do it to please Bashir". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 61)
- When Somers turned in his original draft, it wasn't received well by the writing staff. Somers blames a decision he made while writing it; "I had previously committed to another project that started two weeks before, and I needed another week for it. I thought that since I turned out "Battle Lines" in a week-and-a-half, I could do 'Melora' in a week-and-a-half. That decision wasn't the best one to make." Ira Behr then called Somers to inform him that a rewrite wouldn't take place. However, Steven Baum did decide to take a shot at it, but the producers still weren't satisfied. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 61)
- Michael Piller and James Crocker then worked on a third version of the script. In doing so, Piller believed the original story, that was fleshed out in the breaking session, was flawed and very difficult to write, though he did attempt to stick to the basic concept, as Somers recalls; "He told me I turned in a competent, workman-like draft, but occasionally my problem was that I wasn't giving him the character depth needed. But Michael still commended me and said he stayed very true to my story in his rewrite." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 61)
- Changes made from the original draft include:
- The scene where Melora meets Sisko for the first time – the commander originally came down the steps from his office to greet Melora, who didn't have the benefit of the servo-mechanisms to help her walk. Of the change, Somers comments, "I wanted her to roll up to the steps in her wheelchair, and they would have their meeting elsewhere. That would be a realistic situation. I can't just turn on a servo system and climb stairs; if I have to meet or greet someone who's upstairs, they have to come down to me. I really wanted that scene left in because it would have heightened the station's inaccessibility. What is it like for Melora to be unable to access all areas of the station? Piller did hit those beats in his rewrite, but he did it differently. He had her trip over the raised doorways and complain about the station design." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 62)
- The scene in which Quark's old enemy, Fallit Kot (originally named Megzie Del), turns up to kill him was originally much longer. Somers had him "psychologically toying with Quark, terrifying him. Megsy was going to kill Quark by using the Ceti eels introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but this variety didn't cause mental vulnerability for mind control [....] Megsy had Quark pinned and he was going to insert the creatures in Quark's ears. I thought that would be a fitting, torturous end for someone who had caused eight years of suffering. But in the aired version, Fallit Kot just strangles Quark. It's not quite titanic enough." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 62)
- The climactic scene in which Quark's old enemy, Fallit Kot, takes hostages originally occurred in the cargo bay, not the runabout. O'Brien figured out a way to switch out portions of the gravity, and when he sees the hostage crisis develop, he turned off the gravity. In the ensuing fight, Melora was wounded. Somers admits this change enhanced the story; "Piller strengthened it by having her get shot, but not die, and having the chase in the runabouts." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 62)
- Odo was the subject of a scene which didn't survive the script rewrite stage. "There was a party in Quark's Bar where everyone congratulated Melora on completing her mission and utilizing Bashir's cure," Somers explains. "Odo was disdainful of the whole event, and he thought Melora lost something magical in accepting the cure. He ended up voicing what Melora and Dax discuss later, which might have made it a little more obvious. But I think her decision not to go on with the cure comes across pretty clear, even without the Odo scene." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 62)
- Melora's chair was initially to have utilized the anti-grav technology that has been a part of Star Trek since The Original Series and the chair from TNG: "Too Short a Season" was to be pulled out of storage and remodeled. However, the chair had originally been designed with the larger set of the USS Enterprise-D in mind and it was quickly realized that it would not be practical in the relatively small Deep Space Nine corridor sets. As a result, the line about Cardassian technology being incompatible with Federation anti-grav technology was added to the script and a simplified 21st century wheelchair was used instead. (The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, p. 108)
- Somers experienced many of the same problems that Melora had, on set. During Somers' tenure working at Deep Space Nine, he had worked in an older office building that was initially rampless and had what Somers described as "one of the world's smallest elevators." These experiences further inspired the chair's design. As Somers explains, "So Bashir has to replicate a much simpler wheelchair for her and she encounters all the problems that I did whenever I went down to the DS9 set to snoop around." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
- Jim Martin designed Melora's exoskeleton; "I started with a basic framework for her limbs. The producers didn't want any chest or waist pieces. They just wanted it to be around her arms, her neck, and her legs. And they didn't want regular hinges, because hinges aren't futuristic enough. So [Senior llustrator] Rick Sternbach designed an expanding and contracting kind of hinge, something that pulls in rather than rotate, that I incorporated into my drawings. But the metallic bands kept popping off, once right in the middle of a scene. Joe Longo never let me forget it!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 94)
- The final script describes Melora as "a cool, professional young woman in her mid- to late-20s [....] Although her face is a mask, the extraordinary pressure from gravity is apparent in every move she makes." Additionally, of the last scene, where the Klingon chef serenades his customers; "... it's Sigmund Romburgesque... the sort of thing Nelson Eddy would have sung to Jeanette McDonald if they were Klingons..." 
