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The Trek Nation - The Muse

The Muse

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:23 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Muse' Episode Guide

A mysterious woman comes aboard the station and attracts Jake Sisko. She offers to help him with his writing through a potent combination of massage, mental focus, and psychosexual possession, and he accepts...though after he begins to write his novel in longhand, he begins to suffer from nosebleeds, then more serious physiological damage. Eventually he's rescued from her clutches, his novel unfinished and his inspiration gone.

Meanwhile, Lwaxana Troi has come to the station to see Odo again. He is surprised to see that she's very pregnant, and horrified to learn that her restrictive husband expects to sieze the baby as property, denying her access to the child once it's born. The only alternative is for her to divorce her husband and marry someone else. Odo agrees to pretend to go through with the ceremony and is even willing to stay with her as her husband, but she knows he loves Kira and belatedly decides to regain her independence.

Analysis:

This episode could also be called, "Why Women Need Men, Part XXIV 1/2." It's a recurring theme on Star Trek, particularly this season's Deep Space Nine. Shall I start with why this episode bothered me in terms of the characters, or on a broader ideological level?

Oh, let's start with DS9. Jake Sisko, the guy whom we saw die fighting to save his father in the "The Visitor," takes the easy was out to get a book written. Odo takes the final step in becoming humanoid. And Lwaxana Troi, who used to be the brassiest broad in the universe, goes sobbing to the nearest savior for rescue. Who are those people, and where was Sisko when everyone needed him?

Jake almost got destroyed by a woman who wanted to suck the creativity out of him, but hey, we've heard that story before. Standard romantic stereotype of the artist who forsakes his wife and family in the name of freedom: the woman drains him of all his juices, so he has to get away. In this case, it was literal. At least Jake appeared to get some good psycho-sex as well as most of the novel out of the experience, even if he should have been scared off from the beginning. He has very impressive handwriting for someone who's never written anything in longhand before, and it's nice that his relationship with Sisko Sr. is so free of teen angst that he can cancel out of a trip without a blink from the same father who got royally miffed when Jake didn't want to sail to Cardassia with him last year.

And that impressive stamina and nerves of steel when dealing with vampiric older women! Guess dating all those Dabo Girl-women was good for him. Too bed this is the second episode in which he wrote Anselm and it didn't really count.

As for Odo...I believed his speech about why he wanted to marry Lwaxana. And that's a problem. Terrific performance by Rene Auberjonois, but just as uncharacteristic as when Odo started smashing tables because Kira preferred Shakaar's solidity to Odo's shapeshifting, He's lonely among humans because he's not humanoid - OK, that makes sense. He likes Lwaxana because she loves him for his differences, she even likes to play Hide and Seek with him - that makes a lot of sense too, and it's an utterly charming notion.

And he wants someone to take care of? Hold on! How did Odo absorb paternalistic, chauvinistic attitudes when he's not even really a guy in the sense by which most species seem to define it? Odo seems to assume he's "male" because it's the opposite of "female" - like he says to Lwaxana, he's not likely to get hysterical or get pregnant. His attitudes toward her seem as insidiously sexist as her husband's were overtly patriarchal.

Poor Lwaxana, who used to be the strongest woman in the Trek universe, has been reduced - literally - to chattel. Instead of calling upon her considerable clout as Ambassador and Holder of the Holy Rings of Betazed etc. - I thought I was sick of hearing her recite her titles, but I sure could have used it during this episode - goes running to Odo for salvation. And he provides it, without even having to break the Prime Directive which I really thought might be an issue for awhile and would have made things much more interesting. She's not fun loving Odo hopelessly, she doesn't show half the strength of character she did chasing Timcin or even Picard on TNG. Her hairdos have improved since her last visit to DS9, but that might just reflect one more aspect of Lwaxana Troi which has been tamed.

This episode might have been REALLY intriguing if we threw out the supporting cast and Lwaxana went to Jake for rescue. I bet he would have done right by her, and she by him, and he would have gotten a hell of a novel out of that experience...

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.