Plot Synopsis: A Trill ambassador is on board the Enterprise to mediate a dispute, and falls in love with Dr. Crusher. When the Trill host is killed the symbiont has to be temporarily joined to Commander Riker to continue the negotiations – and the affair. Boom chika-wow-wow!
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser is one of the briefest we get in the series. Beverly and a Trill ambassador, Odan, are in a turbolift making out when Data comes in. He is clueless about the sexual tension, of course. Beverly rushes with Data to get him on a task while Odan returns to his quarters and we see his stomach bloat faster than someone who’s just eaten at IHOP followed by a trip to Denny’s. Plot A is about the changing faces of Odan, plot B is about the dispute he is supposed to mediate. Evidently the residents of two moons of a planet have never liked each other. Moon Alpha (the moons don’t even have names) has figured out a new power source, but Moon Beta’s people are going to suffer because of it, and things are escalating toward war. Odan refuses a transporter so Riker takes him in a shuttle to the planet to negotiate, but they get shot at and Odan gets injured. We discover there’s a parasite inside Odan who’s actually Odan and the body is just a host, as part of Trill society. The body dies and Riker volunteers to host. Weirdness ensues, as the feuding factions and Beverly have to decide if they will accept Riker as Odan, whose body isn’t holding up so well. There are good moments to be found here before the plot resolves itself, but it’s not the most fast-paced episode in the series.
Favorite Scenes: Did you catch a line Beverly says to Odan in the first two minutes? It’s right when she gets out of the turbolift with Data when they’re both obviously wanting some sex: “Put a cold cloth on your…forehead, ambassador. I’ll do my best to be with you shortly.” Heh.
There is a good scene in Ten Forward where Beverly is freaking out trying to reconcile her feelings for Odan with Riker’s body, and asks Troi for help. It’s actually a good scene, and she does play it pretty well. The last scene where we are expecting to see another man as host to Odan has a nice surprise.
Use of Cast/Characters: Beverly Crusher takes center stage for the first time since Remember Me. She’s in her medical frock all the time because of how pregnant she was in real life, but she gives a good performance and really seems to wrestle with the predicament she’s in throughout much of the episode. Picard, Data, and Worf are just placeholders here, they don’t have much to do. If you can’t remember much of Geordi in this episode it’s because the guy has literally one line. Frakes gets to flex his acting chops, playing Odan for over half the episode, and he does a good job. It’s not perfect but I could see Odan in his performance, which is the whole goal. Deanna gets to be of use here, helping Beverly through a difficult time. Franc Luz is “Odan” for all intents and purposes, and he does a decent job. The other actors have very limited screen time. One thing to note is the roles that Troi, Beverly and Riker have here that are mirrored in the episode The Price: Troi was being romanced and now Beverly is, Beverly was the confidant/friend to Troi and now Troi is, Riker was thrust into a mediating/negotiating role he didn’t anticipate, etc. At least there were no Ferengi.
Blu Ray Version: The planet and its moons both look stunning in this episode, far superior to the original, and we get to see them multiple times. It’s easy to miss, but at 15:34 if you pause you can see that a previous error was fixed. In the original version, the tractor beam was seen coming from the torpedo launcher, but here it’s been changed to come from above that area. There is also a deleted scene: Riker/Odan sitting down to play poker. It’s almost two minutes long and no poker gets played but Geordi and Data ask some questions about the joining and if Riker will be alright. It’s an OK scene, but doesn’t contribute much except to state that the host body usually has no personality, except with a human “it’s different.” It’s not really needed.
Nitpicks: When Troi asks Beverly how well she really knows Odan, she says, “I feel I know him better than I’ve known anyone in my life.” Oh really? Better than Jack Crusher, who was your frickin’ husband for years?? Another scene just made me feel uncomfortable: would an ambassador really be telling Picard in his ready room that, “Your Dr. Beverly is an extraordinary person. Both as a scientist… and as a woman.” Awkward! Also, much like the movie Ghost, we’re expected to go along with the idea that Beverly had sex with Riker and didn’t have any issues with that later on, because to her it was like being with Odan. C’mon, it had to still be a little weird after, right?
Overall Impression: Though it’s not a terrific episode, talk about an episode with social relevance! It’s even more relevant now than it was then, with all of the gender issues our society is experiencing today. The concept of a race like the Trill is really creative as well. Kids and teens in general probably won’t care about this episode, it’s geared toward adults. I can appreciate it more as an adult, but it’s not an episode that I say I really enjoy. The dialogue isn’t great. There are parallels between The Host and The Price that aren’t too hard to spot if you look for them, and that’s not an episode that you want a lot of parallels with. While it has redeeming qualities, this just isn’t an episode that I can rate any higher than 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: Peliar Zel II is the name of the planet these aliens are from. We don’t see them much more in TNG, but they’re all over the place in the background on DS9. Speaking of DS9, this is the first time we ever meet the Trill in the Star Trek universe. The makeup is quite different here than it is there, and for some reason in this episode the Trill cannot use transporters without killing the symbiont; this is never brought up again. Gates McFadden was still visibly pregnant, so they had to do everything they could to hide it. About the ending. Some people must have written in saying the ending was homophobic, or some similar nonsense. Doing so misses the broader point that is being made about humanity. I’ll quote the director here:
I felt that it was more about the nature of love, why we love and what prevents us from loving. To me the best analogy is if your beloved turned into a cockroach, could you love a cockroach? It’s the same person, if the person is the personality and core within, but can you get past the outside? We as humans are affected by the whole package, including the outside shell, and Gates in her last scene talks about maybe someday our ability to love won’t be so limited. She says mankind may one day be able to deal with this, but I can’t. To me that is about the nature of love and I think it’s an interesting, worthy discussion. Rather than deal with the fact it was because of any homosexual bent per se, it’s just that in our culture and our society people who are heterosexual who want the companionship of a male because they are female, wouldn’t be able to deal with that opposite situation.
Finally, Gates McFadden was interviewed about her time on Star Trek, and this episode was being filmed about that time so there are clips from the episode and behind-the-scenes stuff too, as well are her comments on it. For those interested, click here for the link.
Missable/Unmissable? Depends. In terms of the quality of the episode it’s missable. If you want to see the genesis of the Trill, or a socially relevant episode then it’s highly watchable. The next episode is more enjoyable.