Memory Alpha

Coming of Age (episode)

  • View history
  • 1.2 Act One
  • 1.3 Act Two
  • 1.4 Act Three
  • 1.5 Act Four
  • 1.6 Act Five
  • 1.7 Log entry
  • 2 Memorable quotes
  • 3.1 Production history
  • 3.2 Story and script
  • 3.3 Production
  • 3.4 Cast and characters
  • 3.5 Continuity
  • 3.6 Sets and props
  • 3.7 Reception
  • 3.9 Video and DVD releases
  • 4.1 Starring
  • 4.2 Also starring
  • 4.3 Guest stars
  • 4.4 Co-stars
  • 4.5 Uncredited co-stars
  • 4.6 Stand-ins
  • 4.7.1 Unreferenced material
  • 4.8 External links

Summary [ ]

Good luck Wesley

Wishing Wesley well

Wesley Crusher runs through a corridor to catch up with his friend Jake Kurland and tell him he's sorry that Jake didn't make the final exam for Starfleet Academy . Jake was short just 32 points, but says it is okay and wishes Wes the best, though he appears troubled as Wes leaves for Transporter room 8. 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 Dexter Remmick with him, and wants a private meeting with Picard, on official business, much to the confusion of both Picard and Commander Riker . The three officers go directly to the ready room .

Act One [ ]

Arriving at Picard's ready room, Quinn announces to the captain that Remmick is with the Inspector General 's office and is on board the ship to conduct a thorough investigation of the Enterprise . According to Quinn, there is something seriously wrong on the Enterprise , but he won't tell Picard what it is. He emphasizes that Picard is under orders 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 the room. She introduces herself as Oliana Mirren . She is also taking the test, and claims she's heard of Wesley's reputation aboard the Enterprise . Then a Vulcan , T'Shanik , enters, along with a Benzite , Mordock . In much the same way Oliana has heard of Wes, 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 and any of them could qualify, but only one of them can go forward to the academy this year. He warns them that the test will be challenging, as well as exhausting and wishes them the best. The candidates all take to their consoles to begin.

Remmick observing bridge crew

" Just having that guy around makes me feel guilty. "

Later, Remmick is on the bridge , entering information rapidly into his PADD and watching the crew, who are not happy with his presence. Sensing the crew's unease, 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, and he returns to bridge in a huff. Remmick asks and then demands that Riker talk to him, but Riker adamantly refuses, claiming that he has duties to attend to and leaves the bridge on a turbolift .

Act Two [ ]

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. Oliana, who has taken a liking to Wes, says that he's lucky that he's cute, because his statement could be taken as obnoxious by someone else. As Oliana leaves, Wes can hardly believe he's just been flattered by such an attractive girl but begins to second-guess himself when he tries to explain Oliana's behavior to Mordock.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, Riker apologizes to Picard for his earlier behavior, and agrees to go with Remmick to the ready room for an interview. Remmick questions Riker about discrepancies in the captain's logs. Unnerved, Riker argues that any questions about Picard should be brought to Picard himself face-to-face. Remmick vehemently reminds Riker that he is required to answer his questions unless he is trying to hide something. After a beat, Riker reluctantly agrees to proceed. Later, Remmick asks La Forge in engineering about the incident with Kosinski and the Traveler , and La Forge is coerced into acknowledging that the captain ultimately lost control of the ship. He then questions Troi about the incident with the Ferengi and USS Stargazer , concluding that it demonstrated a mental lapse on Picard's part.

Some time later, Wesley is in an empty holodeck when Worf enters. Worf asks him about how his testing is coming along, and Wes says that he's felt prepared for most of them. However, he's most worried about the psych test, a test that confronts the examinee with their greatest fear. Wesley admits that he's in the holodeck because he has no idea what his greatest fear is, and he's trying to figure out what images might scare him the most. Worf tells him there's no point in worrying about something that you can't change and reveals that his own greatest difficulty is depending on someone else for his life. Wes realizes that, as part of being an officer, Worf faces that fear every day. When Wes asks if that means Worf has overcome his fear, Worf replies that, "it is still my enemy."

Jake Kurland in stolen shuttle

" Young men sometimes make rash choices. "

Meanwhile, on the bridge, Tasha Yar detects an unauthorized entry to the shuttlebay – it is Jake Kurland. He steals a shuttle , intending to sign onto a freighter at Beltane IX , unable to face his father after he failed to make the entrance exam. Picard orders him to return to the ship, but Jake refuses out of fear of his father's reaction. This causes him to lose concentration on his flying for a moment and he accidentally unbalances the dilithium reactor, and his engine stalls. He is heading for Relva VII's 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.

Act Three [ ]

In a calm voice, Picard orders Jake to point the nose of the shuttle towards the planet. Jake initially resists, not realizing Picard's plan, but Picard forcefully repeats the order and Jake does as he's told. Picard tells him to restart the engines and pull up hard when he reaches a certain speed. Jake does this and manages to pull out in time. All on the bridge cheer, including Remmick, who is astounded at what he saw, and La Forge explains that Jake built up enough speed, and then bounced the shuttle off the atmosphere. Remmick then questions Picard on how he got access to the shuttle, but Picard assures him that he will get a refresher in discipline from Commander Riker.

Meanwhile, down on Relva, Wesley and Mordock are stopped by a tall Starfleet officer called Rondon in a corridor. He has a package for the operations department and asks where it is. Wesley steers him in the right direction, as he leaves, he bumps into Wesley's shoulder and starts to insult him. Wes begins to apologize, but suddenly Chang arrives, wondering what the problem is. Wes begins to explain, but Rondon interrupts with more insults, and raises a hand. Wes seems to realize something, and suddenly stops apologizing and starts shouting at Rondon. All of a sudden, Rondon's mood changes and he laughs while telling Wesley that he likes him and leaves. Chang asks what happened, and Wes says he noticed from his webbed hands that he was a Zaldan , and Zaldans hate courtesy. They view it as insincere behavior meant to cover up true emotions . Chang congratulates him and tells him it was part of the test, and explains that not all tests are announced, or what they appear to be. Mordock gravely admits he wouldn't have passed, as he was unaware Zaldans have webbed fingers.

Remmick interrogates Data

" There is a problem with this ship, Mister Data. "

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 to the investigation and none of Remmick's business. He finally questions Picard himself regarding his violation of the Prime Directive with the Edo . Picard is at the end of his patience and points out that Remmick must have all the information he needs, as he has interviewed every officer on the ship. Remmick cryptically fires back, wondering that Picard is afraid that he will be found guilty if Remmick keeps investigating. Now angry, Picard retorts that the only thing he is guilty of is allowing Quinn's charade to go on this long. He storms out of the room and heads for Quinn's quarters to find out what's really going on.

Act Four [ ]

Picard demands that Quinn tell him what is going on. Quinn tells him Remmick's report is nearly due and needs more time but relents and calls for Remmick. Nearly at his wit's end, Picard tells Quinn that this investigation has put a strain on their friendship, which Quinn acknowledges and sincerely regrets, but insists that it has been necessary.

Back on Relva VII, 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 for this particular test. Mordock admits that he does not deserve the honor and that Wes helped him, but Chang knows this. Chang matter-of-factly states to Wes that his choice might not have been the best one, considering that he and Mordock are neck and neck for the lead in overall score. 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. The only thing of note he found was a 'casual familiarity' among the bridge crew, but he believes that comes from a sense of teamwork and a feeling of family. Quinn is satisfied and dismisses him, but before he leaves, he lets Picard know that he wants to transfer to the Enterprise once his tour in the Inspector General's office is up in six months, much to Picard's visible discomfort. Quinn urges Picard not to judge Remmick too harshly, as he is a good officer. He then finally explains that the purpose of the investigation was that he had to be sure about Picard. He says there is increasing reports of problems and erratic behavior among those in high positions in the Federation and that he believes someone is trying to destroy it, though he doesn't know if the threat is external or internal. He says he needs people he can trust, and close to him, and offers Picard a promotion to admiral and take over 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.

Act Five [ ]

Psych test

Wesley faces his fears

Lieutenant Chang leads Wes to Room 101 where the psych test will take place, and notes that Mordock will be finished with his in a moment. Just then, a visibly shaken Mordock walks out the door, barely aware of his surroundings. Wesley asks him if he is alright, to which Mordock replies, he will be in time. Wes nervously watches Mordock leave before Chang ushers him into the room and wishes him luck. The room is empty except for a chair.

For a long while, nothing happens. Wes wonders for a moment if the proctors forgot about his exam, making him more nervous. Then, without warning, a large bang is heard outside. Wes tentatively goes out to investigate, and finds the corridor is deserted. Suddenly, explosions, klaxons and cries for help ring out through the corridor and Wes runs towards them, finally realizing they are coming from the environmental lab. A computer voice indicates that the lab will be sealed off in sixty-five seconds. Wes yells for assistance, but no one is coming. He is the only one who can help. He opens the door and finds the lab is virtually destroyed. Debris and live wires are strewn everywhere, broken pipes are venting gaseous chemicals, and two technicians are calling for help. One is trapped under a fallen pipe and the other is frozen with panic at the far end of the lab and won't leave. Wes learns that the liquid hydrogen stored in the lab is about to explode, and if they don't get out quickly, the computer will seal them in to contain the explosion. He attempts to convince the fearful technician to come and help free the other man, but he won't move.

Wes frees the trapped man, and drags him out, but has only just enough time to get him out before the lab is sealed off. Just as Wes picks himself up, he finds Lt. Chang standing over him. Wes frantically tries to explain what happened, but Chang stops him and tells him it's alright. The technician Wes had saved stands up, unhurt, and thanks Wesley, while the other walks out of the lab, very much alive, and gives Wes a wink and a nod. Wes now realizes that this was the psych test, confronting his fear of having to choose between saving one man and leaving another behind. 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 to save whom he could; Wes had passed the test.

Some time later, Chang says he's proud of all the candidates and hopes they will all return next year. He reveals that Mordock has won, and although Mordock protests that Wes shouldn't have lost points because Wes helped him, Chang tells him that Wes' help wasn't the only difference between them. With this, Mordock becomes the first Benzite in Starfleet. The other candidates congratulate him, and Oliana gives Wes a friendly warning that she won't be easy to beat next year.

Picard reveals a secret

" And you may not tell anyone! "

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 reminds Wes that the only person he is truly competing against is himself. He then confides to the young man that he failed the test the first time himself. With Wesley's spirits lifted, he and Picard exit the lounge for Admiral Quinn's dinner. Picard tells Wesley on the way out that he unfortunately must disappoint an old friend. Later, 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.

Enterprise-D crew depart Relva VII

" Mr. Crusher, engage. "

Picard arrives on the bridge and orders Wesley, resuming his duties as acting ensign, to set a course for Algeron IV . With that, the Enterprise warps away.

