(written from a Production point of view)
An elderly Starfleet admiral hides a deadly secret as he leads the Enterprise-D in a hostage rescue mission.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
The USS Enterprise-D has been sent to Persephone V to confer with Admiral Mark Jameson. Starfleet received a subspace transmission from Karnas, the governor of Mordan IV two days previously. In it, he says that terrorists have taken the Federation Ambassador Hawkins and his staff hostage. They want to talk to a Federation negotiator, and in his opinion there is only one man qualified – Admiral Jameson. Captain Picard transmits the message to Jameson and asks that he come with them. Mordan is at peace after forty years of civil war and Picard wonders why Karnas would be unable to deal with this threat, having settled the civil war five years ago. Jameson was the man who negotiated the release of hostages from Mordan 45 years previously.
Jameson beams aboard in a wheelchair with his wife, Anne. In the transporter room, Jameson warns Picard that Starfleet has designated him senior mission officer, and as such he will be in charge of the away team and the mission itself. Picard will still be in command of the Enterprise, however. Picard is slightly taken aback, but agrees to this.
They go to the bridge, where Karnas contacts them again. He informs Jameson of the situation on Mordan, and says that the terrorists demand that the discussions are held on Mordan, and that they speak only with the Federation negotiator. Jameson accepts the conditions, and the transmission ends. Deanna Troi says that, judging by Karnas' body language and tone, she senses that he is being honest, but that he is also holding something back. Jameson suggests that maybe he doesn't want to admit his failure to deal with the situation.
Doctor Beverly Crusher contacts Picard and says she's ready to perform the standard medical exam on Jameson, who looks nervous at this, which Troi notices. They go first to the ready room, where Riker asks how Karnas knew Jameson was still alive. He says he briefed Hawkins before he took over his post on Mordan. Data wonders what the terrorists want, but no one is able to offer an answer.
Later in Jameson's quarters, he gets out of his wheelchair and staggers to a chair. His wife says he seems better, but then he gets a sharp pain in his chest. She wants to call sickbay but he won't let her. He says it has happened before, but it will go away.
In the ready room, Dr. Crusher is talking to Picard. She says that the medical records Jameson gave her were two months old and not two days old as he claimed. She wonders why he lied to her about this. Picard reminds Crusher that he's 85 years old, but Crusher says he suffers from Iverson's Disease, which affects the body but not the mind. Picard decides he wants her on the bridge for the duration of the mission so she'll be on hand should anything come up with Jameson.
As the Enterprise-D approaches the Idini Star Cluster, Picard asks Jameson if he would like to take the conn as they make transit. He amazes everyone by standing up and walking slowly to the conn, which Geordi La Forge relinquishes to the admiral. He says he has begun some new therapy that is working well for him.
In the ready room, Crusher says there's no known cure for Iverson's and it has never been known to go into remission. Jameson has been confined to the wheelchair for the last four years due to the effects of the disease. Picard orders Crusher to look into this, thoroughly.
In his quarters, Jameson is watching the recording of Karnas' initial message again, when his wife comes in. He stands up and walks over to her. She's delighted at first but then gets suspicious after looking at his face. She brings him over to a mirror and sees that he looks twenty years younger. Suddenly he gets the chest pain again and she calls sickbay, telling them there is a medical emergency. After examining him, Crusher tells Picard that she has detected some unknown chemicals in his bloodstream, and that there is no trace of Iverson's Disease, but she doesn't know how this is possible.
Picard goes to Jameson's quarters, where he now looks about fifty. He demands answers, so Jameson tells him how he obtained a drug from Cerberus II that rejuvenates the body. He negotiated a treaty there and the inhabitants gave him the medicine, as they felt obligated to honor his request. It is a combination of drugs to be slowly administered over two years. He got enough for himself and his wife, but took both doses himself when this mission came up. After Picard leaves without getting answers to his questions, Anne gets upset, saying he didn't think of her and why did he not tell her what he was doing. She goes to the next room, and Jameson leaves his quarters.
Jameson goes to the observation lounge and opens a secure communications frequency to Mordan. He talks to Karnas and asks him who's behind the kidnapping. He claims it is political opponents. He says that now that Jameson is returning, it is as if the last 45 years never happened. Jameson comments that Karnas never forgave him. Then he realizes that Karnas has the hostages and there are no terrorists. Karnas says he's going to ask a very high price for their release.
