Production Order: 12
Air Order: 16
Original Air Date: February 8, 1988
Hey, friends. Have you seen the "teaser-trailer" for the new Star Trek series? You know, that show that they're only showing on the CBS pay-channel? No, it's okay. You don't have to rush off to watch it. I'll sum it up: the camera moves past some CGI planets. Then we get this gem:
Well, no shit, Sherlock. Those are things that we expect to find in a new Star Trek series. We've done this multiple times already, we know what to expect.
This is not a "teaser-trailer." There's no substance. It's like knowing your book report presentation is due tomorrow, and you know you haven't got much of anything to present, so you throw together a Power Point with a picture of the cover of the book, and include the phrase "In conclusion, I really, really, really, really, really, really liked this book."
It's not a tease. You haven't convinced me to shell out cash-money to watch this show. I know it's still in production, but you have to throw us a frickin' bone here. Show us the damn ship. Give us a glimpse of the new captain. Make it worth our while.
It ends with the new insignia, which is okay, and the new title, which is also okay. I don't have beef with either of those things.
They don't go into production until this fall. That's fine. You don't have to put out trailers until then. Or you could throw together a little "behind-the-scenes" bit and show them creating 3-D models of the new ship. But this feels like they're trying to rally us around this new show, to convince us to pay for the privilege of watching it, when all I've seen are complaints from fans who are adamantly opposed to the streaming service. If you're going to blow us all away with some new trailer, then wait until you have some footage, and blow us all away with it. Right now the conversation goes like this:
CBS: "Guess what? We're making a thing!"
Fans: "Oh, yeah? What kind of thing?"
CBS: "It has the elements of a thing that you like, and also, CGI! Look, here's CGI!"
Fans: "Um, that's cool, I guess. What else has it got?"
CBS: (hopping up and down excitedly) "It has things! Things you like!"
Fans: "Yes, but what else?"
CBS: "Pay us."
CBS: "Pay us to watch, and you can find out! You can see the things!"
Fans: "Um, I want to know what I'm getting for my money."
CBS: "It'll be good! You'll like it! Pay us!"
Can someone please tell me why CBS, in this scenario, looks and sounds just like Quark?
Picard's Log 41309.5: "We're orbiting this one planet and I'm talking to Admiral Mark Jameson about this weird-ass situation."
Dude, this has to be the worst old-man make-up I've ever seen. He looks like a potato with a mouth. It makes you wonder why the actor is wearing it at all, and why they didn't just hire an older actor to play the part, especially given how much the actor plays up being an old guy.
Anyway, Picard tells Jameson that they got in a transmission a few days ago from Mordan IV. Basically, this dude Karnas, governor of that planet, says that there's been a hostage situation brewing, with some rebels or whatnot taking some Federation ambassador hostage, and the leader of the rebels will only negotiate with someone from Starfleet. Karnas thinks that only Jameson will do.
|Also, Karnas wants you to know that he likes mechanical birds and weapons.|
Go on, tell him they're nice.
Picard then tells Jameson that Starfleet cannot figure out how this happened, as Mordan finally has peace after forty years of civil war. Also, Karnas brought about that peace, so why can he not put the smack-down on some bitches in a street gang?
Jameson rather un-humbly tells Picard that 45 years earlier, he did some negotiation work on Mordan, and now Karnas probably thinks that he should do some more, because he's the shit. He then says that he and his wife will beam aboard the E shortly, and they can all go to Mordan.
Picard and Riker meet the Jamesons in the transporter room.
The admiral seems to be old AF, even though the timeline puts him somewhere between 65 and 75 years old. He's in a wheelchair that's vaguely reminiscent of Christopher Pike's chair in "The Menagerie." His admiral's coat is kind of all over the place. That gold embellishment runs across his shoulders, down his arms, and opens a black peak at his wrists. Then he's got more black pieces in unexpected places, and an extra gold insignia on his right shoulder. It's sort of uber-80's.
