(written from a Production point of view)
|"Coming of Age"|
|TNG, Episode 1x19|
Production number: 40271-119
First aired: 14 March 1988
|←||18th of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||18th of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||123rd of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Sandy Fries and Hannah Louise Shearer (uncredited rewrite)
|Arc: Alien neural parasites infiltrate Starfleet Command (1 of 2)||→|
As Wesley Crusher faces the Starfleet Academy entrance exam on Relva VII, representatives from Starfleet Command conduct an exhaustive investigation into Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew.
Wesley Crusher runs through a corridor to catch up with his friend Jake Kurland and tell him he's sorry that he didn't make the final exam for Starfleet Academy. Jake says it is okay and wishes Wes the best. The USS Enterprise-D is in orbit around Relva VII, where Wesley is taking the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. Captain Picard's old friend, Admiral Gregory Quinn is also at Relva and he requests to beam aboard immediately. He brings Lieutenant Commander Remmick with him, and wants a private meeting with Picard, on official business. The three officers go to the ready room. Remmick is with the Inspector General's office and is there to conduct an investigation of the Enterprise. According to Quinn, there is something seriously wrong on the Enterprise, but he won't tell Picard what. He orders him to cooperate fully with the investigation.
On Relva, Wes is in the testing center examining a flux coordinating sensor, when a Human girl comes in. She introduces herself as Oliana Mirren, and she is also taking the test. Then a Vulcan, T'Shanik, enters, along with a Benzite, Mordock. Wes has heard of Mordock; he constructed the Mordock Strategy. The officer in charge of the test, Lieutenant Chang, enters. He tells them that they are all top candidates, but only one of them can go forward to the academy this year. He warns them that the test will be challenging, and wishes them the best.
Remmick is on the bridge, watching the crew, who are not happy with his presence. Riker goes to the ready room to ask Picard what is going on. Picard tells him he doesn't know. Riker is unhappy with this, so when he returns to bridge and Remmick asks to talk to him, Riker refuses, saying he has duties to attend to. Down on the planet, the candidates are finishing one part of the exam, the hyperspace physics test. Oliana comments how lucky Wes and Mordock are that everything comes so easy to them, but Wesley denies this, saying he has to study hard.
Riker apologizes to Picard for his earlier behavior, and goes with Remmick when he asks him to. They go to the ready room, where Remmick questions Riker about discrepancies in the logs. Riker argues with him and is generally uncooperative. Remmick asks La Forge in engineering about the incident with Kosinski and the Traveler, and La Forge is forced to acknowledge that the captain lost control of the ship. He questions Troi about the incident with the Stargazer, saying it demonstrated a mental lapse on Picard's part.
Wesley is in an empty holodeck when Worf enters. Wes asks him about the test, saying he's most worried about the psych test. Worf tells him there's no point in worrying about something that you can't change. The test confronts you with your greatest fear, and Worf reveals that his own greatest difficulty is depending on someone else for his life.
On the bridge, Tasha Yar detects an unauthorized entry to the shuttlebay. It is Jake Kurland, and he steals a shuttle, intending to sign onto a freighter. Picard orders him to return to the ship, but then Jake unbalances the dilithium reactor, and his engine stalls. He is heading for the atmosphere, where he will burn up. The tractor beam won't work and he's out of transporter range. He can't get the engine started as it needs time to cool down, and he starts to panic. Picard orders him to point the nose of the shuttle towards the planet. Jake initially resists but then he does as he's told. Picard tells him to restart the engines and pull up when he reaches a certain speed. Jake does this and manages to pull out in time. All on the bridge cheer, and La Forge says that he built up enough speed, and then bounced the shuttle off the atmosphere. Remmick questions Picard on how he got access to the shuttle, but Picard assures him that he will get a refresher in discipline.
