DS9: S4E20: “The Muse”

In which Deep Space Nine does Little Shop of Horrors.

Deep Space Nine is still bustling, with transport ships coming in and out. Jake is notetaking on the newcomers, using them as character sketches for future stories, when he becomes immediately fascinated with a lone woman who seems to sense him staring at her. Also, Lwaxana Troi is here to see Odo. She’s pregnant, and he seems to be her closest confidant in the time of need we’re probably about to hear about. She thought she was a little old to have another baby, but it’s apparently a miracle. Of course, there’s a problem.

"Please, Lwaxana. For once in literally ever, try to tell a story with a discrete beginning, middle, and end."

“Please, Lwaxana. For once in literally ever, try to tell a story with a discrete beginning, middle, and end.”

Her husband, Jeyal, wants to steal her baby, it seems. His species’ culture believes in strict segregation based on a child’s sex, to the point where they don’t even find out about the other half of the population until the age of 16. Even without getting into gender politics, that’s a baffling setup – do they just have two fully functional economies? Whole cities, or at least residential communities (including schools and necessary services) segregated out by genitalia? Not even Bob Jones University manages to be quite that strict. Plus, I wonder if they’re eligable for Federation membership? It’s not quite a caste system and probably doesn’t violate the right of self-determination, but literally all I can think of is Brown vs. the Board of Education – separate but equal is inherently unequal. Maybe the Tamnians are better at it than humans?

Jeyal had previously agreed with Lwaxana that their child would be raised differently, but as soon as the wedding was over, he changed his mind and started being… let’s see, even after accounting for Lwaxana’s typical exuberance, Jeyal sounds like an abusive jerk, a term I use with some degree of restraint.

Jake’s mystery passenger seems to have found him, and is very excited to see that he’s a creative type. Onaya gravitates towards such people, and she’s a fan of Cardassian architecture. She once knew a famous Cardassian designer, and helped him spread his neck ridges and fly. She’s also very predatory, so there’s definitely a theme developing here. Onaya talks about how artists achieve immortality, and offers to teach Jake some creative exercises that may or may not involve sweat and nudity.

Text courtesy of The Commodore or Commodore Hornblower, by C.S. Forrester, presumably used with the permission of the estate.

Text courtesy of The Commodore or Commodore Hornblower, by C.S. Forrester, presumably used with the permission of the estate.

I will offer some sort of pithy prize to anyone who can put forth a convincing explanation of why Jake appears to be editing someone else’s novel, and just how that PADD and stylus combo work. I suppose he could just be dyslexic and the stylus helps him read, but that’s not the sense I get, particularly since he says he’s writing it. He could be lying to Ben so that his dad will go off and enjoy some camping with Cassidy alone and he can enjoy his time alone with Onaya, I suppose.

Lwaxana’s next stop is to depress Kira and Jadzia right before their fantasy getaway to Camelot. Her bad mood is infectious, and Quark wants her gone. Also, feel free to speculate on what Worf is doing there in his workout clothes, and whether he was going to play Arthur or Lancelot.

We should remember that this is dredging up a lot of really bad memories for Lwaxana – this wouldn’t be the first time she lost a child. Or a husband, for that matter. Heck, not even the second time. Since she’s cooked up an excuse, Odo invites her into his quarters, and she immediately understands his shapeshifting garden, and offers her sympathetic ear to Odo’s relationship travails as well, and they bond a bit over the miracle of life.

Apparently Betazoid babies develop their telepathy in the womb, so the parent can wind up sensing their contentment. Toss-up as to whether that makes parenting a pre-verbal baby easier or harder. You know what they want, but the screaming is inside your head.

'Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly.

‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.

Jake is about to start his liaison with a mysterious older woman. You gotta respect her commitment to speedy interior decorating, and gauze, and candles. She also gives Jake a real pen, used by another famous creative. And real paper, for a real sense of visceral writing. Just letting the words flow out. She coaches him in stream-of-consciousness, because she’s evidently a fan of Faulkner. It’s very meditative writing, and she’s doing all sorts of Chakra massage for him. It feels so good he doesn’t even notice that he’s writing on tracing paper, or that she’s eating his brain energy.

