Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Host"

3 stars

Air date: 5/13/1991
Written by Michael Horvat
Directed by Marvin V. Rush

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Crusher falls head over heels in love with a visiting Trill ambassador named Odan (Franc Luz), who is assigned to negotiate a solution to an alien dispute that is threatening to escalate into war, pursuant to the Two Warring Factions standby oft employed by TNG. The Federation knows so little about Trill society at this point they don't even know they are a joined species.

So Crusher is shocked and saddened when Odan is critically injured in an attack on a shuttlecraft and it turns out the symbiont slug inside him (not even referred to as a symbiont here) is actually "Odan" and the external body is just a host. The symbiont is joined with Riker as an emergency to keep Odan alive until a replacement Trill host is sent. It's interesting to look back at "The Host" and realize how much the Trill backstory and rules evolved after DS9 came around. The host here is depicted as more of an empty shell rather than a fully participating half of a joined whole, which begs the question of where Riker's mind goes while Odan is joined with him.

Odan's negotiations with the Two Warring Factions are pure MacGuffin, and I frankly don't care. But as a romance, "The Host" works for all the reasons "Half a Life" fails. First of all, we have an actual spark of chemistry between the leads. "Half a Life" was labored and stolid, whereas "The Host" shows evidence of actual passion and emotional risk. Second, we have an alien element to the story that actually enhances the storyline rather than detracting from it. "Half a Life" was about people who kill themselves at 60, which is so arbitrary as to make it impossible to become emotionally invested in the premise. "The Host," on the other hand, asks an interesting question: What is it that defines us in the eyes of a lover? How important is the physical component of love, when you know someone by touch and by sight and by the sound of their voice? If the same person you knew had a different external package, would they be the same person?

These questions put "Doctor Beverly" through the ringer in fairly interesting fashion — although I think the story would've worked better if a regular character had not been the emergency host. Riker's role as host merely complicates matters (is it ethical for Odan and Crusher to pursue the relationship while Odan is in Riker's body?) and provides a distraction from the true heart of the story, which is: How far does love transcend our physical presence?

Previous episode: Half a Life
Next episode: The Mind's Eye

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170 comments on this post

David
Mon, Mar 24, 2008, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
I agree "The Host" deserves the 3-star rating. It's good, but not great.The Host really was a nice episode.

I know many get caught up in the discrepancies between DS9's Trills and this episode but I could care less. For me the story works because of the interesting look at the nature of love. Do we really love the person? Could we still love that same person in a different body? It would seem for Beverly the answer is No and I loved that story decision because for all the criticisms against TNG's characters as perfect or PC this was an instance where it showed that no matter how far we come in the 24th century we still do have some limitations on love. And I know many felt the ending was not daring and was homphobic but I don't see it that way.

Would we have said it was anti-heterosexual if the character was a gay man and the new form that the symbiot took was a woman?

I also enjoyed Beverly trying to get rid of Data so she could be alone with Odan and her conversation with Troi where Deanna encouraged Beverly go for it with Riker/Odan.
grumpy_otter
Thu, Jul 23, 2009, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Just saw "The Host" again on "SyFy." (You ain't kidding--that's about the dumbest name change ever--I read it as "siffy.")

But anyway, I liked the episode generally and just wanted to point out one thing that makes it extraordinary--Frakes' performance. He is clearly someone else while carrying Odan--the characterization never slipped. Really brilliantly done.
Jay
Sat, Nov 26, 2011, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Beverly's central dilemma in "The Host", whether she could accept Odan in Riker, seems ultimately moot unless Riker had consented to "be" Odan for the rest of his life, which is of course not the case by a longshot. And while the death at 60 thing in Half a Life was indeed silly, while grading the broader stories, I'd swap them with Jammer...Half A Life gets 3 stars, and The Host only 2.
Keiren
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 11:09am (UTC -5)
The way BSG needs to stop using "frak".... Jammer needs to stop using "MacGuffin"....
Mike Caracappa
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 3:09am (UTC -5)
Uh....Odan was dishonest with Crusher. How could he neglect to tell her the most important part of what he is. That he's a worm in a host body. And to find out the moment he's dying and that he has to be transferred to Riker, if I were Crusher I would have been pissed off at him. That's a terrible deception. He lied to her and played on her naivety that she didn't know what a Trill really was. She should have broken it off right there, and Troi should have been smarter as counselor to point out what happened to Crusher. 0 stars.
Matt
Thu, Dec 20, 2012, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Odan was very deceptive to both the factions and Crusher. He pretended to Crusher it was an innocent omission that he was a Trill, but with the factions, he deliberately mislead them that he was his own son. I believe he was fully cognizant of his deception when he did not tell Crusher. Odan sucks. I wish they would teleport him.
Jack
Tue, Jan 15, 2013, 10:58am (UTC -5)
As portrayed here, particularly in the final scene with the female replacement host, the species seem less a joining and more like the humanoids are just husks for the symbiont.
EightOfNine
Sat, Mar 23, 2013, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
I found the episode as a whole quite watchable, but found the ending lacking in courage a bit. LGB issues are usually absent in Trek and this was a good moment to tackle it.

On a plot note, I found the complete absence of any reaction from Troi regarding Riker's personality effectively disappearing puzzling.
grumpy_otter
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
One of the reasons I prefer Dr. Pulaski to crusher is this episode. Pulaski had such a sense of adventure and exploration that I think SHE wouldn't have minded Odan's female form. She would have run with it as the next step in exploring the relationship.

Unlike Beverly, who could only say "Ew."
mephyve
Sat, Jun 22, 2013, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
I'm sorry but this was just too icky for me. The trill was clearly hiding it's secret from Dr. Crusher and everybody else. It only used it's ray gun when no one else was around, and instead of saying that the transporter would kill its symbiote, it gave a weak excuse about being 'uncomfortable' with molecular transport. It knew that if Crusher knew the truth she wouldn't have gotten involved with it.
As for the violation of Riker. I'm sure he wouldn't have a problem doing the doctor, but he would have wanted to be there to enjoy it. He was basically used as a blow up doll by a woman and a worm. icky
William B
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
More than most episodes, how you take this episode depends on how much you buy into the central metaphor and ignore the bits that run counter to it. To wit, the episode is ostensibly “about” to what extent the physical body of a person determines how we view the person inside. It works both ways: Beverly has to adapt to seeing that Odan is the same person when he gets transferred to Riker; and to change her responses to Riker’s body so that she no longer views him as Riker but as the person controlling that body. Those aspects of the episode work very well, and the episode additionally is about something greater, about love—about the question of how much love really is about an embodiment, about the physical rather than the spiritual. We get numerous references to the physical side of love—the clear physical, sexual passion between Beverly and Odan, Beverly’s wanting to be her (physical) best at the spa. When Beverly and Deanna have their dialogue in Ten-Forward which basically amounts to two extended monologues, both the descriptions of love are physicalized: Beverly fell for the soccer player because he was just so beautiful, even though the relationship was all in her head; and Troi’s description of her father involves mentions of his appearance and him holding her, and how she wishes she could feel him holding her again. This all ties in, weirdly enough, with Beverly as physician, especially since most of the excuses Crusher and Odan make to spend time together have to do with her administering hyposprays. Love may be something more than the physical, but the episode sets us up for the ending by reminding us how much the locus of love is in the physical realm. (Even Crusher and Picard, whose relationship is as unphysicalized as seems possible for a quasi-romantic one, share a hug late in the episode.)

So that’s all well done. The question is: what about Riker? As mephybe says above, Riker is violated here. Riker agrees to have his body used for Odan, at risk to his very life, to prevent a war. I don’t think “preventing a war” means signing up to have his body used for sex. No one mentions this even as a possibility—not Odan, not Crusher and certainly not Troi. And this hints at part of the big problem with Odan in this episode. He preaches tolerance, and Beverly basically apologizes for not being able to keep up with the way the Trill do things; but until he presses the issue of him being disconnected from Riker to save his life (to Odan’s credit), he never makes any effort to consider what it would mean for Riker to have his body completely hollowed out for another being, to be just a body to be used and (eventually) discarded. Odan even seems pissed off when Picard says that a line of Odan’s reminded him of Riker. We saw both Sarek and Picard’s reactions to their mindmeld; what this joining means to Riker is completely unknown.

As others have pointed out above as well, Odan is being disingenuous when he claims that it never occurred to him to bring up that he was a joined being—he certainly wasn’t hiding it! That might fly if not for the fact that he dissembled about the real reason he didn’t want to use the transporter; and, more obviously, lied to the people he was representing diplomatically by claiming that he was the son of his last identity/host. Odan publicly lied in order to protect his Trill identity; while he may not have “wanted” to lie to Crusher in particular, he clearly knew that she believed him to be an unjoined being.

Speaking of disingenuous: Crusher dances around the truth in that last scene with Kareel Odan. She was enthusiastic and excited to see Odan’s new host until she found out the new host was going to be a woman. It’d be one thing if Crusher just said outright that she’s too far on the left side of the Kinsey scale to adapt to the idea of loving a woman, even if the woman is Odan. But she claims that it’s because she just can’t keep up—who is the next host going to be? Well, as far as I can tell, hosts only get switched when the host dies, so the risk of Odan switching bodies on her again is about as likely as losing another husband, so…unless she thinks that Odan switching bodies is worse than Jack’s death, that argument falls apart. It’s okay for Crusher not to be able to handle the change over the past few weeks, but (again) she was excited before she realized that Odan was going to be a woman, which makes her not only rejecting Odan’s romantic overtures but seeming annoyed with her frustrating.

So while I actually do agree with Jammer about the episode’s strengths, which are numerous—I want to add that Frakes’ performance here is quite good—its weaknesses are still pretty significant. 2.5 stars, I guess?
Jack
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
I'm with mephyve on the icky factor. And also, considering that in this iteration of the Trill, the host is not a part of the intellect, but rather a husk, it seems bizarre that the symbionts would be attracted to humanoids.
Jordy
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 10:46am (UTC -5)
It makes no sense that Kareel (or any other Trill) would volunteer to be a host to a symbiont if it meant having her entire consciousness and personality wiped out. You might as well commit suicide! The symbionts are nothing more than deceptive, exploitative parasites in this episode. DS9's take on the whole Trill thing is a lot more plausible.
Grumpy
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
It makes sense if one assumes, as I did when this episode first aired, that Trill hosts were little more than shaved apes with no consciousness to sacrifice. I prefer that concept to the bureaucratic rigamarole that arrived with Dax. The only thing implausible about symbionts being exploitative parasites is that the Feds would be on friendly terms after discovering their true nature. Frankly, it's more implausible that Trill symbionts were unknown to the 1701-D crew, given Odan's fame (not to mention later DS9 canon that integrates Trill into the UFP by this time).
Kieran
Thu, Apr 24, 2014, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Crusher seems fine with the idea of Odan having a new body until she sees it is going to be female. It's interesting that this is where the line is crossed for her. I wonder if he had come back as a hideously ugly man would she be similarly uninterested? And would we think less of her if she were?
Jack
Thu, May 1, 2014, 9:53am (UTC -5)
@ Grumpy

Well the "shaved ape" was capable of speaking a language that Beverly understood (or at the least, a universal translator could handle) and had the sentience to show up for what they knew was an impending death.

The "shaved ape" assertion doesn't wash with me at all. It's getting into the territory that ENT's "Cogenitor" tackled.
Jack
Thu, May 1, 2014, 9:54am (UTC -5)
@ Kieran

Maybe I'm shallow, but I thought that the guy who played Odan was quite ugly himself.
grumpy_otter
Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
I keep coming back to this episode. I really love it. And hate it.

I'd like to address the "Odan was disingenuous" argument. Yeah, sure, he wasn't honest. But for this episode to work, he HAD to be dishonest. If, when it came time to transport, he had said "Hey, I can't because I am a joined being," he and Beverly would have had to have THE conversation right then. It had to be kept secret for suspense and pacing reasons.

So I would argue that it was not Odan who lied, but the writers of the episode. Because they had to. If we knew the "secret" too soon, it would have ruined it.
$G
Sat, Feb 14, 2015, 11:26am (UTC -5)
@grumpy_otter:

That's the writers sacrificing their character for the sake of pacing, which is a pretty crappy thing to do. Especially considering the anti-transport thing Odan had going on was really only to get he and Riker into a shuttle together for it to be shot down. Riker needing the symbiont could have been handled in any other way, so writing Odan as a liar just to get him in a shuttle is just... bad, bad work.

IMO, this episode is... okay. Nothing more. 2.5 stars, I guess.

Getting to the end of Season 4 on my re-watch and I find that Beverly is probably the least interesting personality on the show. I greatly prefer the minor crew members to anything featuring her -- Guinan, O'Brien, Barclay, Ro (eventually), etc. She's completely bland and has no foibles that make her intriguing. Her role is a lot like Geordi's - a specialist in her field and necessary for episodes in which she needs to be a professional. But where Geordi's abilities come into play all the time (since everything he does involves traveling through space or the ship itself -- the *reason* we watch the show), Crusher only does her thing when a specifically medical issue rolls around, which isn't often because it's a space drama and not a medical drama.
jcar
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Omg - everybody's so intellectual and seemingly not viscerally disturbed by this episode as I was - I'm so grossed out by this episode in so many ways - it's kinda nauseatingly creepy how it starts off as an almost Aliens-like impregnation suspense theme, combined with the betrayal of Odan's self presentation to Crusher. So creepy.
Then, when they did find out that he was actually just a worm squirming inside a host and Beverly had essential fallen in love with this Trill thing, there was virtually zero reaction from any of the crew, least of all Dr. Beverly. I mean, sure when things went south after the shuttle incident they seemed a natural level of concerned, but after that it was as if nothing had phased her about her boyfriend being basically pregnant with the alien-worm (true) version of himself. Seriously!? Sure in the TNG universe everyone in Starfleet is super open minded and educated and generally unphased by strange beings or
bizarre phenomenon, well, mostly anyways, but I would've expected at least some base level reaction of mild disgust or turned-offness in some respect. i mean... Look at that thing!!
Yeah so, I agree about Riker's performance and the philosophical intrigue of pondering love in many forms, and even slightly agree with the comments about it being a good opportunity to "tackle" homophobia (although in a way they kind of did - it was probably pretty edgy for 1990's television - she did after all, sensually kiss Beverly's wrist and for a belief moment Dr. Crusher seemed quite taken...)
I also wondered where Riker's conciousness went. But overall it was just a weird and disturbing episode for me. The fact that everyone acted so normal was disturbing in itself. Plus, McFadden's character role often makes me laugh - a lot of the time when things are supposed to be serious, she just carries on with an almost childlike goofiness - it's fairly subtle but sometimes it's just that slightly vacant , off-in-la-la-land look in her eyes or that slight goofy smirk when shit's going down that provides a bit of comic relief when things get tense on the Enterprise. So it wasn't the most convincing portrayal of a heated romance from my POV either. It was amusingly disturbing. I'll give it that.
Troy
Mon, Jun 8, 2015, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
While this episode ask some good questions, at least in the rewatch I'd only give it 2.5 stars.
Some have asked why the trill look different on DS-9. When they went to put the head piece on actress Terry Farrell (who is obviously supposed to be a resident hot babe) she looked terrible, so they settled on what always looked like a skin fungus to me (ok I had something like that once!)
As for the TNG episode. I really thought the symbiant looked cool. Sort of a cross between a liver fluke and a giant grub with caterpillar spots thrown in for good measure.
Alireza
Sat, Jun 13, 2015, 5:37am (UTC -5)
I think it's a story about slavery. I'm honestly disgusted both by this episode and the entire symbionts. They are obviously using trills as slaves & the worst thing is that the trills are brainwashed into loving it and thinking of losing their individuality as a great honor. I give this episode and the entire idea thumbs down. Zero star from me.
Luke
Mon, Jul 20, 2015, 8:21am (UTC -5)
My oh my oh my oh my, how the Trill have changed! And, let's face it, only for the better.

I liked this one. It wasn't spectacular or anything, but I enjoyed it. It's always good to see Crusher in the limelight and she shines as usual. It's also good to see that the writers have finally realized that Marina Sirtis isn't the only good-looking woman in the main cast. The overall story, about what love truly is - is there a necessary physical component, is quite well done. I, personally come down on the side of physicality being an essential ingredient, the side I think "The Host" also comes down on. The scene between Crusher and Troi in Ten Forward was particularly nice, given that it was just two women talking about love and relationships (something I'm usually not riveted by, to say the least).