Wes and Mordock meet a tall Starfleet officer called Rondon in a corridor down on Relva. He bumps into Wesley and starts to insult him. Wes apologizes, then Lt. Chang arrives. Wes stops apologizing and shouts at Rondon. All of a sudden Rondon's mood changes, and he laughs and leaves. Chang asks what happened, and Wes says he noticed that he was a Zaldan, and Zaldans hate courtesy. They see it as covering up true emotions. Chang congratulates him and tells him it was part of the test. Mordock admits he wouldn't have passed.
Remmick interviews other crewmembers, among them Worf and Data, who says that there is nothing wrong with Picard, despite Remmick's claim to the contrary. He also questions Dr. Crusher, asking her how she feels serving with the man who was responsible for the death of her husband. She says her personal feelings are irrelevant. He finally questions Picard himself about his violation of the Prime Directive with the Edo. Picard gets angry and goes to Quinn to ask him what's going on. Quinn tells him Remmick's report is nearly due. The candidates are taking the dynamic relationships test and Mordock is having trouble, so Wes helps him. Mordock finishes first, and Chang comes in and tells him his time was the second fastest ever. Mordock tells him that Wes helped him, but Chang knows this. There is only one test left – the psych test.
Remmick makes his report to Quinn, and tells him he could find no problem on the Enterprise despite his best efforts. Quinn dismisses him, tells Picard he had to be sure about him. He says there are problems in the Federation and that someone is trying to destroy it. He says he needs people he can trust, and offers Picard promotion to admiral, as Commandant of Starfleet Academy. Picard says he doesn't think he's the best man for the job, but promises to think about it.
Wes enters room 101 where the psych test will take place. It is empty except for a chair. At first nothing happens, then he hears a noise outside. He goes out, and the corridor is deserted. He hears shouting coming from the environmental lab. He goes in and sees a technician trapped under a pipe. Another technician is frozen with panic and won't leave. He frees the trapped man, and drags him out, but has only just enough time to get him out before the lab is sealed off. He sees Lt. Chang standing over him. He tells Wes that this was the psych test, confronting his fear of having to choose between saving one man and leaving another. This was because the same situation resulted in the death of his father. Wes had overcome his fear and made a similar choice; whom he chose was not as important as the fact he actually chose; Wes had passed the test. Chang says he's proud of all the candidates and hopes they will all return next year. He reveals that Mordock has won, and tells him that Wes' help wasn't the only difference between them. With this, Mordock became the first Benzite in Starfleet. The other candidates congratulate him.
On the Enterprise, Picard is walking down the corridor when he meets Jake, who apologizes for what he did. Picard reminds him that running away solves nothing, but compliments him for keeping his wits about him. He finds Wesley in the observation lounge. He tells Picard that he failed the exam and let him down. Picard disagrees, saying that as long as he did his best, and would improve next year, he shouldn't worry. He then confides that he failed the test the first time himself. Quinn is leaving, and says he's sorry that Picard turned down the promotion. Picard promises that he will be ready if Quinn needs him. With that Quinn beams back down to Relva.
"Thinking about what you can't control only wastes energy, and creates its own enemy."
- - Worf
"Expect the unexpected."
- - Chang
"My personal feelings about Captain Picard are irrelevant to this investigation... and none of your business."
- - Beverly Crusher, to Remmick
"Just how did this contaminant come on board?"
"By accident, sir."
"Meaning that Captain Picard has no standing procedure for this type of situation?"
"No. Meaning 'by accident,' sir."
"You don't like me very much, do you?"
"Is it required, sir?"
- - Remmick and Worf
"Do you want this to become violent?"
- - Wesley Crusher, to Rondon
"A very strange reaction!"
"Not really. When he raised his hand, I saw that it was webbed - the sign of a Zaldan."
"But you became hostile!"
"Zaldans are infuriated by courtesy - they view it as a form of phony social behavior designed to cover true feelings."
- - Mordock, Wesley and Chang, after Rondon leaves
"Was this 'incident' deliberate?"