Jameson goes to the bridge and tells Picard to increase the Enterprise-D's speed to warp 8 to put Karnas off balance. He tells Picard that Karnas has the hostages and that negotiations are no longer the answer. He intends to lead an away team on an armed rescue mission.
Jameson notes that the maze of tunnels under the city were simply built over without changing. He reckons that Karnas is holding the hostages there, the same as he did 45 years ago. He claims again that an armed raid is the only option. Picard tells him that the Federation might feel differently now that the situation has changed, but Jameson still claims command of the mission.
Meanwhile, Troi, Crusher and Anne are talking in the doctor's office. Anne is distraught, asking why he did what he did. Then Crusher breaks the news that Jameson is not stabilizing, and that his life is now in danger.
Picard goes to the observation lounge, where Jameson is sitting in the shadows, initially keeping his face turned away from the captain. He slowly turns to face Picard in his chair and reveals himself to be now in his thirties. Picard asks why the mission is so important to him and what he is hiding. Jameson tells how Karnas took the passengers of a starliner hostage 45 years ago and demanded weapons from Starfleet. After two other negotiators were killed, Jameson went in and brought the hostages out safely, as the official version goes. What really happened was he gave Karnas the weapons he wanted, and then gave the exact same weapons to his rivals. Picard is appalled, but Jameson defends his actions, stating that this was his way of bending the Prime Directive without technically breaking it; however this plunged Mordan into forty years of civil war, instead of the brief skirmish that Jameson thought would happen. Now he wants to vindicate himself, but all Karnas wants is revenge.
When the away team prepares to beam down, Picard decides to go with them, leaving Riker in charge of the Enterprise.
Jameson beams down to Mordan along with Picard, Data, Worf, La Forge, and Tasha Yar. They move through the tunnels under the city following Jameson's memory of the tunnel layout, even though Data scans reveal that things changed since Jameson was last there 45 years earlier. They eventually find their way to the area where Jameson believes that the hostages are being held but there is a recently built steelplast wall blocking the path. The landing party blasts their way through the wall, but in doing so alert Karnas's troopers to their location. A phaser fight ensues, and as they take cover, Jameson suddenly clutches his chest and collapses into Data's arms. Initially Picard assumes that he was hit by a phaser blast, but there is no sign of a visible injury. With the group outnumbered and Jameson unable to continue, they all beam back up to the Enterprise-D.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Picard reports to Riker that Jameson's condition is deteriorating sharply. An infuriated Karnas then hails them, saying that he knows full well that Jameson beamed down and tried to extract the hostages by force, and demanding that the admiral be turned over to him. Picard tells him he's critically ill, but Karnas doesn't care. He gives them ten minutes to beam Jameson down. Picard goes to sickbay, where Jameson is very sick. However, he still wants to beam down so he can save the hostages, but Picard tells him that even if the hostages are still in the same place, he is in no condition to attempt another rescue mission. Riker then contacts Picard, informing him that Karnas has sent another message; if Jameson is not turned over within the next five minutes, one of the hostages will be the victim of a "most painful" execution, after which Karnas will continue to execute the hostages at a rate of once every fifteen minutes. Picard realizes that he is now out of options, and has no alternative but to allow Jameson to beam down, even though this will mean almost certain death at Karnas's hands.
They beam down along with Dr. Crusher. Karnas doesn't recognize Jameson, and Picard insists the man with him is in fact Jameson.
Karnas doesn't believe Picard and demands that the real Jameson beam down. Jameson talks to him, and calls him by his old title to try to convince him. But Karnas still doesn't believe him, saying he's been coached. Jameson collapses, and Picard tells Karnas about the age reversing, but Karnas won't be moved. He blames Jameson for the war, death and destruction that have taken place on Mordan. Picard tells Anne Jameson to beam down, and shows Karnas a visual record put together by Dr. Crusher of Jameson's transformation in an effort to convince him.
Picard tells Karnas that some of the blame lies on his head as well, and that Jameson wanted to atone for what he did. Jameson, although sick and sweating, manages to convince Karnas by showing him the scar of the blood cut on his wrist they made to seal the bargain. Karnas takes a phaser, intending to shoot Jameson, ironically with one of the weapons he provided to Karnas, but then he stops, saying he would get better revenge in seeing him suffer. Anne talks to Jameson and says she'll always love him. Then Jameson dies, and Karnas says he'll release the hostages unharmed, satisfied now that Jameson is dead. Jameson is buried on Mordan at the request of his widow and the consent of Karnas. The Enterprise-D leaves the planet, heading for Isis III.