The only thing about the episode that drags it down, sadly, are the Trill themselves. Thank God DS9 came along and totally revamped the Trill as a culture and a species. Here the symbionts really do not come across very well. They seem to be using the hosts as a slave caste. The hosts, also, don't come across very well either. They seem to be willing slaves, eager and ready to give themselves and their entire identities up for the sake of their superiors. Seriously, thank God DS9 made the host/symbiont relationship an actual symbiotic one that was mutually beneficial. If it wasn't for the good performances, the rather interesting plot and the retroactive continuity from another series, this could have easily tanked the episode hard for me.

6/10
Sharon
Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
For all of you getting creeped out by being in love with a worm, have you seen what a brain looks like ?
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 19, 2015, 9:57am (UTC -5)
Almost an excellent episode, but again falling short in the end. The Trills make for an interesting concept, although as others have noted the DS9 revamp improves things markedly. And it says some interesting things about the nature of love and attraction, even if you can make a reasonable case to say that the conclusion dodges the point the rest of the episode has striven to present.

But file me under those who thought that this was just a bit, well, on the nose. The treatment of Riker in particular - OK, we get Beverly is getting her oats, but given that the Trill host is arriving in 40 hours she can't resist until then? And Riker as the host gets no say in the matter? Clearly, we shall never speak of this again but it all seems a little queasy to me. 2.5 stars.
Jordy
Wed, Oct 28, 2015, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, I could have done without Riker's body being used for sex with a colleague/old friend minus his consent, or even his knowledge.
Dave
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 12:28am (UTC -5)
Ah, good old 1991. They could not conceive of having a woman/woman relationship on Trek. Many years later when Jadia had her on screen kiss I remember it sparked great outrage to have that on TV. So, here in 1991, Beverly is supposed to be horrified it is a woman. Looking through the eyes of 2016 it is pretty distasteful to have her reaction be as such.

If the truth ws "I can't handle the host changes", I can be fine with that and if they wrote the story as such. However, the showed her huge anticipation for the new host, and then almost an "EW YUK" when a woman is introduced. It was written to say she would have been happy with another host as long as it was a hetero relationship.

This is one thing I find so fascinating about Trek. They are all written to be a future for humanity; however, the stories so many times really reflect the social constructs of the times they were written. THere was very little risk or daring with TNG (which I guess was necessary, I can't imagine the public outcry if they kept Beverly with that female Trill).
Dave
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 12:30am (UTC -5)
PS - I wouldnt be surprised if the new 2017 Trek series will have a gay character or two. Times they are a changing!
Robert
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 11:08am (UTC -5)
@Dave - "They could not conceive of having a woman/woman relationship on Trek."

Maybe Beverly is just really straight. If my wife suddenly ended up in a man's body it'd be nice to think I'd be ok with it... but really don't think I'd be able to handle it.

And that's a spouse. This was a fling with a guy she met like half an hour ago :P I mean... how would you feel? I sort of think the new equipment would be a deal breaker. I'm glad I don't have to really contemplate it at any rate!

That said I do hope the new Trek has a gay character and that they don't have a coming out story line. I started watching "The Flash" last year and the male police chief just randomly brings up that his boyfriend is trying to make him eat healthier. And that's it. You meet the boyfriend (then fiance) in the second half of the season briefly, but it's all off screen. It's just a gay character and nothing about him is about him being gay. I thought it was very cool.

I'm not opposed to the new Star Trek's gay character having a relationship, but the less time we spend focusing on the fact that they are gay the better. I want it to just be a non issue in the (crosses fingers) 25th century.
Luke
Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
@Dave - "However, the showed her huge anticipation for the new host, and then almost an "EW YUK" when a woman is introduced."

I agree with Robert. Maybe she's just not a lesbian.

Let's flip things here. If Crusher had been established as being gay, Odan had originally been a woman and the symbiont was put into Troi instead of Riker, would you still be upset if she showed an "EW YUK" attitude to a new male host?
Akin
Fri, May 20, 2016, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
@Sharon

Nicely put.
navamske
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
"These questions put 'Doctor Beverly' through the ringer in fairly interesting fashion"

wringer
Diana
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
This episode was interesting if problematic, for reasons others have largely discussed.

Setting aside the 'humanoids=empty shell' early iteration of the Trill concept, and setting aside (though not ignoring) the creep factor of Riker's body being used for sex with Beverly when another host body was already on its way (it was perfectly legit for Beverly to find it awkward to engage in romance with the body of her friend and commanding officer; and Riker agreed to the use of his body to prevent a war, not have sex), and looking at just the Trill/Romance angle:

On the one hand, yes, the ending is a little jarring upon review in 2017; that Beverly had clearly acclimatized to the idea of a new host, and then rejected Odan solely on the basis that Odan's new body was female, comes off as... well, potentially homophobic from a screenwriting perspective.

But then on the other hand, being 100% heterosexual is as legitimate an orientation as being 100% homosexual; as another commenter pointed out, if Beverly were a lesbian in love with Odan's female form, and Odan switched to a male, would it be 'wrong' for Beverly to no longer feel attracted?

I think this is partly the crux of the matter. The idea that 'Who We Are', and 'Who We Fall in Love With', is NOT solely a matter of some internal 'soul to soul' match up of the minds. We are bodily beings, and love and attraction have very physical, chemical elements. Heaven knows, I've had friends I've wished I could be 'In Love' with because the mind-to-mind match-up was so good-- and I've been in love when the minds had virtually no common ground at all. If a person you don't love recites the same words to you, with the same expression, as your loved one does-- if they express the very same ideas and feelings-- it just doesn't have the same effect as experiencing those expressions from the whole person (including the body) of the one you're 'in love' with.

If anything, I'm impressed that Beverly was able to transfer her feelings of romantic love to Riker. I guess the presumption is there's some latent capacity for at least sexual attraction there (what with Riker being a handsome lady-killer and all), so both mind and body were still covered to some degree. And that was fundamentally missing for her in the follow-up host.
Cajun
Wed, Feb 22, 2017, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Yeah, this story is just kind of a mess. I get the metaphor they were going for, but the way they went about it just didn't work. I'm glad DS9 retconned the heck out of the Trill, changing them into a workable race.
Cajun
Wed, Feb 22, 2017, 11:54am (UTC -5)
I remember my headcanon when this episode first came out. The Trill started out as horrible monsters who enslaved the local population of humanoids. As their culture evolved, they became uncomfortable with the ethics of total slavery, and genetically engineered humanoid bodies that were just automatons. After many centuries of cultural evolution, a modern Trill would rather die than enslave a sentient being, but that doesn't change the fact that by nature they are horrible monsters designed to infest and mindrape and enslave.

That was my headcanon, anyway. The DS9 retcons probably open up far more complex identity stories than what I came up with. My version only allows for a few stories about a noble people with an incredibly ugly history and cultural guilt, and physical requirements that make even their workaround somewhat morally grey.
Outsider65
Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Dr. Crusher falls in love with a tape worm. Honestly, this episode reminded me too much of the childhood horror I felt towards the "yeerks" from the Animorphs series- and the yeerks were capable of a truly shared mind with their hosts, unlike the trill in this episode, who completely took over and enslaved them, none of the original remaining.

The way the hosts were treated was very callous and kind of out of sync with what the show usually tries to be. No one seems to care that these slugs were enslaving sentient beings. No one mourned the death of the original host, and the new host is clearly brainwashed. The trill treated the old host as a cast- off, just a means to an end and not part of the "symbiotic merging" he claimed. Using Riker's body for sex without consent was also icky.

The ending was stupid, too. I get they couldn't have Beverly having a relationship lasting longer than one episode because the writers are afraid of commitment, but couldn't Odon just hop another body if that was the only thing standing between their love?

I understand the kinds of questions the writers were trying to ask, but this episode just doesn't work, it has too many holes. 0 stars.
Tempeh
Mon, Jul 10, 2017, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Good:
-The opening scene with Data interrupting and unaware.
-Some believable romantic scenes done better than in other episodes
-The concept of personality versus looks
-Crusher being open and honest in the last scene when she was explaining her human failings
-Troi calling out Crusher and her secret romance.
-Data asking if Crusher had helped with the headache.

Bad:
-Why would Crusher put in her log that she is "in love"?
-How does Riker's intestines not get smashed?
-Some cringe-worthy romantic scenes
-The fact that you can't beam a Trill. Probably made up to justify a shuttlecraft attack scene.
Alex
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Riker as blow up doll for Dr Beverly's amusement, ick.
Day Tripper
Sat, Nov 18, 2017, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Half-baked idea - even if she got drunk and overlooked her doctor-patient responsibility and assuming Riker was consenting for the three-way.

Imagine if Wesley Crusher was still on board and had acted as Odan's host body instead of Riker ...
Derek D
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
I'm glad that some of you above addressed the fact that just because Crusher is not attracted to Odan's new host does not make her homophobic. I am heterosexual and would not want to have a male partner; that does not make me homophobic. What I think the episode succeeds in making us ponder is the degree to which BOTH personality/emotionality and physicality are important in a relationship. Yes, maybe we will have "evolved" past that in 400 years, but maybe not. Maybe being attracted to a person of the same or opposite sex is biological and will not change. As it stands now, if we are not at least attracted enough to a potential partner we probably will not take the time to get to know them as a person, so the physical component is super important. What if Odan's original body stayed the same and another symbiant--with a very different personality, different sense of humor, different ways of reacting to life, etc.--was placed inside? Would Crusher have felt the same way about this new partner? Should we expect her to? What stood out to me was that ultimately the attraction between two people is going to be a combination of physical and mental.
Olivaro
Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
4 Stars. This is a great episode.
+ Riker acts a different person
+ Diana is okay with Beverly dating Riker/Odan (a bit more conflict should be expected but since there is only 45 minutes...)
++ I love it when Odan argues to an understandably pissed off Beverly that he did not mention it because that simply is what he is and as little point to mention that e.g. as your grandmother was French. Okay, it is over the top but the direction is great. This episode plays on so many interesting themes - what/whom do we love, appearance vs character, conflict of friendship and ex lovers, I'd say even themes such as gay/bi or whatever kind of "different". Like a number of episodes this would deserve to be explored in a fat book though, not just one episode.

+- the choice of Riker is great BECAUSE of the conflict it starts between Crusher/Riker, Troi/Riker, Troi/Crusher but of course it would only make sense if this was long-term and Riker had agreed to forego his personality which would not happen in an instant.

It's totally what I love about TNG though. Even if there is much left to be desired in an episode - and there always is - at least it makes you start putting on your "what if we were super open-minded, respectful and ethically advanced"... and then the discussion goes back and forth and continues so long until after the " solution for this episode is around the corner" stopped its 45 minute reel.
Dave in MN
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Is this really the place to post fan fiction/spec scripts?

I don't know how it is for other people, but seeing a post as long as ^ instantly makes my eyes glide right down to the next person's comments, especially when the subject matter of that long post ignores the purpose of the website.
Peter
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, actually, please delete it Jammer. It's a mad ramble I wrote whiskey in hand.

Here's the TLDR.

Could have been good but generic alien plot boring and ick poor Riker.
Dr Lazurus
Sat, Apr 7, 2018, 2:03am (UTC -5)
So . . . It is ok to have sex with aliens who may not even have human-like sex organs, but not an alien with a worm brain? What would Dr Beverley had done if the worm was in Odan's pants? That's where it hangs out in a host body. If a Vulcan, Klingon, or Cardassian have their internal organs in different locations than humans, why would you assume their sex organs are in the same place, or look the same? I'm sure you've all seen tentacle sex in Anime hentai? Captain Kirk had no issues in hooking up with green slave girls. That would be as disturbing as having sex with a manatee or dolphin. Yeah they are mammals, but . . .

If I had a bad experience with an alien, I would be off of them for life. That would be far more disgusting than having sex with someone of the same gender. Seems like a lonely life on a Starship if you choose not to hookup with a member of the crew, or an alien maggot. That would make a five year mission seem like a lifetime.
Cody B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 2:21am (UTC -5)
Moving into Riker must have been like a mansion
borusa
Wed, May 30, 2018, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
I thought this was a good episode.
The 'alien peace bringer who is suddenly incapacitated' storyline is getting way too worn out to be accepted but as Jammer says the main
theme is 'what is love' ( by Olivia Neutron Bomb).
Rahul
Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Felt like half an episode -- just not enough plot/tension here. Crusher is put through the ringer to examine romance and love and how it affects somebody depending on what happens to the one they love. I wasn't sold although McFadden doesn't do a bad job.

So TNG introduces the Trill concept here although I don't know why Riker would volunteer and why the RIker part of the combination is like non-existent. If Riker is to be completely subjugated, why not get some no-name to do it? Guess the writers give Trills more thought by the time of DS9. So the Enterprise loses a 1st officer while a war could break out. This didn't seem like a smart thing for Picard to accept and for Riker to offer to do -- nobody knew what they were getting into. I must say Frakes did a good job portraying somebody who seemed like he was about to die for nearly a whole episode.

The initial romance between Crusher and Odan looked believable but it's just in your face right at the start so it was off-putting. And then it just gets weird when it's Riker who is in love with Crusher and finally some alien woman. Odan wasn't forthcoming at first either -- the line about him being a Trill just as Beverly is one person is nowhere near good enough for the lack of transparency.

And of course, this episode has everything work out perfectly. In no way did it seem like Riker/Odan could carry on 6 hours of negotiations, but he did and they were successful and then so was the surgery to remove the symbiont from Riker and get it to the new host -- don't you just love how all these things work out so perfectly? Those guys on the Enterprise are so damn good. Too much arbitrary crap for me.

Barely 2 stars for "The Host" -- barely enough here for an episode, plenty of filler as we explore Crusher in love and being put through an emotional ringer. Nobody gives a crap about the alpha-moon and beta-moon aliens at war. Odan is deceptive, Riker/Picard come across as foolish for me. And ultimately where does it leave Crusher -- she can't deal with the changing appearance of a lover. That's perfectly normal. Nothing special here.
JerJer
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 11:40am (UTC -5)
Crusher sees the new host and thinks "Damn, now I have to go lesbo..."

Having previously watched all of DS9, and coming backwards to TNG, and having never seen this episode, the fact that the Trill stuff is all different is weird. DS9 did it better.
RandomThoughts
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Rahul

I enjoyed your take on it, but thought you glossed over (just a bit) about Odan not telling Beverly about being joined:

CRUSHER: Well maybe you should have thought about that sooner. Maybe you should have told me what you were. It didn't seem to bother you to remain silent yesterday.
RIKER (Odan): It never occurred to me. This is what I am. Did you ever tell me that you are only a single being? Of course not. That was normal to you.

If a pile of species they'd come across were joined/dual in some way, perhaps. But Odan knew there were few if any other races that did this. He knew ahead of time that his situation was rare, being joined, and not thinking to mention it to someone who might just have fallen in love with you is... strikingly bizarre to me.

We all know what the Future is in DS9, but that hadn't happened yet. In this episode, at this time, that was a lame excuse. I'd have liked it better if he'd said something along the lines of "I would have told you eventually, when our relationship was stronger", or words to that effect.

Thank you for your comments, I've enjoyed reading them...

Regards... RT
Rahul
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 9:51am (UTC -5)
@RandomThoughts,

Thanks for your comment.

Yes, I didn't belabor the point about Odan not being transparent and you're right, it is a pretty big deal and a intriguing theme of love/romance in this episode (which gets lost in the shuffle of all the other reasons to be critical of this episode) that the appearance of a love interest is paramount for Crusher and being open and honest up front. That in itself is not a particularly enlightening concept from this episode if applied widely as a general commentary. It's more like common sense.

From Odan's perspective, even if he knows being a joined Trill is rare, it is likely not the first thing that comes to his mind if he gets romantically involved and he'd eventually find the right setting to open up -- although he did spend enough time with Crusher... So maybe what you suggest should happen would have happened had things not been precipitated. But I still think, as I said initially, that Odin is deceptive.
Mike Latoris
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
"...it turns out the symbiont slug inside him (not even referred to as a symbiont here)...."

