Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Too Short a Season
”Too Short a Season” is a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, first broadcast February 8, 1988. It is episode #15, production #112, teleplay written by Michael Michaelian and D.C. Fontana, based on a story by Michael Michaelian, and directed by Robert Bowman .
On stardate 41309.5, the USS Enterprise arrives at Persephone V, to contact retired Admiral Mark Jameson - A man of eighty, legendary for his negotiation skills. Captain Picard relays a transmission Starfleet received two days prior. The video shows a military officer in a camouflage jumpsuit, who identifies himself as Karnas, Governor of Mordan IV. Karnas reports a dissident terrorist group has taken Federation Ambassador Hawkins and his staff hostage. The terrorists will not discuss terms with Karnas, and demand to speak with a Federation negotiator within six days or the hostages will be killed. Karnas believes the only negotiator with the skills to handle this crisis is Mark Jameson, and requests he come immediately. Picard doesn't understand how the situation developed; the people of Mordan just found peace after four decades of civil war. Karnas was largely responsible for the planet's five years of unification. It's odd he is unable to deal with a rebellious faction now. Jameson explains that 45 years ago, he assisted in a previous hostage crisis. Karnas was a young leader then, obviously he feels Jameson can handle it again. Picard wonders how Karnas even knew he was even still alive. Jameson indicates that he and Hawkins knew each other, perhaps he told him. Jameson willingly accepts the mission, stating he and his wife will prepare to beam aboard.
Picard and Riker head down to meet them in the transporter room. On the way, Riker indicates Jameson is a personal hero of his. Not only for his famous negotiation on Mordan, but also for his heroic missions aboard the Falcon and Pegasus during conflicts with the Klingons. The couple beam in. Jameson's frail body is confined to a support chair. He introduces his wife, Anne, a woman in her seventies. He quickly states that on a mission he is more than an adviser. He will be in charge of any away teams, although Picard has command of the ship, it is imperative he handle things on the ground. Picard acknowledges, but with some uncertainty.
The ship proceeds to Mordan IV. Jameson and Karnas discuss the situation. Karnas indicates the terrorists will only talk under their own terms, and want to meet the negotiator "face-to-face". Any excuses will not be tolerated. Jameson understands and tells Karnas to signal the terrorists that he is ready to talk. Karnas signs off giving Counselor Troi a feeling that the Governor is holding something back. Jameson believes Karnas is hiding shame for not having a handle on the crisis himself. He's a proud man. Dr. Crusher then calls Jameson for a regulation check up in sickbay. Once there, Jameson refuses to be examined, He hands Crusher a disk with all his current medical data, stating a physician on Starbase 45 gave him a check up two days ago. She'll find he has a terminal case of Iverson's Disease.
Later, Jameson assembles a meeting. They try to figure out why the terrorists would want to talk to a Federation negotiator. What can the Federation give them that Karnas is unable too? Data indicates the Mordanites have had five years of peace, but they are still behind in productivity. Perhaps the people aren't satisfied and want technology, science or agricultural assistance. Jameson believes that the appearance of peace is often a prelude to war. They want weapons, and Karnas is the last man to give it to them. He has fought long and hard for peace, and wouldn't give it up easily. Even for the lives of hostages.
Jameson heads to his quarters where his wife is settling in. She notices her husband appears stronger. He indicates he feels like a kid again, and feels wonderful to be back aboard a starship. Suddenly, thr old man feels a sharp pain and doubles over. His wife is frantic, ready to call for medical, but he stops her. He assures he'll be alright. He's had the pains before, they'll pass in a moment. He already feels better, but his wife is concerned. He never has these pains before. In sickbay, Beverly shows Picard the Admiral's medical data. They're satisfactory, except the data is two months old, not two days. He lied to her. Picard states the man is eighty, and memory sometimes fades, but Beverly is certain he is covering something up.
Back on the bridge, Picard offers Jameson to take the conn as they approach the Idini Star Cluster. Jameson is delighted, and rolls up in his chair. He easily gets out of it and walks on his own to the console. Crusher is more than shocked by this. Jameson claims he has been undergoing a new therapy that made him stronger, but Crusher is skeptical. She takes Picard aside to talk privately. She indicates there is no recorded case of anyone recovering from Iverson's Disease, and there is no "therapy" she has ever heard of. He has been confined to a support chair for four years, and should have never been able to walk again. Picard shares her suspicions and tells her to have a thorough look at him.
Back in his quarters, Jameson even stuns his wife when she sees he can almost fully walk again. He claims the new treatment is working wonders. Anne is amazed. Jameson embraces her intimately, full of drive. She is taken aback at his sudden desire. He has never been this energetic. She sees a change in his face, and takes him over to a lighted mirror. The Admiral looks 20 years younger! Suddenly he is gripped by the intense pain again and falls to the floor. Anne calls for a medical team. In sickbay, Crusher explains her analysis to Picard. She detects an array or chemical stimulants in Jameson's blood and tissue samples, but none of the compounds are can be identified in the medical database. His prognosis is incredible. His body chemistry is completely out of whack, and she won't know what is happening until a DNA analysis is completed. She also adds that she no longer detects any traces of Iverson's Disease. Something which is impossible.