"I hope you're heading for the bedroom!"
- - Anne and Mark Jameson
"Make it so."
- - Mark Jameson
"I'm strong, I'm alert, I'm fit! I'm fitter than you are, Picard. And I'm getting younger!"
- - Mark Jameson
"What I don't understand sir, is how Karnas knew you were still... available."
"Still alive, you mean."
- - Riker and Jameson
"So... Jameson, I see time has not been too kind."
"It seldom is, Karnas."
- - Jameson and Karnas
"It is you. Somehow... it is you!"
- - Karnas, realizing Jameson has de-aged
"There's no substitute, lieutenant, for a little personal reconnoiter."
- - Jameson, to Yar
"They're phasers, sir. Set on kill."
"Thank you, Mr. Data. I have heard the sound before!"
- - Data and Picard
"If it's you, show me the scar."
"There! The blood cut you gave me to seal our bargain!"
- - Karnas asks Jameson to give proof of his identity
"Sir, look out!"
- - Worf, to Jameson
"Sickbay. 'Not good' is a galactic understatement."
- - Riker and Picard
"Annie... with the golden hair."
"Flatterer. It's gray now."
"I see only the gold..."
- - Mark Jameson and Anne Jameson, as Mark Jameson dies in his wife's arms
"Rest, Jameson. Your long night... and mine, are over."
- - Karnas, after Admiral Jameson dies
"The quest for youth, Number One. So futile."
- - Picard, to Riker
- First draft script: 13 April 1987
- Revised final draft script: 6 October 1987 
- Shooting schedule: 7 October 1987
- Filmed: 8 October 1987 – 16 October 1987
- Premiere airdate: 8 February 1988
- UK premiere airdate (on BBC2): 5 December 1990, airing in original production order
Story and script
- In Michael Michaelian's original script, Jameson's name was Paul Jameson (though he was mentioned as having a son named Mark), and he was in his 60s and in decent physical shape. In this story, Jameson demoted himself to the rank of commander, and moved Riker away from the Enterprise-D to command his own ship, the USS Falcon. His de-ageing treatment was only meant to make him younger by two decades, but an unforeseen complication from Jameson receiving a transfusion of alien blood served to make it far more effective than it should have been. Other elements of this early script included the planet Mordan IV being under threat from a Ferengi invasion, and the planet having strategic importance due to being the only source of a powerful anti-viral drug (which was likely removed due to a similar plot detail having appeared earlier that season in "Code of Honor"). 
- At the end of Michaelian's script, Jameson did not die, but reverted to the age of fourteen. The accelerated de-ageing also had the side effect of erasing all of his memories past any given age, eventually including those of his wife. He helped Governor Zepec and his rival, a high priest, in their negotiations, after they take Jameson's de-ageing as the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy whereby a warrior will return from the stars and be reborn as a young man. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (1st ed., p. 43)) At the end, the fourteen-year-old Jameson received a tour of the Enterprise-D by Wesley Crusher. (Creating the Next Generation, p. 54)
- In common with Co-Producer Herbert J. Wright's final draft script for "The Last Outpost", Associate Producer D.C. Fontana's script for this episode was tampered with by Gene Roddenberry's meddling attorney, Leonard Maizlish. As a result of his tweaks, the script suddenly included handwritten changes as well as a pair of new scenes, including one with Wesley Crusher, that Maizlish claimed had been written by Roddenberry. Aware that Roddenberry had been out of town and therefore could not have written the scenes, Supervising Producer Rick Berman asked Maizlish, who had been strongly in favor of Wesley being included in all scripts, if he had actually written them, to which Maizlish admitted that he had. "Berman said he told Maizlish he could in no way present these scenes to me for inclusion in the script," Fontana recalled. "The next morning, Berman and [fellow Supervising Producer] Bob Justman had come in early to make sure [that day's scenes] were ready to go to the stage, and they had found a Maizlish-written scene inserted in the revised pages. In addition, there were Maizlish-originated line and word changes incorporated into the revised pages. Berman and Justman were outraged. Berman called Roddenberry at home and informed him of the incident and also told him that I had every right to go straight to the WGA and begin a suit against Maizlish, Roddenberry, and Paramount, and that Berman would back me one hundred percent if I did so. [And] Justman called Maizlish personally and ripped him up one side and down the other for having the gall to insert his own material in a script." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, pp. 75-76)
- The episode was filmed between Thursday 8 October 1987 and Friday 16 October 1987 for seven days on Paramount Stage 6, 9, and 16.