Lwaxana appears to be playing Hide and Seek with Odo. And of course, the fun is interrupted by Jeyal finally arriving at the station, where he is accosted by Odo. Jeyal has heard all about Odo, is casually misogynist, and quite stentorian. His intent is to take the kid back, regardless of Lwaxana’s intent. According to Tavnian law, the male child is considered the property of the mother’s husband, but not actually the biological father. Odo’s plan is to marry Lwaxana in a Tamnian ceremony, which automatically annuls any previous marriage. Jeyal insists on staying to view the ceremony, to make sure the vows are sincere. The vows appearing sincere is a very important legal point, and serves to fill the ‘if anyone here objects’ drama point.

Jake’s tasty brain-meats are being slowly sucked out through the back of his skull, and it’s giving him a nosebleed. Onaya suggests he stop, but not very seriously. Jake presses onwards, as Odo does with the wedding. Jeyal is smack-talking Odo, and could not be more mustache-twirlingly derisive of his own culture if he actually had a mustache to twirl. When Odo gets started on the traditional ceremony, you can tell O’Brien is the least good at hiding his disgust over the chattel-y wording of the vows.

"Wait... what if I'm the jackass?"

“Wait… what if I’m the jackass?”

After the expected challenge, Odo actually opens up about the kindness and understanding she showed him back in the turbolift. You could expect Jeyal to keep insisting on his protest, but the background music is just too moving. Of course, this is also moving enough that Lwaxana’s now probably going to be really disappointed when Odo drops her again. When it’s over, though, Jeyal does show some compassion and honor as he leaves. Oh, funny twist – it’s Lwaxana that drops the ‘haha we did so good that was really close’ hammer and Odo who’s clearly disappointed.

Jake is pushing through his novel at an astonishing pace, and Onaya is finally full, for now, and insists that he go home to rest up and replentish so she can suck out more of his brain-juices later. Of course, Jake is now experiencing side effects, needs some vitamins, and collapses in the replimat. Ben Sisko’s back from his camping trip, so Jake has basically been… writing… nonstop for at least two days, and Bashir tells him about Jake’s dilated cranial capillaries, heightened neurotransmitters, and his brain basically being about to fall apart.

Never turn your back on an energy vampire.

Never turn your back on an energy vampire.

When Jake grabs half-heartedly at consciousness and says Onaya’s name, Ben Sisko goes to get Odo to run it down. Not, however, before Onaya shows up knock out a medical tech with one of the most common faces in the galaxy and Kidnap Jake so he can finish his novel and she can finish eating his brain. Energy vampires, man. Can’t live with ’em, can’t attack them without first blowing up their horcrux.

She’s dragged him away to a maintenance junction. Like all vampires, her promise is immortality, although with Onaya it’s through his work. The hunt goes on, with Ben Sisko and a recalibrated tricorder closing in on him even as Jake is so drained he can’t hold a pen. Ben shows up to save his kid and listen to her monologue. She’s just hungry, after all, and it’s really too bad that Jake was too young and… uh… ‘gave everything he had in one great burst’ before he was actually finished.

Lwaxana has good news – she can leave immediately without bothering Odo any further. He’s crestfallen, but Lwaxana’s assessment is that she’s in love with Odo, and he’s really only in like with her. She wants more than Odo is capable of giving, even if it seems like he wants to be capable of more. And ultimately, that’s not a tenable situation, so she’s going back to Bajor. Now, question – if she¬†does wind up getting married again, whose annulment/divorce laws matter? Odo’s unlikely to dispute her regardless, but would he need to sign, for example, human divorce papers to annul a Tavnian wedding so that his Betazoid wife could marry a Bolian if it happened to be on Earth?

anslemJake’s novel is apparently pretty good, although he relies too much on Autocorrect, apparently, and its absence on paper may have hurt him a bit. At the moment, Jake doesn’t have the creative juices to finish his novel, but someday, perhaps, it will be a great masterpiece that inspires young women to beat a path to his door. And he won’t even need a suspiciously-helpful life-drainer to finish it.

Did we miss something awesome?