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The Host (episode)

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"The Host"
TNG, Episode 4x23
Production number: 40274-197
First aired: 13 May 1991
96th of 176 produced in TNG
96th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
203rd of 728 released in all
Odan Symbiont
Written By
Michel Horvat

Directed By
Marvin V. Rush
44821.3-44824.4 (2367)
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A Trill ambassador is on-board to mediate a dispute, and falls in love with Dr. Crusher. When the Trill's 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 moons. 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.

When the negotiations are to begin, Odan insists that he disembark to the planet only by shuttle, rather than by transporter, even though he is aware 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. Deanna 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 Capt. Picard thanking 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 shuttle 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 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.

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 Moon and Beta Moon to reconcile. He has to convince the representatives that he is in fact Odan and not Riker. 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 Dr 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 Odan gave her just before he left in the shuttle, and she re-unites with him in Odan's 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 entries

  • "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."

Background Information

Story and script

  • 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 paristic 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


The Trill

  • 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 DS9 (physically or otherwise).
  • Unlike future hosts of Trill symbionts, Riker's personality appears to be completely gone while joined. This could be due to the fact that Riker is Human and not Trill. Trill must possess the mental pathways to maintain the personalities of both the host and the symbiont. As in the case of the Dax symbiont, all hosts in later Trek episodes not only maintain their own memories but also inherit the experience of past hosts. Trill hosts are also trained to resist being overwhelmed by the symbiont.
  • 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.
  • In the DS9 Relaunch novels dealing with Trill, the ability or inability to be transported is shown as simply a difference between various Trill ethnicities.
  • In the novel Forged in Fire, the radically different Trill appearance seen in this episode was a mutation caused when a Trill colony was visited by Klingons carrying the augment virus - however, the Trill saw no pressing need to "restore" their appearance as the Klingons did, and by the time of the story (2290 - 77 years before the episode) they had been accepted back into Trill society. This novel also implies that the Trill's inability to be transported was simply a cover story to prevent public knowledge of the symbiotes getting out; presumably, given the public nature of Odan swapping hosts during these negotiations, this secrecy was no longer required.
  • An earlier host of the Odan symbiont appears in Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Jill Sherwin's The Lives of Dax short story "First Steps".
  • Crusher encounters Kareel Odan again in a comics story, when she acts as an advisor on the Enterprise' as it is transporting a Trill master criminal to a new, high-security prison.


  • This episode shows the Enterprise 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.


  • 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]

Video and DVD releases


Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double



Alpha moon; Alphans; Ancient Philosophies; balso tonic; barbershop; Beta moon; Betans; Betan ship; Bolians; cerebrospinal fluid; colgonite astringent; Crusher, Wesley; Earth; eosinophilia; exobiology; Federation; global warming; governor; Hawking; ionosphere; laser scalpel; lemon tea; magnetospheric energy tap (magnetosphere); metrazene; Peliar system; Peliar Zel; Peliar Zel natives; five card draw; rose; shuttlecraft; soccer; Stefan; transporter; Trill; Trill diagnostic tool; Trill transport; Troi, Ian Andrew; turbolift

Previous episode:
"Half a Life"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4
Next episode:
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