(written from a Production point of view)
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 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. Odan feigns sickness to retreat to his quarters while Dr. Crusher leaves with Data to suggest inputting figures into a medical monitor to keep him busy so that she can meet up with Odan.
Odan, in his quarters, opens his shirt showing a bulge protruding. He applies a hypospray to relieve the stress.
Crusher and Odan spend time together in Odan's quarters, holding and kissing each other. They recall meeting each other only ten days prior and Odan remembers thinking that Crusher was nothing but ice through to her bones. They kiss some more until Crusher tells the ambassador that she has to leave to take a look at Data's projections. Odan asks if they can meet up together in the evening when Captain Picard summons the ambassador to the observation lounge, where Governor Leka Trion is arriving.
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 an exclusively 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 Trion that many radical factions may try to block the negotiations by any means necessary. After everyone leaves, Picard asks what Troi is sensing. Troi informs him that Odan is giving off a mix of emotions.
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 the latest assistance in the situation with Peliar Zel and to ask about "Dr. Beverly" and how committed she is to remain in Starfleet. 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 Crusher a rose before he leaves for Peliar Zel. 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 attend to Odan. Crusher hypothesizes that there may be a parasite at play. Odan wakes and informs her that his body is just a host, and that she must make sure the parasite lives.
Crusher learns 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 injured the symbiont. He asks her to contact Trill to urgently send another host body. 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.
In the observation lounge, Crusher explains what just happened. The Trill say that another host will be there in 40 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.
Crusher and Ogawa attempt to implant the symbiont in Riker, making the incision and placing the symbiont inside. Riker feels strange sensations and undergoes irregular brain wave patterns. After a while, it is apparently successful, as Riker calls her "Doctor Beverly."
The new Odan talks to Trion from the bridge. She must convince the participants in the negotiation that he is Odan, and not as a Starfleet officer with possibly his own agenda. She says she will try. Odan leaves to go to his quarters to get some rest.
Dr. Crusher goes to tend to him. On a personal level, she 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, except 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.
While they are in conversation, Odan steps into Ten Forward, but Crusher is adamant not to look at him, asking Troi to keep talking. Troi 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. Troi tells Crusher 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. She tells Crusher that if she can feel those things from the man they know as Will Riker, she should accept that love and go to him. Crusher, moved, finally turns to look at Odan, standing near the bar. They both gaze longingly at each other.
Trion arrives to the observation lounge with Kalin Trose of Alpha Moon and Lathal Bine of Beta Moon. Odan must convince them that he is in fact Odan and not the Enterprise's first officer, so he recounts their history of Trose and Bine's aunt thirty years ago, along with a little-known radical plot that developed and Trose's role in stopping it. Bine accepts Odan, but Trose must confer with his people, so Odan gives him eight hours and they leave. Then, Riker grabs his head, obviously in pain and goes to sickbay.
There, Crusher examines him and only guesses that Riker's body is rejecting Odan, as it is overworked and its immune system under attack. Crusher can give him an immunosuppressant, but that won't correct the underlying cause. Picard leaves to wait for Odan in his ready room. Odan makes an advance on Crusher, but she still can't allow it, so Odan leaves.
Picard informs Odan that the representatives agreed to accept him as mediator. Odan isn't surprised, calling them reasonable people trapped in their anger. Picard pauses during the conversation, saying that, for a moment, Odan sounded just like Riker, to which he is quietly reminded of Crusher's response earlier. Picard says a new host will arrive within eighteen hours, and Odan says he will push on.
Dr. Crusher, still trying to figure out her feelings, retires to her quarters confused. After brooding over her thoughts and feelings for a while she stands up and goes to Odan's quarters to reunite with him.
Despite increasing symptoms of rejection from Riker's body, Odan carries on. The effects of Crusher's injections are smaller with each dose, and Odan says they are damaging to Riker in any case. He must conduct negotiations today, and Odan insists that he be removed from Riker by the end of the day regardless of whether or not the new host has arrived in time. Odan leaves, and Picard offers a hand to Crusher, knowing the pain she is going through. They embrace each other.
