Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991): S04E23 – The Host


Introduction

“The Host” is the 23rd episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the 97th episode overall. It was originally released on 11 May 1991, in broadcast syndication.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) falls in love with Odan (Franc Luz), a Trill mediator. But after he is mortally injured, she discovers that “Odan” is actually a symbiotic creature that lives inside a humanoid host body. Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) volunteers to act as a temporary host, complicating the relationship between Crusher and Odan. The mediation proves successful, but after Odan is transferred to a new, female Trill host (Nicole Orth-Pallavicini), Crusher chooses not to continue the relationship.

At the time of filming, McFadden was seven months pregnant, resulting in filming techniques used to conceal her abdomen. A two part makeup appliance was designed for the Trill host, as well as the symbiont itself which was based on a caterpillar and an octopus. The Trill would subsequently return in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, although the makeup was redesigned. “The Host” received a Nielsen rating of 11.3 percent during the first week of release in syndication. The ending of the episode has received a mixed reception, with Zack Handlen for The A.V. Club saying that the reaction by Crusher made “perfect sense”, while others suggested that the statement regarding Crusher’s views on homosexuality should have been confined as a character trait rather than a general statement on the opinions of the species.

It was the first episode to be directed by Marvin V. Rush, the director of photography, and was written by Michel Horvat.

Outline

Odan (Franc Luz), a mediator, boards the Enterprise to negotiate a peace treaty between two hostile races. Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) is charmed by the man, and the two share a love affair during the trip. Odan refuses to use the transporter and requests that a shuttle and pilot be provided for him; Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) honours this request. During the mission, the shuttle is attacked by a dissident faction and Odan is mortally injured. While trying to save the alien in sickbay, Dr. Crusher comes to learn that Odan is a Trill, a species which symbiotically lives within its host’s body. It is further revealed by Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) that the transporter would have harmed the symbiotic lifeform. Following the death of Odan’s host body, Commander Riker volunteers to allow Odan use him as a host to conduct the necessary negotiations until a new host arrives.

Odan’s presence becomes dominating over Riker, and Dr. Crusher finds herself initially confused when Odan continues to try to engage with her to continue their relationship. Dr. Crusher is puzzled and full of emotion as she later confides to Counsellor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and wonders about the true depth of her feelings for Odan. With some effort, Odan in Riker’s body manages to convince the delegates from the warring planets to work with him. However, Riker’s body begins to deteriorate due to the incompatibility of different biologies. The ship transporting the new host has encountered engine malfunctions. Dr. Crusher does everything she can to extend Riker’s and Odan’s chances while the Enterprise races to meet the Trill ship, and has a deeply emotional moment with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).

The Enterprise successfully rendezvous in time to bring aboard the new host, a female (Nicole Orth-Pallavicini), much to Dr. Crusher’s surprise. She helps with the other Trill to transplant Odan into the new host, and both Riker and Odan fully recover. When Odan attempts to continue their relationship, Dr. Crusher is uncomfortable, knowing both that the Trill appear to have no preferences on gender orientation, and that Odan will continue to live on in any number of hosts’ bodies. Odan admits he still loves Dr. Crusher, but understands her confusion and discomfort, and promises to never forget her or their short time together. And Dr. Crusher replies that she loves Odan too; in Odan’s new, female host body, Odan then kisses the inner wrist of her hand.

Star Trek TV Series

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Marvin V. Rush.
  • Writer(s): Michael Horvat.
  • Release Date: 11 May 1991.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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