Log entry [ ]

  • Captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), 2364

Memorable quotes [ ]

" Thinking about what you can't control only wastes energy and creates its own enemy. "

" Only fools have no fear. "

" Expect the unexpected. "

" Any problem with using your ready room, Captain? " " No, Mr. Remmick. Be my guest. "

" You're an android , correct? " " Yes, sir. " " And as an android, you are programmed to tell the entire truth? " " Yes, sir. " " There's a problem with this ship, Mr. Data. It's in the records. Somewhere. I need your help to find it. " " All of the ship's records are available to you, sir. " " But this information is very cleverly hidden. Your captain is not what he appears to be. Do not forget you have loyalty to Starfleet above all else. " " Loyalty is not the issue, Commander. There is nothing wrong with Captain Picard or the ship's logs. Therefore, there must be something wrong with your original assumption. " " That is not acceptable, Mr. Data. " " Acceptable or not, sir… it is the truth. "

" 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? "

" My personal feelings about Captain Picard are irrelevant to this investigation… and none of your business. "

" Mr. Remmick, you have talked to every member of this ship. I think you've had enough time to find out whatever it is you're looking for. " " Are you afraid if I keep looking that I'll find you're guilty? " " The only thing I'm guilty of is allowing this charade to go on so long. "

" How dare you! I am Rondon, you despicable Mellanoid slime worm ! LIAR!! " " Who do you think you're bullying?! You bumped into me! It was your mistake! You were at fault! Do you want this to become violent? " " Friend. I like you. "

" 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. "

" 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. "

" Zaldans have webbed fingers… hmph. I wouldn't have passed. "

" Did you hear what she said, Mordock? She said I was cute. " " Is that good, Wesley? " " Yes… I think. "

" Mr. Crusher… you're next. "

" I failed, sir. I didn't get into the academy. I failed you, and I failed the Enterprise . " " Ridiculous. Did you do your best? " " Yes. "

" I failed the first time, and you may not tell anyone. " " You? You failed? " " Yes, but not the second time. "

Background information [ ]

Wesley birthday

Wesley's party

Relva VII matte painting

The original matte painting of Relva VII

Coming of age live action plate

The live action plate of filming of a scene

Production history [ ]

  • Second draft story outline: 28 October 1987
  • Four-page memo of story notes: 4 November 1987
  • Robert H. Justman memo of story notes: 21 December 1987
  • Breakdown of optical costs by Dan Curry : 23 December 1987
  • Second revised final draft script: 29 December 1987
  • Third revised final draft script: 30 December 1987 [1]
  • A day of filming: 12 February 1988 ( Star Trek Magazine  issue 154 , p. 26)
  • Premiere airdate: 14 March 1988
  • UK premiere airdate: 6 February 1991

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 ) An early draft of the episode's script, written by Fries, had the working title "Starfleet Academy" and was written while the episode's director had not yet been selected.
  • Starting with this episode, Maurice Hurley took over the job of showrunner from Gene Roddenberry . Hurley was concerned that the show's writing process had stalled under Roddenberry's leadership, and so personally paid for a holiday for Roddenberry and Majel Barrett on the understanding that he would take over while they were gone. Upon his eventual return, Roddenberry opted to leave Hurley in charge of the writing staff. ( William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge )
  • Robert H. Justman suggested several changes to improve episode flow and cut costs in a 21 December 1987 memo, including adding an orbital shot to open the episode, noting that a cut to Wesley and Worf in a "calm" program on the holodeck may confuse viewers and be unnecessarily costly, instead recommending shooting in a corridor or the observation lounge (the shot would end up set on the empty hologrid,) and suggesting a single scene featuring Argyle be adapted for one of the regulars (La Forge or Yar) rather than bring in an additional actor. ( Star Trek: The Magazine  Volume 1, Issue 16 , p. 12)

Production [ ]

  • 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 , 2nd ed., pp. 29 & 51; [2] )

Cast and characters [ ]

  • Ward Costello and Robert Schenkkan both reprise their roles in the episode " Conspiracy ".
  • This episode was the first time on Star Trek for John Putch . He later appeared as Mendon in TNG : " A Matter Of Honor " and as a journalist in Star Trek Generations .
  • Robert Ito can be seen as John Kim in VOY : " Author, Author " and Daniel Riordan as a Bajoran deputy in DS9 : " Progress " and as Duras, son of Toral in ENT : " Judgment " and ENT : " The Expanse ".

Continuity [ ]

  • 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 " 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 novel 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.
  • While in the Academy testing room, the other candidates ask Wesley Crusher if he's old enough to qualify for Academy entry and he replies that he will be 16 next month. This implies that the age requirement to be admitted to Starfleet Academy is 16.

Sets and props [ ]

  • The original matte painting of the Relva VII surface is in the possession of Dan Curry and displayed in his house. ( TNG Season 6 DVD special feature, "Departmental Briefing Year Six – Profile: Dan Curry"). The same background painting was originally created by him for Universal Studios ' science fiction television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century , where it appeared as the Aldebaran II spaceport in the 1979 two-part episode "The Plot to Kill a City", reused for the later, same season episode "Planet of the Amazon Women" [3] , and was only slightly modified by its creator for its Star Trek appearance, among others by adding the Starfleet symbols on the dome. ( Star Trek Encyclopedia , 3rd ed., p. 405)
  • This episode features the first appearance of a shuttlecraft model on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Reception [ ]

  • A mission report by Patrick Daniel O'Neill for this episode was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine  issue 5 , pp. 49-52.
  • UK premiere airdate: 6th February 1991
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series in 1988 , namely Michael Westmore , Werner Keppler , Gerald Quist , and Rolf John Keppler .

Video and DVD releases [ ]

  • Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video ): Volume 10, catalog number VHR 2439, 1 April 1991
  • UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment ): Volume 1.7, catalog 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 [ ]

Starring [ ].

  • Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
  • Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker

Also starring [ ]

  • 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

Guest stars [ ]

  • 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

Co-stars [ ]

  • Estee Chandler as Oliana Mirren
  • Brendan McKane as Technician #1
  • Wyatt Knight as Technician #2
  • Daniel Riordan as Rondon

Uncredited co-stars [ ]

  • James G. Becker as Youngblood
  • Darrell Burris as operations officer
  • Dan Campise as operations officer
  • Dexter Clay as operations officer
  • Jeffrey Deacon as command officer
  • Nora Leonhardt as sciences officer
  • Tim McCormack as Bennett
  • Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
  • Burt Nacke as Relva VII engineer
  • Richard Sarstedt as command officer
  • Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
  • Command officer
  • Female sciences officer
  • Female transporter officer
  • Five civilians
  • Nine Relva VII Starfleet officers
  • Operations officer
  • Relva VII female test computer voice
  • Relva VII male computer voice
  • Relva VII technician 1 and 3
  • Three command crewmembers
  • Two operations crewmembers

Stand-ins [ ]

  • 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

References [ ]

22nd century ; 2348 ; " above all else "; accident ; accuracy ; admiral ; age requirement ; Algeron IV ; " all right "; " all the time "; android ;` answer ; antimatter ; antimatter tank ; aquarium ; arch ; area ; assumption ; " as you wish "; " at fault "; " at least "; " at length "; atmosphere ; atmospheric entry ; " at once "; bay launch door ; Beltane IX ; Benzite ; birthday ; breathing apparatus ; bridge crew ; Bulgallian rat ; bullying ; calculation ; candidate ; Captain's log ; cargo ; cargo management unit ; charade ; choice ; channel ; cockpit ; " come on "; commandant ; competition ; computer ; conspiracy ; Constellation -class ; contamination ; course ; courtesy ; cooperation ; Copernicus ; corridor ; courtesy ; Crusher, Jack R. ; culture ; day ; Deimos ; desktop monitor ; dilithium reaction ; discipline ; dress uniform ; dynamic relationships test ; Edo ; effect ; elevator ; Emergency Manual Override station ; enemy ; energy ; Enterprise , USS ; Enterprise -D, USS ; Enterprise models ; environmental maintenance lab ; evidence ; " excuse me "; experience ; explosion ; extricator ; " face to face "; failure ; family ; farewell dinner ; fear ; Federation ; feeling ; Ferengi ; finalist ; finger ; fish ; flight emergency override ; flux coordinating sensor ; fool ; freighter ; friend ; friendship ; Galaxy -class ; generosity ; glass ; " good luck "; guest ; guest quarters ; hand ; Henry V ; history ; holodeck ; hour ; hyperspace physics ; hyperspace physics test ; ID number ; idea ; image ; impact ; information ; " in my way "; " in person "; inquiry ; Inspector General ; intention ; intermix ratio ; investigation ; job ; kilometer ; Klingon ; knowledge ; Kosinski ; Kurland ; law ; leader ; leg ; liar ; lightning storm ; light year ; liquid hydrogen ; Livingston ; log record ; log report ; loyalty ; machine ; main shuttlebay ; main viewer ; maneuvering jet ; Mars ; matter ; matter tank ; Mellanoid slime worm ; mental lapse ; mind altering machine ; mission ; mistake ; mister ; model ; month ; Mordock Strategy ; NCC-7100 ; " none of your business "; number one ; observation lounge ; office ; officer ; " one by one "; " on my way "; " one way or the other "; Operations center ; orbit ; order ; Orion sector ; package ; PADD ; painting ; performance ; person ; personality ; phony ; politics ; power ; preliminary test ; Prime Directive ; problem ; promotion ; psych test ; psychological evaluation ; psychological profile ; question ; ratio ; ready room ; reason ; record ; relationship ; Relva VII ; report ; result ; " right now "; room ; sculpture ; seat ; second ; " see you later "; senior staff ; shut-off valve ; shuttlecraft ; shuttle drone ; " sit down "; skant ; social behavior ; " so far "; species ; speed ; standard orbit ; starbase ; Starfleet ; Starfleet Academy ; Starfleet Academy entrance exam ; Starfleet Command ; Starfleet Operational Support Services ; Stargazer , USS ; student ; success ; surprise ; TAC officer ; teamwork ; test ; test score ; theory ; thing ; threat ; three-dimensional chess ; time ; tour of duty ; tractor beam ; tractor lock ; training ; trajectory ; transporter range ; transporter room eight ; trick question ; truth ; turbolift ; Type 7 shuttlecraft ; universe ; unnamed plants ; value ; viewscreen ; VISOR ; Vulcan ; Vulcana Regar ; " wait a second "; warp core ; warp drive system ; warp engine ; warp factor ; warrior ; web ; year ; Zaldan

Unreferenced material [ ]

adrenaline ; Carlundrum IQ test ; Benzite chess ; Galactic Computer Network ; Platonic Solid

External links [ ]

  • " Coming of Age " at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • " Coming of Age " at Wikipedia
  • " Coming of Age " at the Internet Movie Database
  • " Coming of Age " at , a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
  • "Coming of Age" script  at Star Trek Minutiae
  • 1 Daniels (Crewman)
  • 3 Calypso (episode)
  • What’s The Viewscreen?
  • Donation Success!
  • Star Trek Movies I-VI Re-Watch Index
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series Re-Watch Index
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  • Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch Index
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Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “Coming of Age”

Season 1, Episode 19 Original air date: March 14, 1988 Star date: 41461.2

Mission summary

Enterprise delivers acting ensign Wesley Crusher to Relva VII to participate in the planet’s annual Hunger Games  Starfleet Academy entrance examination. He meets the other candidates: a girl named Oliana, a Vulcan girl named T’Shanik, and a Benzite named Mordock. They are all incredibly bright, but apparently only one of them will be offered a coveted spot at the Academy.