It's referred to as a "symbiont" during the scene in which Odan explains to Beverly that he is the "parasite."
Circus Man
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
According to this transcript, "symbiont" is used four times: http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/197.htm. It's odd that it's used interchangeably with "parasite," since they're not perfect synonyms and parasites by definition cause harm to or at least inconvenience their hosts.
Sargeist
Thu, Jan 10, 2019, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
All of this bothers me. They don't do bio scans as a matter of standard procedure when an alien comes on board? Is trill not a federation planet? they have no idea about the trill/symbiont situation? None of this makes sense. Essentially this dude has a severe medical condition he's hiding. Beverly is conflicted about who she actually fell in love with? He was obviously deceptive and lied about his "condition". To me his dishonesty alone is enough reason to discontinue any romantic relationship. Regardless of where the slug is.

This is the kind of thing where a person's consciousness is being transferred. Typically people don't fall in love with a person's consciousness. Would she still feel the same if his consciousness was transferred into a computer? Hell no. Personality, consciousness or whatever is just one component of romantic attraction. Physical attractiveness, smells, pheromones, body language are all necessary to establish romantic feelings. The story is severely flawed and poorly written. Two thumbs down.

I like "half a life" much better.
meister
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
the premise brings this to a 7/10.

Did they have to pick Riker? His gazing at Beverly in 10 Forward. Holy...ugh..... I am sorry I am being shallow. I think Beverly and Riker are two of my least favourite characters. Beverly's thinly disguised revulsion at the female host at the end. Her polite smile...

Picard on the other hand. His expression in sickbay when he knows what is going on. His expression was precise and prefect. What acting!

and for the episode's LOL: put a cold cloth on ...your head.
Sam Mickle
Sat, Jun 15, 2019, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
Everyone is thinking way too hard about this episode. It was about the most simple issue that everyone seems to overlook in this episode. Penis size. Don't believe me? ok think about this. Odan must have had THE BIG ONE. So he dies right and the host swap out happens. Then oh look Riker is the new host. Well guess what? Bev is his doctor so guess what she knows? That's right his peepee size. And then at the end of the episode that lady doesn't have one at all. Bet that makes you think huh.
Jason R.
Sun, Jun 16, 2019, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
"Well guess what? Bev is his doctor so guess what she knows? That's right his peepee size. And then at the end of the episode that lady doesn't have one at all. Bet that makes you think huh."

Guess that explains why we never see Riker with the same woman twice. Bravo sir - you are wise indeed.
Dave in MN
Sun, Jun 16, 2019, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
^

Not like I particularly care very much (I'm no PC warrior), but I find it ironic that if commenters were making similar comments about Beverly's breast size, the condemnation here would be swift and brutal.

It's petty and sexist.
wolfstar
Sun, Jun 16, 2019, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
I read the comment as tongue in cheek.
Booming
Mon, Jun 17, 2019, 12:50am (UTC -5)
Sorry Dave I would, as always, be swift and brutal but I have a hard time seeing the screen because my eyes won't stop rolling.
Also let's not forget the Riker maneuver
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVIGhYMwRgs

A man who "presents" himself that way certainly has no problems down there.

But Dave because you asked I issue my most severe warning
https://i.imgur.com/QJWAc3J.jpg
Corey
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Damn, Riker. Are you so thirsty to sleep every woman on board the Starship Enterprise that you’re willing to literally infect yourself with a *potentially* deadly parasite, just so you can get up in Crusher’s guts?

Kudos on the commitment level, 10/10.

And how you like them apples, Picard?
Jon
Sun, Apr 12, 2020, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
I really dislike the episodes in which Beverly or Deanna falls for some random interplanetary douchebag.
Mr Peeepers
Fri, Jun 5, 2020, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
If I hooked up with a female Trill, and she had to get a male body, It's over for me. I got no plan with a man.

The thing I find funny about Trekers love affairs is this. Every time someone falls in love with a person/alien on some planet, there is usually some societal conflict that splits the couple up. But how can someone on the Enterprise have a relationship with a person on a planet when they will be leaving in a few days, and will be many light years away? It would be at least a year, and a few weeks/months journey to take leave to get back with them. You will burn up all your leave just getting there and back to your ship, with maybe a couple days with your true love. Far easier to meet someone new at your next stop. Riker probably only gets back to Risa once every 2-3 years. Can't be too healthy for a relationship. Beverly would probably never see Odan again, even if he was still a male.
Talon
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 12:16am (UTC -5)
@Mr Peepers
"The thing I find funny about Trekers love affairs is this. Every time someone falls in love with a person/alien on some planet, there is usually some societal conflict that splits the couple up. But how can someone on the Enterprise have a relationship with a person on a planet when they will be leaving in a few days, and will be many light years away? It would be at least a year, and a few weeks/months journey to take leave to get back with them. You will burn up all your leave just getting there and back to your ship, with maybe a couple days with your true love. Far easier to meet someone new at your next stop. Riker probably only gets back to Risa once every 2-3 years. Can't be too healthy for a relationship. Beverly would probably never see Odan again, even if he was still a male. "

This would be true if bodies could have relationships. Bodies are just a collection of cells, and cannot relate at all. Sure, they can touch, kiss and have sex. But it is our minds, our personalities, that put any meaning on it. After all, we don't consider the interconnectedness of all the different cells in our own bodies as relationships. Perhaps in the 24th century, with instantaneous communication, they have understood that physical proximity need not have as much meaning as it did in earlier times.
Richard Nollman
Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 11:29am (UTC -5)
My main reaction is: Give me a break. Beverly is going to have sex with Riker.. What no one seems to mention is that Riker still seems to be Riker.

As a doctor, she would not allow herself to have sex with a patient under the circumstances presented in this episode. Picard certainly would not allow it if he found out and would severely reprimand the doctor and possible take away her license to practice medicine.

The fact that Beverly knows that having sex with Riker would be a HUGE issue between Riker and herself as they are very close friends. I cannot even begin to imagine that Riker himself would allow that to happen and if he had known that was a possibility would not have made sure that Beverly would not have any sexual contact with his body.

RIker , as I see the character, is a man of principle and would see Beverly's willingness to have sex with his body and not his mind as serious violation of his trust -- not to mention the problems that Troi would have with the encounter.

It is also ridiculous to assume that she could enjoy making love to the physical Riker. I mean what if it was her brother who was the temporary host or her father or Worf, for that matter, what is the likelihood that she would even be interested in having sex with him?

And it was never clear to me that the character of Odin was present in Riker's body. It was always Riker acting as Riker. Odin had, IMHO, already disappeared. It was a stretch for me to believe that Odin was really speaking through Riker.

And then the idea that the disgusting looking organism really was Odin before he died would have disgusted Beverly. That is what she was making love to or falling back in love with? Give me a break! I mean, she actually opened up Odin and took this thing out of him. And them she placed it inside Riker. How could she imagine that making love to IT. I mean, a real person would want to vomit. I just don't see her getting sexually aroused. Just imagine making love to a woman or man knowing that they are really this slimey alien thing.

I also did not buy the idea that her love for Odin was still percolating once she knew the facts. KIssing Riker and believing it was the idea of Odin, knowing that Odin was really this slimey alient thing.

I could live with the fact that Odin lied to Beverly and tried to pass it off with a stupid argument.

And then, Troi, as ship's counselor is telling Beverly that it is ok to fall back in love with the Riker/host new combo. That is ridiculous in itself. As a professional, her job would be warn Beverly to tread very carefully and make sure that she does not violate Riker by having any physical relationship with him. It all stinks to high heaven. Her advice to Beverly should have been, let it go. Beverly's first reaction was the most believable one, and the conflict seems very much contrived.

And the comments on the fact the SNG treats the host as just a shell is so inferior to the way it is handled in DS9.

I laughed when Beverly, expecting a male host, is treated, instead to a gorgeous female host. Beverly, you got what is coming to you! i liked that part of the episode the best.

If I were the writers, I would eliminate the scene where Beverly decides to have sex with Riker and change the dynamic. What would be a lot more interesting would be to expand on the new host role. Beverly, now confronts Odin as a beautiful female and has to deal with the possibility of falling in low with her.

Her struggles with her own sexuality would be refreshing. And if she chose to continue her relationship with the female, then the risk of the host dying would not be a problem. Another host could be an attractive male or female, a nice opportunity for a new exploration of her sexuality. Not possible at the time, but now, I think it would be well-received.

Imagine how interesting it would be have a new character join the crew. Just think about how much the addition of Terry Fallon to DS9 improved the show. I loved Fallon and the fact that of all the crew members, she chose Worf. Definitely better writers in DS9 (IMHO). Just imagine Picard's reaction if Beverly chose a female as a mate. Wow!
Gerontius
Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
An interesting contrast between the way the reaction of the cast to the indwelling symbiont in The Host and the way they responded to the analogous creatures in The Contagion back in the first series. No question back then of responding to it as a strange new lifeform which needed to cautiously investigated , but instead destroyed sight as a filthy alien monster.

I agree that the Deep Space version of The Trill was far more interesting. There was a hint that the Next Generation version might not be quite as nasty a set-up as has been assumed here, and that was when Picard commented that the updated combination seemed to have retained some characteristics of Riker. If they had wanted to reconcile the two versions they could have made it that, while the symbiont's personality was overwhelmingly stronger initially, the hosts was still potentially present, and needed a little time to make itself evident, or even in time equal of even dominant.
Gerontius
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
Correction - The preceding episode with a plot about symbionts, treated in a rather different fashion, was of course not Contagion, it was Conspiracy.
James G
Wed, Jul 15, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Yet another one I hadn't seen before - looks like most or all of the rest of the fourth series will be new to me.

I hope that whoever wrote this abomination was either provided with the appropriate psychiatric care that he or she evidently badly needed, or weaned off their drug habit.

I must admit though that I became morbidly fascinated as well as repelled, as the episode wore on.

A few thoughts. Isn't it extraordinarily unethical for Beverley to tonk Riker's body while he's unconscious in it? Isn't it even more unethical of the weird ambassador slug to use it for that? Reminds me of that episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer borrows Lister's body and then proceeds to abuse it hedonistically.

And what happens to the minds of the hosts, when they submit to being taken over by parasites? How could a relationship like that between two species even have started?

I don't get why the Transporter wouldn't have worked, and this nonsensical plot element adds nothing to the story except an easy excuse to have the shuttlecraft attacked.

The conclusion is hilarious. Interesting though that they both let go of their relationship a lot more quickly and less emotionally than when the parasite slug creature was inhabiting Riker. Troi's persuasive words on Ten Forward don't count for much when Beverley is confronted by a lesbian lifestyle.

Anyway - really quite vile but it functions as a bad taste parody of the worst kind of pulp science fiction, albeit unintentionally.
Juan R
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
This episode came out of nowhere, which is why it mostly works. Liked how Dr. Crusher ditches her no nonesense professional image and basically acts like a smitten teenage girl. It was cool to see her as a sexual and passionate woman. Deep down everyone needs someone to spark that fire inside of us.

The Riker angle felt contrived and kind of silly but Jonathan Frakes does a great job of acting, which saves the episode. That host thing is not the point of this. Instead, we must question what is true love and how much are we willing to adjust to keep and save those feelings? The answer: to a certain point. We are just being human. Nothing more.

Overall good episode. Gates McFadden ( I thought she was sexy) finally has something more interesting to do than run a tricorder over someone. She was a lot better off without Wesley.
Lynne Cullen
Sat, Sep 5, 2020, 6:43am (UTC -5)
No one has commented on the creepiness of the Riker-trill harassing Crusher until she agrees to have sex with him. What’s the rush? The trill’s presence within Riker was to be short lived. Why was it so urgent that they “do it” at that time? Both Riker and Crusher were used by the pushy Trill.
Top Hat
Sat, Sep 5, 2020, 8:44am (UTC -5)
I always faintly wondered if anyone ever told Riker that his body was used as a human sex doll.
Hotel bastardos
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Well, he's a renowned shagger- but the thing is , now his esteemed colleague has experienced his "length" - how can she look him in the eye
Logan C
Mon, Nov 2, 2020, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
While I enjoyed the hypothetical that "The Host" presents with the question of "Could you continue loving someone even if their physical body changed completely?" I feel like it completely misses the mark by the completion of the episode.

Firstly, I think this episode has a serious issue with establishing that consent is vital in relationships. Odan did not reveal to Beverly that he was truly a slug like creature inhabiting a male humanoid body. He evaded revealing his true self for fear of scaring the Doctor and the other dignitaries away. However, I give the writers some credit with the analogy when Odan asks her "It never occurred to me. Did you ever tell me that you were only a single being?" This seems to be more relevant today than when this episode was made. Many transgender folks struggle with revealing their gender identities because they either fear rejection or they think it's unneeded to be said. So I feel like Beverly's reaction to Odan's forced confession is fair. To her she feels like it was a lack of consent and a betrayal of trust because he lied to her and the crew about why he couldn't use the transporter and what he truly was. His host body's "death" forcibly reveals this to everyone.

But to make matters worse, Riker volunteers to be the temporary host for the interests of diplomacy and peace. He only consented to ensure Odan didn't die before negotiations were finished. But what he did not agree to was for Beverly and Odan to use his body for sex. After the original host perishes, Beverly seems to relive her husband's death and Deanna asks her if she was only attracted to his body. I found this interesting because it begs the question, if Bev's dead husband were resurrected in a new body, could she still love him?

So ultimately the sexual tension between Odan and Beverly erupts in his quarters and they presumably have sex. Which is pretty despicable since Riker, Beverly's friend that she sees "as a brother" is essentially raped. It does not matter if we think Riker would or would not give his consent because he was not in control of his body. It's no different than someone getting date raped while under the influence. Why could Beverly not control herself for a couple days until another consenting host came to hold Odan?

But then the icing on top of the cake is that Odan's replacement is a female body. At first, I was excited to see Star Trek pushing the envelope on social issues like it has been lauded for in the past. You would think Beverly would be accepting of this surprise since she was all too willing to rekindle her feelings with Odan in Riker's body despite his unwilling participation. But no, Dr. Beverly is immediately cold and formal to Odan and their new body. She gives them some pedantic speech about how humans aren't flexible enough to love beings like the Trill. Apparently to Dr. Beverly love is only skin deep, she's fine with raping her friend but being in a same-sex relationship is going too far! I know ST:TNG is a show made in the 90s when LGBT+ folks were seen as taboo but this is some BS. Its simply inconsistent writing. If it weren't for Beverly violating Will, I could accept her saying "For me, im not physically attracted to you in a different form." It's as simple as that. She's a heterosexual woman, that's fine. But if her only reason for not being with a female Odan is that she's not flexible enough to be with them because they change bodies too quickly. Then why was she able to be flexible with Odan when he switched to Riker's body? Am I wrong to come away from this episode thinking that the message they're trying to convey is unconsenual sex is fine and that LGBT relationships aren't valid? All I know is that if this episode was made today, they would either be more daring with the conclusion of Odan and Beverly's romance or allow Beverly to be consistent in her sexual orientation. It's a shame that this episode shows it's age because the questions asked were good ones. With a little less bias, I think the answers that we could have gotten would have been that love is timeless and transcends physical appearance.
Filip
Tue, Nov 3, 2020, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Given the massive retcon DS9 did with the Trill and certain moral problems this episode creates and never addresses, 'The Host' is best left forgotten. It also one of those few examples where TNG slips on such an easily avoidable conundrum, in this case the nature of a host's identity and its seeming disappearance after joining. If they wanted to make this work, they should've unequivocally presented the hosts as 'shaved apes' as Grumpy wrote in his previous comment. This would in turn make the story with Riker more compelling where the reason for his body's rejection of the symbiont could be explained by incompatibility with human nervous system, mind or whatever scientific mumbo-jumbo along those lines. This would easily resolve the episode's glaring problem in a satisfying manner and would add a bit more creativity to the story instead of just using the obvious 'the body's rejecting foreign tissue lodged inside it.' With that being said, I'll stick to DS9 Trills.
Deanna
Thu, Jun 3, 2021, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
I hadn't seen this episode probably since it was first aired in 1991...but the viewing I just had tonight while doing a rewatch of the series with my son had a much different impact, seeing that I'm a trans woman about 4 years into transitioning.