- Also according to the script, Melora's conversation with the Klingon chef translates as follows :
- "You call this live?"
- "What's your problem, lady?"
- "This slop you call food is the problem."
- "If you don't like it, don't eat it."
- "I want to see the blood running through the veins!"
- "I like a customer who knows what she wants!"
- "You call this live?"
Production and effects
- Set Decorator Laura Richarz purchased the chair, which was revamped by Property Master Joe Longo. Longo remembers how the production crew decided to keep the wheelchair as simple as possible, recalling that he, "...added a control panel and some wheel covers to block out the spokes in the wheels, and changed the joystick. Basically we tried to keep it as simple as possible, because of our experience on 'Too Short a Season'. We had made a big albatross of a moving chair for that, and it was bad. But this one worked great; the actress drove it everywhere." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
- Director Winrich Kolbe recounts the difficulties of filming Melora's wheelchair on set; "Obviously there are a lot of thresholds on the station that had to be removed. We put ramps in the set, and it was a pain in the neck, because it's not easy to maneuver a wheelchair even under prime conditions. But going up ramps and making left turns and right turns in these corridors, well...[sighs]" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 94)
- Series producer David Livingston recalls the difficulties in doing the low gravity scene; "We had a lot of discussions about it. We did a lot less flying than we wanted to because we knew we couldn't pull it off on a television schedule. We used a digital wire-removal process that takes away the wires, and it was very successful, but it's also expensive and time consuming. It's hard enough when people are standing on the ground to shoot them, so when you have them flying around in the air and kissing and hugging, it's tough. But [director Winrich] Kolbe is very technically grounded, and the optical effects people were always there with him to make sure it came out." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 64)
- Director Winrich Kolbe further explains the low gravity scene; "I think it turned out to be rather good, considering the technical difficulties we had. If I like to shoot at three hundred and sixty degrees, I also like to have everybody fly like real birds. The problem is that in episodic television you just don't have enough time to do that. The state of the art right now is kind of difficult to do because it's a very time consuming affair. We did it with wires, no mirrors. The unfortunate thing is that I only had two rods to support the wires, so I had to decide, 'Which way do I want her to fly?' Basically straight or it would have required a totally different rig. The rigs that we had were used in Wayne's World 2. It was basically a situation where you could fly one way and then the opposite way, and that was about it. It was difficult to figure out what we could do so that it didn't just look like somebody going up and down. The image of Peter Pan going across the stage with one leg cocked and the other leg straight always went through my mind, and I said, 'Oh, God, we can't do that.' We had the stunt coordinator there, and the actress, Daphne Ashbrook, did quite well. She was terrific. She was a good sport and didn't chicken out. One of the most enthusiastic actresses I've ever seen and a damn good actress in addition to that." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 64)
- Practical Special Effects Supervisor Gary Monak and Stunt Coordinator Dennis Madalone created their own mechanical rig for the scene. Monak believed it was "physically easier to get the action the director wanted" than by using one of the many available electrical flying rigs. He further commented that, in the past, flying rigs had required a wire that was "just fine enough for the camera not to see, but strong enough to hold an actor." However, with the technology available to remove wires in post-production, this simplified things for them. The rig ended up remaining in place until the beginning of Season 5, just in case the writers decided to bring back Melora. It had to be taken down when the USS Defiant engineering set was deemed to be taking up too much space in the swing-set area and so took the place of the rig. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 94-95)
- The job of removing the wires fell to Glenn Neufeld and David Takemura at Video Image. Takemura recalls the problems involved; "We had to paint out the wires, frame by frame. It wound up being fairly complex, because sometimes the wires got pretty close to the actor's faces." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 95)
- Actor Siddig El Fadil (Doctor Bashir) labeled the low-gravity scene "great fun," although the harness he had to wear was "like a steel bathing suit." He further commented, "It has to be incredibly tight because when you're upside down, you tend to slip out. So they actually put their foot up on your spine and pull the strings tight, literally like an old-fashioned corset." Of the kissing scene, he said, "It was hard to be romantic, kissing somebody longingly, like in some old movie, while you're spinning slightly and you don't know where you're going and you bump into each other's head." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 94)
- For the photo of Melora with her brother, Dan Curry took a photo of the two actors and then one of Santa Susanna mountains at the west end of the San Fernando Valley, and composited the two shots using a Photoshop program. After all the effort he put in, the photo was only visible on screen for two or three seconds, though Curry didn't mind, commenting, "Some of our shots may easily represent thousands of man-hours. But the audience recognizes the attention to detail. We always feel like 'good enough' doesn't cut it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 95)
- Because she was to be involved in a romantic relationship that had to be believable for Bashir, the producers wanted Melora to have a strange-looking forehead but wanted no extensive makeup below her eyes. Therefore, the makeup department designed an enhanced forehead device that ran from the ridge of her nose and stopped there. They also used a blond wig with a receded hairline to allow for the forehead appliance. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 152)
- The makeup department created Kot's mouth ridge using durable rubber that looked and moved like a piece of flesh. It is considered by them to be one of the more unique designs seen in Deep Space Nine. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 152)
- This episode marks the first appearance of the Klingon restaurant on the series.