Picard confronts the Admiral. He is on a medical bed with his bewildered wife at his side. Picard can clearly see the man is changing. He now looks like he's in his fifties. Anne is just as confused. The Admiral confesses he has nothing to hide now, and explains it is something he has been planning for some time. On Cerberus II, the natives have process that rejuvenates the body; a virtual "fountain of youth". Picard has heard the rumor, but thought it was myth. Jameson claims he handled a treaty negotiation there several years ago. As repayment, the Cerberians honored his request for treatment; something they never do for an outsider. He's living proof that it works, although the change is rather painful. He has been self-administering a combination of alien herbs and drugs for the past two years. Ever since he was diagnosed with Iverson's Disease.
Anne becomes upset, wondering why he has done this to himself. He tries to comfort her, explaining he wanted to test it on himself first, and that he has enough of the cocktail left for the both of them. They can both be young again! Anne doesn't see the reasoning behind risking his life. He explains he had to try. He was dying anyway, and nothing but a paralysed burden to her. It didn't matter if he died. But Anne is angry now, saying it would have mattered to her. The Admiral explains when the hostage negotiation came up, he wanted to make sure he was at peak performance. He took an overdose of the serum, and defends it, explaining it has made him stronger, energenic, and younger! Anne becomes more upset, running off when the Admiral states; he did it all for her.
Picard returns to the bridge. Meanwhile, Jameson returns to duty. He opens a secure line to Mordan to speak with Karnas for a further assessment on what he has to deal with. Karnas answers Jameson's call, and the Admiral is careful that the man doesn't see his younger face. Jameson asks, who specifically, is behind the hostage taking? Karnas says they are political opponents who feel the Federation will remove him as Governor if they stir up enough trouble. Jameson rattles off some suspected names; Ardan? Gilnor? Karnas indicates those people are long dead, then coldly adds he thought Jameson would be dead by now as well, Now he's coming back to negotiate for hostages once again; just as if the last 45 years in between had never happened. Jameson senses the change in Karnas' attitude, replying; "You have never forgiven me." Karnas asks; "Should I have? After the legacy of war you left us in your last negotiation?"
Karnas' motives are personal. Jameson realizes there are no dissidents. It is Karnas who has taken the hostages. Karnas confirms this, explaining how the "legendary negotiator" will return to deal for their lives once again. He assures he will ask a very high price. If he refuses, the hostages will die, reminding him of how efficient his executioners are. If he still has honor, Jameson will come. Now more determined than ever, Jameson orders Picard to double their speed to Mordan IV. He wishes to get their early as an element of surprise against Karnas, indicating he's planning something dangerous for the hostages. He also indicates he will be headed to the surface with an armed rescue team to find the hostages himself, but doesn't explain the reason of this change of plans.
Jameson, now appearing in his forties, debriefs the senior staff with his new rescue plan. He calls up a schematic of Mordan's capital city, pointing out the city has been destroyed by years of war. All thats left is a maze of "rat tunnels", with rebuilt structures on top of that. He indicates a point in the maze where Karnas hid his hostages in the past, and that he believes they are being held there now. Lt. Yar wonders if Karnas would be make it so obvious, but Jameson says Karnas is a dogged strategist, not a brilliant one. He'll do whatever works best for him. Picard remains weary of the plan, asking for more insight on the Governor's demands. But Jameson isn't forthcoming with that information, irritating the Captain further. No one else has heard or considered Karnas' demands except the Admiral. Meanwhile, Troi and Crusher meet with Anne who is still in anguish. The two reassure her that the Admiral is still the man she married 50 years ago. She was looking forward to their retirement together, but now he has a whole life to relive again. Beverly looks over the newly gather data on the Admiral. They show he's not stabilizing, and he may not have that life to live over.
With three hours left until Mordan IV, Picard arrives at the forward lounge, finding the Admiral sitting alone in the dark. He notices the Admiral now appears in his mid-thirties. Picard asks for Jameson to level with him. What is really going on? He asks Picard if he is familiar with the background story. The Mordanites were advanced, but still ruled by tribal family units. Karnas' father was the chief of such a tribe, until a rival had him assassinated. Karnas demanded retaliation, and hijacked an starliner with 63 passengers. He demanded the Federation to supply him with weapons to defeat his rivals. Thats the official record. Unofficially, the Federation had sent in two other mediators who Karnas killed after they refused his terms. Jameson was sent in, and successfully negotiated the release of the hostages. However, it wasn't his golden oratory that saved them. He gave Karnas the weapons he wanted, and at the same time, he supplied an equal amount of weapons to his rivals. Jameson thought the Prime Directive wouldn't be violated, had he put both sides on an equal footing. That decision caused 40 years of civil war. Jameson had no idea it would last that long, expecting a minor war that would end within a year. He falsified his reports to Starfleet, and has lived with the mark on his soul ever since. Millions of Mordanites died just to save 63 hostages. He now hopes he can vindicate himself, if only in a small way. Karnas doesn't want to negotiate. He wants revenge, especially since he knows he's still alive. Jameson vows to not give it to him. He is prepared to save the hostages this time. No deals!
