(written from a Production point of view)
|DS9, Episode 4x21|
Production number: 40510-493
First aired: 29 April 1996
|←||91st of 173 produced in DS9||→|
|←||91st of 173 released in DS9||→|
|←||414th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
René Echevarria & Majel Barrett Roddenberry
A mysterious woman helps Jake write a novel; Lwaxana Troi, pregnant with a son, asks Odo to help her escape her husband.
Jake Sisko is standing on the upper level of the Promenade watching passengers disembark a transport and trying to come up with character ideas based on what he sees. An alien female comes out of the airlock and catches the eye of Jake before walking away. Odo walks into his office to find Lwaxana Troi crying because she's pregnant with a male child and her husband, Jeyal, is a Tavnian. The problem, as Odo finds out, is that Tavnian children are raised by the parent that is the same sex as the child, never to be seen by the other gender until reaching the age of sixteen. Lwaxana wants to be a part of her child's life, and Jeyal said that would be possible, but apparently he changed his mind when he found out she was pregnant with a boy. Lwaxana has come to Odo for help, but Odo is reluctant.
Later, in the Replimat, Jake is working on a story when the alien woman he saw coming out of the airlock sits down next to him and starts talking. Her name is Onaya and it turns out she has a thing for artists. Onaya talks about how she knew Tavor Kell, a famous Cardassian architect and how she helped him to "stop censoring himself". This grabbed Jake's interest. She reveals to Jake that she can teach him exercises to help bring out his creativity and help him be remembered as an artist; Jake is intrigued as he seems to have a case of writer's block and hesitantly admits that he wants to be remembered. They agree to meet later. Back in his quarters, Jake is working on a story when his father, Benjamin Sisko, shows up asking if he's packed for the trip he has planned with his father and Kasidy to the Bajoran outback. Jake says he doesn't want to go because he really needs to focus on this story, and his father understands – although his father doesn't know about Onaya.
In Quark's, Lwaxana is depressed and is telling Worf, Dax, and Kira how she feels like a prisoner in her own home. Being a telepath, Lwaxana's mood seems to be affecting the moods of all those around her. Quark asks Odo to get rid of her, and Odo abides, taking her on a walk. When the two arrive at Odo's quarters, Lwaxana tells Odo her food replicator is broken and asks if she can come in and use his. Odo agrees, but finds out it was just an excuse for her to spend more time with him. Exhausted, Lwaxana sits down on Odo's floor (since he doesn't have any furniture) and falls asleep in Odo's arms. Odo graciously transforms one of his arms into a blanket and the other into a pillow – he doesn't seem to mind the situation at all.
Jake arrives at Onaya's quarters, where he feels a little uncomfortable. Onaya assures him there is nothing to worry about – he's there to work. Onaya gives Jake the pen of a famous writer, and tells Jake to start writing – on paper. Jake says he's never used paper before, but Onaya tells him to write the first line, and then urges him to just keep writing. Onaya starts to bring out Jake's creativity while simultaneously draining his life little by little.
The next morning, Lwaxana and Odo are playing a game of hide and seek. Odo takes on the shape of an object in the room, and Lwaxana tries to guess what or where he is. Their fun is cut short when Odo is informed that Jeyal, Lwaxana's husband, has arrived on the station. Odo has Jeyal brought to his security office where he informs him that Lwaxana has no intentions of giving up her child to him. Odo then reveals a loophole in Tavnian law which states the male child is the property of the mother's husband and not the child's father. When Lwaxana has her baby, Jeyal will no longer be her husband because Odo plans to marry Lwaxana in a legal Tavnian ceremony. This will end her marriage to Jeyal and allow her to keep the baby. Odo and Lwaxana will remain married for a few months to satisfy Tavnian law and then get a divorce.
Jake is still busy writing his latest story, and Onaya is still slowly drawing out his creativity and draining his life. Jake comments that he can hardly keep up with the flood of ideas he's having. Suddenly, Jake has a minor nose bleed. Onaya tells Jake he should rest, but Jake is too determined to stop now and keeps on writing.
