Not only is Lwaxana Troi one of my favorite minor characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, she is one of my favorite minor characters in all of Trek. She is played by none other than the wife of the late Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barrett.
Lwaxana Troi is a constant source of amusement whenever she is on screen, with her use of her Betazoid powers to the embarrassment of others and her unabashed, unapologetic sexuality. She makes several appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and while she only had three appearances in DS9, I believe she added something to the series, just as she did with The Next Generation.
During the course of DS9, Lwaxana makes her first appearance in the season one episode “The Forsaken”. During this episode, after station chief of security Odo apprehends a thief who stole Lwaxana’s broach, the Betazoid turns her romantic intentions on the changeling Odo. She continues to strongly flirt with him, being fascinated by the idea of “being with a shape shifter.” Odo however is made uncomfortable by her advances and continues to find excuses to escape her presence.
Later in the episode, Odo is unable to escape as both himself and Lwaxana Troi find themselves trapped in a turbo lift together. While several attempts are made to rescue the two from the turbo lift, they continue to be trapped together. After a while, it becomes apparent that it is growing closer to Odo’s time to regenerate, meaning he will revert back to his liquid form.
After Lwaxana has told him her life story, slowly but surely, the usually very reserved chief of security begins to open up about his own life. While Odo is beginning to enjoy Lwaxana’s company, he is also fighting back pain as he resists the urge to regenerate.
Odo turns away from Lwaxana, refusing to show himself in this deeply weak and private moment, until Lwaxana presents him with her wig, showing herself to Odo in her own vulnerable state. With a new found trust for Lwaxana, Odo allows himself to transform into his liquid state and contains himself in a fold of Lwaxana’s dress.
I find this to be a beautiful moment between these two characters who are extremely different and is a promissory note of things to come between the two of them. It is also a rare moment of complete vulnerability for both characters but especially for the tough and stoic chief of security.
Lwaxana Troi would make her return to DS9 in the season two episode “Fascinations” where due to her zanthi fever, she would unintentionally project her amorous feelings for Odo onto others.
During season four, she would make one final appearance at DS9 seeking Odo’s help. By this time, Odo himself had grown more comfortable in the company of others and enjoyed the time he spent with Lwaxana Troi. In the season fourepisode “The Muse,” Lwaxana Troi returns to DS9 and to Odo, with the news that she has become pregnant. Lwaxana’s husband, Jeyal, is of an alien race known as Tavnian. It is part of the Tavnian culture that Tavnian children are raised solely by the parent that is the same sex as the child, and Lwaxana’s baby is a boy, meaning she will not be in her child’s life at all until the child reaches the age of sixteen.
In an effort to assist Lwaxana with her conundrum, Odo finds a loophole in Tavnian law that states the child is the property of the mother’s husband and not actually the child’s father. Not only does Odo discover this loophole, but he states that he intends to marry Lwaxana, making her child Odo’s property. After a few months, the marriage will be annulled, and Lwaxana will be able to keep her baby.
While Odo’s intentions are pure, the challenge is that he must convince Jeyal that he truly does wish to marry Lwaxana. Odo plans a surprise wedding and delivers a emotional speech about how Lwaxana accepted him for what he was the first time they met and the effect that has had on him. The ruse is a success, Odo and Lwaxana are married, and Lwaxana gets to keep her baby.
I thought this to be an extremely heartfelt episode, and solidified Lwaxana Troi as a crucial, even though minor, character on DS9. While Odo might not have ever been in love with Lwaxana, she brought a more vulnerable side to the tough reserved constable, which served to bring out the emotions of Odo which would show themselves even more in his encounters with Major Kira.
I think a case could be made without even trying too hard, that while Odo was always in love with Kira and not Lwaxana, that it was Lwaxana who helped Odo along the way in showing his true emotions and allowing himself to be vulnerable and to embrace his more emotional side.
Odo has always been one of my favorite characters on DS9, and the character would have been very different throughout the rest of the series had it not been for Lwaxana Troi.