- The first day's filming included Scene 119. (Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek - The Next Generation, Part II: Launch, TNG Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
- Although the episode was supposed to focus on Clayton Rohner's character, the regular cast felt that Rohner did not work in the ensemble manner very well. Director Rob Bowman felt that the show was too verbose, more words than action. Rohner's makeup during the earlier parts of the show was a source of disappointment, being described as "sub-par" and ineffective. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (1st ed., p. 43))
- The "arms for hostages" element of the story was inspired by the Iran–Contra affair. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 66)
- During the filming of this episode, Mark A. Altman visited the set for the bridge of the Enterprise, the first of many Star Trek set visits in his lifetime. At this early point in his career, he was a young college student writing about TNG for the student newspaper. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 1)
Sets, props, and costumes
- Admiral Jameson's state-of-the-art twenty-fourth century wheelchair was a problem. It cost the prop department ten thousand dollars but it did not even move well enough to be anything more than a hindrance, and Bowman simply had to shoot around it. (Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation) Property master Joe Longo referred to the wheelchair as a "big albatross". Learning from the fiasco, the production crew opted for a much simpler chair when one was required for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Melora". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 93))
- The bird sculptures seen in Karnas' office were also featured in Q's court room in the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and in the final episode "All Good Things..." and in the bar on Qualor II in the fifth season episode "Unification II".
- Karnas has a phaser from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a phaser from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, a modified Klingon disruptor rifle and Portal 63's staff from TNG: "The Last Outpost" hanging on his wall behind his desk.
- A set extension painting in the background of the underground installation during the phaser fight is a reuse of the Mega Maid set extension from Mel Brooks' 1987 comedy, Spaceballs. The same painted background was reused in "Legacy". 
- During the bridge scene where Admiral Jameson takes the conn, the console to Commander Riker's right has been removed to accommodate his wheelchair, while the console on Counselor Troi's side is still there as Dr. Crusher needed somewhere to sit. The shooting schedule featured the note for the art department to put "Riker guest bench out/in".
Cast and characters
- Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) does not appear in this episode.
- Michael Pataki also played Korax twenty years earlier in "The Trouble with Tribbles".
- This episode marks the first appearance of a uniformed Starfleet admiral in The Next Generation, although Q wore an admiral's dress uniform in "Hide and Q".
- In this episode, Admiral Jameson sits in the command chair while Picard is seen occupying the first officer's chair. This is one of three episodes where Picard sits in Riker's chair - the other two being TNG: "The Naked Now" and TNG: "All Good Things...".
- The title of this episode is very similar to that of a play for television written by Gene Roddenberry, "So Short A Season," starring Albert Salmi and Rip Torn, which aired as a segment of NBC's The Kaiser Aluminum Hour on Tuesday 12 February 1957.
- Director Rob Bowman recalls, "That was a show with a lot of dialogue. I considered it sit and tell, rather than show and tell, and I prefer to show the audience. I believe in the word, but one of your tools in making movies is visual aspects, and just as there is verbal dialogue, there is visual dialogue. One without the other can get very monotonous. But, the real treat for me was working with Clayton Rohner. He and I got together on weekends, and I think that's the most I ever spent with an actor off the clock, developing a character. We just decided to do it, and it was pretty much his episode, with all of them reacting to him. It was a solid episode, with lots of makeup challenges, special FX and a wheelchair that never worked." ("Rob Bowman - Director of a Dozen", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 10, p. 16)
- A mission report for this episode by Carr D'Angelo was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 4, pp. 47-52.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 8, catalog number VHR 2437, 7 January 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.6, catalog number VHR 4647, 10 August 1998
- As part of the TNG Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Darrell Burris as operations division officer
- Dexter Clay as operations division officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
- Susan Duchow as operations division officer
- Shana Ann Golden as command division officer
- Nora Leonhardt as science division ensign
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Susan Duchow – stand-in for Denise Crosby
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden and Marsha Hunt
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Clayton Rohner
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- "Too Short a Season" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Too Short a Season" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Too Short a Season" at Wikipedia
- "Too Short a Season" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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