The Enterprise enters orbit of Mordan IV. It is an ugly planet, with dreary blotches of brown pollution scattered amongst sickly patches of green and blue. Jameson assembles his rescue party, which consists of Tasha, Worf, Data, and Geordi. Picard decides to go with them, leaving Riker in command of the ship. The group beams in. Jameson remembers the area, stating they are directly under the Governor's residence. Data's tricorder readings show differently however, but Jameson states he knows the tunnel layout like the back of his hand, and orders they follow his lead. The tunnel ahead has been sealed off, and Jameson becomes frustrated. He orders them to cut through it with phasers. Tasha and Worf blast through the barrier, revealing a squad of Mordanite soldiers on the other side. A firefight ensues. The team is pinned down, but Jameson tries some heroics. Worf manages to take a few guards down, as Jameson charges ahead. Suddenly the Admiral crumples down and Data pulls him to safety. Picard orders an emergency beam out.
Jameson is taken to sickbay. Beverly explains he wasn't injured by weapon fire. It's his condition. His DNA is rejuvenating at such a rapid rate, his body cannot cope and will not survive the strain. Just then, Karnas calls the ship. He is furious about the intrusion and demands to see Jameson. Picard states the Admiral is ill, but Karnas doesn't care. Sick or not, he will beam down or a hostage will die every 15 minutes. Picard returns to sickbay, stunned to see Jameson is now as young as a teenage boy. Jameson begs Picard to let him go. It is he who Karnas wants. As soon as he's turned over, the hostages will be released.
Picard and Beverly take young Jameson to the transporter room. By now, even his adult uniform appears to sag larger on him. The teen is becoming a child. The three beam directly to Karnas' office. The Governor becomes outraged when he doesn't see Jameson. Picard explains the boy IS Jameson, but Karnas warns charades will get them nowhere. The boy speaks up, calling the Governor, "Peretor Karnas", his old title before he became Governor, since he is acting more like the warrior he once was, rather than a planetary leader. Jameson is stricken by another wave of pain. Beverly rushes to administer a hypospray as Karnas demands an end to the tricks. Picard explains; before arriving here, Jameson took a de-aging drug to make himself strong so he could face you on even terms. This is what the drug has done to him.
Karnas doesn't believe what he hears, thinking this kid has been coached. He wants to show the old man the soldiers graves, and the ruined cities; all the suffering he has caused. He wants Jameson to pay for the years of war. Beverly senses Jameson is near death and thinks Anne should beam down for this. The elderly wife arrives. In the meantime, Picard hands Karnas a medical data pad which contains the chronological images of Jameson's transformation, hoping it will provide proof. Karnas looks over the sequence of images, then to the dying teen quivering in Beverly's arms. Picard states, there is no way to stop it. Whatever he wanted from Jameson, he can no longer have. Jameson is only partly responsible for the war. He may have supplied the weapons, but Karnas made the decision to fight instead of negotiating for peace. How much of the 40 years of war are on his head?
Karnas has heard enough, but Jameson tries to speak. The boy tells details about their deal, only they would know, but Karnas isn't convinced. Jameson could have told him all this. However, if it is Jameson, he would have a scar on his arm. The boy rolls up his sleeve displaying the V-shaped blood scar on his wrist; the sign that secured the deal between them 45 years ago. Karnas is stunned silent. Suddenly, he retrieves a phaser and points it the youth. "Then die by one of your own weapons!" Everyone is frozen, expecting the Governor to blast the boy at any moment. Karnas hesitates, then finally lowers the weapon. "No. My revenge is in letting you live like this."
The boy suddenly drops in agony. Beverly scans him. His organs cannot regenerate any further. It's as if he's imploding, and she can't stop it. Anne moves to her husband's side. He looks into his wife's face one last time, remembering when her gray hair was golden and so beautiful. He closes his eyes for the last time as she weeps. Karnas utters; "Rest, Jameson. Your long night, and mine, is over." He turns to Picard stating it's over and the hostages will be released.
Jameson is buried on Mordan, per Anne's request, and Karnas' approval. Returning to ship, Picard talks with Riker, mentioning; “The quest for youth, so futile. Age and wisdom have their graces.” They leave orbit, and set course for Isis III.
This episode marks the first apperance of an Admiral in the time frame of the Next Generation series, not counting Q who impersonated one in the episode "Hide and Q" and Leonard McCoy who appeared as a retired Admiral in "Encounter at Farpoint". The Admiral uniform and insignia, seen in the episode, was highly unpopular with Star Trek fans and did not last past the first season of the Next Generation series.
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