Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S04E21 – The Muse

In the twenty-first episode of the fourth season of Deep Space Nine, I have thoughts. Many of them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and age gaps in sexual/romantic relationships.

Well, the whole season can’t be great. I think there are some neat ideas here and one hell of an emotional payoff between Odo and Lwaxana, but I cringed a lot watching this. LET US DISCUSS.


This is one of those episodes where the split storyline means that both plots suffer a bit from a lack of development due to the fact that they have less time. I wanted more of the exploration of the relationship between Odo and Lwaxana because there’s so much to respond to here. Lwaxana pursued a relationship with Odo aggressively, and then she had her heart broken when she realized Odo loved someone else. Now, she turns to her friend because she knows that he is reliable, and she’s not disappointed. But since their last meeting, both these characters have grown a lot. Therefore, their interactions have changed, too. There’s a level of respect and appreciation we’d not seen before.

Now, I have no problem admitting that the impetus which pitches these two into a fake marriage is ridiculous, but we’re talking about Lwaxana Troi, y’all. Her entire life is ridiculous, so I’m not one to pick apart the absurd scenarios she gets into. What I ended up being more interested in was the emotional resonance this had for her and Odo. Their conversations about love, heartbreak, duty, and children were so incredible! And they didn’t need to be bombastic or over the top, so I appreciate that an over-the-top character like Lwaxana can get a story that’s quiet and introspective.

The same goes for Odo, who must prove his love to Lwaxana’s husband before he can marry her based on Tavnian custom. Now, I’d initially read his declaration of love as transference; I was completely prepared to write an entire review based on the fact that Odo was definitely talking about Kira while making that speech. You could still read it that way (and I think it’d make a fascinating essay), but I’ve now come to believe that Odo just told the truth. Maybe he doesn’t feel the kind of love to be married to her for real, but what he said about Lwaxana was true. She saw him for who he was, and she didn’t recoil or run away. She wanted him more. She wanted to see more. Who else did that in that context? Who else helped him feel like a whole person who could be desired?

What a sweet plot, y’all.

The Muse

Which is good because I still feel incredibly icky about Jake’s plot. There’s absolutely a fascinating idea at work here that I could appreciate. What if there was a creature who fed off creativity through telepathy, sort of like a demonic version of a Betazoid? I can also see why the writers would choose Jake for this plot; he’s the most explicitly creative character on the station, and he was overdue for a story centered on him. As Onaya makes it clear that she can help Jake with his writing, he is taken advantage of and nearly killed in the process.

So, there’s something in the concept of a succubus-like entity that gave many of the best artists their infamous and final works. What made this story unbearably cringe-inducing was the elephant in the room: Onaya is significantly older than Jake, and her predation of him adds a whole new layer of awful. Yet NO ONE SEEMS TO MENTION IT. Actually, that’s not true: Onaya literally brags to Sisko that Jake is the youngest artist she’s exploited, and yet, that’s all we get. That’s the only acknowledgment of this power dynamic. If Deep Space Nine had never done this before, I might not be as critical of it, but this is at least the second time that an age difference has plagued a story for Jake without the show portraying it as an uncomfortable, gross thing. Yes, we’re not meant to idolize Onaya, but I don’t know if that’s enough. The sight of her caressing him and touching him is just so… ugh. No. Please don’t do this again, Deep Space Nine.

The video for “The Muse” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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