But his wife Anne's dress... that is magnificent. A blue-on-blue pattern that's fitting enough to be flattering, but drapey enough that it isn't clingy. And that hood is fabulous. The whole thing reminds me of Amanda Greyson's Vulcan clothing. I love the idea of Star Trek putting older ladies in lovely, stately clothing. Not gonna lie, I would wear that.
Introductions are made all around.
"Oh, beeteedubs," says Jameson. "I'm in charge of the away mission and the crew that goes with me, even though you're still in charge of the ship. Capice?"
"...sure, sir," replies Picard. It's weird to hear him call others sir.
He gives Jameson that customer service smile that he doesn't pull off as well as Riker does.
Quiet, concerned music... commercial break.
You know what I'm noticing? Star Trek kind of takes issue with rank. Like, our captains are our highest-ranking officers most of the time, so it makes sense when others call them "sir." But anytime someone with an admiral rank or above is on the show, it gets awkward. On TOS, anyone ranked higher than Kirk was treated like some bureaucrat, some a-hole there to ruin his fun. So far on TNG, most admirals and above are treated like Picard's old friends. They're secretly buddies behind closed doors, and on even terms. He rarely calls them "sir." And you get the feeling that with most admirals, they would feel weird if Picard did call them that. Admirals on Star Trek are either friends or foes. There is no in-between, and right now, we can't tell which one Jameson is.
When we return from the opening credits, Jameson is in place on the bridge next to Riker. Karnas calls, looking for Jameson, then calls him older than dirt when they talk.
"Just tell me what's going on," Jameson waves off.
"Okay, so, they'll only talk to a Federation mediator, and only on Mordan," Karnas relays. "If these damands are not met, they'll kill the ambassador and his staff."
Those are pretty weak demands, so Jameson agrees to them. Karnas signs off, and the bridge crew discusses the situation. Troi thinks Karnas is being honest, but holding back, possibly because he's powerful on Mordan, but isn't able to do shit about this hostage thing.
Crusher calls the bridge to ask when Jameson will be available to do a physical check-up, and Picard tells him that it's just a routine medical thing.
The whole time, Troi is eyeing Jameson.
|I'm not convinced at this point that Jameson is not a Muppet.|
Later, Jameson meets with Troi, Data, Riker and Picard in the ready room to discuss the situation. They go around and around, but basically, Jameson thinks that the terrorists have insulted Karnas' honor by demanding an outside negotiator, and that Karnas will want revenge for it later.
Jameson goes back to his quarters, where Anne is unpacking their clothes into the built-in bureaus, and she talks about how awesome the E is, with their family quarters, and how if they'd had those kinds of ships earlier in his career, they wouldn't have had to spend so much time apart. He climbs out of his chair and into a stationary one without her help, and I guess this is a surprising thing, because she remarks on it.
"I feel like a kid again," replies the Muppet.
But then he has a heart attack or something, and she tries to go to the wall panel to call sick bay.
"It's fine," he tells her. "Just body changes. The doctors say I should expect it."
"Did they?" she demands. "Don't lie to me."
And her tone says that he's lied to her a bunch of times about this crap, and she isn't having it anymore.
They hug it out.
|They swapped out Anne's hood for a statement necklace. Outfit still on point.|
Picard and Crusher are in the ready room and Crusher drops a weird bomb on Picard: Jameson gave her some test results taken by other doctors, and told her that they were from two days earlier, when the date stamp on them says they were from two months ago. Picard points out that Jameson is 85 (guess Jameson wasn't as young at those first negotiations as I thought), and that he suffers from Iverson's Disease (whatever the hell that is), so maybe his memory isn't great. Crusher argues that Iverson's doesn't affect the mind. She thinks he's hiding something. He requests that she stay on the bridge with Jameson for the duration of the mission, to keep an eye on him.
On the bridge later, Picard is telling Jameson that they've reached someplace nearby and asks if the admiral would like to take the conn, which sounds weird to me, but whatever. "Guy who ranks higher than me, would you like to sit at a position that ranks lower than I do?" Maybe an admiral taking the conn is like Starfleet's version of slumming it.
Anyway, Jameson is excited about this prospect, and gets out of his chair again to walk down the ramp to Geordi's station.