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #16 ("A deal is a deal")
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- Writer Evan Carlos Somers, who wrote the original script, believed some of the changes made in rewrites were largely stereotypical, something he had wanted to avoid; "I resist the idea that a disabled person can't just integrate into the environment [....] I liked the idea that the regulars, for a brief moment, would be the problem by misinterpreting Melora's needs and falling over themselves to help. They didn't have to come out looking dumb and awkward; I would never have written it that way. But in the beginning I wanted them to be more of the problem than Melora, and she would react to them. Unfortunately, it was reversed into classic stereotype." Of Winrich Kolbe's direction, he said, "I had a problem with portions of it. I don't agree with how low-key Fallit Kot was. He was controlling a seething fury, but it never came out. I wanted to see some rage! And I never got the sense that Quark was as afraid of this guy as he should have been." Somers was also critical of the scene where Melora gets shot; "...the camera just dollies in on [Bashir]. I had Bashir scream, 'No!' He's in love with her and had zero-gravity sex with this woman. That's unforgettable! It wasn't just another one-nighter with a Bajoran woman. He should have cried out in rage and pain, because he saw Melora's death. Of course, she isn't really dead, but Bashir didn't know that. A dolly-in wasn't enough. Let's see some acting!" When Bashir discovers she is in fact alive, Somers thought it lacked emotion; "'Melora's alive.' I wanted more reaction. I wanted the doctor to be overjoyed that she had not died. Then, when he beams aboard and rushes to her aid, I wanted a comment to the effect that he was glad she wasn't dead. Plus, I didn't like Dax's cool demeanor when she refused to fire on the other Runabout. She just said 'No' and smiled with this do-it-yourself look. I wanted more loyalty, more fear, more connection, more worry and concern." Though Somers was critical of some elements of the finished episode, he was fond of one scene in particular; "When Fallit Kot and Quark face this guy called Ashrock, who was making a deal with Quark for some gold bands, there were three rubber faces talking to each other. There wasn't a Human among them. I know that sometimes puts people off of the series. I hear people saying, 'It's so alien, who do I grab onto?' But I like that. It's diversity. I like the characterizations and the richness of Deep Space Nine." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, pp. 62-63)
- Overall, Michael Piller liked the episode; "This was not an easy show to write. The script probably went through five or six rewrites. I was quite proud of what I wrote in that script because it turned out to be a delightful little show. And the interesting thing about it is that I knew, even when it was over with, that it had no real story to it. It had no real drama, but I thought there was a true romance going on between the actors on stage. It came through on film and I just thought that Daphne [Ashbrook] gave a wonderful performance. The result was a charming episode, a slice of life for Bashir, and I thought it was a warm episode." However, he was unhappy with how the installment's B-story turned out; "It was always there because we needed to put these people in jeopardy. But the B-story was a struggle. We never quite knew what it was going to be. The first-draft story had terrorists or something. We did whatever was necessary to bring the two stories together. Everything about that story did not work, including the fact that we were doing a story where an alien has to eat, which becomes a pivotal scene where he's feeding, and makeup designed this big kind of handle across his mouth so he couldn't eat. We had to kind of shove the food down his mouth. It was hilarious. We cracked up during dailies."(Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 64-65)
- Ira Behr thought it was time for a Bashir episode; "We needed a love story for Bashir. We wanted to continue showing the audience why we were investing so much in Bashir, because we just thought it was a character who had a lot of things going for him, and I know there has been some resistance to him, which is just ridiculous. We wanted to do a strong show for him, and I thought it was a nice story. I loved the Klingon restaurant." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 64)
- Director Winrich Kolbe said of the episode, "It was more of a romantic little story between two people. Siddig is a wonderful actor and is the type to fall in love with a flying woman. It's a little more restricted because it's a character piece." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 64)
- Daphne Ashbrook, who portrayed Melora Pazlar, compared the whole experience of working on Deep Space Nine to that of Doctor Who, saying, "It was another family to be part of." She prepared for the role by taking a wheelchair to a local shopping mall. Commenting on the experience, she said, "Everything's an obstacle and also nobody looks at you. I think because people are uncomfortable and they don't know what to do." 
