The Trill Problem

TNG: "The Host" showed us a symbiosis of two species, one humanoid host and one Trill symbiont implanted into the host. I didn't like the episode for several reasons. First of all, it is a recurring theme in TNG that the Enterprise has guests who don't reveal their true nature. It is just not credible that friendly guests always remain silent about their (potentially hazardous) peculiarities, and that no scans indicate their nature either. Secondly, no humanoid would be keen on being subdued to the Trill symbiont the way it was shown in "The Host". Thirdly, Beverly, who has fallen in love with Odan and is suddenly confronted with Odan in Riker's body and finally a female host, seems to come to the conclusion that heterosexuality is something that needs to be overcome in favor of something more universal or more inclusive. I firmly disagree, because sexual reproduction has obviously been the foundation of all human life (and of most other species likewise) for millions of years. Tolerance for gay and lesbian relationships is one thing, but Beverly would essentially deny her own identity if it was her goal that it doesn't have to matter who or what she is attracted to.

Anyway, my criticism of the episode itself is not what this brief article is about. The issue is that the producers of DS9 liked the TNG Trill episode obviously more than I did, and they decided to include a Trill character, namely Jadzia Dax, in the new series. It is usually pleasant to see such a kind of inter-series continuity, but in the case of the Trills it turned out a disaster. DS9 Trills are completely different than TNG Trills in almost all respects - although the people who created Dax probably thought they would make only a few insignificant changes to the species' outer appearance. The real-world reason for the decision for the change was probably that the make-up with the forehead ridges didn't look good on Terry Farrell, according to the DS9 Companion.

The Star Trek Encyclopedia almost completely dismisses the problem and only comments on the fact that Odan doesn't want to use the transporter: "Certain Trill symbionts can be severely damaged by beaming, which is why Odan insisted on using the shuttlecraft in 'The Host' (TNG). Other Trills, including Jadzia Dax, don't seem to have the same problem."



If we compare the biological and other characteristics of DS9 Trills (Jadzia and Ezri Dax plus several more of her species) and TNG Trills (at least the two that were in "The Host"), numerous significant differences become evident:



Given all this evidence, there is absolutely no way for the TNG Trills and the DS9 Trills to be the same species. The only thing they have in common, besides the name, is that they are both living in symbiotic relationships. But otherwise the two Trills are quite obviously not closer related to one another than humans to Klingons, for instance. On the other hand, why should two different species, who only have in common that they consist of a host and a symbiont, coincidentally have the same name? I don't have a clue. This is just awfully bad continuity.

When TPTB insisted on DS9 Trills looking different, they had better given Jadzia's species a different name too. This would have solved most of the above problems, except for Beverly's astonishment when she obviously encounters a joined species for the very first time.


See Also

Observations in TNG: "The Host"

DS9 Main Characters, Part 1 - Ben Sisko, Kira, Odo, Dax



Most screen caps were supplied by Jörg Hillebrand. Thanks to Alex, Jeremy and Raja for some additional thoughts on the topic.


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