Although not a perfect allegory of a relationship where one of the partners is transgender and transitioning, the things that Odan and Crusher said when they discussed his "nature" not only felt exactly what many trans people go through, but the words used were nearly exactly the same...especially with the accusations that Odan was hiding something.

And of course the twist at the end essentially ties the allegory up in a nice bow, including the rejection that many of us experience with people who knew us before our transition...

It wasn't just homophobic, but transphobic.

The accuracy of the allegory is enough that I have to suspect that Michael Horvat, the screenwriter had to have known at least one transgender person in his life...and given he directed "We are Dad" 14 years later, I think it likely.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 12:58am (UTC -5)
Interesting comments, Deanna. The topic of trans awareness has come up in DISCO discussions, and about the Trill as well, but I don't think the idea has been floated yet that the original conception of the species here was a direct attempt to discuss trans issues. Maybe it's possible! Neat discovery, if that's right.

Needless to say, though, DS9 in particular totally did not go in that direction with the Trill and the canon understanding of their species that we ended up with. Not that I disliked some of what DS9 did with the Trill, but it was certainly underplayed compared with what they could have explored over seven seasons. And the trans issue didn't really come up. If anything Rejoined seemed to be more about homosexual attraction (on a surface level), or at least perhaps the idea of sexuality being something inside rather than outside, which does touch on trans issues but was still kept as being a bit of a plot point rather than a character point about Jadzia.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 3:19am (UTC -5)
@Peter
"And the trans issue didn't really come up."
It had some things that one could see as trans issues. First and foremost Ben Sisko often calling Jadzia old man. They often talk about stuff they did when both were men. For Ben Sisko Dax is basically transsexual. If that was on purpose I don't know.
MidshipmanNorris
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 5:05am (UTC -5)
I feel like TV writing (especially 80s/90s TV writing) has a bit of intentional "blank space" that viewers are supposed to fill in with what they want to be there.

Star Trek has at times been quite masterful with this technique, but there are some topics, such as gender identity, that were probably a bit difficult for a writer of the era to approach directly, without some guy in a suit saying "No, we won't air this."

If they submit a script that has things that the studio needs to be changed, then that interrupts the production schedule for the rewrite. Therefore, the "industry best practice" is to try to veer far from the censor line, as far as you can, to avoid having to rewrite it.

"The Host" seems like they are treading on thin ice with the censors the whole episode. You can tell, and that knowledge can somewhat bounce you out of the narrative at times, remind you that you are watching a nationally aired TV show from a given time period. But it doesn't have to, so long as you remember that you can fill in that blank space with something else to suit your needs/wants/whims.

This is kind of the mantra of rewatching, I guess. Trying to find new perspective in a narrative you already know.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 5:27am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"It had some things that one could see as trans issues."

Only if you squint just right. And boy, does present-day society love to squint... ;-)

The Trill are simply different. And DS9's treatment of the Trill is an excellent example of how diversity is only an "issue" when people insist on making it an issue.

Dax had eight hosts, 4 male and 4 female, each with a completely different personality: Wise Lela, introverted "sorry" Tobin, graceful Emony, motherly Audrid, living-on-the-edge Torias, psycho Joran, life-of-the-party Curzon and Jadzia... To a non-Trill this must be mind-bogglingly confusing and alien, yet nobody bats an eye.

This - on it's own - is a far stronger pro-diversity message then any claimed transsexual allegory. It's also a far more interesting take on the Trills, which are truly complex and alien (though DS9 - sadly - didn't do enough with this idea).
Tomalak
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 5:55am (UTC -5)
I just see them as humans who sometimes have symbionts. It's difficult to think of any cultural differences between them and humans that don't revolve around joining. Even Betazoids seem more different.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 6:28am (UTC -5)
When I said "truly complex and alien" I referred to the Trill's joint biological nature, not their culture (which is - indeed - bland).

And "sometimes having symbionts" is a pretty big difference, isn't it? Joint personalities of multiple past lives merged with the current host?

I find the concept fascinating.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 6:43am (UTC -5)
@Omicron
Yeah, sure. Sci Fi can play around with concepts. Gender, sex, identity.
I didn't want to imply that Trill were just about transsexuality, more about issues of gender but also life and death and a few other things.

Sadly casting Farrell in the role with the most ambitious alien concept was not a good choice.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 7:16am (UTC -5)
When it comes to Trills and gender issues, this TNG episode is really an odd-man-out. Here, they kinda make a big deal of the fact that Odan's new host is female. They also completely (and unreasonably) ignore the personality changes which would result when the symbiont is transferred into a new host.

DS9, on the other hand, establishes that a new host means adding a completely new personality into the mix. So the dilemma of your Trill friend changing sex is secondary to the dilemma of him/her getting a complete personality overhaul.

So I don't really see how DS9 Trills have anything to do with gender identity, unless we're simply including "gender identity" as one aspect of one's personality.

As for Farrell, yeah. She's an okay actress, but definitely not the right fit for this ambitious concept.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 9:17am (UTC -5)
yeah, they changed the Trill from TNG to DS9. Farrell was even supposed to wear the head thing but the studio boses demanded that removed because they cast her for her beauty. Well, that could have been a nice thought for her or her co-stars. When you are the eye candy and everybody knows... ouch...

"So I don't really see how DS9 Trills have anything to do with gender identity"
Jadzia talked about getting used to being admired by men which doesn't really make that much sense, she was gorgeous before she got the symbiont. I think it was mentioned a few times. But you are right, the general change in personality seems to be the main focus.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 9:18am (UTC -5)
*not have been nice
Odan's Razor
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Claiming "The Host" was intended as a trans allegory is not so much "a neat discovery" as misplaced wishful thinking (at best) or an outright falsification of history (at worst). To state, as Deanna does, that it was also supposedly intended as a *transphobic* trans allegory, is quite the self-insert feat of ahistorical projection and accusation.

"The Host" didn't even include a romance originally; that was added later. Originally it was intended to simply be an icky 'body horror' type of episode based on a peace negotiator who had a secret parasite: 'The most repulsive story ever pitched to us,' as Brannon Braga put it. The romance was included to give the audience an 'in' via a main character.

It is definitely true that "The Host" almost immediately struck a chord among gay and lesbian viewers as something approaching representation, but instantly also led to claims of Beverly's rejection of New Odan being homophobic in some way (and, concomitantly, some conservatives considered it to be a promotion of homosexuality). But that is a far, far cry from "The Host" being intended as such -- much less intended as a hidden critique of today's (!) trans reality, only 30 years ago.

Check Memory Alpha. It's all there.

MidshipmanNorris is closest to the truth, really: *of course* it's very nice that people can re-watch and re-interpret what episodes mean to them as time goes on (we surely all do so), but that's very different to accusing a 30-year old episode of being objectively and intentionally "transphobic" in a wilful and bigoted way. Trans issues simply weren't that important in 1990. No one thought about them at all, frankly, until extremely recently.

Unfortunately I strongly suspect this same ahistorical distortion and baseless defamation will soon pop up in comments under vaguely similar episodes such as "The Outcast" and "Cogenitor" and every single other Trek episode in which Dax or any other Trill appears.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 11:30am (UTC -5)
"much less intended as a hidden critique of today's (!) trans reality, only 30 years ago."
Does this sentence make sense? I don't think so.

What audiences see in a cultural product will always change with the times. There is also the debate that what matters more is not authorial intent but audience perception (death of the author).

"Trans issues simply weren't that important in 1990. No one thought about them at all, frankly, until extremely recently."
The whole stonewall riot thing was done by transsexuals and people in drag, then there is Dog Day Afternoon or Crying game. Psycho or Silence of the lambs come to mind. And the 1990s had quite a few negative portrayals in comedies of transsexuality. Especially the whole being intimate with a trans woman makes men puke trope (Naked Gun; Ace Ventura; Dude, where is my car; South park). It was certainly an issue in the 90s. Broader societal acceptance is more recently.
Tomalak
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Those cerrazzzy 1990s kids with their men being revolted at the thought of sex with transexuals. Impossible to imagine that today, isn't it?

'Claiming "The Host" was intended as a trans allegory is not so much "a neat discovery" as misplaced wishful thinking (at best) or an outright falsification of history (at worst). To state, as Deanna does, that it was also supposedly intended as a *transphobic* trans allegory, is quite the self-insert feat of ahistorical projection and accusation.'

Thank you. This seems so obviously true it shouldn't even need saying.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
"Psycho or Silence of the lambs come to mind"

Buffalo Bill wasn't a transexual.
Rahul
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
What's interesting about Trek is that if you take an episode such as this one that is very much open to interpretation in today's society, you may have 6 or 7 different takes from 10 different people. May not have been quite the case 30 years ago. But I also think that transgender, gay etc. people are on the lookout for stories that speak to them -- can't really blame them. But also many folks from today's generations will apply today's sensibilities to something created 30 or 50 years ago and judge it inappropriately. So to call this episode "transphobic" is not fair as one has to respect the original intent of the writers/producers at the time.

I came across an article on the Start Trek website talking about 7 of 9 being queer. Didn't read it but I'm pretty sure Berman, Braga & co. did not have that in mind. 7 was just another vehicle to look at the human condition. Her romantic interests were with straight men (Chakotay and the male alien in "Unimatrix Zero" come to mind) and presumably as a child pre-assimilation, she was straight.

So I think that's the beauty and danger of Trek with some of these episodes -- there can be plenty of great takes that expand what the creator of the episode was going for ("William B." on "Amok Time" comes to mind re. Spock and his closely guarded sexuality) but there can also be bad takes and misinterpretations.

I think the comment from "Odan's Razor" is pretty much spot on.

I still go back to DSC's "Forget Me Not" as the best Trill vehicle Trek has produced -- it made intelligent use of a non-binary actor and really captured well the quandary that a Trill faces as an allegory to what it might be like to be transgender.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
@Jason
Close enough.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qWRAGPQ11M
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
His pathology was 1000 times more savage :)
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Close enough."

Yeah, Jason R. is right. Not only was it stated pointedly that Buffalo Bill wasn't a transsexual, but the plot actually hinged on this point.

@ Odan's Razor (funny!) and Rahul,

I typically agree with the sentiment that it's annoying to shoehorn in anachronistic or self-serving things where they clearly don't fit and were never invented. However in this case I actually see it as plausible that Deanna uncovered (potentially!) a writer getting something taboo past the censors. I'll post more on this a bit later, but suffice to say that to whatever extent Deann's idea interested me, it's because I think it's possible that it's actually the writer's intent.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
Sure, but these finer points will fly passed many people. It is true that transsexuals commit far less crime and most of that falls into prostitution and drugs. Still society then had some serious issues about men in women's clothing and I think that is something quite a few took from that movie. Men in female clothing equals dangerous. Rowling's new book is about that as well, I believe.

@Jason
I chuckled about that too. :) Hopkins and Foster have very good chemistry. It is a great movie for sure but I don't like scary movies so I only watched it once.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
For the record Norman Bates wasn't supposed to be a transexual either - he actually had multiple personality disorder (which I know is controversial in of itself) but bottom line his cross dressing was incidental.

And yes in the 90s there was this trope that heterosexual men would just literally die if anything remotely trans would touch them (like the Vorlons I guess lol)

Even back then in the pre alphabet days I found it annoying, not because it was "transphobic" but simply because it was tiresome and lame. I remember the scene in the Crying Game was treated by mainstream audiences like something out of Hellraiser or Aliens - it was basically considered a horror movie.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
As an aside I think this fear of trans wasn't transphobic but actually homophobic technically speaking because the fear back then was of being "gay" as quaint as that seems in 2021. Trans wasn't even on anyone's radar.
Booming
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
True. Fear of transsexual women is closely related to fears of being homosexual. One probably has to add misogyny. Culture is far more open to women wearing male clothing. Is there even exclusively male clothing anymore?

There were so many changes in behavior. I always love stories that go against all many today see as very feminine for example, you would know that Spartans expect a rough battle when they took a long time to comb each others long hair. Keltic men were famous for plucking their entire body hair and have very complex hair styles. For all the "civilized" people like Romans and Greeks it was a sign that were a barbarian if you wore pants. :)

Can you imagine. A Persian or Athenian seeing the Spartans combing each others hair and saying:" OH MY GOD. We are all going to die!"
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
"True. Fear of transsexual women"

Correction: in the 1990s as now there is little recognition among the human population that a "woman" is anything but a female (sex) outside a few tiny enclaves.

Whoops? Am I allowed to say that?

Please strike it from the record. I need to lay off the wine.

Apologies.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
Ugg seriously disregard my comment. No interest in hijacking this site for the next week.
Trish
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
What I have always found most jarring about the difference between how this episode portrays the Trill as a species and how DS9 develops the concept is the role of the host in the joined identity. In this episode, it doesn't seem to me as if there IS any real joined identity, just the identity of the symbiont. The host's identity seems completely submerged. It is almost as if the host's own personality "dies" so the symbiont can put on his or her body like a spacesuit.

Beverly's angst, then, sounds like a fear that maybe she didn't love the "real" Odan; maybe she was just attracted to the spacesuit he happened to be wearing when she met him. Even before he was injured, she struggled with the question of whether she was in love, or merely indulging in a shallow infatuation. She got her answer when the body she was infatuated with died, and even though the personality lived on in the next host, she found that she wasn't in love anymore, which, I would argue, kind of meant that she was never in love with Odan's personality at all. The fear that had been niggling at her during the relationship turned out to be the truth: She was not in love.

Yeah, the fact that the next host was female made the difference particularly striking, something that could be conveyed in an instant onscreen. But I take her crestfallen reaction not as some kind of horror at the thought of loving a fellow woman, but as disappointment at realizing that for her, her former lover WAS his body, rather than the person (s)he really was. I think she would have been just as disappointed if the new host had been another male, but one she didn't find physically attractive.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
I agree with you, Trish, about the Trill differences here and what they mean as compared with DS9. Another thing to ask is "what is love" and why it should be assumed that what you love is some ephemeral personality or soul or something divorced from the person's body. I find the whole idea of 'a person is their brain' (which is analogous to it being their symbiont) to be incredibly naive. Someone actually once asked me, in a state of upset, "do you mean that if I looked different that you wouldn't be attracted to me?" What are you supposed to say to that? Of course the physicality of a person is part of what you like. In fact it is inextricably linked to 'who they are', as the body and its nervous system alone are already tied, to say nothing of aesthetics and how you build trust and connection in the first place.

So I definitely agree that switching bodies and expecting someone to feel the same way is unreasonable, but what I think the episode also shows is that for Odan it can be very hurtful to be on the receiving end. Beverly isn't at fault, although she does feel culpable it would seem for having to push Odan away. Certainly Odan's hurt feelings, at having the same person he cared for before say she doesn't feel the same way, are understandable. Not sure there's a way to reconcile their two positions, but I suppose it's the situation itself that is pertinent more so than assessing who is right.
Mal
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul, nice post.

What’s great about Star Trek is how many cultures it has depicted that allowed people to feel included - people who sometimes may feel alien when they live immersed in American culture.

TOS did a great job of that for rational highly intelligent outliers who do their best to repress their emotions. Those folks got Spock, and for years nerds would show up to conventions wearing pointy ears doing that funny hand gesture.

TNG did a great job of that for proud, exalting and honorable types who do their best to face their battles and never run away in fear. Those folks got Worf and for years fans would show up to conventions wearing scraggly foreheads and yelling K’plah at each other. TNG, however, never left their Spock-like outcasts behind, and those nerds got Data as a nice carry-over.

TNG also had Betazeds and even today, I often see people on the street wearing Betazed costumes. It has become so normal that they tend to blend right in, and if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss them altogether ;)

DS9 did a great job of depicting revolutionaries, who always fight for the underdog and aren’t afraid of lobbing explosives and playing dirty. Those folks got Kira, who was a kinder-gentler version of Ro, but played the part well enough, especially since the show also had Maquis. And they had the mirror image of terrorists: secret services, portrayed by Garak and Sloan. But DS9 did not leave behind it’s sardonic, rational outsiders, thanks to Odo. Nor did it leave behind its fans with that warrior ethic, literally carrying over Worf for the second half of the show.

Maybe it says a lot about how America in the 90’s, but the list of outcasts on DS9 is actually longer than maybe all other Treks combined (Q: "Quite a motley crew you've assembled here, Benji.”). Could it be that after the Berlin Wall fell, Amiercans weren't really sure who they were anymore?