- The score for this episode is one of composer Dennis McCarthy's favorites; "'Melora' was one of the most romantic scores that I've had the chance to write and I really enjoyed it. I made it more ethereal than usual, with less horns, letting the woodwinds play in the lighter areas while I tried to ignore that the station was continually rumbling." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 94)
- Composer Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) is a fan of the episode. Lopatin commented: "I was mostly into science fiction literature as a kid and some shows like Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine. I liked the metaphysical quandary aspect as a kid as most kids do. There's a great DS9 episode about a woman from a zero gravity planet who is otherwise handicapped in the high gravity environment aboard Deep Space Nine. It poses a lot of emotional questions about notions of abnormality. It's stuff like that which makes those shows so great". 
- Authors Mark Jones and Lance Parkin wrote of this episode, "A fairly straightforward episode that demonstrates why Melora shouldn't have been a regular character – despite the intentions of the script, she's little more than a gimmick, and saves the day because of that gimmick." (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 195)
- In The New Trek Programme Guide, the authors comment that: "as noted in the dialogue, ["Melora"] is a reworking of Hans Christian Andersen's mermaid tale that deals cleverly with issues regarding disability, and bravely ensures that Melora is as tough and flawed as any 'normal' character. Like the little mermaid she is only 'disabled' when out of her natural environment. It would have been very right-on to have had an Elaysian on board the Voyager". (The New Trek Programme Guide, p. 329)
- Star Trek author Keith R.A. DeCandido gave this episode a poor review, writing that it was "pretty much a disaster on every front." DeCandido felt that the original premise of the crew bending over backwards to help Melora would have been much more interesting than the finished episode and criticized Pazlar's character for being "defensive and argumentative from jump, constantly questioning orders." DeCandido also deplored Peter Crombie's performance as Kot, noting he "utterly fails to be convincingly menacing", though praised Daphne Ashbrook's performance, writing that "with the material she has to work with, she handles both the character’s snarkiness and her joy [...] skillfully, and she and el-Fadil have fine chemistry." Overall he called the episode a "train wreck", awarding it a "warp factor rating" of 3/10. 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 13, 23 May 1994
- As part of the Japanese LaserDisc box set Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Second Season Vol. 1, PILF-2323, 6 June 1997
- US LaserDisc release (two-episode discs): Disc 13, LV40510-425, 19 September 1997
- As part of the DS9 Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Majel Barrett as USS Orinoco computer voice
- Ivor Bartels as a Human security officer
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Antican
- Judi Durand as Deep Space 9 computer voice
- Mark Lentry as a Human command lieutenant
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Robin Morselli as Bajoran officer
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers as
acetylcholine; airlock; Andersen, Hans Christian; anti-grav unit; astrometrics; backside; Bajoran wormhole; Bashir, Richard; bedside manner; birthplace; breathing apparatus; cane; Cardassians; cargo lift; concussion; dabo; dabo girl; deep space assignment; Delvok; diplomat; Earth; Elaysians; Elaysian homeworld; Elaysians who left home; ensign; étude; Federation; Gamma Quadrant; garlanic tree; gladst; handicap; hot tub; indictment; Invernia II; Invernian; Invernian herb; ionic storm; jumbo Vulcan mollusk; Klingon; Klingon restaurant; Klingon language; latinum; Little Mermaid, The; Lothra; Lothra lover; low-gravity species; mattress; medical journal; middleman; neurochemistry; neuromuscular adaptation; Orinoco, USS; Oxygene; Oxygene lover; Paltriss; Promenade; Quark's; racht; ramp; red alert; replicator; Rhombolian butter; Rings of Paltriss; Rio Grande, USS; Romulan ale; Rules of Acquisition; runabout; shower; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; subspace communication; tennis; Teros, Nathaniel; toast; tractor beam; transporter; trolley car; Vak clover soup; Vulcan; Yellowstone, USS; Yridian; Yridian homeworld; zilm'kach
- "Melora" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Melora" at Wikipedia
- "Melora" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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