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The Host

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Series :
The Next Generation
Rating :
3
Disc No :
Episode :
96
First Aired :
13 May 1991
Stardate :
44821.3
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Guest Cast :
YATI :
The Trill in this episode are totally different from the way they appear in DS9. These Trill have no spots, a built up forehead, and when the symbiont joins with the host it takes over the host personality completely. So, does the planet Trill have two different races as different from one another as Earth's different types of dogs? Or are there two completely different planets that both happen to be called Trill and have joined species?

And while we're on the subject, why would anybody ever agree to be a permanent host for this version of the Trill? The hosts are clearly shown as sentient beings, yet their entire personality is completely overwritten by the symbiont. Do the symbionts hold the hosts in some kind of slavery?

When the shuttle is intercepted, Worf reports that "they are loading their phaser banks". One charges phasers. One loads torpedo tubes.
Great Moment :
Frakes does an excellent job as Odan in Riker's body, but my favourite moment in this episode is Troi telling Crusher about her father.
Body Count :
Odan's host.
Factoid :
Brannon Braga was pleased with the episode, calling it "one of the most outstanding stories we've ever done." He said it was originally a "squirmy worm" story, which went on to become "the most touching love story."

Plotline

The Enterprise-D is hosting a mediation between two hostile factions, the residents of Alpha moon and Beta moon, both orbiting the planet Peliar Zel. Thirty years ago war was threatening the moons, and a Federation negotiator settled the crisis. Now Alpha moon has discovered a way to tap the magnetic field of the planet, supplying their energy needs. However, Beta moon is suffering serious environmental damage as a result. Governor Leka Trion of Peliar Zel is aboard, as is Ambassador Odan, a Federation mediator who hopes to solve the problem. Doctor Crusher has become quite enamoured with Odan, and the two are enjoying a clandestine affair.

As they approach the moons Odan declines to use the transporter, asking for a shuttle to fly him to the planet. Riker acts as pilot, but as they approach a ship launches from Beta moon, claiming to be an escort. It fires on the shuttle, damaging it and injuring Odan, and Riker moves to transport them back to the safety of the Enterprise-D. Odan refuses, claiming the transporter will kill him. Riker manages to pilot the damaged shuttle back to the ship.

Treating Odan in sickbay, Crusher discovers what seems to be a large parasite in his stomach. Odan explains that the parasite is him - the Trill is a 'joined species', with a host and symbiote living in harmony. The mediator who first negotiated a peace treaty with the moons thirty years prior was actually him in a previous host. Unfortunately Crusher is unable to save the Odan host, and he dies. She manages to keep the symbiote alive, but without a host it will not last long.

Commander Riker volunteers to act as a temporary host, though the difference in species means it will be a huge strain on his organs. With the symbiote implanted Riker wakes up as Odan - and is still very much in love with Beverly. Crusher finds this very confusing, but after much soul searching manages to bring herself to think of Riker as Odan and resumes their relationship.

After some persuasion the delegates from Peliar Zel and Alpha and Beta moon alos accept Riker as Odan, and the negotiations proceed. Although Riker's body struggles with the burden of being a host, he manages to see out the meeting and prevent a war.

The Enterprise races to meet the Trill ship which is bringing a new host, and both Riker and Odan are saved. Odan is placed into a new host... which, to Beverly's consternation, is a female. Odan continues to express feelings for her, but Beverly says the changes are too much too fast for her, and breaks up with him.

Analysis

Overall a decent story, though with a couple of issues. One is the way the episode tries to generate tension by showing Odan treating his 'bulgy tummy'. Clearly we're meant to think that there's something wrong with him, and that something sinister may be going on. And why wouldn't you think that, when Odan is being all secretive about it? They try to blow this off later by saying that being a joined species is so natural to him that he simply never thought to mention it, but that doesn't really fly - he's got obvious medical issues, and he's not going to the ship's doctor about it? Nonsense.

For that matter, surely the Trill being a joined species is a known fact about them, so why isn't it listed in the medical databanks of the ship? Yet Beverly apparently doesn't read up on this even when Odan becomes her patient.

The second issue is a minor one, but they never explain why the transporter would kill Odan. Is it because he's sick? Are symbiotes just vulnerable to transporter shock? We're never told.

One also has to wonder about the ending twist. The dialogue is very careful to have Beverly say that it's the rapid-fire changes that are the issue, not the fact that the new host is a woman. And yet, it's hard to avoid that implication. Apparently some people complained about that, saying that in the Federation's perfect future, things like race and gender should never matter.

I don't buy that. For me, attraction is one area where you are allowed to have preferences; whether you like tall men or short men or bald men or whatever, rejecting those who don't fit that is a valid choice. People may not like it, but frankly that's tough. It's also a little hypocritical in this case. It's widely proclaimed that sexual orientation is 'baked in', either genetically or as a result of early environment, or both. But you can't say that and then turn around and say 'if bias didn't exist everyone would be bi'. Beverly is, apparently, straight - born that way. It's perfectly fine for her to say that she can't accept a female Odan, just as it would be perfectly fine for a gay man to say he can't accept a female lover or a gay woman to say she can't accept a male one.

Of course, the Trill became a significant presence of Deep Space Nine... with pretty much everything except for the joined species thing changed. Forehead lumps gone, spots added. Instead of the symbiote completely replacing the host personality, it becomes a 'blend'. And apparently the Trill are known well in the Federation and have been for a long while.

Surely it would have made more sense for them to just make Jadzia a different joined species - the Zill or something - rather than stack up confusion. But there's no blame for that here, that's a DS9 problem.

Special Edition

The usual improved effects shots.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 26,065 Last updated : 22 Mar 2020