In which we see age make-up even worse than that piled onto DeForrest Kelley for the pilot.
Memory Alpha says: An elderly admiral must negotiate the end of a hostage crisis he helped create. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
The main problem with this episode is: I don’t know who Mark Jameson is, and I don’t care. I (as a notional first-time viewer – I am pretty sure I didn’t see this episode when it was new) just barely know who Jean-Luc Picard is, and am starting to care about him. Commendably, TNG works hard to develop a true ensemble cast, giving different people episodes in which to shine, a refreshing contrast with the TOS situation, where because Bill Shatner had a smart agent, they were contractually obliged to give Captain Kirk the A-plot of pretty much every episode. (That’s my understanding of the situation, but if I’m confused I’d be pleased to hear the real deal in comments.)
This early along, though, that ensemble is still being developed, so bringing in a guest character whose story we’re all supposed to give a shit about for one episode is a misstep. It could have been done more successfully much later, when we were so used to Picard et al that focusing on someone quite different for an episode could feel refreshing. It’s similar to how miscalculated ‘The Naked Now’ is: it’s not funny to see the crew act goofy when you don’t yet know how they behave on a normal day.
This episode also establishes a central truth of the Star Trek universe: Starfleet admirals are a huge pain in the arse, and exist primarily to make real people’s jobs harder. If you walk into a room full of admirals, do not even turn around, just reverse out. You will note that on her return to the Alpha Quadrant, Kathryn Janeway was promoted to Admiral while Jean-Luc Picard remained a Captain. This is a reflection on their differing levels of usefulness.
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