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Star Trek The Next Generation: Too Short a Season

Picard: “The quest for youth, Number One, so futile. Age and wisdom have their graces too.”
Riker: “I wonder if one doesn’t have to have age and wisdom to appreciate that, sir.”

The search for the fountain of youth is an ongoing theme in literature and other forms of media. It seems if you are an admiral who has negotiated treaties all over the galaxy that you might be the one to find it. But why would you want to use it?

Admiral Jameson originally wanted to reverse his aging to cure his Iverson's disease and to become young and healthy again, not what he sees as a useless invalid. I wish they had spent more time exploring this issue. Jameson's wife loves him for who he is and wants to spend their remaining time together. She is frustrated that his time in space has kept them apart, not that he has a disabling disease. They could have spent some time exploring how being a Starfleet commander affects your family or why disability is so hard for alpha type men.

Although Picard comments on the wisdom that comes with age, it seems that Jameson has not changed much. He is stubborn, arrogant and certain of his path. Jameson, without consideration for his wife or even his own health, takes an overdose of a dangerous drug so that he can right another poor judgment 45 years ago. His impulsiveness is a nice counterpoint to Picard, who seems to be much more considered and balanced. Picard's moral compass is strong and evident where Jameson's is egocentric. It was somewhat painful to watch Picard be outranked by someone who was obviously less skilled in command.

Like most of this first season, the writing for this episode is hit and miss. Trying to go back and right a wrong you committed a long time ago is a good basis for a story, but throwing in the fountain of youth just mucked things up. It has seemed so far that sometimes they get a cool idea (hey, what if there was a 'native' cure that reversed aging?) and then just throw it into another plot line (what if an admiral had to go back and face the music after interpreting the prime directive in a disastrous way?). Of course there were other plot holes - would Picard actually let a petty dictator put him or anyone else to death? Why couldn't they just find the hostages themselves and beam them up, especially once they knew it was Karnas that had them? Wouldn't Karnas have to face some consequences for taking Federation citizens hostage?

I'm not going to comment too much on the sub-standard make-up or the overacting of the petty dictator. The less said about cheesy death scenes the better. What I missed in this episode the most was some more character development or even a bit more about the Star Trek 'verse. I know that everyone is working to get their groove in this first season, but missed opportunities are making me a bit sad.

Bits and Pieces

Tasha Yar is a great shot. Too bad they had to beam out of that fight. She was taking the Mordans out.

Beverly and Jean Luc were flirting again. Not exactly a news flash.

At least the show was willing to show the possibility of sex in older people's lives.

Yes, Jean Luc, other people than Troi can have gut feelings. I bet you have them once in a while.

Quotes

Jameson: “63 people came away safe, but millions died on Mordan because I delivered those weapons.”

Jameson: “There’s no substitute, Lieutenant, for a little personal reconnoiter.”

Data: “Their phasers, sir, set on kill.”
Picard: “Thank you, Data. I have heard the sound before.”

Picard: “Not good is a galactic understatement.”

Ann Jameson: “But you never asked if I wanted it. It’s just like you, Mark, to assume that what you felt was right was the only answer. “

Karnas: "Rest, Jameson. Your long night and mine are over.”

6 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this episode in a long time, but I remember thinking at the time that the best thing about it was Marsha Hunt, who played Ann Jameson.

    Her career goes back to the 1930s, and, unfortunately, she was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s. As far as I know, she's still alive.

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  2. Oh yes. I recall this episode from waybackwhen, and I had the same reaction to Marsha Hunt. She exuded wisdom and composition.

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  3. Yes, this one was a disappointment. The two plotlines really didn't belong together as you said, Doc, and I disliked Jameson so much that I honestly didn't care what happened to him. Bad make-up, too.

    That said, I'm still enjoying revisiting the (okay, not that great) first season of one of my absolute favorite shows. It's been so long since I watched it. And I'm enjoying the reviews very much. And anticipating the good stuff coming down the pike soon.

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  4. You might know the actor playing Karnak best as the Klingon who goaded Scotty into throwing the first punch on K-7 in The Trouble With Tribbles.

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  5. One thing I liked about this episode is the empathy on display from Karnas, at the end. I like it when empathy makes it to tv. He wanted revenge, but saw a man in pain, and seemed to feel compassion and to relent in his anger. That's a good thing to model, even though of course for the rest he was a pretty terrible person. It's also a nice (if perhaps undeserved?) arc for Karnas, given that all of this started in a plot for revenge for the death of his father.

    The youth and revenge plots were somewhat separate. But I still liked the reflection on age. It's a great topic. It seems to me that even if our bodies get younger, we cannot reverse in time. Jameson could not change the past and he was still bound by it.

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  6. I have to disagree with you Frank. Karnas didn't kill him because he saw that Jameson's bad decisions were killing him. Why kill a man quick when you are watching him painfully die? It did seem like he felt sort of bad at the very end, but again in the end Karnas kind of got what he wanted.

    I remembered this episode slightly, so looking at it again made it almost new to me. I didn't love it nor did I hate it. I didn't understand why Picard didn't go over Jameson's head. This man did not know know how to make good decisions. He was like a failed Kirk in a way. Kirk at least had better instincts, and had enough intellect to understand his shortcomings and turn them into strengths. I agree the best part of this episode was his wife. Marsha Hunt is still alive at the age of 104.

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