While the crew waits around for wunderkind Wesley to ace his test, Picard reunites with an old friend, Admiral Quinn. Alas, this isn’t a social call: The admiral assigns his obnoxious assistant Remmick to ferret out something “wrong” on the ship. It soon becomes obvious that the real focus of their investigation is Captain Picard himself, as Remmick interrogates the staff about his performance in the first season’s greatest hits, as well as several discrepancies in the log.

Wesley and Mordock prove themselves to be the best candidates through each phase of The Federation’s Next Top Cadet , and Wesley even helps the Benzite out with a tricky question—which gives his opponent a slight advantage. But Wesley is nervous about the psychological exam, which is supposed to force applicants to face their worst fears. He’s already made a fool of himself in front of Oliana, so what could it be?

Picard scores some points of his own with Remmick when Wesley’s friend Jake steals a shuttlecraft to run away and join a freighter, upset that he wasn’t chosen to take the Starfleet Academy admission test. The kid screws up and his shuttle ends up on a crash course for the planet, until Picard talks him through a maneuver that enables it to bounce off the atmosphere.

Finally fed up with Quinn and Remmick’s vague investigation, Picard demands an explanation. Remmick reports that there’s nothing wrong on Enterprise : “Except, perhaps, a casual familiarity among the Bridge crew, but mostly that comes from a sense of teamwork, and the feeling of family.” Then he asks Picard for a job, because that’s how networking works in the future. Quinn explains that he suspects people are trying to take down Starfleet from within and he needs people he can trust in positions of power. He offers Picard a promotion to commandant of Starfleet Academy, and Picard promises to give him an answer by that evening.

Wesley passes his psych test: a no-win scenario fabricated to force him to make the difficult choice of leaving a man behind after a devastating explosion in the environmental lab. But Wesley still doesn’t make the cut — Mordock will be going to the Academy, the first Benzite in Starfleet. Better luck next year, Wes!

A run in with Jake helps remind the captain that his place is still on Enterprise ; he turns down the promotion, though he promises to support Quinn however he can. Then he consoles Wesley about being a failure:

PICARD: Did you do your best? WESLEY: Yes. PICARD: When you test next year, and you will test next year, do you think your performance will improve? WESLEY: Yes. PICARD: Good. The only person you’re truly competing against, Wesley, is yourself. WESLEY: Then you’re not disappointed? PICARD: Wesley, you have to measure your successes and your failures within, not by anything I or anyone else might think. But, if it helps you to know this, I failed the first time. And you may not tell anyone! WESLEY: You? You failed? PICARD: Yes. But not the second time.

So the ship will be stuck with Wesley for at least another year. Back on the Bridge, he takes his station at navigation and lays in a course for their next mission, business as usual.

This is another disjointed story that tries to create tension and conflict from the smallest incidents. Part of the problem with “Coming of Age” is that the B-plot only exists to set up a later episode, “Conspiracy,” and it isn’t handled all that well. Only one step above a clip show, Remmick mentions the events of previous episodes in the course of your standard “interrogate a large group of people” montage. I would love to know what program or film first introduced the editing technique used to cut between different questions and responses. It’s effective, but clichéd.

The intrigue surrounding the vague investigation and Quinn’s ominous warnings of Starfleet’s imminent doom are compelling, especially considering the perfect future Roddenberry has created; however, the plotline doesn’t manage to satisfy viewers as it’s essentially a teaser for what’s to come—a lot of buildup for something that doesn’t really go anywhere interesting. Personally, I would have preferred Picard to evaluate his friendship with Quinn through these events and come to a stronger realization than, “I should be a starship captain! I can make a difference!” since he’s been doing that all along.

The A-plot of Wesley’s examination fares slightly better. Although we deal with many scenes of students answering technobabblish questions on computer screens, we also get to see just how competent the boy is, and how he behaves among other teens as talented as himself. Whether we believe Wesley or not, he insists that despite his natural ability, he still needs to study, and I felt my sympathy for him sway back in his direction. He handles the situation with the Zaldan remarkably well, and though his psych test might be transparent to viewers, it was interesting to see him deal with that sudden moment of self-awareness. It’s particularly interesting to see Wesley fail at something, and his nurturing relationship with Picard really starts to evolve in this episode.

Although the testing makes for decent enough drama, I had a hard time accepting that Starfleet’s application process is really so competitive. Why are they taking only one applicant from this random planet? What determines where you have to take the test? If the exam is really standardized and selective, why not compare their scores to those of every other exam taker everywhere in the galaxy? I also have to imagine that an acting ensign would have what some would consider an unfair advantage over other candidates, for all the good it does him; it also has to be somewhat embarrassing for a candidate from the Enterprise to not advance to the Academy. I half suspect Wesley lost the deciding points for his shirt.

I was also highly suspicious of the incident with the shuttlecraft. Was Enterprise really unable to move into transporter or tractor beam range in time to save the kid? The whole thing is crafted to give Picard a chance to shine and have a Meaningful Moment with a Troubled Young Man we’ve never seen before, nor will see again. Off to boarding school with him, I think. And I didn’t remember Riker being this pouty and unprofessional. I couldn’t believe it when he sulked, exclaimed “This is very frustrating!” and actually stormed off the Bridge. Well done, Number One.

This is weird, very uneven episode, but I can’t complain too much. It was overall engaging and focused on characters and their relationship more than most episodes have this season. It was, at the very least, an enjoyable diversion for forty-eight minutes; sometimes that’s all it takes, but it’s surprising how often the series fails to deliver even that much in its early seasons.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 3 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: LA FORGE: “Commander, just having that guy around makes me feel guilty.”

Trivia/Other Notes: A deleted scene shows Wesley and the crew celebrating his sixteenth birthday. Big deal, when you’ve already been driving a starship.

This episode marks the first appearance of a shuttlecraft in the series.

Previous episode: Season 1, Episode 18 – “ Home Soil .”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 20 – “ Heart of Glory .”

About Eugene Myers


Such a weak episode. Warp 3 is rather generous. I think the thing that bothers me most is the establishment of the precedent that it is almost impossible to get into the Starfleet Academy. Of course, they had to do that so there was an excuse to keep Wesley around. (Yet another argument in favor of Mr. Midshipman Crusher over Acting Ensign.) But Starfleet needs thousands of people in a wide variety of fields, where are they going to get them if they only let in a handful of new students every year?

The B-plot seems to be the first attempt at creating an actual story arc, and they flubbed it completely. There’s no sense of anything other than these two guys being major jerks. The whole infiltration of Starfleet never really goes anywhere and gets resolved and forgotten so fast, it’s incredible. The topic would be handled much better by DS9, but then the Founders were also a little more credible infiltrators than than TNG’s stupid parasite thingies.

I am very amused by the Riker-flounce. Even if it is extremely obvious that he’s an insufferable douche throughout all of first season.

Agreed that the testing makes no sense… it’s like they’re sitting around taking the MCAT together and they’re allowed to talk. Also, duh, the boys are the only ones who really had a chance… but why wouldn’t Starfleet take everybody who passes an aptitude test?

Two issues: 1) I could’ve sworn that Mordock looked over at Wesley’s screen before he put in the 1:1 trick question answer. Doesn’t this bother anyone?

2) How has Wesley heard of Mordock before? Is he on the Future World equivalent of some kind of Center for Talented Youth newsletter talking about his overachieving peers? But isn’t the population so big by now you’d never get through the monthly editions??

Bonus: I would’ve liked the psych test even more if there weren’t the forced emergency; if he was just sent to sit in a room without instructions, until he realized he could just leave.

This was simultaneously a lot better and a lot worse than I had remembered.

I actually really enjoyed the Wesley plot. I liked that though he’s the obvious candidate aboard the Enterprise, that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to be the best most special sparkliest there ever was. His tests were interesting, especially the encounter with the Zaldan. The way he approached them, with a mixture of fear and confidence, felt authentic to me.

There were also some character moments I really enjoyed, the encounter in the holodeck with Worf most of all. Worf has some great lines, and that he admitted not only that he has fears but that he continues to struggle with them constantly, is one of the more moving moments on the series thus far. It helped that Worf doesn’t explicitly tell us what his test was . There’s enough left to the imagination, for once. In the same vein, I actually liked Picard’s talks with Wesley about how in the end, the only person that needs to be satisfied is yourself. It’s a little cheesy but it’s a truism of life, and one that I learned as a teenager, too.

That said, the whole testing concept is exponentially more idiotic than I had remembered. Why wouldn’t Starfleet take every qualified, promising candidate? The whole point of academy admissions should be to identify potential , which these kids seem to have in spades. And why are they facing off against each other regionally? Why can only one of them advance to the academy? I was thinking about this issue earlier reading Martin Sutherland’s insightful post on the ways in which we measure success in the internet age . It’s no longer enough to be the best in your school, or your region, or your field–the internet has enabled us to compete against the whole world, meaning good isn’t good enough. I’m honestly surprised that TNG took this tack as well, by making success a cutthroat zero-sum game in which many may enter but only one may win. Where’s the sense that everyone has a place and a talent? Where’s the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration?

I also really didn’t like his “fear.” We’ve never once seen Wesley have any daddy issues (aside from his discomfort around Picard), so to have that come out of nowhere felt pretty forced to me. And the scenario just wasn’t scary. It didn’t ask him to confront anything about himself or make a difficult choice. He helps the guy who can’t help himself–it’s the obvious thing to do and you can’t be responsible for the actions of others too cowardly to save themselves. It just wasn’t a very big deal to me.

The less said about the “investigation” plot the better. I had entirely forgotten the surprise twist that Picard gets offered the Academy. This feels SO weird, the kind of shallow political machination that doesn’t really belong on the series at this stage, and Picard never gives the position any serious thought. I think it’s funny he decides to turn it down because he realizes his place is on the ship: successfully giving advice to teenagers. Hahaha.

Frankly if you are going to go through the motions of having a up front credited character possibly leaving the show – which the viewers know will not happen because he is in the up front credits — then his failure to pass should be a bigger deal and evolve directly out of the character. Instead of ‘Sorry Wesley, the other kids scored better’ Wesley’s failure should have been because he blew something, like the psych test, and having him confront that failure would then represent a chance for character growth. oh that’s real writing with flawed characters not something they were big on in season 1.

Many of my points covered in a thorough review.

An episode with an A plot and a well developed B plot, a structure that will become a staple in later seasons, this installment feels like a hybrid cross between a clip show and Sequel Two of a three part series. It seems to be almost entirely a rehash / recap of the series so far as well as a set up for later events, all framed around the dramatic “unease” something is wrong. Wesley’s B story seems equally without direct purpose. Two halves of a bun with a nothingburger between.

The series as a whole begins to feel like it is dogpaddling without direction.

Let us again note—and not for the last time—Counselor Troi is singularly AWOL when she might have otherwise proven helpful in assisting the captain better understand this “inspection.” Her absolute uselessness has become institutionalized at this point.

