From his spot on the upper level, Jake watches new arrivals, taking notes for his stories. An alien woman, perhaps drawn by something, looks up at him.
Odo finds someone waiting in his office — it is a weeping and very pregnant Lwaxana Troi, who has left her possessive husband. Odo is attentive and helpful, though he’s focused on sensible problem-solving rather than empathy. No, her husband won’t reason with her; and no, she doesn’t want to go to her home planet Betazed because that’s the first place her husband will look for her. She wants to have the baby on Deep Space Nine.
The mysterious woman approaches Jake, introduces herself as Onaya, and quotes a famous Cardassian architect. Jake recognizes the name, and wonders aloud what he would have accomplished if he had lived longer.
The woman gives Jake a look that, because the title of the episode is “The Muse,” and because the music punctuates the moment threateningly, telegraphs the scenario pretty efficiently.
Jake turns down a chance to go on camping trip with his father and Kassidy, saying he wants to work on his writing.
Lwaxana has been pouring out her troubles at Quark’s, where Dax, Kira and Worf are sitting glumly. When Quark pressures Odo to “either cheer her up or get her to leave,” Odo stiffly approaches the table and asks “if you wanted to take a walk.”
“I would,” says Worf. It’s his only line in the show, and in context, it’s hilarious.
Lwaxana continues venting her troubles on their walk, and fibs about her replicator being broken. Once inside Odo’s quarters, she begins to rally, saying exactly the right things to Odo — recognizing the complex objects in his quarters are there to help him practice shape-shifting; offering empathy about Odo’s unrequited love for Kira; and letting Odo feel the baby moving. She falls asleep leaning comfortably against him, and, looking quite content, he morphs his arms into a pillow and a blanket.
Jake drops by Onaya’s quarters, which are decorated with draperies and candles. She presents Jake with an ink pen and a stack of paper, and encourages him to start on his masterwork. Stroking the back of his head, she says she’s stimulating his body’s bioelectric field. As Jake churns out the words, she hungrily absorbs swirling strands of special effects emanating from his head.
Lwaxana seeks playfully through Odo’s quarters; he has been hiding as a thin surface on top of a complex object, from which he leaps down nimbly. They both comment on how much fun they are having. Odo receives a notice that someone he was watching out for has arrived. Lwaxana realizes her husband has found her.
The dignified and disapproving Jeyal recognizes Odo as the changeling who broke Lwaxana’s heart. He observes it’s strange she’s running to him for help, and insists that his culture’s laws give him the right to take the baby. Odo notes the relevant law indicates the child is the property of the mother’s husband, and promises that by the time the baby is born, Lwaxana and Jeyal won’t be married.
Lwaxana is surprised by the plan Odo comes up with… he will marry her, for long enough to halt Jeyal’s legal claim. But in a premise worthy of a sitcom, there’s a catch… he has to convince everyone at the wedding ceremony that he really loves Lwaxana — and Jeyal intends to be there.
After stiffly and efficiently praising Lwaxana, Odo rises to the challenge and sincerely describes her impact upon him. “Lwaxana saw how different I was and she didn’t recoil… The day I met her is the day I stopped being alone.”
Satisfied, Jeyal leaves with dignity.
When Lwaxana says, “For a minute there, I really believed you,” the camera lingers on Odo’s face, and actor René Auberjonois reacts meaningfully. Is he relieved? Surprised at himself? Perhaps more than a trifle disappointed?
Meanwhile, in the somewhat abbreviated A plot, Onaya has apparently been consuming Jake’s creative energy for some time, and Jake is so engaged that he doesn’t seem to care about getting a nosebleed. Onaya encourages him to rest, but he wants to go on.
When she finally talks him into taking a break, he stumbles through the Promenade and falls over in the replimat.
Later in the infirmary, Sisko learns Jake’s neuro jimberjams have been nearly flabbergasted, and Bashir begins an unflabbergasting regimen.
Later, a glowy thing manifests into Onaya, knocks out a nurse (I recognize the stunt performer as Patricia Tallman, who also played the telepath Lyta on Babylon 5), and urges Jake to follow her.
Tracking plot contrivance particles with a tricorder, Sisko confronts Onaya, who drops a few names of artists she inspired (including Keats and the fictional author of the poetry Gary Mitchell recites in the second Star Trek pilot, from 1966 — that was fun to notice), arguing that she herself has inspired all those great artists, and that dying young is worth the lasting fame Jake will enjoy.
Sisko disagrees, making his case with his phaser; Onaya, apparently unhurt, nevertheless turns into a glowing ball and floats away.
Later, Odo seems disappointed that Lwaxana has decided to have her baby on Betazed, and tries to give her practical reasons to stay. Calling him a “dear, sweet man,” she confesses she’s still in love with him, and she values their friendship too much to try to make him fall in love with her.
In the final scene, Sisko has read Jake’s manuscript, and praises it (except that “the spelling is terrible”) and helps Jake deal with the fact that he was only able to start writing it while under Onaya’s influence. The episode ends on a hopeful note, as Jake agrees to his father’s suggestion that one day he’ll feel ready to finish the book on his own, and signs the title page.