After six hours, Worf informs them that the Trill ship is experiencing difficulty and won't arrive for nine hours. Just then, Odan comes from the observation lounge, saying "it was worth it" and collapses. He was successful and managed to prevent an inter-planetary war. Picard immediately orders Worf to escort the Alpha and Beta Moon representatives off the ship and orders an intercept of the Trill ship at warp nine, but that leaves two hours time. Crusher gave her word she would remove the symbiont from Riker, so they head to sickbay.
Dr. Crusher removes the symbiont in time to save Riker and places it in stasis. After some time, the new host, Kareel, arrives ready to accept it. Crusher is surprised to find out, however, that the body is female, and so the love between Dr. Crusher and Odan arrives at 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.
"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."
(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 that 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, speaking 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."
- - 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
- Final draft script: 1 March 1991 
- Filmed: 8 March 1991 – 19 March 1991
- Second unit and insert shots filmed: 18 April 1991
- Premiere airdate: 13 May 1991
- First UK airdate: 23 November 1994
Story and script
- The working title for this episode was "E Pluribus Unum", Latin for "out of many, one". 
- 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 characterized the genesis of the episode as "the most repulsive story ever pitched to us." He 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." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
- Though the episode's writing credit is given to Michel Horvat, the shooting script was actually written primarily by Jeri Taylor, who is the solely credited writer on the script. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 142; )
- "The Host" was filmed between Friday 8 March 1991 and Tuesday 19 March 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and 9. Second unit and insert shots were filmed on Thursday 18 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 9.
- This episode was the first Star Trek episode directed by Marvin V. Rush. Rush, a director of photography on projects in and out of Star Trek, recalled that much effort went into shooting the episode so Gates McFadden's late-term pregnancy was always hidden. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 165)) Jonathan Frakes noted, "The episode had to be shot in such a way that we couldn't see her stomach. They would not address the fact that the actress was pregnant. It was an interesting problem. You really found yourself more concerned with hiding her with furniture or with your body, and shooting from her boobs up. That was very restrictive." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
- 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 Star Trek canon, as Jadzia, Ezri, and others use the transporter freely. See the Trill article for more information.
- Jeri Taylor was pleased with the final episode. She commented, "I poured a lot of good stuff into it, and everything came together. It became a wonderful, memorable episode." (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 142)
- Despite deeming the original pitch of this episode as having been "repulsive," Brannon Braga ultimately approved of the installment, finding it "ironic" that it "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)
- Marvin 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 features) At an Austin, Texas convention in 2012, McFadden stated that, while she loved the episode, she wished Crusher's first romantic episode would have been put off until after her pregnancy. 
- A mission report for this episode, by John Sayers, was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 17, pp. 38-41.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 49, 8 June 1992
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 4.8, 1 October 2001
- As part of the TNG Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Barbara Tarbuck as Leka Trion
- Nicole Orth-Pallavicini as Kareel Odan
- William Newman as Kalin Trose
- Patti Yasutake as Alyssa Ogawa
- Arratia as Alfonse Pacelli
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Karen Baxter as operations division ensign
- Thomas J. Booth as civilian
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Cooper as Reel
- Buddy Daniels Friedman as Bolian barber
- Gerard David as operations division ensign
- Denise Deuschle as science division officer
- Elliot Durant III as operations division ensign
- A. Flores as science division officer
- Keith Gearhart as science division officer
- Michele Gerren as civilian
- Vanessa Grayson as beauty attendant
- Robert Harper as Lathal Bine
- Grace Harrell as operations division ensign
- Melanie Hathorn as sciences officer
- Mark Kosakura as operations division ensign
- Mark Lentry as civilian
- Debbie Marsh as command division officer
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Ivonne Perez as civilian
- Randy Pflug as Jones
- Denise Lynne Roberts as Patti
- Joycelyn Robinson as Gates
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- Natalie Wood as Bailey
- Harry Young as science division officer
- Unknown performers as
- Karen Baxter – stand-in for Barbara Tarbuck
- Brett – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Cameron – stand-in & photo double for Gates McFadden
- Sandy Goldman – photo double for Nicole Orth-Pallavicini
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner, Franc Luz, and Robert Harper
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Franc Luz and William Newman
- James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn
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- "The Host" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Host" at Wikipedia
- "The Host" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Host" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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