When the Enterprise plays host to peace negotiations mediated by Trill Ambassador Odan, Beverly Crusher takes a personal liking to their visitor. But their relationship proves to be far from straightforward when she learns that Odan is actually a symbiont living in a humanoid host body. And when the host body dies, Riker volunteers to accept the symbiont so that he can keep Odan alive and conclude the vital negotiations.
This episode introduces the joined life-forms that are the Trill, and although they would undergo some changes before Jadzia Dax became a regular on DS9, this is a decent introduction. There are all the usual Star Trek tropes, such as alien lovers, peace negotiations and a regular character having to put themselves in danger, and, for the most part, it makes for an entertaining outing. Unfortunately, the ending does come across as a little anti-gay, as Crusher shies away from continuing her relationship with Odan in a female host. Maybe her given argument that she couldn’t deal with the prospect of continuing a relationship with someone who changed body every so often is the simple truth, but it does seem suspiciously homophobic. And given that the enlightened 24th century has no openly gay characters, it’s not the example we need.
- In this episode, the Trill hosts are distinguished by their forehead ridges (like so many other alien races). After deciding that this make-up would merely obscure the beauty of Terry Farrell, the Trill appearance was changed to a series of spots running down each side of the face and body. We can put down the physical differences to mere racial variations.
- Here it is implied that the symbiont is the dominant personality, with the host being completely subsumed. As we learn in DS9, the personality of a joined Trill is more of a blending between that of the two individuals.
- Officially, only a small percentage of humanoid Trill are compatible with symbionts; the truth is that this number is much higher, but symbiont numbers are so low that this lie prevents them from becoming commodities. However, this does explain how even a human like Riker was able to join with a symbiont.
- Crusher claims that she feels like she knows Odan better than anyone in her life – clearly this is infatuation speaking as presumably she was better acquainted with her husband and son than some guy she met two weeks ago.
- By necessity, characters in episodic TV shows fall in love at the drop of a hat – they never have relationships where they just like the other person for a while, or want casual sex (I guess the 24th century is too noble for casual sex outside of Risa or theEdo planet).
The Prime Directive, again
Twice now I’ve forgotten to discuss Admiral Satie’s claim that Picard broke the Prime Directive nine times since taking command of the Enterprise. Which episodes is she referring to?
- Who Watches the Watchers? Technically Picard steps in to fix the damage done by the observation team, but maybe it still counts against him.
- First Contact. Was this a cock-up because of what happened with Riker, even though Picard’s contact with the alien leaders was proper procedure?
- Pen Pals. Yes, memories were erased, but Data’s communications with Sarjenka still broke the Prime Directive.
- Symbiosis. Did Picard’s inaction in not fixing their ships count as a violation, or perhaps his “I can’t help you because of the Prime Directive, lol, bai” was questionable.
- Devil’s Due. I don’t think this would count as Picard tediously followed precedent. The same with Justice and even Code of Honor.
Summary – The Host: “Go away, Odan, I just can’t go gay for you.”