"It's important to know how you...candidates deal with other cultures, other species..."
"Then it was a test!"
"Yes...not all tests are announced or...what they appear to be."
- - Mordock and Chang
"Zaldans have webbed fingers... hmph. I wouldn't have passed."
- - Mordock
"Did you hear what she said, Mordock? She said I was cute."
"Is that good, Wesley?"
"Yes... I think."
- - Wesley and Mordock
Story and script
- Although scripted by Sandy Fries, "Coming of Age" was rewritten by Hannah Louise Shearer. (Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation)
- A scene cut for time showed Wesley and the whole bridge crew celebrating his sixteenth birthday. The script named the location of the scene as "Deck 21 Forward Lounge", probably an early predecessor of Ten Forward. The scene also featured a short, humorous bit: Data asks Worf how Klingons celebrate their birthdays, and Worf replies that they do not. Data then asks him, how does he know how old he is. Worf replies: he doesn't know and asks Data how does he know, with Data replying that he has no age. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) 
Sets and props
- The original matte painting of Relva VII is in the property of Dan Curry and displayed in his house. ("Departmental Briefing Year Six - Profile: Dan Curry", TNG Season 6 DVD special feature)
- This episode features the first appearance of a shuttlecraft model on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- This episode lays the groundwork for the season's penultimate episode, "Conspiracy". Dexter Remmick makes a return in that episode, as does Gregory Quinn.
- This episode was the first to be directed by Mike Vejar, and it was the only time he directed an episode of TNG. He returned to Star Trek in 1997, when he began directing episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. He continued directing until 2005, when Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled.
- Remmick makes reference to the events of "The Naked Now", "Justice", "Where No One Has Gone Before", and "The Battle".
- Wesley's repeat Starfleet exams, which Picard insists that he will take the next year, can be seen in TNG: "Samaritan Snare" although the testing itself is not shown with the drama associated with the "psych test".
- Room 101 might be a reference to George Orwell's 1984, where Room 101 was used to psychologically break the subjects by torturing them with their greatest fears.
- While Remmick's conversation with Tasha Yar wasn't shown, it is assumed to have happened since Picard said to Remmick that he had spoken to every member of the crew.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 10, catalogue number VHR 2439, 1 April 1991.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.7, catalogue number VHR 4648, 7 September 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
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
- Ward Costello as Gregory Quinn
- Robert Schenkkan as Dexter Remmick
- John Putch as Mordock
- Robert Ito as Chang
- Stephen Gregory as Jake Kurland
- Tasia Valenza as T'Shanik
- Estee Chandler as Oliana Mirren
- Brendan McKane as Technician #1
- Wyatt Knight as Technician #2
- Daniel Riordan as Rondon
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Darrell Burris as an operations division officer
- Dexter Clay as an operations division officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as a command division officer
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Richard Sarstedt as a 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
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for Wil Wheaton
2161; 2348; Algeron IV; antimatter; atmosphere; Beltane IX; Beltane system; Benzite; Bulgallian rats; Cargo management unit; cockpit; commandant; Copernicus; Crusher, Jack; dilithium; dynamic relationships; Edo; Enterprise, U.S.S.; Enterprise-D, USS; environmental lab; flight emergency override; flux coordinating sensor; freighter; Galaxy-class; holodeck; hyperspace physics; Inspector General; intermix ratio; kilometer; Kosinski; Kurland; lightning storm; liquid hydrogen; main shuttlebay; maneuvering jets; matter; Mellanoid slime worm; Mordock Strategy; NCC-7100; Operations center; prime directive; psych test; shutoff valve; shuttle drone; standard orbit; Relva VII; starbase; Starfleet Academy; Stargazer, USS; Support Services; TAC officer; thought maker; three-dimensional chess; tour of duty; tractor beam; transporter room; Vulcan; Vulcana Regar; warp drive; Zaldan
- Coming of Age at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Coming of Age at Wikipedia
- Coming of Age at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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