Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988): S01E19 – Coming of Age


Introduction

“Coming of Age” is the nineteenth episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It first aired in broadcast syndication on 14 March 1988.

Sandy Fries originally wrote the episode, but Hannah Louise Shearer performed an uncredited re-write. It is the only episode of the series directed by Mike Vejar, who went on to direct episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In the episode, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) takes a Starfleet Academy entrance exam while Adm. Gregory Quinn (Ward Costello) and Lt. Cdr. Dexter Remmick (Robert Schenkkan) investigate the senior staff of the Enterprise.

The episode marked the first appearance of a shuttlecraft in the series, and the first speaking role for a Vulcan. The events of the episode continued in “Conspiracy” and “Samaritan Snare”. 10.1 million viewers watched the episode during the first broadcast, with critics giving it a mixed response.

Outline

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) greets his friend Admiral Gregory Quinn (Ward Costello) and his assistant Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick (Robert Schenkkan) aboard the Enterprise. For classified reasons, Quinn has ordered Remmick to perform an investigation of the Enterprise and its crew and expects Picard to fully co-operate. Remmick’s inquiry causes tension in the crew, particularly when he questions the trustworthiness of the senior staff based on their personal logs and past actions. A young cadet, having failed the Starfleet Academy entrance examination, attempts to run away in a shuttlecraft but ends up drifting. Picard is able to direct the cadet to pilot the shuttle away from a planet by bouncing off the atmosphere.

The investigation is completed, and Remmick informs both Picard and Quinn that there is no sign of wrongdoing, and expresses his interest in joining its crew in the future. Quinn tells Picard that he feels there is an unknown force that has infiltrated Starfleet, and he was seeking to assure himself of his trust in Picard and the Enterprise crew. To help combat this threat, Quinn offers Picard a promotion to Admiral and a job overseeing Starfleet Academy which would place Picard near Quinn at all times. Picard mulls the offer for some time, but eventually declines.

Meanwhile, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) prepares to take the Academy entrance exam himself. He succeeds in passing several parts of the exam, and helps Mordock (John Putch), a highly talented Benzite and fellow competitor, to solve a difficult test problem so that they may both advance. Wesley is worried about the psychological part of the exam, and he is directed to a room to wait for the test to start.

While waiting, he hears an explosion nearby, and leaves the room to investigate. He finds two men trapped by fallen components in a fire-engulfed room. Wesley helps to release one man wounded under a heavy pipe, and tries to coax the other man to leave the burning room, but the man is frozen with fear. Wesley is forced to abandon him and drags the other man to safety. Outside the room, he discovers the explosion was fake and this was the psychological test: to see whether he could make a difficult decision (rescuing either man would pass the test).

Eventually, the cadets are told of the results, and Mordock is granted admission into Starfleet Academy, while Wesley is encouraged to try again next year. Mordock thanks Wesley for his help and wishes him future success. After Wesley returns to the Enterprise, Picard confides in him that he also failed the examination the first time.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Mike Vejar.
  • Writer(s): Sandy Friers.
  • Release Date: 14 March 1988.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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