It’s interesting that Picard is offered a promotion and a new assignment this early in the series, the only one IIRC he’s offered in the entire series run and three feature length films.* It is interesting to wonder, in light of the later Conspiracy, what benefit Adm. Quinn hoped to gain by placing Picard in charge of the Academy.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and presume this episode was actually written in tandem with Conspiracy, with that episode in mind, and not just plied with hooks that were later tied off and bookended. In which case one must consider whether Quinn and Remmick were under the influence of the blue gills at this point, or whether they were coopted later… perhaps in response to their awareness and activism (paranoia) here. IMO, the latter interpretation is strongly indicated, as we don’t see Picard (or others) sensing anything is hinky or out of place with Quinn, as he (again without Troi’s help) immediately will six episodes hence.

The question, though, is an interesting one. If these two were already conscripted here, then their purpose in promoting Picard and installing him at the Academy is sinister. If they were not at this point already “Pod People,” then one wonders whether their horrible deaths were caused or assisted by Picard’s refusal to take the assignment….

* Ignoring Picard’s own infrequent Dickensian wavering on whether to quit the Star Service.

Any questions about what it takes to enroll in Starfleet Academy were thankfully addressed by the Abrams Star Trek movie, in which (as it seems) Starfleet takes in anyone who bothers to show up at the shipyard, even if they’re openly drunk. You may hit me now.

My guess is in the OS era they must’ve allowed the entry more than one cadet each year, since Kirk alone averaged a death of one graduate per episode.

In “The Apple” Kirk eliminated about a tenth of the Star Force, doing the math on a policy of just one successful applicant per year.

One thing I found excruciating ridiculous about this episode is Wesley’s exchange with Rondon the Zaldan—that, for the cult of multiculturalism, dysfunctional, even dangerous social and personality quirks are to be accommodated.

What if the Zaldan response to the insult of courtesy was to deliver instant death to the offender? Would that be smiled upon by Starfleet’s happy multicultural accommodation? What if violent rape was an acceptable form of flirtation in a given society? What if a race, above all else, valued crass disobedience and mutiny as its highest expressions?

Oh, heck, we value ALL viewpoints here!

If Wesley’s imperative was to accommodate the Zaldan officer, who takes courtesy as an offense and an insult, why is the Zaldan—also presumably an Academy graduate—not required to buck up and shrug off the insult?

The whole conceit is framed in the same silly, schoolyard-logic way as the Prime Directive. For a society that prides itself for its homogeneous accommodation, the Federation approaches this in the most rigid fundamentalist way imaginable.

My thinking is that this test was not part of the general process for entrance to the Academy but rather a locally organized competition for the Star Fleet equivalent of Congressional Nominations to a service academy. It has to be something like that because otherwise, there’s no way Star Fleet could keep their ships manned – much less staff new ships – if so few are able to get into the Academy.

I also had the feeling that the real reason for the tests we saw was to evaluate how the candidate handles the stress of awkward situations. Accumulated scores and test results would have already been considered as part of the procedure for being accepted into this testing event.

On my first viewing, I didn’t care for the investigation plot at all. Viewing it again after knowing where this plot will go only made it less interesting for me.

Just thinking about this. If this test event was for a ‘Congressional Nomination’ then maybe there were political considerations involved in the decision. Mordock being the first Benzite in Star Fleet – or should that have been the first Benzite to enter the Academy? That talk between Wesley and Picard could have been the place for that possibility to have been suggested. “I suspected this might happen but I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t say anything about it because I wanted you to do your best with the full belief that your best would make a difference.”

Not a great episode but it did have a few good moments for me – like knowing what Picard was after when he directed Jake to put the shuttlecraft into a dive – trading altitude for speed. It might have been nice to have had Jake show up again in one or two later episodes for brief conversations with Wesley during which we learn that part of Jake’s punishment was being placed in a work-study program that had him learning everything he could learn about shuttlecraft piloting and upkeep. This could have set the stage for this character to come back with a better part in a later season episode.

The whole thing about admitting only a few people into the academy at a time didn’t make any sense to me for the longest time either. Now, though, I think it’s a little less ridiculous (but only a little).

The thing is, there’s only one Starfleet Academy that we know of, in San Francisco on Earth. But the Federation is enormous. Someone out there probably knows how many planets were part of it at this point of the storyline but I don’t. There’s no way they can take everyone who can pass a standard test; I’d say it’s pretty likely that they can only accept a small percentage of those who apply. It’s certainly no easy trick to get into one of our (American) military academies either. I knew several people in high school who tried and not a single one of them succeeded.

That still doesn’t explain why these four people who are obviously already the best of the best are being whittled down to one admission. Unless there are a whole lot of excessively bright people out there.

It would have made more sense to me if all four of these kids were early admission potentials and they were only going to accept a very small number of early admissions. 16 is kind of young, after all.

All in all, I still find this one of the more palatable episodes from Season 1, even if it’s not all that great.

@Toryx #10 I still find this one of the more palatable episodes from Season 1 Me too. And, perhaps not coincidentally, it’s one of the few I remember showing up pretty often in syndication…

As for there being only one Academy, that’s an interesting point — on the scale of the number of people involved, getting into the Academy must be the equivalent of having, say, the entire world competing for spots at a particular college at Oxford.

It’s soft SF. Nobody really thought about the scale of the society that’s being described. Nobody ever addressed that you’d have to have a bunch of branch Academies even just to keep the ships crewed, let alone built. Or that the total population of this society would mean that there’s no way these kids would have heard of each other. Or that Starfleet is apparently a military over-junta across Federation colonies, since we almost never see any form of civilian government, and participatory democracy on a civilization-wide level would be incredibly impractical…

I think I’ve just accepted that I have to expect something different from Star Trek than I would from Vernor Vinge :)

Let us also note that not for the last time, Picard’s Enterprise will be noted as being more slack than other Starfleet officers are comfortable with. Jellicoe really can’t get here fast enough.

The scale of Starfleet still hasn’t been really set down yet. Even by the time we get to “Best of Both Worlds,” a 40-ship task force is a major effort for Starfleet to scrape together to do something as critical as defend Earth, but in DS9, they’re tossing around casual mention of multiple fleets hundreds-strong maneuvered around just on the Cardassian front.

The writers don’t know how big Starfleet is, and neither do we, unfortunately.

@2 DeepThought Yeah, it looked like Mordock was cheating. But maybe Starfleet decided to reward him for his creative solution to the problem.

@6 etomlins Starfleet always needs more redshirts.

@8 Lemnoc Well, I figured the Zaldan scenario was staged by Starfleet as part of a test. In fact, at first I thought that might be the psych test, because Wesley looked really freaked. So the Zaldan was probably given permission to act like a jerk. We don’t know he would have beaten up Wesley–I imagine he would have gotten in trouble for maiming an applicant–but the test was to see if Wesley could avoid offending him. This is the heart of diplomacy!

@9 Ludon maybe there were political considerations involved in the decision

Or maybe Starfleet practices affirmative action… They do gloss over the selection though, something along the lines of, “That isn’t the only reason” for bringing Mordock on. I think this is a great theory. If I were Wesley, I would have asked why I didn’t make the cut so I could do better next time. And what’s that exam going to be like? Does he get another psych test?

@10 Toryx I think this setup runs the risk of other planets, businesses, and organizations trying to poach talent, so then you have a lot of geniuses running around who aren’t working for Starfleet.

@12 S. Hutson Blount Let us also note that not for the last time, Picard’s Enterprise will be noted as being more slack than other Starfleet officers are comfortable with.

So true! They do seem fairly casual, and that doesn’t fit Picard’s style, really.

The last time I saw this episode was admittedly a long time ago, but I never understood why Chang said what he did when Mordock felt Wesley shouldn’t have lost points for helping him.

MORDOCK Thank you, sir, but it’s not right. It shouldn’t be me. Wesley lost points because he helped me. He shouldn’t be punished for his generosity.

CHANG He wasn’t. He lost time, but it wasn’t only that… Candidates, thank you and good luck.

What did Chang really mean with: “it wasn’t only that…” ?

Wesley’s actions throughout the testing, including his psych evaluation (where he worked through his fear and made a choice and acted upon it) were all well done.

Did Chang’s words indicate that Wesley never actually had a snowball’s chance in Hell, and that Mordock’s selection was a done deal from the start?

That line always bothered me, because I could never spot a compelling reason (other than keeping him on the show) for Wesley not being the ‘winner’.

(dialogue courtesy )

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1, Episode 19

Coming of age, where to watch, star trek: the next generation — season 1, episode 19.

Watch Star Trek: The Next Generation — Season 1, Episode 19 with a subscription on Paramount+, or buy it on Fandango at Home, Prime Video.

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Cast & crew.

Patrick Stewart

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William Riker

LeVar Burton

Lt. Geordi La Forge

Denise Crosby

Lt. Tasha Yar

Michael Dorn

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Episode Info

Den of Geek

Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Coming Of Age

Wesley and the Starfleet Academy take centre stage in this week's Star Trek TNG look-back...

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This review contains spoilers.

1.19 Coming Of Age

Well, the day’s finally here. Wesley is taking his Starfleet Academy entrance exam. Yes, he’s saved the Enterprise and its crew multiple times, yes, he’s been flying the ship for weeks, but he was still pretty much on work experience. All he has to do is beat three other people and he’s in. What could go wrong?

With the Enterprise in orbit around Relva VII, Picard welcomes his old friend Admiral Quinn aboard. Quinn has bought an instantly-dislikeable stooge, Lieutenant Commander Remmick, with him, and suddenly things turn all-business. He calls a meeting with Picard immediately. Alone! Some kind of one-to-one target setting, presumably. While this is going on, Wesley is meeting his fellow candidates: Mordock, a Benzite, T’Shanik, a token Vulcan, and Oliana, a human. And they’re all as irritatingly precocious as he is.

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Quinn has asked Remmick to observe the crew, which naturally makes everyone very uncomfortable. They’re all feeling a bit put out, especially Riker, because no-one will explain what’s wrong and why they’re being investigated. Remmick is given permission to interrogate every member of the Enterprise crew, but mercifully we only see him interviewing the bridge staff – mainly asking questions that make the previous episodes sound twice as insane as when we were watching them.

“So you’re saying the Captain merged his consciousness with an alien energy being and transported his mind into a space cloud, but you managed saved his life when he put a ‘P’ on your control panels to indicate that he had successfully hidden in the computer?””Oh sure, it sounds crazy when you say it like that.”

After struggling through his first set of exams, Wesley goes and stands in an empty holodeck until Worf walks in on him. He’s worried about the psych test, which confronts you with your greatest fear! Whatever that is. Worf gives Wesley a pep talk, Klingon-style, before ending with the very unhelpful revelation that he was has not yet overcome the enemy within. Er, great. Really useful advice.

On the bridge, Yar detects an unauthorised shuttle launch. It’s Wesley’s friend, Jake, who we learnt missed out on his Starfleet Academy exam earlier in the episode. He plans to run away and join the circus or something, but about three seconds after launching he manages to cripple the shuttle’s propulsion and enter a freefall towards the planet. (On balance, they were probably right not to let him try the exam.) Apparently he’s out of tractor beam AND transporter range, so Picard talks him through a dangerous manoeuvre. Which succeeds! Everyone is impressed, even Remmick.

Back on the planet, Wesley demonstrates his brilliance multiple times – defusing a potentially difficult situation between him, Mordock and an alien crewman using his superior knowledge of alien cultures, helping out Mordock during a difficult test and acing a psych test after seeing Mordock left a quivering wreck by his. It’s only right, then, that Mordock is declared the victor. Everyone else, including Wesley, is invited to reapply next year.