Odo arranges a surprise wedding with Lwaxana where he must convince Jeyal and all those present that his love for Lwaxana is true. Otherwise, someone can challenge the validity of the marriage if they doubt the groom's sincerity – and Jeyal will be one tough critic. The ceremony proceeds, and Odo delivers his speech which sounds superficial. Jeyal calls it a pale declaration of love, but Odo becomes more genuine and talks of how Lwaxana accepted him for who he was and how that changed him. Jeyal accepts the ceremony, and Odo and Lwaxana are married according to Tavnian law. The child is safe.
Jake is still writing and appears very tired. Onaya again tells Jake he needs to stop, but he refuses. Onaya forces Jake to stop by taking his pen and tells Jake his writing will be even better if he is well rested. Jake agrees and starts to head home, but decides to stop at the Replimat for a drink. He orders an orange juice, but collapses before he can sit down. In the infirmary, Dr. Bashir informs Sisko, who is back from his trip, that Jake's brain has been stimulated and his cerebral cortex was on the verge of synaptic collapse. Dr. Bashir assures Sisko that Jake will be all right, but he needs to remain in a neural stabilization field for a while. Jake regains consciousness just long enough to say, "Onaya, where is she?" and Sisko begins looking for Onaya.
During the night, Onaya materializes from an energy cloud in the infirmary and knocks out the nurse on duty. She wakes Jake up and tells him it's time to finish what he started and takes him to a Jefferies tube junction near the reactor core. Jake is again determined to keep writing and gets another nose bleed while Onaya drains his life more quickly. O'Brien scans the infirmary and finds traces of psionic energy and informs Odo to tell his search teams to modify their tricorders to search for psionic energy. Dr. Bashir tells him they need to hurry because psionic residue decays within minutes. Sisko picks up a psionic energy trace and finds Onaya and Jake. Sisko, armed with a phaser, tells Onaya to get away from Jake and asks what she is. Onaya reveals that she unlocks the potential of artists and, in the process, kills them but gives them immortality through their art. The energy and life she drains from her victims helps her survive. Onaya turns into an energy cloud and flies off into space.
Back in the security office, Lwaxana informs Odo that she's going back to Betazed and that she's imposed on Odo long enough. Odo tries to convince her to stay, but she's afraid Odo would come to resent her with time if she stayed because of their differing feelings for each other. Lwaxana leaves the station so the two can remain friends. Later, after Jake has recovered, Sisko reads his story and tells him he has a good start on a novel, which he has titled Anslem, but the spelling is terrible. Jake agrees, but doesn't feel it's really his work. Sisko reminds him that they were his words – Onaya just helped bring them out.
"In a Tavnian wedding the groom must stand before the bride and tell her why he wants to marry her. And then, in front of his family and friends, he must proclaim his love for her and convince her to accept him as her husband."
"I trust I can count on you to accept me even if I just stand there and read last week's criminal activity report."
- - Lwaxana Troi and Odo
"Odo, would you like to join the party?"
"Actually, I have some free time, and was wondering if you would like to take a walk?"
- - Odo, Lwaxana Troi and Worf
"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."
- - Odo, pronouncing his love for Lwaxana
"Someone once said, 'Life is a search to find the peace that you once had when you were inside your mother.'"
"I never had a mother."
"It doesn't matter, you'll find your peace."
- - Lwaxana Troi and Odo
"The dialogue is sharp, the story's involving, the characters are real... the spelling is terrible!"
- - Benjamin Sisko, about Jake's novel
- The original title of this episode was "Playing House", before the Onaya plot became the A-story (see below).
- The original idea for this episode came from Majel Barrett Roddenberry who pitched an idea to Ira Steven Behr that Lwaxana Troi becomes pregnant, and claims that the baby is Odo's. This led René Echevarria to write an episode with four primary storylines, all focusing on couples: Rom and Leeta, Sisko and Kasidy Yates, O'Brien and Keiko, and Odo and Lwaxana. However nobody was happy with the concept. According to Behr, the script meeting for a standard episode usually lasts two days, three if there are problems. The script meeting for "The Muse" lasted six days – the longest script meeting in the entire seven year run of Deep Space Nine. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Because Echevarria's story wasn't working out, the producers decided to try to pad it with a good B-story. They'd wanted to do something involving Jake's creativity ever since the popular reception of "The Visitor", so Ronald D. Moore suggested that if Jake became involved with a woman who inspires his writing, it would fit into the overall design of the episode. That idea ultimately evolved into having him getting involved with a much older woman who is interested in him only because he is a writer. That, in turn, evolved into the character of Onaya. The planned four romances were reduced to two, and the Odo/Lwaxana A-story was switched with the Jake/Onaya B-story, so the episode became more about Jake than Lwaxana (hence the change in title).
