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The Host (episode)

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A Trill ambassador is on-board 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.


"Dr. Beverly Crusher, Personal log, stardate 44821.3. Began an analysis today of the respiratory problems being experienced on the Beta moon of Peliar Zel. Finally got an actual letter from Wesley, topped the class in exobiology, but he's still struggling in Ancient Philosophies and... there's someone new in my life."

The USS Enterprise-D is en route to Peliar Zel to mediate a critical dispute between the Alpha and Beta. A Trill ambassador, Odan, is aboard to mediate the negotiations. He and Dr. Crusher have initiated a romance and quickly fallen in love. However, they keep it to themselves and when Data nearly walks in on them when they are kissing in the turbolift, they become a little nervous. They later retreat to Odan's quarters and continue to kiss passionately, until Captain Picard summons the ambassador to the observation lounge.

The discord between the inhabitants of the two moons is revealed, which is that the Alpha moon has tapped into Peliar Zel's magnetic field, which gives them a rich power source, but in turn is causing severe global warming conditions on the Beta moon. The negotiations to resolve the conflict are to begin soon but Odan insists that he disembark to the planet only by the shuttle Hawking, rather than by transporter, even though he is made aware by Peliar Zel's Governor Leka Trion that many radical factions may try to block the negotiations by any means necessary.

In the meantime, Dr. Crusher is getting ready to meet Odan that night by treating herself at the spa on the ship. Counselor Troi goes in for some kind of treatment as well and sees her, remarking that it wasn't common to see her there. Troi also notes that Crusher must be in love since she's 'glowing.'

Odan goes to Picard in his ready room and thanks him for his help in the situation with Peliar Zel and to ask about "Dr. Beverly." Picard, taken aback a little bit, replies that he cannot presume to speak for her. There is a call saying that a shuttle is ready for Ambassador Odan. Odan gives Beverly a rose before he leaves for the moon. When the Hawking with Odan and Riker launches, it is attacked by an unknown ship from one of the moons, seriously injuring Odan. Riker barely gets back to the Enterprise in the shuttle in one piece.

When Odan is returned to the ship, Dr. Crusher and the medical staff learn that the Trill are a joined species, a symbiont and a host, and this was the reason why he did not want to be beamed to the surface – it would have killed the symbiont. Not even Dr. Crusher was aware what Odan really was. Odan's host body dies of the injuries, even though the symbiont being Odan is still alive. The Enterprise contacts the Trill and they say that they will send another host in 48 hours. However, as Dr. Crusher explains, the symbiont cannot survive long enough for the new host to arrive. Though no Human has ever hosted a Trill symbiont before, Riker volunteers to be a temporary host, both to save the Trill symbiont and continue with the mission to avert war.

On a personal level, Dr. Crusher feels confused and betrayed, since Odan still loves her, but the Odan Dr. Crusher loves now lives in Riker's body – a Riker she has known for many years as nothing but a good friend. She avoids his advances while he attempts to reconnect with her, even though the new Odan reiterates that even though his body has changed, he still loves her.

In a later conversation she has with Counselor Troi in Ten Forward, Dr. Crusher wonders what it was that she loved about Odan: his eyes, his hands, his mouth... but those things are all gone and if that is all there was, then she should mourn him and go on, but she knows that it was more than that for she felt completely free with him, unguarded, at ease with herself; there were so many things that made him special to her, and she wonders where they are; whether they are still here, alive in Will Riker. She simply has a hard time accepting him in this romantic capacity and asks Troi for advice. Deanna tells her about the first man she ever loved, her father, who was strong and tall and chased away the monsters from under her bed and sang to her and kept her safe. And he went away. What she wouldn't give to hear those songs again, and even though she never will, she still can feel his warmth and his love, as though he were there with her. So she tells Beverly that if she can feel those things from the man they know as Will Riker, she should accept that love and go to him.

Picard and Odan continue trying to get the people of Alpha and Beta moon to reconcile. Odan has to convince the representatives, Kalin Trose of Alpha Moon and Lathal Bine of Beta Moon, that he is in fact Odan and not the Enterprise's first officer. Picard is also concerned for his First Officer, Riker, saying that for a moment, Odan sounded just like Riker.

Dr. Crusher, still trying to figure out her feelings, goes to her quarters confused. Capt Picard asks Crusher to monitor Odan as he is feeling unwell. Odan tries to get through to her, but she rejects his advances. Beverly's feelings finally change when she sees the rose on a table in her quarters Odan gave her just before he left in the shuttle, and she re-unites with him in his quarters.

Despite increasing symptoms of rejection from Riker's body, Odan carries on, and manages to prevent an inter-planetary war by successfully mediating a settlement between the highly distrustful delegates from the two moons. Odan insists that he be removed from Riker regardless of whether the new host has arrived in time. Dr. Crusher removes the symbiont in time to save Riker, and the new host, Kareel, arrives just in time to accept the symbiont. This new host, however, is female, and so the love between Dr. Crusher and Odan comes to an insurmountable obstacle for Crusher. She confesses that she still loves Odan, but she is not accustomed to these kinds of changes. Maybe it is a Human failing, she states, but she simply "can't keep up" with them; she can't live with that kind of an uncertainty. She goes on to say that perhaps some day, Humankind's ability to love won't be so limited. Kareel Odan says that she understands and, kissing Crusher's hand one last time in the same way that she used to do, she affirms that she will never forget her.

Log entriesEdit

  • "Captain's log, stardate 44824.4. Governor Leka and the representatives of the two moons are ready to transport on board. We have learned that they each have troops massed and are ready for combat if this final effort at peace is not successful."

