The only real problem with this episode is that the Trills were a major plot element of DS9 with Dax and the Dax symbiont that it’s hard to watch this episode and not point out all the changes that were made to flesh out the Trills. Here the Trills don’t have the cool tattoos, but more importantly, here the Trills take over the host’s personality whereas on DS9 it’s established it’s a communal relationship between host and symbiont. However, uber-nerdiness aside, this is a very interesting episode that explores how far love can and can’t go between living creatures. Crusher has to endure real love, then that love through Riker, then again through a woman she has never met before – it’s a fantastic idea and I understand better now why DS9 wanted to have a Trill on the show since it raises a lot of fascinating questions. I will say, and maybe this is just me being too much of a boy, but the melodramatic elements of this episode were a little over the top, I mean how long was Riker standing at the bar staring at Crusher when she was talking to Troi?
Half A Life is another top 5 all time episode and is a nearly perfect Trek episode. Lwaxana is the main star this time, but she’s foiled by the fantastic David Ogden Stiers who just kills it in every scene. In fact he’s probably the best guest actor (non repeating) the show has ever had. His and Lwaxana’s relationship feels genuine and natural and the script doesn’t take the easy way out by settling for an easy answer to the question of euthanasia. Interestingly this is the first episode with Michelle Forbes who will be back later as Ensign Ro and was almost Major Kira on DS9. Majel Barrett does not get enough credit as an actress, her role as Lwaxana is impressive and this episode in particular really makes her a part of the main casting a way just as John DeLance does as Q Great, amazing episode.
Really interesting episode that exposes the cracks in the Federation’s seemingly perfect society. But more importantly it shows how easy it is for people in power to condemn innocent people for things like national security, and the greater good. It’s easy to make anyone look guilty, it is a lot harder to constantly be vigilant against letting fascists take control. The episode was a warning for our own society. One of the best TNG episodes.