- However, even with this all sorted out, the producers were unhappy. According to Moore, "the notion of this exotic, beautiful, older woman who comes to you and gets excited by watching you write is like the most ridiculous idea! Only a writer would come up with that. Think of it. You're sitting there writing and she's just entranced. We watched that scene in dailies and we thought, are we insane? What are we doing? How did we get here?" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Perhaps unsurprisingly then, this is not an especially popular episode among the crew. For example, director David Livingston confesses, "I think it's one of my poorer efforts. I let the material down, because I just didn't know what to do with it." Similarly, executive producer Ira Steven Behr admits, "the script had problems." Ronald D. Moore concurs, "we always start with good ideas. And there's always a reason why we try something, but they just don't always come out right." René Echevarria simply says, "I had no feeling for either story." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) In 2012, the episode's director, David Livingston, stated that he wished "The Muse" had never been produced, remarking "that was not good." 
- One thing that the crew did love about the episode however was the performance of actress Meg Foster. According to René Echevarria, "Meg Foster was perfection." Indeed, Ira Steven Behr specifically sought Foster out to play the role. Behr says of her performance, "she's so seductive and interesting. You know, you can fall inside those eyes." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Onaya, the titular Muse, inspired artists but took their lives at a young age, similarly to the Leanan Sidhe of Irish folklore. She lists a "Keats" as one of the artists she's inspired. John Keats (1795-1821) was an English poet who died at the age of 25 yet is widely considered among the most accomplished poets in English literary history. The other two names she mentions are Catullus (a 1st century BC Roman poet) and Tarbolde (an alien from Canopus Planet who wrote the poem "Nightingale Woman" which Gary Mitchell quotes in the Original Series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before"). Interestingly, when writing the teleplay for this episode, René Echevarria was instructed by Rick Berman to use one human name and two alien names. After Echevarria had decided on Keats and Tarbolde, Robert Hewitt Wolfe then chose Catullus because, being an ancient Roman poet, the concept of muses would have been very important to him. However, in the episode itself, Meg Foster mispronounces the name, which disappointed Hewitt because it now sounds "like some wacky alien name." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- "Anslem", Jake Sisko's first novel, appeared for the second time in this season. The first appearance was in "The Visitor".
- Runepp was played by John Paul Lona, who won a guest spot on DS9 for designing the make-up of the Rasiinian species.
- Lwaxana Troi recalls the death of her daughter Kestra as described in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Dark Page".
- This episode is Majel Barrett's last appearance as Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek and her final on-screen Star Trek appearance.
- The first time Jeyel meets Odo, he pronounces Lwaxana's name as "Laxwana".
- Jake is reading a Horatio Hornblower novel by C.S. Forester when his father enters the room, the same novel he was reading in 2372. ("The Visitor")
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (Robert Blackman).
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.11, 28 October 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
Special guest star
- Judi Durand as PADD computer voice
- Randy James as Jones
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- John Paul Lona as Runepp
- Scott Strozier as a Bajoran security deputy
- Patricia Tallman as Tagana
- Unknown performers as
47 references; Alpha Quadrant; Bajoran outback; Bolian; candle; capillary; Cardassian; cerebral cortex; Deep Space 9; Earth; exile; Ferengi; First Minister; holosuite; Indian; Keats, John; King Arthur's Court; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; monk; Pennington School; Promenade; Quark's; qui'lari; Rasiinian; Revalus; Shakaar Edon; Tarbolde; Tavnian; Kell, Tavor; tricorder; Troi, Ian Andrew; Troi, Kestra; Umani sector; visceral writing; Vulcan; Yates, Kasidy
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