Episode 4.21: The Muse

I think there are interesting topics here in The Muse (Ep. 4.21), but as a whole, I was fairly unimpressed with this episode. On the one hand, I love how Odo reacts to Lwaxana. When he’s with her, he realizes he has a deep yearning to be known intimately, and she does know him that well. I enjoyed how she knew the structure in his quarters was for shapeshifting, not as a sculpture. Lwaxana forces Odo to face himself and his feelings for Kira. He can’t escape them because Lwaxana won’t let him hide behind his excuses. Yet, she knows that Kira is the woman for Odo, and therefore she must leave. I love how Lwaxana able to soften Odo’s hard exterior, so that he may one day allow Kira inside the shell. On the other hand, her character grates on me. I know this is a key aspect of her character though. Lwaxana is a challenge to the audience to not be judgmental of her clingy, annoying nature. She is a wonderful person who brings out good in others. But in this setting, fleeing a misogynist while pregnant, she feels overly comical to me. I have a similar impression of Onaya. While there’s a good allegory with Onaya’s and Jake’s interaction, but the portrayal of Onaya feels so comical to me. Even after watching the episode, I’m not sure which of the two was the A plot.

However, I applaud the attempt by the writers to portray an intentional allegory of this nature. There is a clear sexual allegory with Onaya. She’s portrayed as a predator, but as a Sci Fi show, they misdirect the target of her desire onto artistry, not sex. Her quarters are laid out as a den, her voice is breathy and seductive, and she is very physical with Jake as she manipulates him. She uses her hands to stimulate him in a primal fashion, directly on chakras. The inspiration for this type of alien came from Celtic folklore: the leannán si. This creature takes a lover, who lives a brief and inspired life. Jake falls prey to this. In the Jeffery’s tube, Jake is forced to write against his will, an allegory for rape. After Jake is rescued, Onaya escapes without any consequences. It’s a good story to tell, but for me, the ending falls a bit flat. I’m not sure what the resolution was intended to communicate, other than last minute heroics by Sisko and his fatherly love for Jake.

There is a second allegory here that I see, but I’m not sure if it was intentional or not. The alien feeds on creativity and artistry, as if those were real substances. I believe that artistry is a real substance in our world. It isn’t tangible, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I think sometimes that we can forget the need for and value of artistry. We get lost in consumption, and we forget to allow art to change us, to move us. The essence of life is more than just our physical stuff, in my opinion. It’s in the ever flowing relationships we build and find ourselves participating in. At it’s heart, art is relational. It’s a minor component of this story, but one that struck me.

Random Thoughts: 1) Michael Ansara, the actor who plays Jeyal, is also Commander Kang the Klingon. He’s been in 3 Star Trek series (TOS, DS9, and VOY) and portrayed two characters. 2) This is the last on-screen appearance of Majel Barrett, in any Star Trek show. She does continue doing voicework. 3) The station is clearly bustling more than it has in past seasons. The station has become a central hub of commerce and traffic. No longer is it a backwater outpost. 4) Sisko is spending more time on Bajor. He is investing more in that world. 4) When talking about feeling like a changeling who’s forced to keep her shape too long, Lwaxana is referencing her first appearance in The Forsaken (Ep. 1.16). 5) I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but Bajorans will clap by hitting the back of one hand against the front of another hand. Kira is clearly seen doing this at the wedding. 6) The name of the book Jake wrote is Anselm. This is the same book that is discussed in the alternate, future timeline of The Visitor (Ep. 4.3).

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~ by Joshua Black on December 9, 2017.

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