DS9 had the greedy capitalists, who are often vilified in American culture, portrayed by Quark. They had idiot savants like Rom. They had model minorities like Bashir, who seem to be the current out-group that people have decided to target. They had trannies like Jadzia. They had mix-race war children like Zial. They had a literal caste-based empire where the lowest rung was called Jem’hadar (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jamadar). They even had a highly religious population called Bajorans.

I get that people want to see Odan as some trans alien. And sure, why not? In today’s trans-obsessed culture, we see trans everywhere. A decade or two ago, it was a gay obsessed culture, and we saw gays everywhere. There was once a communist-obessed culture, and people saw communists everywhere. Watching Man In the High Castle, I was thinking how insane it must have been to live in a Jew-obsessed culture. They must have seen Jews everywhere (https://www.amazon.com/Superman-Jewish-Superheroes-Justice-Jewish-American/dp/1416595317).

But of course the whole point of the Trill and the Symbiont is exploring what it would be like to remember all your past lives, and how overwhelming those memories and feelings can be, and how hard it would be for someone who suddenly got access to those memories to go about living their ordinary life.

In "Invasive Procedures”, Verad is completely unprepared for the flood of feelings that come along with Dax, and he quickly pulls away from Mareel while feeling drawn like a magnet to Sisko. Ezri allows Jadzia’s feelings for Worf to overwhelm her best judgments. @Rahul reminds us of the excellent "Forget Me Not”, where Adira can’t really function properly because she can’t remember her symbiont’s past lives. I mean, we had an entire episode on DS9 about this, “Equilibrium”.

And yes, part of remembering past lives for the Trill includes past relationships (“Rejoined”). And past affairs, like “The Host”. But it also includes past bonds and blood oaths (“Blood Oath”). And past promises of discretion (“Dax”).

If we were living in a religion-obsessed culture, maybe they would be denouncing "The Host" as promoting reincarnation or past-life regression or some other blasphemy. God forbid we really watch it for what the story it is actually trying to show us.

Interestingly, somewhere along the way Star Trek lost the ability to depict outcast cultures as sympathetic aliens. Voyager had one Ferengi episode, and the writers let the Ferengi slip back into mere caricature. Which is sad after all the hard work that Quark did to really flesh out his people. Voyager had that one Klingon, but she was only half-Klingon, and like K’heylr (Worf’s mate), she pretty much hated her alien culture. So we got none of that intricate warrior ethic that TNG and DS9 had done so much to flesh out. Except of course "Barge of the Dead”, a rare four star outing for Voyager.

The terrorists like Chakotay were neutered. The Cardassians like Seska were sidelined. The Bajorans, or anyone with a religion for that matter, were little more than wallpaper. Even the Ocampa who only lived a handful of years and so should have been sleeping around with the whole crew like a mayfly in heat, is basically turned into a useless appendage of two men (or one man when they become Tuvix). No wonder she was filled with so much “Fury”.

Voyager marked an end to portraying outside cultures as sympathetic aliens. It was, most of the time, just action-adventure grrl p0wR, ftw.

There was the briefest resurgence of that tradition in ENT, depicting Dr. Phlox and his polyamorous culture. But unlike a years-long arc with Spock, or Worf, or Kira, they ended up doing very little with that aspect of Phlox’s personality (“Stigma”, "Dear Doctor"). But at least they tried. (Some people say that ENT tried to depict southerners as sympathetic, but southerners aren’t actually aliens ;)

Not unsurprisingly, the best character on Discovery, is the one alien race on the crew that really has a unique set of traits. The slave mentality depicted by Saru is not ordinarily glorified on TV. For the first season Saru is very much defined by fear. We see his people enslaved on their home planet. We see them treated even worse in the mirror universe (yum, yum).

But of course Discovery completely misses the point of Star Trek.

Whereas Spock initially struggled with the conflict between his logical culture and his human colleagues, eventually, he does come to peace with it, and finds a solution that works for him, and his friends also come to appreciate his quirks. Spock doesn’t ditch logic to fit in and become cool and angry and sad and sexy (like “Spock" in the Prime Universe). Worf too struggles like crazy to come to grips with the demands of Starfleet and the demands of his warrior culture ("Rightful Heir”, “Change of Heart"). Eventually he too comes to accept his culture and goes on to be the ambassador to Kronos (which of course the movies fuck up). Data gets emotions, but they aren’t really who he is. Kira becomes a Colonel, but she is still a rebel at heart - she has to go to Cardassia of all places to find a revolution to fight in.

But not Discovery. Saru loses his ganglia, and now he’s just like a real boy.

The Picard Show doesn’t even try. The Androids on Picard are so similar to humans some of them don’t even know they are robots. There was some hope that we might see Romulan culture. But alas, we just get a weird samurai boy added to the crew. In the interest of, um, absolute candor, let me just say, he sucks.

Star Trek fans have become so narcissistic, they can’t even enjoy the basic mission the show set out to perform. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before. Now it’s all, "aliens, see, they're just like us - they have trans too!”
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 4, 2021, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal,

To be fair, I think that's a bit reductionist. It's not like Spock's alien nature *wasn't* an attempt to show an aspect of humanity. The Kirk-Bones-Spock trio pretty clearly establishes a ordered hierarchy of value for us humans, and how compassion and humanity, mediated by pure logic, and finally ruled by a mission statement underlined by risk, is the encapsulation of how we can move forward as a people and as individuals. In that sense it was never supposed to be just a story about aliens. And I think it's fairly evident that the enormous fandom surrounding Data should indicate not that we're collectively attracted to robotics, but that he illustrates an aspect of us that we value very highly (the innocent, child-like desire to learn and the naivete about malicious intent).

Now once we get into VOY and ENT the case becomes a little stronger that they had deviated from using alien cultures to talk about us. I don't particularly see Phlox as being a poster child for polyamory or alternative lifestyles. He's just a weird (and funny) alien dude whose culture happens to be polyamorous. There's nothing to identify with there, nothing familiar. And likewise with Kes: to whatever extent short mortality could have been addressed, it certainly wasn't, and she (and the Kazon and Neelix) were relegated to merely being oddball aliens. They certainly meant nothing to me on a human level. But I think part of this is less about what Trek is or isn't about, and more about what happens when you have ambitious and skilled writers, versus getting the script out to make a buck. Good authors and writers (screenwriters and playwrights) will typically have profound messages about life baked into them, often on the meta-level rather than the literal. But they're there, and the theory is that audiences palpably feel it even if they're not cognitively aware of it, if the writing is good. My teacher used to describe the contrast, which is "well written pieces of junk", which do not address the human condition or offer us any meaty subtext whatsoever. Now take that latter attitude toward writing, and take away the "well written" clause, you end up with some ENT scripts, especially in S1.

But overall I don't think it's reasonable to look at good vs bad Trek and suggest the delineation exists in whether or not contemporary issues and human insights play a role in the writing. TOS and TNG did plenty of that in great episodes, and came out no worse the wear for it. Some of the Cold War TOS episodes are clearly timely in their intention, and yet still make great viewing since the messages are often cast in a universal context. So it's tricky IMO to try to reduce these things to one variable (except for quality!).
Booming
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 12:04am (UTC -5)
A very nuanced analysis from Trish and Peter makes good points. Let's think this through. If you were in love, married maybe, and that person would change into another form like from one gender or sex to another would that always end the relationship? Even if a person is bisexual? Romantic love becomes platonic love or none at all? In this episode Beverly was basically in love with the symbiont (In DS9 the host symbiont relationship was less one sided) or if we follow Trish then not at all. Or let's turn this around, Sisko loved Curzon as a friend and vice versa, so why did Jadzia and Ben never fall in love romantically? They had sex in the mirror universe. There power couple name could have been Disko!
Mal
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 1:15am (UTC -5)
@Trish said, "In this episode, it doesn't seem to me as if there IS any real joined identity, just the identity of the symbiont. The host's identity seems completely submerged."

Jadzia covered this in "Playing God",

DAX: The symbiont's influence is very strong, Arjin, but you're the host. You've got to be strong enough to balance that influence with your own instincts. If you can't, the symbiont will overwhelm your personality.

If you recall, one of Ezri's big problems was that she wasn't prepared to be a host. It had been an emergency proceedure,

JAKE: Then how did you get the symbiont?

EZRI: It was an accident.

JOSEPH: Some accident.

EZRI: I was on the Destiny when they brought the Dax symbiont aboard to be taken back to Trill. Halfway through the trip, the symbiont took a turn for the worse and needed to be placed in a host immediately.

SISKO: And you were the only Trill on board.

EZRI: I laid down on that operating table one person and I woke up a completely different person. Well, I should say eight different people. I was not prepared for this at all. I mean, you're supposed to get years of training and preparation before you get joined, and all I got was a fifteen minute lecture from the ship's surgeon and he wasn't even a Trill.

Years of training.

And the result was Ezri was way more confused than the ordinary joined Trill, and her relationships were thrown into chaos,

YANAS: Whatever happened to that young man you were interested in on the Destiny? Lieutenant, er, something?

EZRI: Brinner Finok.

YANAS: Yes.

EZRI: He was an Ensign. I did talk to him after I was joined, once. I don't think we're really right for each other anymore. He reminds me too much of my son Gran. It makes me a little uncomfortable being around him now. Sorry. Audrid's son Gran. I'm still sorting out my pronouns.

NORVO: I'm sure all joined Trills go through this.

EZRI: No, just me. Nothing simple for Ezri. There's times when the computer asks me to identify myself and I have to think about what to say. Or worse yet, there're days when I wake up and I don't even know if I'm a man or a woman until I pull back the covers.

Odan in "The Host" also got placed in emergency situation into Riker. And Riker wasn't even Trill. No wonder Riker's identity was completely submerged. The only reason Adira managed to escape that fate is that Taal's previously memories were largely blocked. If they hadn't been, I'm sure Adira's identity would have been equally submerged.

If that young Ensign wasn't right for Ezri after she was joined with Dax, it can't be surprising to Odan that he wasn't right for Beverly after he was joined with his new host. But Beverly is sexy af, and you can't blame a guy from trying ;)

@Peter G., asked, "why it should be assumed that what you love is some ephemeral personality or soul or something divorced from the person's body."

Reminds me of an old country music song,

It's hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralyzed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age
Ruby, I realized
But it won't be long
I've heard them say until I'm not around
Oh, Ruby
Don't take your love to town

https://youtu.be/tDOznxiEcdM
Jason R.
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -5)
"What is love"

https://youtu.be/e7z1PuDRCko
Rahul
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
@Mal, great post (referring to the little novella) -- a few things to digest, along with the response from "Peter G." on good writing. So I would agree with you that there are some Trek fans who are narcissistic -- but both from a purist standpoint (like me, I suppose) and those who want to shoehorn their lived experience into an episode, whether it was the original intent of the writer(s) or not.

From me, since I can't say that I personally have any need to feel included or have an unusual personal experience where I look for some kind of validation or whatever, I generally take Trek at face value. And this has worked pretty well in terms of the enjoyment I get out of it (and other shows). But every now and then when I check out this site, I come across a way in which a particular episode speaks to somebody's experience, matching the writer's intent, and it really makes me think twice about the episode -- a recent case in point was the comment by "ThatsOnYoutube" about "Riddles", a 2* episode for me (and Jammer).

And as you've described, the classic Trek series have provided a number of opportunities for different kinds of people to relate to, where it is the intent of the writer. I suppose nu-Trek is meant to give gays, lesbians, trans etc. as well as recovering junkies something that speaks to their experience, since classic Trek rarely went down that road. But I generally don't think it will be a satisfying experience to try to shoehorn "your narrative" and ignore the writer's intent in a Trek episode.

Regarding the writing, I think one point that needs to be made is that TOS didn't really employ these made-for-television writers, as I understand. Their writers were mostly real sci-fi authors, novelists, and thus the episodes have more of that meta-level message baked in, as "Peter G." said. Even if TOS feverishly cranked out episodes, it still managed that level of intelligence that the other classic Treks didn't achieve quite as consistently.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
I want to clarify something I've said earlier:

Just because the Trill were not *intended* as a trans allegory, doesn't mean that there are no natural connection points between the experience of trans people and the Trills. Making such a connection is not "shoehorning" or "being narcissistic". It's simply one way (among many) to personally connect to the presented story.
Mal
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul, interesting you should mention “Riddles". If you check out my comment on that episode, you’ll see that I thought it was very good. Of course the episode lives and dies on Tuvok’s acting. And Tim Russ does a very fine job. But the story is written for more mature audiences. I really don’t know if anyone under thirty could like it? You’ll see in my comment to that episode that I speculate whether, if @Jammer saw Riddles again today, he’d enjoy it more than he did 20 years ago.

Which brings us to what you and @Peter G. say about the writing. Back when Star Trek had 29 episodes a year, they had to offer an entire cornucopia of stories and moods to bring you along through the year. There were episodes written for the kids - today we all wonder how we ever enjoyed the Battle with the Gorn - but as kids, I at least, totally loved “Arena"! And episodes that didn’t make a lick of sense when I was younger, like "The Conscience of the King”, I now see are veritable masterpieces. And then of course the writers always included the crowd-pleasers that everyone enjoys at every age, like "Amok Time”.

TNG did much the same. Episodes for kids (that I still admit, I love today) like “Disaster”. Episodes for adults like “The Masterpiece Society.” Episodes for mature audiences, like "Half a Life”. Like Riddles, I wonder if @Jammer would rate “Half a Life” the same today, all these years later? And of course TNG had awesome crowd pleasers like BoBW. TNG had 26 episodes in a year, and so like TOS, it too had to offer a wider selection on its tasting menu if audiences were going to remain engaged week after week.

Towards the end of TNG’s run, they often relegated the scifi concepts to B-stories. For whatever reason, Voyager quickly descended into Star Trek by the numbers, elevating those background B-stories to bland main plots. But every now and then they would let someone into the writers room who had a real love of the franchise. That happened with Ronald D. Moore and “Barge of the Dead.” And it happened with Riddles and Andre Bormanis. Andre was obviously no Ron Moore. But he had worked on both TNG and DS9 before he came to VOY. Bormanis is also the science consultant for The Orville. For the Orville, that is, not for Discovery. For Discovery they found someone who was inspired to study science by… Janeway. Yeah, is it any wonder that Discovery is such a disaster!

https://youtu.be/cn4fW0EInqw?t=79

This is where @Rahul really hits the nail on the head, "TOS didn't really employ these made-for-television writers.” Absolutely! As against to the MFAs who seem to dominate the current era of lackluster streaming television like Discovery. (see, https://www.wired.com/story/netflix-manic-review/ "This isn't a TV show. It's a pricey, claptrappy, long-form Iowa Writers’ Workshop application.”).

Back to @Peter G.’s key insight, "Good authors and writers (screenwriters and playwrights) will typically have profound messages about life baked into them, often on the meta-level rather than the literal. But they're there, and the theory is that audiences palpably feel it even if they're not cognitively aware of it, if the writing is good.”

Check out who wrote “The Host”. This is his only writing credit. The only other thing he has to his name is a documentary about two gay men who are AIDS nurses and end up fostering children who are born with HIV. Yeah, I think we can safely say why he wrote “The Host”. There was an entire genre of stories in this vein following in the footsteps of the runaway success of Angels in America. As @Peter G. put it perfectly, he had a message baked into him. You can palpably feel it even if you aren’t cognitively aware of it.

“The Host” wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, but it said what the man making it wanted it to say. It isn’t a particularly revolutionary idea. Even Tom Hanks figured out that people would treat him different if he got himself a different, bigger body. But it is a story worth telling, if only because people seem to not quite understand that fundamental truth anymore.

https://youtu.be/CF7-rz9nIn4
Booming
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 1:54am (UTC -5)
Omicron wrote about what is basically the "death of the author" concept. To give an easy example Tommy Wiseau meant "The Room" to be a serious drama but everybody sees it as a hilarious comedy. Who is right? Does the author for all times have the right to define the art or is it more important how the audience perceives it. How about in most cases where we don't the authors intent?
Does the Mona Lisa smile or not?