Finally, Picard goes to Quinn and asks for an explanation. Quinn avoids giving anything away until Remmick gives a report that declares the Enterprise Best Starship to Serve On 2364. Satisfied by this, Quinn explains that “something is rotten” in Starfleet, and that the purpose of the test was to make sure they hadn’t gotten to Picard. He needs friends around him, and wants Picard to take over the academy.

Picard considers his options, but ultimately declines, promising Quinn he’ll be available if he’s needed. On the way to deliver this news, he bumps into Wesley, who is feeling like a failure. Picard tells him not to worry – he failed the test first time too. He gives Wesley the old “As long as you tried your best” speech, and then they do one of those painfully schmaltzy endings that end with everyone grinning while they fly off into the distance. Audience throws up. Roll credits.

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TNG WTF: Leaving aside the question of what the examiners saw in Mordock the Terrible at Everything (to give him his full title), the biggest WTF moment in this episode is the idea that everyone in Starfleet has to go through this process. Picard did it, Worf did it, Tasha Yar somehow must have done it, despite spending her childhood living in a war-torn wasteland (maybe there’s a scholarship for disadvantaged youths?) and even Data must have done it. Good luck to anyone else in that group. “Yeah, I almost got into Starfleet, but I ended up in the same exam group as an emotionless robot with no fears, super-reflexes and a supercomputer for a brain. What chance did any of us have?”

Oh, and we have to mention: Jake? Out of transporter range? I severely doubt that, given that he’s just left the Enterprise and is flying TOWARDS the planet. You know, the planet they beam people to and from later on. I get the reasoning for ruling out the Transporter, but come on, come up with a better excuse than that!

TNG LOL: Irony sensors to maximum: After shouting abuse at a Zaldan he bumps into, Wesley explains to Mordock that he did it because Zaldans hate politeness – they consider it dishonest to cover up your true feelings. So, just to recap, in order to avoid offending the alien that doesn’t like false pretences, Wesley had to pretend he was angrier than he really was. Well, as long as the Zaldans are happy…

Mistakes & Minutiae: Wesley’s “worst fear” is, appropriately enough, found in Room 101. Presumably indicating that he’s afraid of mediocre BBC1 panel show formats (that’s one for our UK readers.)

Time Until Meeting: 4:10. Straight in there, with Quinn telling Picard that they’re going to be doing some snooping around.

Captain’s Log: You know what this was? A very good episode. Despite being Wesley-heavy (yet again) his scenes were well done, and it was presumably something of a surprise that he didn’t succeed, the first time around anyway. The scene of him facing his fear – having to leave a crew member to die – was also a well-executed set-piece, even if it was reasonably clear what was going on.

The way the guest characters Remmick and Quinn were written meant that the audience felt the same outrage as the crew (“Who are these people and why are they trying to make the Enterprise personnel out to be the bad guys!?”) and their interrogations were nice and tense. This also includes two fantastic sequences – Remmick’s meetings with the crew, which are seamlessly cut together as if they’re one meeting, and Picard saving Jake. If only all TNG episodes could come up with ideas as inventive and original.

Watch or Skip? Absolutely watch. The first episode this series that feels like it even approaches the standards of the modern TV. And, of course, it sets up Conspiracy  a few episodes down the line…

Read James’ l ook-back at the previous episode, Home Soil, here .

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James Hunt

About: Coming of Age (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

"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 March 14, 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.

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

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation , and also next year’s release of  Star Trek: Into Darkness , I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Coming of Age is interesting, if only because it is one of those rare instances where an episode’s B-story is far more compelling and interesting than the primary drama unfolding. Coming of Age is apparently about Wesley’s entrance examination to Starfleet Academy, which seems to have quite high standards for an organisation that let Riker and Yar into its ranks, but that teenage academic story feels a little trite and cliché.

Far more interesting, however, is the strange investigation conducted into the crew of the Enterprise at the behest of Admiral Gregory Quinn, who makes a dramatic impression by suggesting to Picard, “I have reason to believe there may be something very wrong on this ship.”

Evidently he has been watching the first season as well.

Picard off-guard...

Picard off-guard…

I joke, of course. However, there is something decidedly “meta” about the structure of the episode. It essentially sees Dexter Remmick prying through the early adventures of the ship and finding various inconsistencies. There are points where Remmick seems to point out obvious plot holes as much as probe into the conduct of the crew.

For example, discussing the events of Where No One Has Gone Before , Remmick seems to think that the episode’s set-up was less than convincing. “According to his own logs,” Remmick begins, with the weight of authority on his side, “his Bridge crew didn’t think highly of Mister Kosinski’s theories, yet the Captain allowed him to access to the engines anyway. Is that true, La Forge?” It’s not too difficult to imagine a snooty fan asking the same question.

A simple investigation...

A simple investigation…

Indeed, Remmick seems intent on holding a few dodgy adventures against the crew, perhaps reflecting the expectations and mindset of fans who had waited over decade for The Next Generation only to get episodes like The Battle . In an opinion not too far from my own, Remmick makes an argument that that particular storyline hardly makes a convincing case for Picard as a capable commanding officer. It’s fairly easy to construct a fairly water-tight case that Picard (and his senior staff) were less than competent dealing with that threat.

“Do you believe the captain is emotionally and psychologically fit for command of this starship?” Remmick begins, with what might be termed a leading question in a more structured environment. “There is nothing in his history or his personality that would suggest mental lapses?” Troi, of course, denies it, prompting Remmick to break out the big gun. “Not even the Ferengi incident with his old ship, the Stargazer?”

Try not to look too happy Wesley's off the ship...

Try not to look too happy Wesley’s off the ship…

Troi falls back on an excuse I imagine Starfleet court martials hear more often than you might think, assuring Remmick, “He was being controlled by a mind altering machine, Commander. Without his knowledge.” Remmick, to his credit, and sounding like that’s not even a half-decent attempt at a credible excuse, smugly responds, “I would call that a mental lapse.” Boom! Game, set and match!

We are not initially told what Remmick is investigating. Indeed, we’re not really told at the end of the episode either. However, in the middle, Remmick’s inquiries seem intentionally obtuse, and any refusal to cooperate with the investigation (a “charade” , according to Picard) is simply proof of complicity and guilt. In a surprisingly confrontational moment for a Starfleet officer at this point in the show, Remmick loses his patience and reveals an unnerving attitude. “You are required to answer my questions, Mister Riker, unless you’re trying to cover something up!”

This dude is probably all over the 24th century message boards...

This dude is probably all over the 24th century message boards…

In a way, it seems like Remmick has arrived to put the show on trial. Watching the mountains of behind the scenes footage accompanying the collection, it’s quite clear that the writers and actors weren’t entirely satisfied with how the year had gone – particularly the first part of the year. The departures of Denise Crosby and Gates McFadden were just around the corner, and the show had produced a couple of shows that ranked with the worst of the franchise, and had yet to cobble together a true classic.

As such, Remmick’s investigation works surprisingly well. Much like the Enterprise might not have been meeting the high standards of a Federation flag-ship, perhaps The Next Generation was not yet meeting the expectations for a Star Trek series. Remmick’s inquiry is perhaps a confession from the writers, and a vow to keep improving. Clearly, things could not continue as they were.

Should the Enterprise screen its crew better?

Should the Enterprise screen its crew better?

Remmick himself seems like something of a fan. Notice the way that he almost cheers when Picard rescues a kid trapped on a shuttlecraft, and he ends the episode hoping to end up post on the ship among the crew. The cast manage to ultimately convince Remmick that they are worthy of their position, much like the show was forced to earn the approval of the legions of fans of the original Star Trek . Remmick’s ultimate validation of the crew marks an important seal of approval, and perhaps a “coming of age” for the show itself.

More than that, though, Coming of Age also teases an interesting idea. It’s really the first multi-episode arc of The Next Generation , the first time that ideas are really pushed to the fore and not neatly wrapped up at the close of the hour. Sure, threads had weaved from episode to episode. Q’s interest in Riker in Encounter at Farpoint paid off in Hide & Q , for example. The Big Goodbye had originally been intended to follow 11001001 , and the holodeck malfunctions would have been the result of the Bynars, but that didn’t work out. Still, this feels different.

Pursuing all pertinent Data...

Pursuing all pertinent Data…

We all know where this is going now. It’s a plot point that leads to a confrontation that leads to one of the largest dangling plot threads in the history of the Star Trek franchise, so large that it had to be dealt with in the spin-off novels. It’s also quite different from what Conspiracy writer Tracy Tormé had in mind, but we’ll come to that. Ignoring the bugs and the mind control and the gross factor, Coming of Age has one heck of a revelation at its core.

“Something or someone is trying to destroy the fabric of everything we’ve built up in the last two hundred years,” Quinn advises Picard, and it’s clear he is talking about someone or something inside the Federation itself. It’s a brutal twist, even today, even knowing how it plays out. More than that, though, it also adds a great deal of spice to the show. The early part of the first season was alarmingly smug and arrogant in its depiction of Starfleet as the moral centre of the universe. Coming of Age subverts that in a big way.

Wesley has a lot of heavy-lifting to do...

Wesley has a lot of heavy-lifting to do…

It’s hardly out of left field. Home Soil demonstrated that the Federation was fallible, even if not intentionally. A terraforming expedition almost wiped out an intelligent life form because the Federation cleared the planet of life. Too Short a Season saw Admiral Jameson subverting the Prime Directive, in an episode built around the Iran-Contra Crisis. Similarly, Tormé’s initial draft of  Conspiracy also focused around the scandal. Jameson was acting alone, but the fact he had done so with complete impunity suggests that there must be some institutional rot.

Still, the revelation that there is some active force trying to erode and corrupt the Federation is a deeply unnerving one, and the scene is played so perfectly straight that you immediately accept the scale of the threat. The Next Generation arguably handled moral philosophy a bit better than its predecessor, so it’s fitting that this plot evolves around the decaying moral superiority of the institution. The attack is not a literal one, but a more fundamental intrusion.

Giving Wesley a good dressing up...

Giving Wesley a good dressing up…

You could argue that The Next Generation was never really the ideal show for such a thread. It was capable of going to some dark places, but it wasn’t willing to dwell on that sort of moral uncertainty so close to home. Deep Space Nine went on to handle the notion of a military coup of the Federation in Paradise Lost , and the show did it astonishingly well – much better than I think that The Next Generation could have. Still, the fact that such an idea is even suggested hints at promising developments.

Which is all pretty great, except that all of this unfolds in the background of the episode. The centre of Coming of Age is built around Wesley sitting the entrance exams to Starfleet Academy. And it is incredibly cliché. His fellow applicants all conform to easy cardboard cutout archetypes, and he learns lessons both inside and outside the classroom, while also accepting that he’d rather be a decent person to a fellow applicant than assure himself a place. It’s all rather paint-by-numbers. It’s not actively painful, but it’s not especially interesting.

Web of intrigue...