"Well, that's surprising," says Picard.
"Oh, um, I started a new therapy a little bit ago. I guess it's working," shrugs the Muppet.
Crusher is suspicious. Geordi seems to be, too.
Picard and Crusher have a brief, slightly panicked discussion in the ready room, wherein Crusher exposits that no one "gets better" when they have Iverson's. He's been in that chair for four years now, and was not expected to walk again. She also doesn't know of any awesome new therapy that would fix it. Picard advises her to quietly and thoroughly investigate.
Later, Jameson is in his quarters with the lights turned down, watching a tape of his discussion with Karnas. Anne comes in, and he turns off the tape and walks to her. She's surprised, of course, and he tells her that the new therapy is working, and that he totes needed to just get back out in space to feel his chops again. Also hers. Jameson is looking to get bizzay. She says he even looks better, and drags him to a mirror, turning the lights up.
Whoa. That is a different Muppet.
She's suspicious again, and he has another heart attack. This time, she is able to call sick bay.
In sick bay, Crusher tells Picard that Jameson's medical tests are completely FUBAR. He now has no traces of Iverson's and his DNA is janky. he also has some chemicals in his blood that aren't in any database that Crusher knows of.
"WTF?" asks Picard.
"My thoughts exactly," she replies.
Picard goes to the Jamesons' quarters. He is shocked to see a younger Jameson strolling around like he owns the place.
"Dude, Starfleet has a right to know how you managed this miracle cure," Picard tells him.
"Yeah, okay, can't hide it now," Jameson replies. He exposits that he did some treaty work on Cerebus II years earlier, and in exchange, the natives agreed to share some secret process that makes a person younger. Picard says he's heard of that myth, and Jameson replies that he's proof that it exists. It takes a long-ass time - two years of taking chemicals - and it doesn't always work, and the mortality rate is high. But he eagerly adds that he got enough of the chemicals for Anne as well, he just wanted to test it on himself before he gave them to her. When the hostage thing came up, he decided that the drug wasn't working quickly enough, so he took the rest of his dose, and hers as well.
Picard asks why the hell he needed to be young to negotiate hostage release, and the Muppet gets all pissy and silent.
"Whatever," says Picard, and he leaves.
He tries to be all, "I did this for us, baby," but she's not down.
"Who the fuck said I wanted that?" she demands. "You wanted it, and assumed that I would, too."
She storms out, which is not so dramatic when the doors slide open with this silent kind of whoosh. It's like angrily hitting "end call" on your cell phone: really not as satisfying as slamming down a heavy phone receiver.
Jameson is brooding in the dark in the briefing room when he calls Data and tells him to patch him through to Karnas. Picard asks Jameson why he suddenly wants to call the governor.
"Because he probs tried to negotiate before I was called in, and I want whatever info he has," Jameson replies.
"Yeah, but you said earlier that Karnas would probably be pissed off that he wasn't able to do it. Isn't calling him going to make things worse?"
"Meh, fuck 'em. I need info."
Picard suggests a secure channel, and Data makes it so.
The channel is open, and Jameson calls Karnas.
He suggests that Karnas knows more than he's telling them, and asks about certain people he thinks might be behind the kidnappings. Karnas tells Jameson that those people are dead.
Then Jameson drops the bomb: he doesn't think that there are any terrorists, and that Karnas himself has the hostages, that he's doing this out of some kind of revenge. Karnas freely admits it, and says he'll kill the hostages if Jameson doesn't get his ass to Mordan to negotiate for their release.
When speaking to Karnas, Jameson was using his gravelly, old man voice, but when he enters the bridge a moment later to tell Geordi to jump to warp 8, he uses a younger voice. He tells Picard about what's really going down, and hopes that arriving sooner will throw Karnas off his game. Picard, in turn, dances around the idea that Jameson and Karnas are now locked in some kind of revenge plot, he demands to know if the hostages are still a priority. Jameson replies that they are, and that in fact, he intends to lead the away mission to rescue them.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
Jameson tells the bridge crew that previously, Karnas held his hostages in a series of tunnels under the primary city on Mordan. He thinks these hostages are being held there now. Picard suggests that that's too obvious, and thinks talking to Mordan first would be a better strategy that just going in and busting up the place. Jameson pulls rank on Picard, and tells him to go fuck himself.
