In the twenty-third episode of the fourth season of The Next Generation, Dr. Crusher’s love life is complicated by a secret. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For cissexism, homophobia, consent
Oh, I wanted to like this so much more than I did. And I was board – utterly on board! – right until the end, when a poor writing decision just tanks the entire thing. I know that there’s a complicated dance that many of us have to do when watching television or films from twenty, thirty, forty, and such years ago. They’re simply not going to get some things right. Now, I’m not going to trod out that whole “product of their time” nonsense because I’m often bored by that logic. That’s especially the case here, since The Next Generation is trying to give us a utopian future (or as close to one as possible), a glimpse of what our world can be like when we conquer most of the prejudices that have plagued us. And then… this? Really?
Here’s the thing. Prior to that abysmal, deplorable ending, this was a GREAT episode. I think that this was meant to be an exploration of desire and attraction. Is love attraction to a body or to a personality? What would happen if the person you loved suddenly and rapidly changed their appearance? Would you still love them? These are great questions to ask! And Dr. Crusher has to deal with this in an admittedly upsetting way. It’s not like she’s gotten much of a chance to romance anyone on the ship in the last four years, so I get why this was so jarring to her. I understand on some level why she was angered by Odan’s secret, too, especially since it calls into question what part of Odan she was attracted to.
Look, it’s not a comfortable question to ask, and I think some self reflection is absolutely crucial here. I know this issue is compounded for me because I’m a gay man. What kind of men have I been attracted to? Am I attracted to them because I’ve been conditioned to find a specific kind of guy attractive? Where does that attractiveness come from?
Here’s where “The Host” loses me. I think I’m fine with the challenge here being presented to Dr. Crusher through Riker. Yes, it’s awkward that she’s now made out with a commanding officer, but hey, at least it was with someone she knew. It feels a lot safer than with a stranger in that context. But when Odan is finally returned to a Trill body and this time, it’s someone who presents as a woman, suddenly, attraction is off the table. Oh, so now the chance of fostering a relationship is gone? Once we invoke a possible same-gender pairing, it’s all about discomfort. Look, I get that Dr. Crusher is straight, and no one’s sexuality should be forcibly changed. But these are fictional characters, and in this instance, a more courageous writer would have at least done something with this opportunity. Confirmed the existence of bisexuality? Mentioned gender reassignment surgery? Trans people? Talked about any possibility that would have made Dr. Crusher’s love for Odan possibly in their new body? Instead, we get a wishy-washy excuse that humans simply aren’t evolved enough to withstand these kind of changes.
Oh, honey, some of us long ago evolved. Don’t put this on the entire human race. This isn’t a human problem. It’s the problem of cis people and straight people.
Blah. That did not leave a good taste in my mouth.
The video for “The Host” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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