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TNG 4-23

TNG 4x23
"The Host"

Original airdate: 5/13/1991
Rewatch date: 2/29/2012

Dr. Crusher falls for a negotiator who is a member of a symbiotic alien species. When his host body dies in an accident, the symbiont is transfered to Riker in order to prevent a war, but the change is almost too much for Dr. Crusher to take.

Spoiler-free notes:

Okay, I swear I'll try not to bring it up again, but Dr. Crusher yet again talks about headaches like they're no big deal, despite her extreme concern over Picard's supposedly rare and unusual headache in "The Battle."

It's a good thing Crusher and Odan didn't get it on during the opening scene, because I'm pretty sure the bulging, squirming belly would kill the mood (assuming Crusher's not freakier than we suppose).

Crusher straight-up lies to Troi, and does a pretty bad job of it too. Does she expect to get away with lying so transparently to an empath? Shortly afterward, Data asks Odan if Dr. Crusher helped him with his headache, and Odan says that she did. Troi then smirks.

I'm curious about the technical details of how a moon could use the magnetic field of a planet as an energy source. Is that at all plausible, and would it cause the kind of harm they're talking about? I wonder if there's any actual science behind this plot device or if the writer just made it up wholesale.

The scene with Troi and Dr. Crusher in the spa is almost exactly the same as a scene in "Transfigurations," only without the nice things to look at. A big part of this is that the cameras had to shoot around Gates McFadden's very visible pregnancy. This must have been a trippy experience for McFadden, what with her having her own little parasite growing in her belly.

It's kind of weird how quickly Riker agrees to be a host for Odan. I feel like there should have been a narrative reason for it.

Jonathan Frakes' acting as Odan is a little too melodramatic, especially when he's around Crusher. Frakes is capable of good acting, but this isn't his best work.

Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, does a great job with subtlety when talking with Odan and Crusher. You can see how much he's hiding his feelings for Crusher, and that's no small feat given that there's very little in the script or dialogue that illustrates the subtext. Then again, it's really not fair to compare anybody on the show to Patrick Stewart when it comes to acting.

Why can't they put the symbiont in another host body for two hours?

So... does Riker remember anything?

I'm of two minds when it comes to this episode. On one hand, I really like the concept of the Trill and think it's a neat story that I can't imagine was easy to break in the writer's room. Using Crusher as a love interest to explore the nature of the Trill is fairly ingenious, and there's a lot of cleverness in the script. On the other hand, it's kind of a step backwards for the show, pushing the characters into a static, single-episode storyline. Most of the main characters have been building an arc: Worf has his discommendation and all the intrigue involving the Klingons and Duras; Geordi has his evolving relationship with Dr. Brahms; Data has his brother and dead father, along with the potential of an emotion chip in his future; Picard has his continued recovery from the Borg; and even Miles O'Brien is dealing with newlywed life. Crusher, though, hasn't moved forward at all, with her character still running in place despite the fact that her son left the ship a few months ago. Her relationship to Picard, for example, hasn't changed since "Encounter at Farpoint." This episode, despite being a cool bit of sci-fi, doesn't show us anything new about her. It is, in fact, nearly identical to "Tranfigurations," an episode that deals with Crusher falling in love with an alien who is undergoing a drastic physical change. Even the subplot, involving a compromised alien conducting negotiations to prevent a war with the help of an Enterprise crewmember standing in for him, has been done before, in "Loud as a Whisper" and "Sarek." Because it is both innovative and derivative, depending on how you look at it, I find "The Host" a little on the frustrating side.

Spoiler section:

This naturally sets up the Trill character of Dax in DS9, but the differences between Dax and Odan are pretty stark. For one, Dax transports all the time without any problems, and when we do see the Dax symbiont, it looks nothing like the Odan symbiont. Also, with Dax, it seems more like the host and the symbiont are intertwined, but with Odan, you get the sense that the symbiont has total control over the host. This is not a complaint, as I feel the elaborations in DS9 make the Trill even more interesting.

TNG 4x22
"Half a Life"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
TNG 4x24
"The Mind's Eye"
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