12/30/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Too Short a Season"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E16
Air Date: February 8, 1988
Written by: Michael Michaelian and D.C. Fontana
Directed by: Rob Bowman

Premise
An old admiral makes himself young again to face a man who wants to kill him and ends up dying from anti-aging. Welp.

Review
So, this guy named Karnas wants to see Admiral Jameson because Jameson negotiated a hostage release 45 years ago and there happens to be another hostage situation now. The only problem is that Jameson is now, like, a thousand years old. You could breathe on him and he'd break a hip. But Karnas insists that Jameson has the know-how and the fortitude to carry out this negotiation like a pro, so Jameson beams onto the Enterprise with his wife, Anne, and rolls around in his fancy chair like a geriatric, mutant, ninja turtle.


Jameson then submits to a standard medical exam and then wheels off into his quarters with Anne. There he struggles to get up out of his wheelchair and into a regular chair. That's when he starts having pains in his side. Anne is worried and wants to call sick bay, but Jameson says it's okay; it's happened before and it'll pass. So, then, in Picard's ready room, Crusher comes along and says that the medical records that Jameson submitted to her were two months old, not two weeks. Picard says it's a symptom of his age, but Crusher retorts that he has Iverson's disease, a malady that affects the body, not the mind.
Iverson's Disease: aka Wispy Hair Syndrome
Well, they're about to approach the star system and Picard extends the offer to Jameson to take the conn to drive them in. Jameson astounds everyone by standing up out of his wheel chair and walking over to the conn. He claims he'd been taking a new therapy that was working for him. Which is weird because later when he's talking to Anne he appears to be twenty years younger, and therapies don't usually reverse-age you. Later, Picard comes along and Jameson looks about 50. So Jameson spills the beans. He'd been taking anti-aging drugs. When the mission came up he overdosed so that he would be strong and healthy to face the terrorists.

Then Jameson opens a secure channel to talk with this Karnas guy in the observation room. Over the course of the conversation, we learn that Karnas "never forgave" Jameson for something and that there are no terrorists - Karnas is holding the hostages. A 30-year-old-looking Jameson then walks onto the bridge and tells them to hurry it up to Warp 8 so they can catch Karnas by surprise. He plans to beam down to the series of tunnels that were there 45 years ago and rescue the hostages without Karnas knowing. So while Crusher tells Anne that Jameson isn't stabilizing and might die because of the drugs, Jameson tells Picard that when he negotiated 45 years ago, he gave weapons to both sides and plunged them into a civil war.
"It was the sixties, man... no one knew what they were doing."
Well, now Karnas wants revenge and Jameson wants to vindicate his actions. So Jameson beams down with an armed away team and they go through the tunnels. Jameson swears the hostages will be one way, but Data says that way is a dead end. Geordi explains that Jameson probably knows the tunnels as they were 45 years ago and that a lot of change has happened since then. They, indeed, run into a dead end, and after they shoot their way through it, they find some armed men and get into a phaser fight during which Jameson experiences some more pains in his side.

After beaming back up, Karnas gets in touch with the Enterprise to demand that Karnas come back down and face him. So Picard beams down with Jameson and Dr. Crusher who tends to Jameson. Jameson now looks about 20 years old and Karnas doesn't recognize him, nor does he believe that this sick and sweating man is, indeed, Jameson. Picard tries his best to convince him, but it's not until the pain-ridden young Jameson shows Karnas the scar on his arm from a blood oath they made that he believes... and pulls a phaser on him. But he doesn't shoot. No, that would be too good for Jameson. Karnas says the pain he's experiencing will satisfy his revenge. And it does. Because just then, Jameson becomes the first man in history to die of young age.
At least he doesn't have to face college tuition loans.
With his wife, Anne, at his side, Jameson passes and Karnas releases the hostages, thus ending the saga of Benjamin Button in Space.

Overall Thoughts
This episode was a lot of talking and bad age makeup. It was a "sit and tell" episode rather than "show and tell", in the words of its director, Rob Bowman. If you didn't realize that Jameson had actually reverted to so young an age, it's because you fell asleep halfway through. The phaser fight in the tunnels tries to pick up the energy, but it was really short and probably wouldn't have woken you up from your nap. The story was alright, but the episode it self was sub-par. I could take it or leave it.