I'm not 100% sure on which side of the authorial intent vs. death of the author I fall. Maybe one has to take it one art piece at a time.

In this case. Well, I have a veeeeeeeery vague memory of it but if you see it as a trans allegory then it is not transphobic but just shows a reality many transpeople in marriages/relationships go through. Many relationships break apart, often initiated by the person who does not transition. As Jammer correctly points out, the fact that Riker is the new host works against the story, also against the trans allegory which really only comes into play when Odan is put into a female body. It is a nice touch that Beverly says that she hopes that "Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited."
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 4:09am (UTC -5)
Author intent and finding our own ways to connecting with the material are not mutually exclusive.

Acknowledging author's intent is important. Acknowledging the a story has a life of it's own is equally important. The myth that - somehow - we need to choose one over the other is needlessly limiting.

And this myth is especially damaging when we're dealing with Star Trek, whose entire point is to seek new life and new civilizations and new ideas. If we can't personally connect with the aliens we "meet" on our TV screen, what's even the point of the entire endeavor?
Booming
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 5:55am (UTC -5)
It is a debate in film studies but I really only know a few basic things about it. I wasn't making any bigger point on how to approach it.
Mal
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 8:51am (UTC -5)
Thanks @OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, you make a splendid point. Star Trek presents literal aliens, many of whom have little to anything in common with us (e.g., Binars, Benzites, Zakdorn, Tellarites, and the famous Tamarians from Darmok). And yet Star Trek manages to find way for us to connect with these alien cultures. Even when their customs might be repugnant (remember the fantastic Cogenitor?). Even under some of the most difficult circumstances (e.g., Day of the Dove). That exercise in empathy is not an empty one. It is intended - like all great fiction - to help us learn how to relate to one another.

In a way, what @Rahul wrote is an expression of a Platonic Trekkie, "I can't say that I personally have any need to feel included or have an unusual personal experience where I look for some kind of validation.” The point of Star Trek is not the point of so many other TV shows. It is the opposite. While other shows might say, here, you can now relate because you belong to this ethnicity, and the actor does too, or you belong to this religion, and the actor does too, or you belong to this minority, and the actor does too - Star Trek challenges you with a literal alien that is not like you. Can you still empathize? Can you still respect?

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” did this as explicitly as can be done. They made the aliens half black and half white so there was no way for a white person or a black person to immediately pick a side in their fight. If we insist on squinting our eyes just so, and then say - well, one of the half-black-half-white aliens was played by a Greek, and the other by a Slovenian, and gosh darn it, those fuckers will pay for what Alexander the Great’s dad did to the Illyrians - then you are kind of missing the point ;)

And this may be where I take a slightly different tack from @Peter G. He writes, "I think it's fairly evident that the enormous fandom surrounding Data should indicate not that we're collectively attracted to robotics, but that he illustrates an aspect of us that we value very highly (the innocent, child-like desire to learn and the naivete about malicious intent).” The point of Data is that he isn’t human. He is a robot. And we can love him and relate to him anyway. Heck, the crew of the Enterprise even empathized with The Ship when it was trying to have a baby,

CONDUCTOR: We've been having some problems. The engine is running out of steam. I hope we make it to Vertiform City on time.

TROI: Is there anything we can do to help?

CONDUCTOR: Well, I could use a pair of strong arms in the engine room. Might help us get back on schedule.

TROI: Why don't you go with him, Worf? We'll see what we can do here.

RUSTIC: Excuse me. Are we going to get there okay?

TROI: Of course. You needn't worry about a thing.

The sad thing about The Picard Show is that they think Trekkies can only value a robot if that robot is indistinguishable from a woman. Star Trek used to have much higher hopes of its viewers. Remember Measure of a Man & The Offspring?

That’s where authorial intent comes in handy. On a well written show, you can bet the writer was going for something. For example, if you can see the absurdity in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, and you find meaning in it for whatever war you are currently fighting, then by all means, as they say: go with god. Relate to the story in whatever way gives it meaning in your life. But if the only way you can derive meaning from the story is to wedge something in there that applies to you personally - and then on top of that, you insist that that is what the author was really going for - then you have lost the plot, my friend.

The point of Star Trek is to relate despite our differences, not because of them.

In “The Host,” Beverly was able to overlook her differences with a Trill for long enough to have a whirlwind affair,

TROI: You've been glowing.

But it could only go on for so long before their differences became more than Beverly could bring herself to overcome. We’ve all been there. Such is life, no matter what country or culture you’re in. You don’t have to say you relate to it because Beverly is a redhead, and so are you, or whatever other detail you want to fixate on. Sometimes romance works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. The reasons why it doesn’t work out are as many as there are stars in the sky. But it always hurts,

Odan: Is there to be nothing more?

As the kids say, I feel you bro.
Peter G.
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 9:59am (UTC -5)
I mentioned earlier that I might have something else to add, and it turns out I do. I reached out to writer Michel Horvat and asked him a few questions about what he had in mind when writing The Host. He gave me permission to pass along his words, so I'll quote our short exchange below. Please note that while he was cordial to accept my questions, I would beg of others not to harass him and cause him to regret the fact that we're interested in his writing. As a tiny bit of background, do note this this is his only writing credit, and that his career was as a marriage and family therapist “specializing in Psychodynamic, Humanistic, Existential and LGBTQ Affirmative psychotherapy.”

Here's what he said, with introductions and pleasantries edited out:

PETER G.: Some others and I have been in discussion of "The Host" [...] and I would very much like to know if you had in mind when writing it some specific contemporary issue. For instance, was it about how homosexual love was seen in society; or perhaps a lool at transgender issues and transphobia? This last was suggested and it struck me that it could have been the intent[...]

MICHEL: I might best answer the question with a link to a small article for which I was interviewed. This might shed light on your question:

https://daniel7720-70916.medium.com/forget-me-not-the-legacy-of-star-treks-trill-ccda7f9a94f5

[I will quote a few parts of the article below]

PETER G.: Thank you for the link! So it sounds like the Trill had the underpinnings of ‘otherness’ that the LGTB community had, but that Odan wasn’t intended to be a precise parallel to a trans person per se. More like a question about different types of relationships and how people perceive your body versus your inner self?

MICHEL: Odan was not intended directly to pursue questions of transgender elements directly – but globaly [sic] it was meant to raise the conversation of our limited envisioning of what gender identity, attraction, love and coupling humans have. It was the 90’s and conversations of this depth had to be delivered in code back then. Science fiction was a relatively safe depository for such themes.

PETER G.: That explains a lot, including how the Trill could be used as an ongoing vehicle to explore any or all of these issues. Thanks for writing about things like this before society was ready. As someone who works in the theatre, we discuss and engage on these topics frequently, and it’s good to know the discussion was being bad back in 1991 (even in code). Thank you so much for your time and for the Trill. I love that species :)

MICHEL: You’re welcome.


-- a few relevant quotes from the article --

“That got me thinking about us as humans and the sides of ourselves that we fight or with which we cooperate. Couple that with my own sexuality, acceptance thereof, and struggles therein. I also had a name that was French for the first 10 years of my life, (I was born of European parents in Chile and went to French school) then we came to the United States, and all of a sudden I was deemed to have a “girl’s name” after that. It was not easy navigating people’s ignorance, cruelty, and prejudice. (A Boy Named Sue). In many ways, I felt like a fish out of water which prepped me to explore these themes.
[...]
For me, Odan and The Trill knew that it was difficult for non-Trill to understand and appreciate their joint species, so they were somewhat circumspect of revealing the joining. They were also a relatively new addition to the Federation and were being cautious of this sacred unique co-existence. They didn’t want to experience prejudice any more than an LGBT person wants to experience recrimination for who they are once they reveal it.
[...]
“The mystery of The Trill was their strength, like Two-Spirit individuals in the Native American traditions, it was the unknown and the strength of the Two Spirits that made them special. The Trill have the collective knowledge of their previous hosts and their previous incarnations to rely on, that’s what makes them such great ambassadors and peace negotiators. They know what it means to embody different perspectives. The revealed truth made them vulnerable. Coming out can feel very much like that. The idea of passing, of being accepted was being challenged there.”
Mal
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Thank you @Peter G. You are a treasure :)
Booming
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Nice one, Peter.

@Mal
"But if the only way you can derive meaning from the story is to wedge something in there that applies to you personally..."
That is easy for some to say because they are always included. I remember how many white heterosexual men complained when they were not included in all seasons of Discovery. Spock didn't count, Stamets didn't count. It had to be white heterosexual human man or the show was intolerant.

"and then on top of that, you insist that that is what the author was really going for - then you have lost the plot, my friend."

Now we know the authors intent.

Question:"Was that intentional as an allegory to queer societal acceptance — the feeling that queer people regardless of label or, in this case, a host are ‘still the same’ inside?"
Horvat:"Precisely. While I may not have articulated that to myself at that time, it was all about accepting the changing form of Odan (the name was an intentionally slightly changed Adam — the first male in the Bible). This was step one of dismantling the self into another self."
No plot was lost.
Tomalak
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
"if the only way you can derive meaning from the story is to wedge something in there that applies to you personally - and then on top of that, you insist that that is what the author was really going for - then you have lost the plot, my friend"

Well said - and great post in general. Personally, I think Star Trek has mostly been at its weakest when it has tried to sound off on contemporary issues: straw-manning of the other side of the argument and lacking any subtlety or nuance in favour of a simplistic message. I think anyone who watches it and genuinely thinks they are getting great arguments for their brand of politics in the 1960s-2020s is kidding themselves. As you say, it also suggests something unflattering about the person that they can't enjoy something like Star Trek unless they tell themselves that the party they didn't vote for really got 0wn3d by that particular episode. Lame.
Rahul
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
I think it's terrific that "Peter G." got in touch with the writer of this episode. What I find fascinating is that this is (pretty much) the only thing he wrote, as "Mal" pointed out earlier, and his profession is something entirely different. I must say I am envious of him. I think it must be pretty cool for him to see that after some 30 years, people are still thinking about and re-interpreting his TNG episode.

As most of us suspected, he didn't envision transgender specifically when writing the episode but it is a reasonable extension from what the episode was really about for me, which is can you (Dr. Crusher) keep loving somebody given their changing appearance (to put it far too simply given the complexities in this episode). And that is a worthy theme for a Trek episode. It reminds me of "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" -- which had a unique idea to focus on jealousy.

But my issue really was that I didn't agree that "The Host" is transphobic and so this is where I got on my soapbox about some viewers trying to shape an episode according to their personal experience (and maybe even agenda) and then criticizing it when it doesn't make the cut.

It also seems to me now that there are more shows catering to gays, queers etc. like "Wynonna Earp". That crowd goes nuts over this show.

I would finally add that a Trek episode is like an art form and is definitely meant to be interpreted in different ways by different people, but within limits. Those limits come about as it is different than interpreting a painting or a sculpture or a song.
William B
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
Interesting discussion. Major props to Peter G. for seeking out the author - very cool.
Peter G.
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"As most of us suspected, he didn't envision transgender specifically when writing the episode but it is a reasonable extension from what the episode was really about for me, which is can you (Dr. Crusher) keep loving somebody given their changing appearance (to put it far too simply given the complexities in this episode). And that is a worthy theme for a Trek episode."

While it's true that he did not specifically see Odan as having a transgender identity, as the same time I don't think it's quite fair to say that this topic *is not* present in the story. It seems to me what what he did was create a narrative space large enough to contain several avenues of analysis, not so restrictive that it was just about one thing. So the issues of homosexual love are present, which is why (according to the interview) it was so important that Odan's final host be female, which was the last straw for Crusher. Likewise the issue of changing outward form as contrasted with an identifiable inward person is clearly present, which is surely part of the trans discussion people have now. So Horvat's creation seems more inclusive than specific in terms of the issues it raised, which to me validates Deanna's feeling that this episode was about transgender issues. It a very real sense it was, even though it wasn't specific or isolated to that issue.

On the other hand it's probably true that the public articulation - even within what later became known as the transgender community - as "trans" didn't really exist in 1991, so from that standpoint some of you are correct that Horvat did not think of it in those terms. But from the interview it seems he does look back at it and see those issues as present in the story. So to an extent this is a linguistic issue: you can't articulate a point for which the language does not exist yet. Does that mean an effort to bring it up is "not really" about it if you don't articulate it in the terms it will eventually be identified with? Orwell believed that you can't even think a thought in the absence of suitable language to express it, and if that's true then Horvat could on the one hand not have been thinking of transgenderism as we now do, but on the other hand may have sensed 'something' that needed addressing, even if it wasn't possible to name it.

In the end I think both sides of this discussion were right in a way, but I absolutely do not think it's a valid takeaway to suggest that Deanna (the poster I initially responded to) is merely shoehorning in some personal issue. It's clearly present in the content in at least a general form, and it's evident that Horvat was professionally immersed in the headspace of marginalized communities. His actual clinical practice was clearly geared toward the sort of life experiences that he alludes to in The Host. It's no coincidence, as I think someone earlier mentioned.
Booming
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 1:52am (UTC -5)
@Rahul
"It also seems to me now that there are more shows catering to gays, queers etc. like "Wynonna Earp". That crowd goes nuts over this show."
The biggest problem shows have is that there is an avalanche of shows that is greenlighted because all the new streaming services try to fill their libraries with original content. Old shows cost gigantic amounts and more is better than less, execs probably think. It gives at least the illusion that there is much to see.

Two days ago I looked up the show Domina and it had an IMDB score of 7.0 and I thought:" Are there still shows outside of the 6.5 to 7.5 imdb range aka good shows?". I have rewatched Sopranos and that show is very good (9.2 imdb). Lots of terrible nails, though. Point being lots of mediocre stuff and if you want people to watch your show you need buzz so you do a gender swap or make the lead gay and the rage cycle starts. Wyonna Earp imdb score 7.5 (or Enola Holmes, 6.6). Thanks capitalism for sucking out the last bone marrow out of that concept. While I'm very much pro lgbt and like it that women can play more roles, it is sad that this is all so forgettable. Well, there is Mare of Easttown (8.6) but that looks depressing...
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 7:11am (UTC -5)
@Mal
"While other shows might say, here, you can now relate because you belong to this ethnicity, and the actor does too, or you belong to this religion, and the actor does too, or you belong to this minority, and the actor does too - Star Trek challenges you with a literal alien that is not like you. Can you still empathize? Can you still respect?"

If you can emphathize with an alien, then - by the very definition of empathy - you've found something in which that alien is "like you".

I also think that there's some confusion here between "relating due to ethnicity/tribalism" and "relating due to common experiences".

For example, I can personally relate to odd-ball characters in Star Trek (Spock, Odo, Data etc) because I'm an odd-ball myself. I can personally relate to cases of prejudice and oppression on Star Trek, because I've been subjected to them myself.

Similarly, some trans people can identify with Odan in "the Host" because their experiences are genuinely similar. Reducing it to "hey look! a trans on Star Trek (and let's ignore the fact that they're an alien)" is both unfair and rude. It also completely misses the point of what Star Trek is all about.

"But if the only way you can derive meaning from the story is to wedge something in there that applies to you personally - and then on top of that, you insist that that is what the author was really going for - then you have lost the plot, my friend."

No. If you can't find anything in the story that applies to you personally, then you can't enjoy the story.

Now, sure, if a person's perspective is so limited that they can find no personal relevance in anything except "this character has my ethnicity/religion/gender identity" then they have a problem. But that's a different issue than the one we've been dealing with here.

Also, there's nothing wrong with connecting with a character on these "superficial" grounds when it makes sense.
Rahul
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 9:35am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

To some extent I think your mis-characterizing what my initial argument was re. trans in this episode. As I said, "he didn't envision transgender specifically when writing the episode but it is a reasonable extension from what the episode was really about". So I'm not saying transgender issues are completely foreign to this story.

When I read Deanna's post, I found it was interesting that a trans person found something she could identify with in this episode that was consistent (via a reasonable extension) of the author's intent. Isn't that what Trek is all about?
But then she just blurts out that the episode is transphobic. And so I say to come to that conclusion when it clearly wasn't the author's intent (to be transphobic) is this business of shoehorning your own experience (and perhaps agenda) into something where it doesn't belong and then feeling dissatisfied. But she's free to feel how she wishes. Anybody can assert whatever they want, and people are free to agree or disagree.
Mal
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 9:38am (UTC -5)
@Peter G., not to take away from the great work you've done in this thread, but this is just not true: " 'trans' didn't really exist in 1991".