Memorable quotesEdit

"Do you know when I first met the formidable Dr. Beverly, uh... what ten days ago?"
"I thought to myself, "This woman is ice... through to her bones!""
"Who would have ever guessed instead of ice... there is fire?"

- Odan and Crusher while kissing passionately

"I hope Dr. Crusher was able to help you with your headache."
"Uh... thank you. Actually, she was."

- Data and Odan

"Beverly... you're in love."
"Sometimes, I wish you weren't so empathic."
(whispering) "I don't think it's really a secret."
"It isn't?"
(whispering) "You've been glowing."
"Oh." (pause) "Must be the astringent."

- Troi on Crusher's quick romance with Ambassador Odan

"Oh, all I know is I haven't felt this way for a long time."
"And you like it."
"I like it."

- Crusher and Troi

"This body is just a host. I am that parasite. That is what must survive."

- Odan, on his Trill symbiont Crusher mistook for a parasite

"The risk is too great, commander."
"Weigh it against the prospect of war."
"It's your choice, Will."
"Let's get to it."

- Picard when Riker volunteers his body to be the host for the Odan symbiont to continue the negotiations

"Speak softly, governor. Those who cannot hear an angry shout, may strain to hear a whisper."

- Odan, in Riker's body

"You're going to be all right. How do you feel?"
"I'm fine. You look a little tired, Dr. Beverly."

- Crusher speaks to Odan in Riker's body

"If you can feel those things from the man we know as Will Riker, accept them. Accept the love."

- Troi to Crusher about Odan/Riker

"Please let me touch you. Just for a moment."
"No, please."

- Odan, in Riker's body and Crusher

"And, yes, I am still Odan and I still love you. I cannot imagine that ever changing."

- Kareel, the new host of the Odan symbiont to Crusher

"Perhaps it is a Human failing, but we are not accustomed to these kinds of changes. I can't keep up. How long will you have this host? What would the next one be? I can't live with that kind of uncertainty. Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited."

- Crusher ending her relationship with Odan

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

  • The working title for the episode was "E Pluribus Unum", Latin for "out of many, one". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
  • The original story focused on the war negotiations and contained no romantic component. Ronald D. Moore recalled, "The addition of Beverly to that story is the vital component. A lot of freelancers would take that premise and say this is a show about the ambassador and the struggles of the parasitic creature and the war negotiations. No one really cares about that. But when it becomes a Beverly problem, who's in the position with the problem, and to some extent Riker, that's how it became a Star Trek story." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
  • Brannon Braga added, "Being in love with someone is not very fresh. Having the parasite as the host is. It was not originally pitched as a love story, it was pitched as a squirmy worm who's really the intelligence. What's ironic is that the most repulsive story ever pitched to us ended up being the most touching love story and that's why this show is unique." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
  • First UK airdate: 23 November 1994

Production Edit

Continuity Edit

  • This episode shows the Enterprise-D barbershop also has a salon area.
  • The graphic on Picard's monitor before he has his conversation with Odan is the Tyken's Rift from "Night Terrors".
  • This is the only episode of TNG in which an officer on the bridge asks the computer what time it is.
  • The symbiotic species known as the Trill make their first appearance in this episode. They were later featured in more detail in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though aside from the existence of the symbiont, the Trill featured in this episode share no resemblance to those of Deep Space Nine (physically or otherwise).
  • Curiously, Odan refuses to be transported in this episode, and Dr. Crusher affirms the notion that using a transporter would damage the Trill symbiont. This limitation is never touched upon again in any follow-up episode in Trek canon, as Jadzia, Ezri, and others use the transporter freely. See the Trill article for more information.

Reception Edit

  • Rush disagreed with claims that Beverly's rejection of Odan in a female body was homophobic. He stated, "Most of the people that I have talked to thought the show worked pretty well and were entertained. Some commented that they were unhappy with the ending because it was left a question. There was, or could have been, a sort of homosexual aspect to it and we chose not to go that route with it.
"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." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
  • Gates McFadden recalled "some people were outraged at any hint of homosexuality in this episode." ("Inside the Star Trek Archives - Cast Member Hides Pregnancy", TNG Season 4 DVD special feature)
  • At an Austin, Texas convention in 2012, Gates McFadden stated that while she loved the episode she wished Crusher's first romantic episode would have been put off until after her pregnancy. [1]
  • A mission report by John Sayers for this episode was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 17, pp. 38-41.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit


Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

19th century; 2321; 2324; 2337; Alexander; Alpha moon; Alphans; Ancient Philosophies; Andrew; balso tonic; barbershop; Beta moon; Betans; Betan ship; blood count; Bolians; cerebrospinal fluid; colgonite astringent; Crusher, Wesley; dizziness; Earth; electroencephalography; eosinophilia; exobiology; Federation; global warming; governor; Hawking; host; immunosuppressant; ionosphere; Jennifer; laser scalpel; Lathal Bine's aunt; lemon tea; lymphocyte; magnetospheric energy tap (magnetosphere); metabolic booster; metrazene; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Number one; Odan's first host; Odan's second host; Peliar system; Peliar Zel II; Peliar Zel natives; five card draw; rejection; rose; sculpture; shock; shuttlecraft; soccer; Stefan; transporter; Trill; Trill diagnostic tool; Trill symbiont; Trill transport; Troi, Ian Andrew; turbolift

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"Half a Life"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4
Next episode:
"The Mind's Eye"

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