In which they hadn’t figured out the age make-up yet, Starfleet Security is still terrible at their jobs, and revenge is a dish best served old.
This is one of the ones I don’t remember while I write this and Netflix loads. In TOS it was sort of a crapshoot, but it still fills me with a sense of foreboding. The Enterprise is in orbit around Persephone V to pick up the poster-child for the worst age-makeup in the land, Mark Jameson. He’s also an admiral, I suppose, for whatever that’s worth. Turns out that a distress call from a local governor asks for Jameson by name for being such a skilled negotiator, or a bunch of terrorists are going to kill a bunch of Starfleet hostages. Turns out Jameson negotiated a hostage crisis 45 years ago, so they want him to do it again. Sadly, Jameson is now chair-bound, which is going to make it super difficult to get down off of the transporter pad. Well, maybe they’ll just beam him down to the floor. Starfleet isn’t very handicapped-accessible.
Incidentally, right off the bat we get a power grab. Jameson states that while Picard gets the ship, Jameson himself is in direct command of the mission and away team. One question I have immediately is why Karnas, the governor, looks like he’s in his forties despite participating in a hostage crisis half a century ago while Jameson looks like pickled crap. Troi is also is also giving Jameson funny looks after the initial contact, and making statements that seem like they could also apply to Jameson as he fills them in on the history of the planet.
Back in his quarters, we see him able to pull himself out of the wheelchair and suffer some sort of painful seizure for which he refuses to go to sick bay. Crusher is going over his medical records and complaining about how the medical records he provided are old and out of date. Her suspicions is only increased when he manages to leave his chair on the bridge despite the expected progression of his condition – Iverson’s disease. He claims a new therapy is what’s doing it, even taking away his awful age makeup.
After another seizure, Crusher’s medical tests show his body is rapidly changing, his Iverson’s is cured, and his aging is more or less getting reversed. He’s back on his feet soon and only looking about half as old as he did. Picard confronts him and he explains that there’s an anti-agathic that the natives of Cerberus II don’t give out that often, but that he managed to get his hands on some. He was testing it on himself slowly, but when the hostage crisis happened he OD’d on it, including the dose he had planned to save for his wife.
Marital disharmony ensues. Jameson is too busy to stick around for the fallout, though. He opens a secure channel to Karnas and we get a brief musical sting as Jameson figures out that Karnas hasn’t forgiven him for something in their past, and is in fact the hostage-taker. Jameson decides to change the mission profile to an armed rescue rather than a negotiation.
Jameson outlines a plan that relies on Karnas doing the same things he did 45 years ago, and keeping the hostages in the same place. We’re not really getting the full picture of what happened, but at least Jameson is out of that godawful age makeup now. Kind of Chris Pine-y, as Picard confronts him about what really happened way back in the day. Karnas was a ruling chief of a tribe, siezed control of a starliner, and took Starfleet hostages and demanded weapons. Supposedly, Jameson went in after two other mediators were killed and brought the hostages out, but in reality he caved to Karnas’ demands but gave the same weapons to his enemies, causing a 40 year civil war.
And this, kiddies, is why you don’t give advanced technology to civilizations still covered by the Prime Directive. Riker may have given Elected One Beata a harmless glowy crystal, but suppose the energy density in the battery was enough to give them hand-held disintegration beams for their war against equal rights? Jameson was banking on Kirk’s approach in “A Taste of Armageddon” – one bloody conflict with actual consequences to get everyone to see how terrible their way of life was, but Jameson doesn’t enjoy plot armor , so it all went horribly wrong. To his credit, though, he’s not making excuses for himself. Picard offers some, but Jameson claims the sum total of the blame for sparking the conflict in the first place.
The armed away team goes down, but with one small change – Picard joins it. The first thing they do upon beaming down is whip out their phasers. This really, really bugs me. You have a teleporter. You have a phaser. Can you not hold the phaser while you’re teleporting into hostile territory? Back in TOS I made a joke about how the redshirts were part of a eugenics program to get rid of the bottom quartile of the population without just lining them all up and turning them into a satellite belt in LEO. I thought I was going to revise that for TNG but I think it still holds weight. They just aren’t smart. Yar beams down and then basically goes ‘oh crap, I should be ready for combat!’ Has Starfleet completely forgotten how to engage in tactical operations? Worf nearly blew a hole in the viewscreen when Q showed up on it. Why is Starfleet Security so bad at their jobs?
Jameson leads the away team down a set of corridors that terminates in a dead end, but it’s the tunnels that used to be in the right place. Yar asks why they don’t just beam to the same place, and in an argument defying his own previous logic, he says Karnas might not be keeping them in the same place.
Geordi’s VISOR can see laser IR alarm triggers. What is he detecting, I wonder, since the photons still travel straight from the emitter to the detectors. Same reason why you can’t actually see a laser beam of visible light. Oh, the science, it hurts. Can we be in the second season yet? A brief action sequence as militants accost them, cut short by Jameson having another seizure. Karnas starts making demands backed by hostage executions, and Jameson, wracked by guilt and the pain of the drug, demands to be given over to Karnas to satisfy the governor’s revenge.
Too bad he looks twenty instead of forty and Karnas doesn’t believe it’s really him. It takes some visual records and some information that only Karnas and Jameson were in the room for. He finally believes it as Jameson dies from having his organs turn into baby organs and Karnas, his revenge satisfied, gives over the hostages.
So, the overdose seems pretty terrible, but the drug itself seemed to be working for Jameson up until that point. Seems like Iverson’s disease or any number of other slow, late-onset degenerative syndromes that the Federation doesn’t have a cure for would be good for getting volunteers for human trials. The natives of Cerberus II could probably be convinced to part with the formula, and maybe if the negotiator isn’t a criminal it might not wind up with a forty-year civil war. Of course, that’s if and only if the Federation revokes its stance on transhumanism.