There's a brief scene in sick bay where Anne tells Troi and Crusher that she doesn't know what to do. She was looking forward to Mark's retirement, but now that he's young again, he will probably try to live his life over again, and she will still be elderly. Crusher has to break it to her that Mark is not stable physically, and may not get the opportunity to live his life over, much less at all.
Picard goes to the observation lounge, where Jameson is sitting in the dark... again. They talk about not being able to sleep before an important mission, and Jameson swivels around in the chair. He looks twenty. Dramatic music!
Picard drops all pretense of rank and outright demands to know why the fuck Jameson thinks it's okay to run E crew members in an armed raid on Karnas. He thinks there's stuff Jameson is hiding, and he wants to know what it is.
So we get more exposition: The Mordans were basically loose tribes of families, and Karnas was the son of a chief who was murdered. He took the crew of a starship hostage and demanded a ransom of weapons in return. The official story says that two other mediators were murdered before they sent in Jameson, who then talked Karnas into giving up the hostages. Turns out that last part is crap. Jameson gave Karnas the weapons he wanted... but then he also armed Karnas' opponents with the same weapons. It was his version of the Prime Directive, and it smacks of Kirk, honestly. Jameson figured there would be some skirmishes and the fighting would last less than a year, but it caused four decades of civil war instead. He feels pretty shitty about that last part, enough that he falsified the official record to Starfleet.
Picard tries to be fair, and says that Karnas might have used that time to cultivate peace, but fought instead. Jameson isn't going to accept that. He says Karnas wants revenge, which is why Jameson plans to go in there all Avenging Angel of Death and just take the hostages.
They get to Mordan, and Picard tries to talk Jameson out of beaming down with the away team. Jameson refuses, so Picard adds himself to the team, leaving Riker in charge. Surprisingly, Riker says nothing, though it may be because Picard has discussed this with him, or because Picard never goes on away missions, and Riker knows instinctively that something must be up. So here's our away team - Picard, Jameson, Worf, Yar, Data and Geordi.
Jameson is working off of 45-year-old memories, and he tells them which way to go. Data tries to tell him that more recent schematics exist and contradict what he recalls, but he blows Data off. Pro-tip: Data knows more than you. Do not blow him off. Lo and behold, Data is right, and the tunnels ends in the dead end that was created two years earlier. Jameson orders the team to phaser through it, because he's certain that the hostages are there. When they do, there's nothing. Yar suggests that they beam to the coordinates that Jameson thinks might be where the hostages are, but he brushes her aside as well.
Jameson is that dad that drives around in circles for hours, because he knows that that cool thing from his childhood is just around the next corner. The rest of the away team are the bored kids in the backseat begging him to pull over and ask for directions. Picard is the wise mother in this scenario, allowing the dad to drive in circles and saying that it's fine, no one needs to ask for directions. Later, he'll point out to the dad that he wasted fifty bucks in gas driving around aimlessly, when they could have asked for directions and found out that that thing was torn down years ago.
Anyway, they walked into a trap or something, because dudes in uniforms jump out and start shooting at them.
Data points out to Picard that these other guys have their phasers set to kill.
Picard gets a sassy moment here:
"Thank you, Mr Data. I have heard the sound before."
Oops, Jameson heart attack again.
Picard calls for a beam-out.
There's an interesting "shaky-cam" shot for when Picard exits the lift onto the bridge a bit later. It's following him, giving the moment a chaotic feel. Riker asks about Jameson, and Picard gets a second sassy moment:
"Not good is a galactic understatement."
Karnas calls. He says there was an armed conflict in the tunnels below the city, and it stinks of Jameson. He wants the admiral to beam down in ten minutes, or he'll execute a hostage.
"Totes breaking down," says Crusher.
Riker calls to say that Karnas has called again, and now expects Jameson in five minutes.
