“Before I met her, my world was… a much smaller place. I kept to myself, I didn’t need anyone else, and I took pride in that. The truth is, I was ashamed of what I was, afraid that if people saw how truly different I was, they would recoil from me. Lwaxana saw how different I was… and she didn’t recoil. She wanted to see more. For the first time in my life, someone wanted me as I was. And that changed me forever. The day I met her is the day I stopped being alone. And I want her to be part of my life from this day on.”
It’s very rare to have a subpar episode of Deep Space Nine, or an even a flat-out terrible episode, considering the overall quality of the show lifts even the dregs out of mediocrity, but sometimes… oh yes, sometimes… there is the odd-terrible show. “The Muse” is ridiculous and bizarre on so many levels, focusing on two of the weaker characters in Trek lore: Lwaxana Troi and Jake Sisko.
This is a two-pronged attack; as if there wasn’t enough of each story to constitute or justify an entire episode. This is the sort of thing Next Generation would do in the sixth and seventh seasons of the show: just random bits of filler stories to bring the running time up to forty-five minutes. My favorite was Spot, Data’s cat, in the seventh season episode, “Force of Nature.” We spend about a third of the running time with Spot and Data’s attempts to school Geordi about taking care of cats.
“The Muse” is something special. Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) is suffering from a writer’s block. I would like to preface this by saying I’ve enjoyed Jake’s writing episodes. Some of them are quite fantastic (“The Visitor,” “Nor the Battle to the Strong,”) but they get to be laborious when dealing with the character’s frustration because his frustration becomes our frustration. Here he invents little stories about new arrivals to the station when he chances upon a mysterious older woman named Onaya (Meg Foster).
They quickly hit it off. It turns out she’s kind-of an artistic “groupie,” or perhaps she is a muse as the title suggests. Either way, she draws something out of Jake that inspires his creativity but leaves him drained physically. He scribbles pages and pages (in long-hand) of his book as she hovers around him feeding off his neural energy. She’s quite literally a soul-sucking vampire!
In the other story, Lwaxana Troi makes her third and final appearance on Deep Space Nine, but she is given a ludicrous story. It seems she married recently to a rather humorless Tavnian named Jeyal (Michael Ansara), became pregnant with his son (even though she went through menopause years ago) and fled due to the fact that male children are raised separately by their fathers. It takes all kinds to make a universe, I guess.
I’m also guessing Majel Barrett’s involvement was conditional to her writing the story for the episode. If that’s the case, she probably should’ve stuck to acting. The only way to annul her marriage to Jeyal is for some eager young man to step up and marry her, but he must, of course, prove his love. Huh? She chooses Odo to do this. Odo accepts. At the ceremony, he makes a great case for marrying Lwaxana and this evidently satisfies Jeyal. As it turns out, Odo’s feelings for Lwaxana are real.
Odo is one of those organic characterizations (like, oddly, Data) who exist for certain other characters to use as an emotional cushion for their own hang-ups and neuroses. Nobody ever seems to give them a second thought. Neither story links in any way, not even thematically (unless you want to consider Lwaxana to be a soul-sucking vampire), and it just seemed like a good way to kill two stories with one teleplay. As I’ve said, a bad Deep Space Nine episode is difficult to find, and I do give allowances for the first couple of seasons, but by this point everybody had settled in, and there was no excuse for this kind of drivel.
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