Web of intrigue…

Still, there are a couple of interesting character beats, and they involve Wesley. I’ve said before that I don’t generally mind Wesley as a character. He’s just a problem when the writers play up the “boy genius” trope like they did in The Naked Now , The Battle or Datalore . After all, if Wesley is so much smarter than all the adults, why would he have any difficulty getting into their special club? There’s a clunky “chosen one” narrative grafted on to Wesley by the Traveller in Where No One Has Gone Before that is completely unnecessary. As Oliana states here, “It’s a good thing you’re cute, Wesley, or you could really be obnoxious.” And I’m not as convinced about his cuteness.

However, if you divorce Wesley from all that, he works quite well. The problem is that those other aspects of the character eat up so much screentime that there isn’t much left for actual character work, instead of treating Wesley as a romanticised teenage audience-insert character.  Coming of Age gives us some nice insight into his father, who died while serving under Captain Picard. It has been suggested before, but it’s the elephant in the room – particularly because Wesley looks to Picard as a father figure and Beverly has the hots for him. Let’s try to avoid getting all Freudian on that.

Leavin' on a shuttlecraft...

Leavin’ on a shuttlecraft…

The B-plot on the Enterprise actually quite cleverly brings the viewer up to date with a conversation between Remmick and Beverly, one of the few times that another character discusses Jack with her. Remmick is particularly sleazy as he assures her, “Everything said here is confidential, Doctor. You can be completely open with me.” Crusher responds, “About what?” The inquisitor answers, “About how you feel serving with a man who is responsible for the death of your husband.”

It’s a nice way of making sure we know Picard and Jack crusher have history before Wesley faces his final entrance exam, but it’s also just a nice moment on its own. Crusher has been even more marginalised that Yar or Troi during this first season, and – given the sexism of the scripts – that’s not a bad thing. However, she gets to rather brutally knock Remmick down a peg as she politely tells him where he can shove his questions.

Kling on to that defense...

Kling on to that defense…

As an aside, before we even get to Wesley, there’s even a nice moment between Worf and Wesley, which also represents the most character development Worf has got to date, assuring young Wesley that “only fools have no fear.” Worf went on to be the longest-serving title-billed character in the franchise, so it’s strange (and also quite nice) to see some measure of consistency from here through to  What You Leave Behind . Here, Worf confesses that his greatest fear is having to depend on other people, and it’s a recurring character trait throughout his time in the franchise.

Anyway, we discover that Wesley really fears having to leave a man to die, which is actually not a bad character beat. At least it’s better than giving him a fear of “failure” or some other abstract concept that keeps young over-achievers awake at night. And that fear is revealed to be rooted in the loss of his father. He knows that Captain Picard was responsible, but he ahs a bit of difficulty articulating it. “Because of my father? Because Cap– Because someone made that choice, and my father died.”

Yes, it is a skirt. What of it?

Yes, it is a skirt. What of it?

Coming of Age isn’t quite as strong as the sum of its parts. Wesley’s time at his entrance exams feels a little bit cliché, full of mandated teenage scenes like the character flirting with a girl or learning to stand up to a bully – all with a unique Star Trek twist. However, it feels rather outdated, and it’s nothing we haven’t seen elsewhere dozens of times. (And executed better.) The episode suffers because Wesley’s exams are much less interesting than Remmick’s investigation, but they seem to eat more time. It feels a little unbalanced.

Still, while Coming of Age is hardly a classic, it’s not a bad episode, and it manages to do two things right. It manages some solid character work for Wesley, and it also hints that things are not quite as they should be. It’s not enough to make the episode essential, but it’s more than a lot of early episodes have going for them.

Read our reviews of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation :

  • Supplemental: The Lost Era – The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett
  • Supplemental: Star Trek – The Next Generation (DC Comics, 1988)
  • Supplemental: The Sky’s the Limit – Meet with Triumph and Disaster & Trust Yourself When All Men Doubt You by Michael Schuster & Steve Mollmann
  • Supplemental: Star Trek – The Naked Time
  • Code of Honour
  • The Last Outpost
  • Supplemental: Star Trek – The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane
  • Lonely Among Us
  • Supplemental: Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman
  • Supplemental: (DC Comics, 1989) #59-61 – Children of Chaos/Mother of Madness/Brothers in Darkness
  • Hide & Q
  • The Big Goodbye
  • Too Short a Season
  • When the Bough Breaks
  • Supplemental: Star Trek – The Devil in the Dark
  • Coming of Age
  • Heart of Glory
  • Arsenal of Freedom
  • Supplemental: Survivors by Jean Lorrah
  • We’ll Always Have Paris
  • Supplemental: (DC Comics, 1989) Annual #3 – The Broken Moon
  • Supplemental: Deep Space Nine – The Lives of Dax: Sins of the Mother (Audrid) by S.D. Perry
  • Supplemental: Operation Assimilation
  • Supplemental: The Lost Era – Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Coming of Age”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 3/14/1988 Written by Sandy Fries Directed by Michael Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Review Text

Wesley Crusher takes the Starfleet entrance exam, pitted against three other young candidates who are as brilliant as he is. Only the highest of the four scores will go to Starfleet Academy. This is the sort of story that, at age 12, made me fear for my future of entering high school and college. Consider — here were four fictional characters who were far more brilliant than I was, and three of them would be going home as failures , despite their brilliance. Now there's a frightening message about competition for a 12-year-old. Guess you'd better study harder, kids.

Finally, this is a Wesley-oriented storyline I can tolerate. The reason it works is because it treats Wesley as a teenager instead of the crazy kid who saves the ship with his implausible genius. It treats him as a young person who has a lot to learn about life. Yes, he may be a hopeless geek (and still annoying), but at least the story recognizes him for his human qualities rather than his techo-plot ones (the "stress test" at the end deals with his own personal issues rather than his warp theories).

Meanwhile, on the Enterprise , Picard's old friend Admiral Quinn (Ward Costello) sends in his investigative pit bull, Lt. Cmdr. Remmick (Robert Schenkkan), to look for problems in Picard's command. Remmick interrogates the entire bridge crew, pissing off everybody in the process. This leads to some pretty good scenes of conflict on a show sometimes notorious for its lack of interpersonal conflict. The investigation is dramatically on shaky ground because the episode never says what Quinn and Remmick are looking for (except "problems"). In the end, Quinn levels with Picard about a possible conspiracy within Starfleet, and offers him a promotion. It's a strange, albeit watchable, series of notions, interviews, questions, and conclusions.

Although it doesn't have a strong driving focus, "Coming of Age" is about the personnel workings of the Enterprise crew more than it's about a generic plot, which is in its favor.

Previous episode: Home Soil Next episode: Heart of Glory

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Comment Section

53 comments on this post, carbetarian.

You know, when I was a kid I thought Wesley Crusher was awesome. I was always considered bright. I went to a magnet public school for gifted children, and had a college reading level by second grade. So, I think I sympathized with Wesley and his struggle to be taken seriously because I frequently struggled to be taken seriously myself. When I was in grade school, I read a lot of the great classics of literature and I thought that my comprehending the language of what I was studying meant that I understood what the author was trying to say. In jr high, I took the SATs early and thought that I understood what it meant to cram for an exam. By high school, I was taking college classes and I thought that I understood what it meant to be a college student. Well, the truth is I didn't really understand anything; and neither does Wesley Crusher. Being smart enough to learn answers quickly does not make up for a lack of emotional depth or substitute for real life experience. Being intelligent without boundaries leads to over confidence and, eventually, mistakes. It is important to question yourself and to learn to work with others. I know that now. Someone should have told all of that to Wesley Crusher! Where as I used to love watching Wesley outsmart the adults, I now just feel annoyed at his arrogance and lack of supervision. Sure, Wesley saved the ship plenty of times. But, he nearly destroyed the ship on more than one occasion as well. Who in their right mind lets a teenager pilot a galaxy class starship? Not even the most genius of adolescents deserves that kind of power. It's funny. Wes was my favorite character when I was a little girl. But, now I literally just cringe whenever he opens his mouth. How annoying is he in the naked now? Ugh, awful. @impronen Haha, I love your description of season one as being "one facepalm after another"! Too true.

Jake Taylor 07

In this first season episode, we follow the familiar A/B storyline. In the A plot the Enterprise is being investigated by one Lt. Remmick who along with Admiral Quinn has come aboard to determine 'what is wrong' with the ship. In the B plot, oddly for which it is titled Wesley takes his academy entrance exam on the planet Relva. Lt. Remmick proceeds to observe the bridge crew a bit, then question First Officer Riker about the captain. Riker’s offended and storms into a lift, telling him he will answer questions later. Way to cooperate there Number One. Yes, Remmick is written as an ass, and the actor portrays him as such during his subsequent questioning of the crew. Meanwhile, Wesley makes friends with fellow Academy hopefuls on the planet, and befriends a Benzitte named Mendon. Here he helps him with words of encouragement. Wes passes many of the early tests without issue, including a (supposedly) hotheaded officer who tries to pick a fight with him. The Lieutenant who runs the testing facility, Chang (no not the Kingon commander from Star Trek VI, just a token Asian in command) sees this altercation and commends Wesley on standing up to the bully. Wesley explains that he noticed that he had webbed hands. He told Lieutenant Chang that he knows his race thinks being police is phony, so stood up to him. Mendon tells Wesley he’s so smart, and he'd wouldn't have known that. So the only reason Wesley didn't get his ass kicked, is because he happened to know about this rare one off alien race we've never seen, and will never see again. This whole altercation is weird and really comes off awkward. It makes little sense from an viewpoint, and succeeds only in making Mendon feel inferior. Back on the flagship of the Federation, Picard and Remmick are on the bridge when on the civilians, a teen boy, steals one of the shuttles, and gets caught in the gravity well of a planet. Remmick, in true ass mode interrupts Picard during the boys call for help in which we learn he has 30 seconds to alter course before he crashes. Remmick things this is a good time to tell Picard that if he dies the boys blood is on Picard’s hands. Well I can see that, but I mean he sure picked a awful time to state the obvious. Picard is clearly, and understandably annoyed at the guest lieutenant. He then instructs the boy to safety, showing that when he gives an order people trust him, and they listen. He even goes so far as to say "This is you an order..." I know its the first season, but the arrogance of the characters is so high to think that this boy frightened out his mind, clearly already unstable is going to follow instructions from the captain which I may point out instinctive would seem wrong, would snap into obey mode on a dime. I mean the kids not even a cadet! Alas, the boy is saved and even Remmick gives a "yes!" and a fist pump before reverting to full dick mode, and continuing his investigation of the crotchety and snobby old English accented French captain. Wesley is back on the ship during his break, and is walked in on by Worf while in the holodeck. No not caught with a holographic version of Lt. Yar topless or anything- just standing there. Worf asks what’s up and Wesley tells him he’s worried about the phsyc test. In a nice moment Worf tells him not to worry about things he can't control, and says "only fools have no fear." I want you to remember that as later this human side of Worf disappears and is replaced by the cardboard cutout Klingon warrior Worf. In fact I am almost positive at one point in the series later on he says "I fear nothing!", but that is neither here nor there, and on with "CoA".... The question continues until it reaches the point where Remmick finally get to Picard himself. Well see Picard's had enough of this without knowing what this is all about, so he goes to his friend, and Remmick's boss, Admiral Quinn. Quinn brings Remmick and he delivers his report: he can find nothing wrong on board the USS Enterprise. It seems his whole heel persona was just a tool for his investigation. In fact he even tells Picard he'd like to serve there in six months when he’s free from Quinn, and Picard gives him the no fing way look. Picard then says to Remmik what’s this all about? Quinn hints the infiltration by something, or someone (which sets up the seasons later episode "Conspiracy") and he had to be sure Picard was who he said he was. Picard is angry at this whole ordeal. That’s when Quinn thinks it would be a good idea to offer him a promotion to Admiral and a post as commandant of Starfleet Academy. Picard is still annoyed, and now befuddled. Why? Quinn says he needs him close, and he needs and answer soon. Picard angered that this was all about him tells him he will have on tonight. (Does the Admiral really expect him to accept? We are told they are friends, but Quinn cannot talk to Picard like a man and tell him what’s going on?) The payoff to the Wes story is that he first passes his physc test in which he saves 2 crew members of the testing center?/ school/ star base on the ground. However during the final academic test he stops to help Mendon with a question which causes him to finish the test second, and no get accepted to the academy as a result! Wes may be book smart, but it seems the kid has no common sense. That is all I can figure from this. Not only is it stupid, but it seems like it would surely be a breech of testing regulations, but whatever. Back on the ship Picard in his dress uniform, chats with Wesley who is hanging around in the observation lounge. This scene works well as Picard takes the roll of father figure telling Wes to measure his successes from within. Not to worry what anyone else thinks, and that he will get in next time. The interaction between Steward, and Wheaton feels real, and the two will have many more father/son moments to come. We never see Picard decline Quinn's offer, but we don't need to. We also are not told why it is so imperative that Quinn get Picard home, or what the threat is. Does he want him home because he is concerned for his friends well being? I don’t see how him being the head of the academy makes him any more valuable to defend against this unspecified we don’t really know why Quinn went through all the motions. So in the end what do have, a nice story about Wesley, and a teaser for the week after next's show...all in all it feels unfinished, some clunky moments, but all in all its enjoyable to watch and well paced. Wesley confronts something that many young people must receives some good advice along the way. The typical early TNG snobiness is there, but its not out of control as on some other episodes. But the lack of resolution on what I called the A story, since it deals with the "larger" aspect of entire Enterprise is unfinished. This is why this episode gets six and points out of ten. Its only half done, even thought its engaging, its incomplete.