"Dude, he wants me," says Jameson. "Just give me to him, and we can save those people."
Picard decides that he and Jameson will beam down with Crusher.
When they do, Karnas is irate. "Who the fuck are you people? And where the fuck is Jameson?"
Remember, all Karnas has seen of Jameson is Hella Old Muppet and Shadow Boy.
"Naw, this is him," says Picard.
Pretty Boy Jameson crumples to the ground, and Crusher calls the E to have them beam down Anne, cuz Jameson is totes gonna die right there in Karnas' office.
Karnas is still not buying it. He wants to give Jameson the grand tour, show him the graves of young dead soldiers, to see the scars on the older soldiers, to know exactly what went down when he gave those weapons to everyone on Mordan. Picard shows him screencaptures from this episode that show Jameson de-aging.
"He took some alien drugs or some shit so he could be all pretty for you, but it's totally killing him, so now you have to deal with me."
Anne beams down, and she and Crusher support Jameson.
"Look," says Picard. "He knows he did something douchey all those years ago, and he came back to make it right, but he's dying now, so what the fuck do you want?"
"I think you're hiding Jameson on your ship," accuses Karnas.
Jameson struggles over to him. He spouts off some stuff from his last meeting with Karnas forty-five years ago, which only included the two of them.
Karnas is still insisting that this kid has been coached on what to say, but then Jameson pulls back the sleeve of his uniform to show Karnas the scar from the blood-oath he took that day when he gave Karnas those weapons.
Karnas finally believes him, and grabs a gun off the wall behind him, proclaiming that he's going to shoot Jameson with the weapons that he gave to the Mordans. Karnas' aging officers step forward like they're going to stop him, but then Karnas lowers the gun and says Jameson's punishment is better living like this.
Jameson collapses to the ground. He can't stop the tremors, and neither can Crusher, who says that his cells are being forced into becoming younger and younger, and they can't take the pressure. Jameson says something sweet to his wife, and finally dies.
"Fuck, dude," says Karnas, which is kind of all you can say when your oldest enemy dies of young age.
"I'll cooperate," he tells Picard. "And those hostages can go free."
Back on the bridge, Picard tells Riker that the hostages were unharmed, and that Anne and Karnas made arrangements to have Admiral Jameson buried on Mordan. Then he says that the quest for youth is futile.
Picard: "Age and wisdom have their graces, too."
Amused Riker: "I wonder if one doesn't have to have to have age and wisdom to appreciate that, sir."
And Picard gets his third Sassy Moment:
This was also an okay episode. Some cons of course fill out one side of the list: it's a revenge plot, and Star Trek loves it some revenge plots; Jameson's old-man make-up is atrocious; there's a lot of exposition and talking with this episode rather than action. But also some pros: the revenge plot here was different, which made it interesting; it involves someone super fucking up all of the shit when they didn't follow the PD, which is also interesting; points for Anne's clothes, just because.
So revenge plots: Star Trek loves 'em. The one that most readily comes to mind is "The Doomsday Machine", wherein a windsock eats planets, and a dude tries to stop it. But episode ten's "The Battle" was a more recent addition. In each of these two episodes, the person looking to get revenge on someone/thing else loses their mind. But in "Too Short a Season" both parties kind of lose it. This interesting twist lends it self rather nicely to the plot. Karnas' revenge includes rubbing Jameson's face in the carpet, like a dog who has pooped in the house. Jameson had not initially meant to include his de-aging process in his final meet-up with Karnas, but made the decision to do so when contacted by Starfleet. "Won't it be a real kick in the teeth to that old man when I show up at his office looking a handsome twenty-something underwear model?" A little strange, but whatever. Jameson is certainly not the only human who has thought of such a thing. That's why the term "revenge skinny" exists.
Our other cons were discussed in other reviews: the old-man make-up and the "talkiness" of this episode.