It is certainly not true for the world.

It isn't true for television.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transgender_characters_in_television

Heck, it isn't even true in Star Trek.

You need look no further than my review of The Outcast, which points out several examples, including the binars,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tng/s5/outcast.php

That reminds me of an old poem,

Sexual intercourse began 

In nineteen sixty-three

(which was rather late for me) – 

Between the end of the Chatterley ban 

And the Beatles’ first LP
Peter G.
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 10:02am (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

My objection, I suppose, may be principally levelled against Odan's Razor's dismissal of Deanna's observations; and to the extent that there was agreement with Odan's Razor's post, to those as well.

"But then she just blurts out that the episode is transphobic. And so I say to come to that conclusion when it clearly wasn't the author's intent (to be transphobic) is this business of shoehorning your own experience (and perhaps agenda) into something where it doesn't belong and then feeling dissatisfied. But she's free to feel how she wishes."

Are you sure? It seemed pretty clear to me that Deanna (the poster) was saying that the scene with Crusher toward the end *exhibited* not just homophobia, but transphobia. I can't see anything in that post saying the episode or author are transphobic. It's Beverly, or more specifically, the scenario Beverly is in, which reveals a transphobic (i.e. literally afraid of or put off by) reaction to the transformation. The idea is that Beverly couldn't handle the transition and noped out of the relationship, which Deanna is suggesting is transphobic (which is now conflated with hating trans people but doesn't literally have to mean that).

@ Mal,

"not to take away from the great work you've done in this thread, but this is just not true: " 'trans' didn't really exist in 1991".

It is certainly not true for the world."

I did a little research just now and it seems that the term was coined much earlier than I thought, although personally I would question how prevalent it was until the mid 90's or even later. So it literally did exist, but I had personally never heard it until well into the 2000's, and I had significant contact with arts and far-left leaning communities, so you'd think I would have. The thing about social theories in particular is that they often exist for quite a while but are relegated largely to academia or at least the a small circle of people who use the term. It may not be fair to suggest that it's not 'really' a concept until it becomes mainstream, but then again until the language becomes actually known it's hard to quite say that it exists vis a vis any sort of awareness of it. Horvat was likelier than most to have been acquainted with even obscure terms (assuming they were) so even if entire bastions of liberality had never heard of it, I suppose he might have.

You may be right that knowledge of it was broader than I think. At this point it's like doing archaeology; you'd have to dig up historical records and try to extrapolate what people knew or didn't know, and in which circles, to evaluate how reasonable it would be to assume that in the late 80's the concept as we now know it could be articulated. But I'll be happy to retract the hard line I put on it, as it's less clear than I thought.
Rahul
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 10:24am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

The Dr. Crusher scene near the end that is being called transphobic is really the key scene for the whole episode. It is there that Crusher is put to the test after all she's been through in the episode, so to speak. So in a way, how you view that scene is how you essentially view the whole episode IMHO -- I would not extend this to how you view the author necessarily (if there was some confusion in what I previously said).
Mal
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 11:21am (UTC -5)
@Peter G. said, "I had personally never heard it until well into the 2000's, and I had significant contact with arts and far-left leaning communities, so you'd think I would have"

Playboy had it's first trans photo spread back in 1991, when "The Host" first aired. Suffice it to say that at least a certain set of people were well aware!

Do not open this link ;)

https://twitter.com/Caroline_Cossey/status/913375947583377409

I said don't click!
Peter G.
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 11:23am (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

I more or less agree that the episode hinges on that scene. To the extent that "transphobic" could mean something a little less accusatory, maybe something like "you can't handle this transition", then it seems to apply to Crusher here. Certainly the extent to which someone like Crusher would accept Odan however he/she presents physically is going to be tied into how some people use the term "transphobic". I think maybe an area of potential disagreement is in using the term that way, which is fair enough. Whereas one person might suggest that Crusher - if enlightened - should have been able to accept Odan no matter the transition, many others would obviously argue that this is impossible and should not be expected. So whether the term "transphobic" applies might depend on your definition. But to the extent that one defines it as meaning "you reject me purely because I have transitioned" then I think there's a case that it's at least potentially applicable to the Crusher/Odan scene.

I don't think we need to agree that the final scene displays a transphobic choice by Crusher to agree that the author was trying to illustrate a situation where homophobia or transphobia may have been in play; in essence, "I can't deal with your physical characteristics, no matter who you are inside." At that point it's a question of whether you agree with the author's POV of life.
Booming
Mon, Jun 7, 2021, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
Maybe, and I'm speculating here, it is personal for Deanna. She mentioned a child, so maybe she was the Odan and the Beverly (male or female) went away. It often happens in heterosexual and homosexual relationships when one partner transitions. And depending on the country transitioning automatically bars you from participating in the upbringing of children if there is a custody battle.
Tomalak
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 6:03am (UTC -5)
'a situation where homophobia or transphobia may have been in play; in essence, "I can't deal with your physical characteristics, no matter who you are inside."'

Sorry, but I think this is just obviously laughable. Do you really think it's a phobia to be attracted only to the opposite sex? To lose sexual attraction to a person if they change sex? I don't believe for a minute you would still roger your wife or girlfriend if she grew a penis and I don't understand what you believe you gain from pretending otherwise.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 8:35am (UTC -5)
@ Tomalak,

"Do you really think it's a phobia to be attracted only to the opposite sex?"

My goal has been to try to articulate what I think the episode is saying, so just take note that whatever I've been writing has been analysis, not opinion. I think there's plenty of room for opinions on the subject (to say the least), but I've been trying to avoid offering them in this comment section. I think most people would agree with your opinion, but it's worth keeping in mind that there are some people who believe along the lines I articulated above (i.e. that rejecting someone who transitions is a sort of personal fault, or lack of enlightenment).
Booming
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 8:54am (UTC -5)
hmmm, so if an US soldier loses his genitals in an ied explosion then the wife should divorce him. Interesting. :)
Jason R.
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 9:14am (UTC -5)
"hmmm, so if an US soldier loses his genitals in an ied explosion then the wife should divorce him. Interesting. :)"

The better question is whether she would have married him in the first place after said event. Most people, if they are honest, would say no.

Indeed, I doubt it would be the first time a catastrophic injury leads to divorce. Happens all the time.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 9:34am (UTC -5)
What kind of stupid analogy is that?

First of all, losing your genitals in a war/accident is not synonymous to changing sex.

Secondly, if a person was mutilated against their will, leaving them would be a dick move (pun intended).

Thirdly, Booming, your entire analogy does not do transgender people any favors. What's next? Equating neuro-diverse people with brain injury victims? Seriously, if that's the way you're "defending" diversity, perhaps it would be better to say nothing at all.

@Tomalak
"Do you really think it's a phobia to be attracted only to the opposite sex? To lose sexual attraction to a person if they change sex?"

Not any more or any less than it is a "phobia" to lose sexual attraction after any other kind of extreme change in your partner. Saying that "I'll love you no matter how much you change" might sound romantic, but in reality it is just an empty statement: If we love a person regardless of how might change, then what is it - exactly - about them that we love?

(and yes, this applies to physical changes just as it applies to personality changes. The two can't really be seperated anyway, since the body and the mind affect one another)
Jason R.
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 9:47am (UTC -5)
"Secondly, if a person was mutilated against their will, leaving them would be a dick move (pun intended)."

I can't help but think that in actuality, not wanting someone because of an injury is, morally speaking, neither better nor worse than not wanting to stay with them because of one. If you reject someone you just met, say, because they have no penis, is that morally distinct from leaving someone because they no longer have one?

I know what the answer should be if I follow my feelings but is that feeling actually justifiable? Does it need justification or is it enough to assert that it IS end of discussion?

I realize I am playing devil's advocate here and concede that I certainly feel as you do on this subject - yet I wonder if we are too quick to leave our feelings uninterrogated.

Haha! And now I feel I might be saying we are responsible for our feelings as much as our actions, which is the opposite of what I originally intended.

Next thing you know, I'll argue that a cis male who rejects a trans woman for having a penis is as bigoted as a cis female who rejects a cis male for not having a penis who is as bigoted as a cis female who leaves a man who has lost his penis....
Booming
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
It's not stupid. The whole thing boils down to the same thing. If genitals change, relationship over.

To your second point. So if you voluntarily go into a warzone, maybe for profit, and are mutilated there, then that is more acceptable than being transgender undergoing transition to avoid serious mental pain?

Thirdly, I'm not defending anything. I'm just poking a few holes into this logic. It is an interesting philosophical question. Well, maybe only to me. :D

I guess, I got Jason hooked. :)
Top Hat
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
I'm wondering if it might be useful to make a micro/macro, or perhaps textual and extratextual distinction here.

On the micro level, there's nothing homophobic or transphobic about the end of the episode. If Beverly Crusher is a heterosexual, she doesn't need to enter a non-heterosexual relationship just because the opportunity to do so arises. Crusher's decision is played as sad and resigned.

But on the macro level, it's also pretty clear that the convention of television at the period. This is a show in which basically no non-heterosexual relationships are depicted in its whole duration, and as we know, it took Whoopi Goldberg's intercession to replace lines about "a man and a woman" with "two people" in "The Offspring." There's also the fact that relationships of any kind rarely outlast an episode. As tastefully as Crusher's decision might be handled at the end of "The Host," it's also a foregone conclusion.

So perhaps one could argue for the episode as being more complicated than simply homophobic or transphobic, but also acknowledge that it is reflective of an intolerant society.
Tomalak
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:01am (UTC -5)
"there's nothing homophobic or transphobic about the end of the episode. If Beverly Crusher is a heterosexual, she doesn't need to enter a non-heterosexual relationship just because the opportunity to do so arises"

I agree and I think that's all there is to it. Alternative interpretations seem to be no more than squinting to see something that isn't there, and makes little sense.
William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:19am (UTC -5)
I think those arguing that the authorial intent may be to depict Beverly's not going for Kareel to be a sort of flaw have cause from within the episode.

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.

Beverly acknowledges that it *might* be a failing, but one shared by humanity as a whole (or, perhaps, a large proportion). I think that a plausible read of the episode is that Odan represents a philosophy of love which is about the person's soul, where the body is irrelevant, or nearly so, and Beverly here represents the practical reality that the majority of people attach romantic love to the body. Odan's disappointment that Beverly does not have the same ability to maintain a relationship across physical forms that the Trill (in this episode's incarnation) do maps nicely onto human people who feel similarly. Beverly seems to be suggesting that there may be an ideal possible future where the physical form is no longer a deal breaker. So the idea is presented that it is not necessarily a non-negotiable aspect of humanity, but something which might be "grown out of." Beverly and the episode hedge their bets. Maybe she's just letting Odan down easy and Odan's expectation that Beverly *should* be able to roll with the body (gender) changes is not aspirational. But it's a possibility raised anyway.

If it's a flaw that Beverly can't or won't adapt to Odan's female form, it's presented not as a personal failing but as a general one. But that doesn't mean it can't still be a failing. Whether we agree or not, I think the episode allows the possibility that it is a failing. IMHO.
Booming
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:26am (UTC -5)
William makes a good point. Especially if we contrast it with the Trill who don't care about male or female as seen with Dax and Khan but also to some degree in this. The female host doesn't seem to care that Beverly is female.
William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Yeah. I want to add that if the episode is saying that this is a flaw, it's a flaw shared by any monosexual people, gay or straight, who can only romantically love someone of a specific gender; or, indeed, anyone who can only romantically love someone good looking, or anything like that, or a host (lol) of other physical issues. It's a very, very general human condition, for romantic love to be tied in with a physical form. I think Beverly is not being strongly, sharply criticized, in any version of the episode, but rather *possibly* shown to be limited.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Yes, William B, that's the case I've been trying to explore, or at any rate that I thought was opened up by Deanna's initial post that I responded to. That's why I thought it was a neat observation. I know actual people who do believe such things, that the attachment to a particular form is a failing that needs to be grown out of. This is true not only in regards to the gendered sphere, but there are also for transhumanists who believe we need to get past our concept of "human being" itself as tied to our current physical form. There may be some overlap between these positions, although I'm not entire clear on the...uh, epistemology of the arguments sufficiently to proffer an opinion on that particular point.

I think it's reasonably clear that The Host is at least opening up the question of whether the Trill aren't perhaps a more evolved form of society, even if the whole symbiont thing seems icky to us mere humans. And to be frank DS9 could have gone a lot further exploring the ways in which the Trill really are different and have a superior perspective (having lived multiple lives). The closest we get to an attempt to show them as being really different was in the pilot, where Jadzia acts as if she's evolved beyond getting excited by flirting. That ended up being a non-starter, but at least it was something beyond merely having a jumble of personalities down in there somewhere.
William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, yep, that's what I thought you were getting at (and what Horvat seemed to be gesturing to). Again I really appreciate you reaching out to him. I think the episode has some of episodes like TOS' Metamorphosis and Is There In Truth No Beauty in its DNA, and adds gender to the physicality themes.
Mal
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G. said,

"I know actual people who do believe such things, that the attachment to a particular form is a failing that needs to be grown out of"

and also,

"The Host is at least opening up the question of whether the Trill aren't perhaps a more evolved form of society"

Jadzia discusses exactly that with Kira,

KIRA: Feel like getting together for dinner tonight?

DAX: Can't. I'm having dinner with Captain Boday.

KIRA: The Gallamite? You're going out on a date with him?

DAX: Is something wrong with that?

KIRA: No. Not at all.

DAX: He happens to be brilliant. His brain is twice the size of yours and mine.

KIRA: I know. I've seen it.

DAX: It's not his fault Gallamites have transparent skulls.

KIRA: No, it's not. It's not exactly the view I want to have with dinner.

DAX: You know, Kira, sometimes I think you place too much emphasis on how men look.

KIRA: What's that supposed to mean?

DAX: Nothing.

KIRA: Look, when I kiss a man goodnight, I like to know where I'm kissing him.

DAX: I guess seven lifetimes gives me a somewhat broader perspective.

KIRA: Since I have just one lifetime, I have to be a little more particular about whom I go out with.

I wonder if Jadzia would say, as @Peter G. put it, that she comes from a "more evolved form of society" than Kira? And if she did say something like that, I wonder what Kira's reaction would be?

Kira: I was hoping you'd ask,

https://youtu.be/-8PuOQi4ot8?t=15

I remember this used to be a much bigger deal back in the early days of internet dating (90's). Could your attraction to someone you have only exchanged words with in a chat room survive once you meet them IRL and find out they are a dog,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Internet,_nobody_knows_you%27re_a_dog

Of course they "solved" that "problem" eventually, and now sometimes all you see is a picture of what they look like - no words at all! Progress ;)

As @William B says, "It's a very, very general human condition, for romantic love to be tied in with a physical form." Star Trek might show a very different future as far as many things are concerned - technology of course - but also there's Picard's famous speech in The Neutral Zone about 24th century economics.

But, as @William B puts it, the "general human condition" that ties romance with physical appearance, carries forward to the 23rd century (we see how carried away a woman can be with Khan's charisma) and the 24th century (we see how magnetic Lutan is to Tasha despite all his flaws).

What's interesting is that in the 24th century, how you look, including presumably, whether you appear as a man or a woman, is a real choice,

DAX: So what do you think?

KIRA: Think?

DAX: The nose?

KIRA: It's flattering.

DAX: I'm thinking of keeping it.

Faced with so many choices, a lot of people just go with what they know,

BASHIR: You know, Constable, I could give you any face you like. Bajoran, human, Trill.

ODO: My old face will do very nicely, thank you.

What is great about DS9, versus TNG, is that we got the entire range of perspectives found in the 24th century.

From Kira, who is so fixated on form at the start, but eventually falls in love with a formless shapeshifter; to Odo, who can be anything he wants, but decides to go with something as close to the scientists who was assigned to him (Dr. Mora). To Jake and Nog transfixed by a shapely Vulcan female. To Martok powerless in front of his overbearing mate. To Worf, always ready to get married the morning after. To Sisko smitten with another man's wife. To Dax and Kahn who love each other no matter what bodies they are in, even though the Trill have strict Taboos against that sort of thing.