The above comments are for "Coming of Age"

This was my favorite episode at the time, mostly due to the lack of competition than by the ep's own merit. I still like it even with all those small mistakes (finely detailed by Jake Taylor 07). The fact that doesn't feel like a complete story actually plays in its favor, making this one the first non-single-ep contained story of all TNG. It's also cool to see a story about Wesley Crusher that doesn't suck. While the tests were kinda awkward and Wes friend has the face of a fish, it's still fun to see and actually has a point (unlike 80% of the first season). And I thought they wanted to get rid of Picard, so Admiral Quinn would take his place. I was surprised when it was actually revealed to be a test of trustworthiness.

Season 1 seems really dated, but the series does have its highlights, and I think this episode is one of them. Wesley remains too smart for me - the scene where the alien lieutenant (looked far too human to me!) shouted at Wesley, and WC calmly explained to Chang that he knew that their race hated politeness, seemed a stretch too far. Wesley may have been on the Enterprise, but to pick out one species from the many the crew must have encountered, seems too easy to just 'know'. I accept Wes is supposed to be super smart...but even Chang says he doesn't get through the test not only because of losing time, but other things too. Are Benzites supposed to be that smart? The other story, with Remmick and Quinn determined to find something wrong with the ship, is far more engaging, although Quinn comes off like all the Admirals (maybe with the exception of Ross in DS9) - stuffy and full of themselves. No wonder Picard turns the 'offer' down. Good episode, though who thought up Wesley and Deanna's uniforms in season 1?

Although I dislike Wes, I loved his smile at the last scene. Not a top episode, but a good one, of these that make me love watching Star Trek.

More wooden acting from a redwood tree that tries to look like a human earthling female, and an overly-pompous Vulcan, but despite one plot point I liked this one. The plot twists and turns are good, as is Wes, but - let's face it - one training center to take just one person to add to the Fleet's ranks is highly inefficient and dubious in concept. Chang is too polite (even for the pre-PC era) as well. Worse, Wesley should have won - he's helping others in a crucial moment is surely a bigger qualifier for being able to work in TEAMS, which is crucial in high stress situations?? But the trials Wesley goes through are great, as is the subplot with the Admiral and his staff. 3 of 4

It may be that I am too generous to this because it is in the midst of TNG season 1, and any bright spot seems brighter than it otherwise would be. Still, I think this is a good show. The Wesley material, if occasionally a bit silly -- the Zaldan thing doesn't quite work -- is the best use of the character in this season ("Where No One Has Gone Before" gets an honourable mention) and actually creates a story that makes him human and compelling. Remmick's investigation of the crew is a little repetitive, but helps demonstrate a real bond of loyalty between these characters. I like Picard's saving Corey (was it?) and the genuine sense of excitement that sequence creates, while operating in a very low key (as compared to the number of episodes where a superbeing threatens the ship). I would like to see a bit more explicit character work on why Picard turned down the appointment to Starfleet Academy -- the episode parallels Picard and Wesley, as the two of them are both considering going to the Academy, and both end up not going, Wesley because he did not succeed enough and Picard because he feels that he's better-suited to the Enterprise. I do think that it's mostly that Picard sees himself losing his zeal in a political situation away from the exploration which he loves so much, as well as the obvious fact that he really does *like* his ship and crew and feels an attachment to them. Still, it is funny that the episode doesn't let us know much of Picard's own reasoning besides that he'll be most useful on the Enterprise. I suppose 2.5 stars is an appropriate grade, but I can't help bumping it up to a low 3.

Is it just me or did they use the same orange thing "planet" prop thing for this and the previous two episodes?

With 'Home Soil' TNG turned round a shaky run of episodes since 11001100 and this episode continues that positive stretch. Again the episode has a dual plot. Whilst Wesley sits his entrance exam for Starfleet Academy, the Enterprise is visited by an Officer from the Inspector General's Office with a brief ' Find whatever is wrong on the ship' With this kind of setup, much hinges on the Guest Actor coming in - fortunately Robert Schenkkan is sufficiently hostile to pose a genuine threat whilst not crossing the line into being ludicrous and the scenes where he interrogates the crew (especially the one with Data) are excellent. As for Wesley, it might not be an exaggeration to say that he has been rather poorly served by many of season's one scripts - so it is a surprise to find one that uses him quite well. As Jammer says, this is probably the first episode (maybe Datalore?) where he isn't absurd because it emphasises his inexperience and callow nature. I enjoyed the scenes involving him and Mordock (John Putch)and the interaction between him and Worf show the growth in the latter character and might be the first time where he isn't merely 'the boy', at least from Worf's point of view. A pretty good script by Sandy Fries, and (certainly in comparison with most of season one) Strong Direction by Mike Vejar add up to a strong episode overall - Agree with William B that this one merits 3 stars for me. An unexpected highlight and one that stands up quite well to repeat viewing.


I do love the line when Wesley explains that "Zaldans are infuriated by courtesy." That cracks me up every time!

In this episode, Wesley says "Because [Captain Picard]. . . because someone made a decision, and my father died because of it. . ." Can anyone tell me if there was ever any followup to the story of what happened to Wesley's father: Jack Crusher? The hints dropped up to this point in Season 1 suggested that this was going to be a significant backstory milestone impacting, and tying together, Picard, Beverly, and Wesley. IE: the latent romantic feelings between Beverly and Picard, (some level of mutual attraction, but also Picard feeling some sort of "duty" to care for Jack's widow since it seems Jack died under circumstances where Picard was somehow responsible.) Also, Picard started the series telling Riker that he does not know how to interact with children (dialog from Encounter at Farpoint), but when it comes to Wesley he makes special exceptions. Not just because Wesley is exceptionally talented, but because Picard sees Jack in him, and he again feels a subconscious obligation to support the family that Jack left behind when he died. I'm re-watching the entire series, but in my memory I have no recollection of the show ever revisiting the topic of Jack Crusher after Season 1. Was this just a piece of character development that was abandoned by the writers? If so, I think that's a shame. I remain intrigued. And think the later seasons of TNG are worse off for supporting the pseudo-romantic relationship between Picard and Beverly, where the topic could have fit.

Diamond Dave

More encouraging signs. Although it ends with nothing changed - Wesley doesn't go to Starfleet, Picard doesn't head up the Academy - there is at least some back story introduced in both plots that move some of the characters forward. Worf in particularly gets a couple of lines to suggest he's more than just a blank space for the first time. Is the idea that something is not right in the Federation the beginning of a plot arc in this so far resolutely self-contained season? I guess we will see, but at least it hints at something of a bigger universe out there. I enjoyed the direction of the interrogation scenes, and again this nicely confounds our expectations by making the investigation about something other than what it first appears. 2.5 stars.

i found 'coming of age' really tedious, it's a story that goes absolutely nowhere, has no point and is terribly acted

The premise of an entrance exam like this is such a huge plot hole. As someone pointed out earlier the inefficiencies of such a system, I as well, can't get over it. Once a year they take one "winner" of a small group from a large demographic and not test them the merit of how these exceptional candidates score universally. I look at some of the members of the enterprise and wonder how they ever passed that thing. When I was a kid I thought they were all vying for early entrance into the academy or some kind of special track. As an adult I can only watch it if I find somewhere to air my grievance, however I realize now the similarity of the two story lines, that both the ship's crew and wesley were subject to a series of official tests and assessments with hidden meanings. Eases the pain.

"The premise of an entrance exam like this is such a huge plot hole. As someone pointed out earlier the inefficiencies of such a system, I as well, can't get over it. Once a year they take one "winner" of a small group from a large demographic and not test them the merit of how these exceptional candidates score universally. I look at some of the members of the enterprise and wonder how they ever passed that thing." It gets even whackier when you think back to this episode during DS9 episodes like Sacrifice of Angels and What you Leave Behind. Never mind where are they getting all those ships that are getting blown up left and right. Where in holy blazes do they get all those officers to man the ships if even boy prodigy Wesley "Mozart" Crusher fails the entrance exam? How did Barclay ever get in?

Agreed. As much as I liked this ep (well, compared to other eps in TNG S1 anyway), it struck me as very impractical. It would be one thing if it were an entrance exam for a special select program within Starfleet with only 1 space left. But an entrance exam to the academy in general? Come on. That's just ridiculous. Imagine the present day military operating like this; our army would be like five people. I think it's reasonable to assume that Starfleet changed their policies later on after Wolf 359, but definitely after first contact with the Dominion. I remember someone saying that it would have been the worst kind of continuity to carry over the concept of "losing 40 ships is a major blow" from BOBW to the DS9 Dominion War storyline where ships were being lost by the hundreds. We can reasonably extrapolate that after Wolf 359 Starfleet stepped up recruiting and improved its shipbuilding tech. The same principle applies here. Writers shouldn't be afraid to break continuity in these sorts of cases for the sake of realism/drama and hand wave it with "there have been some advancements in tech/social changes/etc since the last time". Of course there are times when this doesn't apply but you all get my point.