Jameson's make-up was weird, there's no getting around that. It was layered on at times to the point where he didn't even look human anymore. It makes me wonder if this is one of those cases where the make-up department just went with it, because no one watching at home would have a TV clear enough to see the latex at the time, and they couldn't anticipate re-mastering or hi-def television. It's like not being able to see the seam on Leonard Nimoy's ear where the prosthetic attached, because TV was simply not advanced like that in 1966. I was also starkly reminded of the grandma puppet in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:
Considering the episode being more talk and less action, director Rob Bowman was aware of it, and generally does shows with more "visual dialogue" than "verbal dialogue," but he had gotten to know the actor who plays Jameson pretty well, and they worked together to make that character stronger so that it wasn't just a bunch of characters chatting for 54 minutes. You know how you can tell when an episode is more talk, less action? The number of screencaptures I'll include. I used to stick to a straight twenty, but eventually, I decided that I'd do closer to thirty or forty, depending on what I needed to illustrate. A talkier episode will have fewer screencaptures, because less action is occurring. (The review for this episode clocked in at 19.)
What's most interesting to me here is that this kind of a follow-up to TOS' "A Private Little War," in which Kirk gives more advanced weapons to a bow-and-arrow civilization, because some Klingon douchewaffles have given more advanced weapons to their enemies. (In turn, A Private Little War was written loosely about the Vietnam war, in which opposing world powers gave weapons to warring factions.) In "Little War," Kirk struggles to decide whether to violate the Prime Directive by giving his friend some weapons, in order to even the playing field. We don't see the backlash of that, just Kirk calling up to the ship to ask for flintlock parts. We can assume that things went badly, but we cannot guess how it played out.
Here, we see only the bitter end. Jameson gives Karnas the weapons he wants in order to free the hostages. But then he secretly arms the other side as well. Where the Prime Directive said, "Don't give tech to undeveloped civilizations," Jameson decided that that meant "spread the wealth evenly." The fallout was not a few fights that lasted a year, but four decades worth of in-fighting. It's not often that we get to see the complete picture of what happens when you violate the PD. Is this what would have happened to Kirk's hill people friends in "Little War"? What happened to the Edo, post-violation? What about the Iotians of the gangster planet, where Bones left his comm? We have tons of examples of someone (usually the captain) violating the PD, but so far, this is our only fallout episode. I hope there will be more to come.
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 3
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0 (Troi gave Jameson some suspicious looks, but didn't "report" anything to anyone outright)
- In the original script, Jameson didn't die. He ages back to 14, forgets who his wife is, and gets a tour of the E from Wes.
- The idea of the exchanging of weapons for hostages came from the Iran-Contra scandal (1984-87).
- Jameson's wheelchair cost $10,000 to make, and didn't work very well, so they kind of just shot around it.
- The mechanical birds in Karnas' office were a reuse from the ones in Q's courtroom in "Encounter at Farpoint."
- The weapons on the wall behind Karnas in his office are: a phaser from movie #2, a phaser from movie #3, a modified Klingon disruptor rifle, and the staff from the T'Kon Empire portal from "The Last Outpost." And now comes the question: with the exception of the portal staff, was some prop guy simply filling space on the wall, or were those "antique" weapons chosen and placed there on purpose, meaning that Jameson gave Karnas an assortment of weapons from the Federation's past?
- Clever Budget reused a matte painting backdrop from the movie Spaceballs in the tunnels.
- Michael Pataki, who plays Karnas, also played Korax, the Klingon in the bar who tells Scotty that the Enterprise is a garbage scow on "The Trouble with Tribbles." (Korax appeared in the TAS episode "More Troubles, More Tribbles," but was voiced by Jimmy Doohan. Footage of him will also pop up in the DS9/TOS crossover episode "Trials and Tribble-ations.")
- This is the first official time we've seen an admiral's uniform (with the exception of Q, who is not a frickin' admiral).
- At one point, Jameson sits in Picard's command chair, forcing Picard to take Riker's chair instead. This is the second time Picard has been seen sitting in the first officer's chair. The first time was during "The Naked Now." The third and final time will come during the final episode of TNG.
- The title for this episode is really similar to that of a play that Gene Rod wrote for TV in 1957 - "So Short a Season."
|Young feline has surpassed "furry alien" mode and moved into "small cat" mode.|