Because if there is one thing about sex, every society has its own taboos. You might think they are all free love types, but that's only because you haven't bumped up against their particular boundaries as yet.

PICARD: I don't care to interfere in the personal relationships of those under my command, but in this case

WESLEY: You want me to stay away from Salia?

PICARD: Yes, I do.

And just to close the loop, in that case, Wesley had the hots for a shapeshifter!
Trish
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
It is true, as @Booming says, that the female host does not "seem to care" about Beverly's sex and gender, but I would go a step farther to say that the host doesn't seem to care about anything at all, post-joining.

Yes, there are all the things we learn about the Trill in DS9, but some of that later knowledge isn't consistent with what is in this episode. I mean, Odan actually points to the pouch where the symbiont dwells and declares that "this" is who he is. As far as I recall (it's been a while since I've seen the episode), when Odan is joined with Riker, other than moments of being visually familiar, there's no indication that Riker is really there. There's no sign that he is a conscious part of the joined identity, or that the symbiont has access to Riker's memories. When Odan speaks of Riker, even while joined with him, it is in the third person. Sure, if we really work at it, we can find explanations to reconcile the things Jadzia tells us about the Trill experience with what Odan shows us in this episode, such as that maybe both Riker and the female host are just still figuring out how to function within the joined identity. But really, I think the concept of the species was actually changed. Odan portrays the original premise, in which the symbiont is the real person, the only person. The host may be a person before joining, and, as in the case of Riker, after separation, but the host contributes nothing to the personality of a joined Trill.

In a sense, the Trill as represented by Odan don't exactly love the "soul" of a person. They love the symbiont.

I think the DS9 premise makes things much more interesting, and might have led very naturally to a different response from the Beverly character. Even if she were very much a heterosexual (who knows? maybe someday "H" will be added to LGBTQ), she might have felt the kind of instant affinity for the "new" Odan that Ben Sisko felt for Jadzia Dax, but at the level of a deep, comfortable friendship rather than romantic attraction. Odan's question would then not have been so much about "nothing more," but just "So it's different now?"

"Not less," Beverly might have said with a nod, "but different."
Steven
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Some great discussion here. One could also flip the script on Odan and reason that if Odan itself was more considerate of Beverly’s feelings (regardless of how un-enlightened it found them), it would’ve found a reasonable male host. As I remember, there’s was no overwhelming reason for it to end up in a female in the end except that that’s who was available.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 4:31am (UTC -5)
@William B
"I think those arguing that the authorial intent may be to depict Beverly's not going for Kareel to be a sort of flaw have cause from within the episode."

I agree.

The question is: What should a viewer do, when authorial intent seems to oversimplify a complex situation? Should you insist on taking it at face value? Or should we look at the "spirit of the law" and expand on the original meaning?

On the one hand, I get the point that Horvat was trying to make.

But on the other hand, they way it was protrayed in the episode is problematic. Claiming that a person's romantic preferences are "a flaw" is... well... a notion that I find very hard to swallow.

By the way, if I were Beverly, I'd run off screaming the minute I discovered that my "lover" is a slug using humanoid hosts as mindless containers. To me that's a far bigger NOPE then any gender issue (and I'm 100% heterosexual). Maybe Beverly's real flaw is that it took a sex-swap for her to snap out of her infatuation and realize exactly what she got herself into...
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 5:29am (UTC -5)
@Jason R.
"I can't help but think that in actuality, not wanting someone because of an injury is, morally speaking, neither better nor worse than not wanting to stay with them because of one. If you reject someone you just met, say, because they have no penis, is that morally distinct from leaving someone because they no longer have one?"

The difference is that when you reject a stranger, you're not breaking the trust of a long-term friend who relies on you. Why do you think they say "till death do us part" in weddings? It's not just for kicks, you know.

Another difference is that - hopefully - a person's relationship with their long-term partner is not a one-trick pony that centers on sex. If two people spent a considerable portion of their lives building something wonderful together, it's just stupid to break it all just because of this one thing.

On the other hand, when you just met someone, before you've built anything, it's perfectly reasonable and logical to say "nope, we are not good a match and this isn't worth the effort".


Speaking of which:

Perhaps one lesson that we could learn from this episode, is not to confuse a mad infatuation with an actual sustainable relationship. The way Odan and Beverly recklessly progressed was just a recipe for disaster.
Tomalak
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 7:20am (UTC -5)
'Why do you think they say "till death do us part" in weddings? It's not just for kicks, you know.'

Well said. Another way of putting your point is that it renders marriage a kind of meaningless promise if you are essentially under the same "for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health" obligations to everybody. The point is you are voluntarily pooling the risk out of love and commitment - not that you are obliged to be attracted to everyone equally no matter what.
Rahul
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 8:40am (UTC -5)
I re-watched the key scenes in this episode yesterday (quite the coincidence that it just happened to be on TV at a convenient time) and think McFadden does a pretty good acting job here in conveying her dramatic change in sentiment toward Odan now in a female’s body. I generally feel McFadden is a below-average actor amongst the Trek main casts but I liked how she was trying to be polite/considerate toward the woman while also handling the sudden change in emotion within herself.

Crusher is a heterosexual woman and while we now know (thanks to Peter G.) a lot more about the author’s intent (not transphobic but suggesting of an acceptance of relationships that are beyond strictly physically heterosexual), I also think that while Crusher doesn’t have feelings for Odon anymore due to the female appearance, she may (IMHO as my own interpretation, which is likely not the author’s intent) also feel that it is not appropriate for a heterosexual female to feel attracted to another female. What makes me think of this is her reaction to being kissed (on the wrist) and trying to mask her discomfort. I think that came across well in the acting. I think her acting may actually say more than the quote William B. provided: “Perhaps it is a human failing…” Maybe she doesn’t really (deep-down) think it is a human failing if she’s heterosexual to feel uncomfortable when flirted with by somebody of ostensibly the same sex, but is trying to be polite/considerate. So perhaps the episode does hedge its bets.
Jason R.
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 9:42am (UTC -5)
"The difference is that when you reject a stranger, you're not breaking the trust of a long-term friend who relies on you. Why do you think they say "till death do us part" in weddings? It's not just for kicks, you know."

Are you sure about that? Apart from the simple fact that a huge percentage of marriages do eventually end up in divorce, I know of no one living in modern society who believes that this oath is literally binding "till death do us part". Pretty much anyone in a modern context concedes that there are conditions which, if met, would lead to divorce (eg: a spouse raping or abusing them, a spouse going to jail for a heinous crime...) in 2021 It is a massive conceit (bordering on willful blindness) to pretend otherwise.

Incidentally, I'd add sex change to the list of things that many spouses would consider "deal breakers" in this context and yes, to many people, a man without a penis is certainly no longer truly a "man" at least not a complete one.

And if you say it is heinous to think that after you marry someone, why is it less heinous to think so before?

"Another difference is that - hopefully - a person's relationship with their long-term partner is not a one-trick pony that centers on sex. If two people spent a considerable portion of their lives building something wonderful together, it's just stupid to break it all just because of this one thing."

I think you are guilty of an equivocation here or at least a lack of clarity when you use the word "sex". Sex, as in coitus (or even expanding the definition to other forms like oral or masturbation...) is important to marriages, but admittedly not essential, especially as couples age and their respective needs may change. But sex, as in the sex of each person, isn't something incidental to most relationships.

There is a tendency in some circles to pooh poo or downplay the physical as being base or unimportant next to the spirit and the mind, which is a very Christian attitude. But a person's body, I put it to you, is every bit as essential characteristic in any marriage. Otherwise, you reduce all romantic relationships to the status of friends (with or without benefits). You take out an essential component.

Now getting back to the penisless man, my view is that when you strip away the irrelevancies, it is morally not all that different to reject such a man at the outset versus doing so after being married to him. Either way you are rejecting someone based on what you perceive to be a fundamental condition-precedent to the relationship.

Now the one difference I see here between the two scenarios is that if you reject a stranger, that is going to damage his feelings far less than if you reject a man you married and might have built a life with. And certainly you might be so connected with him that you can't bare to hurt him so.

But on the other hand, if your feeling is so strong that you never would have married him in that condition, then you are, presumably, sacrificing your own well being for his. And it should be noted that marriages based on unwilling or co-erced sacrifice where one person's needs are ignored, frequently end in divorce anyway.

Anyway, as I said I am playing devil's advocate here and concede that my feelings about the situation are in line with yours- but honestly I am just not sure those feelings can be justified truly.
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R,

"There is a tendency in some circles to pooh poo or downplay the physical as being base or unimportant next to the spirit and the mind, which is a very Christian attitude."

I think you might actually find the reality to be a bit counter-intuitive, namely that this attitude is most likely to be found among atheists and far-left leaning people, and that Christians by and large are the least likely to be ok discounting physical sexuality as being crucial. The "I am my brain, not my body" is a maxim espoused by a non-trivial amount of people in what we might call the liberal camp, whereas I think you will find no equivalent "I am my spirit, not my body" camp in Western religious circles. Maybe some Buddhists might subscribe to this? But even so it would be in their metaphysics, not in their practical and family life.
Booming
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Equating liberals and the far left. That is just not fair! I know many from the "far left" and they are pretty normal when it comes to physical desires. Ha! It is actually the right who values certain physical traits, no matter how the mind is. :D

For men the physical is very important, for women less so. The body changes, the mind remains. Something to consider when you search for something long term. A friend, quite the playboy with many "encounters", chose a pretty average looking woman. They are happily married for 20 years. One of the smartest man I have known.

This scene, is the change here a cause for divorce? :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ag4IhsMckU
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Equating liberals and the far left. That is just not fair!"

Actually I wasn't equating them. I tried to make two distinct statements that have some differences between them, referencing the far-left in the first clause, and liberals in the second. More specifically, I am also not equating the tendency to downplay the physical with the maxim that "I am my brain." These are quite different in practice.
Jason R.
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
"The body changes, the mind remains"

If only it were true. Even excluding conditions like Alzheimers it is simply a fact that the mind, like everything else, changes as we age. You are no more mentally the same person at 90 as when you were 20 than physically.
OmicronThetaDeltaphi
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

"Are you sure about that? Apart from the simple fact that a huge percentage of marriages do eventually end up in divorce, I know of no one living in modern society who believes that this oath is literally binding 'till death do us part'."

Sure, if your spouse is abusive or becomes a serial killer or becomes a Justin Bieber fan, then you have an out.

But these extreme cases don't negate the general sentiment of those wedding vows.

"Incidentally, I'd add sex change to the list of things that many spouses would consider 'deal breakers' in this context"

I would say that if a spouse undergoes a sex change operation without any consideration to how this may affect their partner, then that's a far bigger deal-breaker then the sex-change itself.

"Sex, as in coitus (or even expanding the definition to other forms like oral or masturbation...) is important to marriages, but admittedly not essential, especially as couples age and their respective needs may change. But sex, as in the sex of each person, isn't something incidental to most relationships."

Agreed.

But a man who got injured in a strategic location is still a male biologically. Such an injury would only affect "sex" as in your first definition, which is why I concentrated on it. Remember that this is what we were talking about: The question of whether it's okay to ditch a partner after such an accident.

"Now getting back to the penisless man, my view is that when you strip away the irrelevancies, it is morally not all that different to reject such a man at the outset versus doing so after being married to him. Either way you are rejecting someone based on what you perceive to be a fundamental condition-precedent to the relationship."

I don't really understand where your difficulty here is.

Why should we equate the romantic rejection of stranger with ditching a life-long partner? How is this in any way logical? As Tomalak aptly stated, making this assumption completely empties our relationships of any kind meaning: If we expect the same from our spouses and from strangers, what's even the point of marriage?

"if your feeling is so strong that you never would have married him in that condition, then you are, presumably, sacrificing your own well being for his."

What do you mean by "if your feeling is so strong"? Why should a strong feeling be associated with NOT choosing someone? When seeking a partner, people are both emotionally and logically justified to limit their search to narrow criteria that fit their own personality.

Emotionally - if there's no initial attraction, you're going to have a very hard time getting anywhere. The other person could be the greatest person in the world, but if there is no "click" then you're unlikely to have the patience to find this out.

And Logically: Dating indiscriminately is simply not a smart way to find suitable partners. Sure, it is *possible* that this girl whose voice annoys the heck out of you will turn out to be a perfect match in all other ways, but it's not very probable.

In short, some discrimination in the dating process is not just inevitable but actually desirable.

OTOH when you're already in a relationship, none of the above applies any more. You're no longer gambling blindly. You already (hopefully) know of plenty of things that make your partner attractive to you. Throwing all that away just because one thing has changed is not just immoral but also pretty stupid from a selfish perspective. Either that, or the relationship wasn't worth that much in first place...
dlpb
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
I don't understand what you believe you gain from pretending otherwise.
-------

Virtue Signaling.
Booming
Wed, Jun 9, 2021, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
Did you? Sorry, warm weather and cold wine.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Jun 10, 2021, 7:59am (UTC -5)
I apologize if this seems a bit crass but I wanted to offer comment on this:

@Mal said:

"Beverly is sexy af, and you can't blame a guy from trying ;)"

Agreed, and also, I found out the other day that Gates McFadden only goes by "Gates" when she is acting; she was actually a respected choreographer in Hollywood before TNG happened, she worked on Labyrinth (yes, the one with David Bowie). Her name is Cheryl McFadden, and she uses it for her choreography credits. "Gates" is her middle name.

... And uh, I uh, ... buhuhuhuh!! ...She's very beautiful
Top Hat
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
It may interest some here that actual trans commentators have weighed in on this episode. Here, for instance: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cDovL2ZlZWRzLnNvdW5kY2xvdWQuY29tL3VzZXJzL3NvdW5kY2xvdWQ6dXNlcnM6MjUwNzI3ODUxL3NvdW5kcy5yc3M/episode/dGFnOnNvdW5kY2xvdWQsMjAxMDp0cmFja3MvMjkxMjEyMjE1?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjw86ntoJDxAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ
Anonymius
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 4:00am (UTC -5)
Peter G

"I know actual people who do believe such things, that the attachment to a particular form is a failing that needs to be grown out of. This is true not only in regards to the gendered sphere, but there are also for transhumanists who believe we need to get past our concept of "human being" itself as tied to our current physical form. There may be some overlap between these positions, although I'm not entire clear on the...uh, epistemology of the arguments sufficiently to proffer an opinion on that particular point.

I think it's reasonably clear that The Host is at least opening up the question of whether the Trill aren't perhaps a more evolved form of society, even if the whole symbiont thing seems icky to us mere humans. And to be frank DS9 could have gone a lot further exploring the ways in which the Trill really are different and have a superior perspective (having lived multiple lives). The closest we get to an attempt to show them as being really different was in the pilot, where Jadzia acts as if she's evolved beyond getting excited by flirting. That ended up being a non-starter, but at least it was something beyond merely having a jumble of personalities down in there somewhere."

so what you're saying is it's wrong to be straight or even gay?
Booming
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Yes, that is absolutely what he is saying. He not only thinks it is wrong, he thinks it is disgusting. Any sexuality or procreation that goes beyond touching the index finger is a mortal failing that needs to be overcome. Now show us your index finger!

Next question.
Booming
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 4:47am (UTC -5)
To give you a visual of how sex should look like.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_Adam_%28cropped%29.jpg
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 8:48am (UTC -5)
"so what you're saying is"

Nicely memed.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
"Now show us your index finger."

I'm shocked and appalled at this blatant call for exhibitionism. Do you have no shame? ;-)
Booming
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Shame is just a concept of the bourgeoisie because they don't want the working class to enjoy touching index fingers!
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Sigh.

Way to kill the fun, Booming. Guess that'll teach me to never joke with *you* again.
Booming
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
ditto
Mal
Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
For hot digit-on-digit sex, click here!

https://youtu.be/zMbI_7PHDH0

Oh Kathy, don't you like to watch?
Booming
Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 1:04am (UTC -5)
I think this is also veeeeeeeeeery hot, also a little disturbing and it goes on quite a while.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXnsqDLOnmw
Frake's Nightmare
Sat, Jul 24, 2021, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Two points -
1, Clearly all of this was just engineered by Riker so he could add The Crusher to his score sheet.
2, And Picard was clearly thinking 'You had sex with that!' when he was looking in the exhibition case.

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