An example to illustrate a "good" continuity break: In TNG the Benzites have a special breathing apparatus in S1 and S2. In the DS9 episode "The Ship" we saw the runabout pilot was a female Benzite without an apparatus. One can reasonably assume there were advancements in Benzite tech since TNG days without it being specifically stated.

I noticed he said he wanted to serve on the Enterprise after his 6 months were up at Starfleet Command. Obviously that never happened because his head was blown off!

This was fairly watcheable but mainly because we all know Merrick is just a fleshy sack full of alien mind control parasitic worm thingies and he is gonna get his head phasered off in a few episodes. Having something undefined going ominously wrong in the Federation is a good sub plot ,if a bit pulpy. Like many I take issue with Wesley's academy entrance test . Given Wesley is a super genius and fails the test we can only assume that Starfleet cadets must be representative of an infinitesimally tiny segment of the galactic population. It is a bit of a waste to put redshirts on those guys. Once the Borg let alone the Dominion start knocking at the door I bet they lower the standards a bit-either that or they should just use non commissioned officers and other ranks to do the donkey work on the spaceships. I wonder if Merrick is a descendant of the merchant captain from Bread and Circuses.

The episode did say the test would admit only one from this facility. It is possible that there are hundreds of Starfleet Academy entrance exams held throughout the Federation and some of them might admit larger numbers, e.g. an Earth based exam might take the top hundred applicants, whereas Wesley just happened to be at a smaller outpost (since the Enterprise was away from home) that only had one slot. The Federation has a population of hundreds of billions and Starfleet might only have a million people in it. So could be as little as 1 in 10,000 citizens in Starfleet... it is plausible that they can afford to reject 75% of applicants and still be fully staffed.

The Dreamer

@dgalvan Additional Bits and pieces of the Crusher Family/Picard history are touched on in the TNG episodes Encounter at Farpoint;The Bonding,; Family; Violations ;Attached all contain details that flesh out this story arc, no specific episode focuses on it though

Sarjenka's Little Brother

I've always liked this one. It's OK-to-good, but more importantly, it's important. It marked a first step, so to speak, in a much more sophisticated storytelling than we had on the Original Series. In "Coming of Age," we learn that what has happened will have a bearing on the present, and what's happening currently will have a bearing on the future. There was almost none of that on the OS. Also, it's a good "Federation" episode as they slowly start to paint us a picture of this planetary union. We get to meet a Benzite. And look -- a Vulcan girl! And finally Starfleet Academy is just more than one sentence of conversational chatter. The intensive questioning by Remick has the important function of binding the crew. And it's another step in making Wesley slightly more tolerable. Finally, I think they did a nice job of setting up the "Conspiracy" episode with just the right amount of foreshadowing.

The numbers here just don't add up. Starfleet has hundreds of ships, personnel on planets and space stations, yet it's incredibly difficult to get into the academy, even to the point where they have to choose the best of 4 excellent candidates who have one chance per year. Who knows how many other candidates never even got this chance. Even if we consider this is just the best 4 candidates from a single base/system, it still gives an incredibly low number of students at the academy. How can they possibly get enough staff for their starbases, ships and planets with such low recruitment? At this rate they'd struggle to replace the redshirts they lost each week on the Enterprise alone! And, continuity error, if the entry requirements are so high, how the hell did we get some crewmembers with questionable competence in Voyager's Good Shepherd?

Peter Swinkels

All I can say is that this episode was pleasant enough to watch. Home Soil was fine, a few of the previous ones rather dull.

Nothing ground breaking here.

More TNG S1 mediocrity here with lot of stuff that doesn't make much sense. Wesley has to compete against 3 other brilliant kids to get admission to Star Fleet -- did every other person currently in SF have to go through the same BS or was Wes in line for some special training in the academy? Next, Admiral Quinn's reason for his investigation of Picard is ridiculous and Remmick is super-annoying. So Quinn sees conspiracies everywhere - how is this idiot a SF admiral? There's almost more for me to upset at with this episode but I did like Wesley in this one -- he's more like a normal 17-yr-old. And I did like how the crew didn't put up with Remmick's nonsense -- good to see a rise out of them. The character of each crew member (Worf, Data, Riker, Crusher) comes through in the different ways they "express" their levels of irritation. The whole part about that Jake kid stealing the shuttlecraft was pretty dumb. So it purports to show Picard with an ingenious rescue -- but this was unnecessary as Remmick's investigation found nothing wrong. And what was wrong with Jake? He steals the shuttle - something about not being able to face his father? This whole "C-plot" should have been omitted from the episode. Another gripe is the overacting in this episode -- does Remmick really need to come across as such an ass? Riker is always up for a pissing contest. Even Quinn and Picard get testy with each other -- I blame it more on Quinn and some poor writing. 2 stars for "Coming of Age" -- lots going on with the 2 main plots but both are ill-conceived and don't seem practical. Why can SF only admit 1 of the 4 brilliant entrants? The whole Quinn conspiracy thing as a means of determining if Picard is suitable to lead the academy - kind of ridiculous.


3 stars. Another solid episode I enjoyed both stories. The Wes one did a remarkably good job of being actually interesting and rekeateabke rather than coming across as fluff or filler. I enjoyed the group of students. I thought they were well cast and had good sense of camaraderie. It was fun seeing that even in the 24th century kids still are subjected to grueling testing measuring their aptitude’s. The introduction of the Benzite race was cool. Really interesting design I enjoyed the twist on wes’ psyche test and his scene with Worf in the holodeck. The instructor proctoring the test was also nicely done. Wes also had a nice scene with Picard over failing and Picard sharing his story of failing the exam his first time too. In fact, Picard has another nice scene where he ran in with the young man who stole the shuttle. Instead of ignoring him or berating him he offered him his time, kindness and words of advice. Nicely done The other story also was intriguing. The questioning of the crew. Wondering what was going on. Ultimately revealing something bigger at play with Quinn’s ominous warnings of strange going-ins at Starfleet settongup for the conspiracy episode later in the season. Remmick was the. Perfectly unlikeable investigator. Worf’s quip about not realizing liking remmick was a requirement lol then remmick ultimately from his interactions realizing he wanted to serve on the enterorise one day. Quinn was also perfectly cast as well. The visual of the starbase was nicely done and Picard guiding the young man on the shuttle was tense and exciting

It’s a good thing you’re cute, Wesley, or you could really be obnoxious. Another solid episode. Not much to add to the previous comments. I appreciate the continuity to Conspiracy, coming a few episodes later. 3 stars.

8/10 Enjoyed this one. I like to see the children part of the enterprise and in this case their lives in relation to Starfleet. That part of the story overrode the second story which I didn't like as much. The evil inspecting officer is such a caricature and yet he resembles those 20 something MBAs that eagerly serve the sociopaths in management. While that isn't a precise analogy ,as the Admiral's motives aren't completely clear, we all know that type who can use their training in superficial analysis to argue a short term solution that appears to meet organizational goals while ignoring the true and usually more difficult true optimal solution. what was the Admiral on about anyways?

Revisiting this, I found it to be an excellent episode, and one of the best to focus on Wesley. The plot's cleverly divided into two: Picard's being "monitored" to determine if he's a "suitable candidate for overseeing Starfleet Academy" and Wesley undergoes a similar "entrance exam" to see if he's suitable to enter Starfleet Academy. Both subplots give us a string of memorable world-building scenes, such that you really get the feeling that the Federation and Starfleet are big, galaxy sprawling organizations. We also get to meet Vulcans, a cool-looking methane (?) breathing fish alien, and the Starfleet tests we witness are reasonably interesting, as they're sneakily applied outside of the classroom, and even take into consideration a range of interpersonal actions "outside" of the tests. This is education, bureaucracy and categorization, 24th century style. Meanwhile, Picard turns down a job offer to oversee Starfleet Academy. His reasoning, which the episode makes clear, is that he's already a father figure, professor, mentor and overseer, on board the Enterprise. As one tense subplot with a renegade kid and a shuttle make explicit, Picard's molding the lives of the young, every day. Stewart knocks all these scenes out of the park, and his interactions with Riker, an Admiral and the Admiral's aide are masterclasses in acting; the gap between his abilities (his sheer presence, diction and gravity), and the rest of the cast, is staggering. Other neat scenes abound: Wesley gets a good scene with Worf in the holodeck, the Admiral's aide (who we're conditioned to think of a villain) makes a plea to join the Enterprise (future episodes suggest he may be villainously seeking to infiltrate it?), and Wesley and Picard share a nice scene in the observation lounge. Some of the cutting/camera-work during the episode's many "interrogation scenes" is also clever. The idea that a "Starfleet Academy entrance exam" would take place at a remote outpost and only test 4 people, as seen in this episode, is much criticized. I had no problem with this; I assumed it was a remote location used to test people who were assigned to ships in the middle of nowhere. It's much less disruptive for the Enterprise to drop Wesley off at a little depot on a planet near one of its stops/missions, than to return to Earth every time an applicant needs to take an exam. Algorithms probably monitor which applicants are in similar areas of space, when their ship locations best coincide, and when best to schedule tests. Such a nodular, flexible approach seems much more advanced than the expectations raised by commentators above (the idea that the Feds would still be using Victorian era, massive classrooms). I also like how season 1's background characters - those crewmen you see walking aimlessly down corridors - often deliberately have white/grey hair (no ageism in the future?), and how many leggy, short skirted women we see (does this stop in future seasons?), as well as, occasionally (two instances?) men in dresses (Picard himself, wears a kind of dress in this episode). My favorite thing, though, is this glossy faux-wood table which the admiral uses: There are so many aesthetic touches, and little clever production design work, in this show, which make the rooms and furniture just a bit more special.

I liked it. I liked a lot of little things about it, the details of the portrayals of the cadets and of Star Fleet. Gave us a real sense of how much bigger Star Fleet and the Federation is, than just the Enterprise. Wes and Jean Luc are both put through the ringer, partly by fakery. Jean Luc passes his test and, in a nice scene, provides some fatherly encouragement and advise to the less fortunate Wesley. I liked the Remmick portrayal, though that whole business gets wasted when next we see him. A good, solid ep - the cast is starting to gel.

I recently rewatched this one and was surprised at one thing from the ending: Wesley feels like he failed to get into the Academy, and I guess I had always thought so too. SPOILERS Much discussion sprang from the fact that an average Nog could get in but the mighty Wesley Crusher failed, meaning they had retconned the difficulty level; or perhaps the war lowered the bar. But in hindsight I'm not 100% sure the reasons in this episode are so clear. The admissions officer outright tells Wesley that he lost a bit of time helping Mordock, but that it was other reasons too that he didn't get in. And we're not given those. But I can think of a few that have nothing to do with getting in being impossible: -Wesley was just about to turn 16! He might have been deemed too young just as that moment, no matter how smart he was. -Since he had such a fortunate situation to serve on the Enterprise already, they may have thought it was in his interest to continue with that for as long as possible, since after graduating from the academy he might be stationed anywhere. -Meta-reason obviously being the showrunners didn't want to write him off. In a sense, 'he's too important to be at the academy, rather than not good enough.' -The Traveller had hinted that Wesley was destined for something better, so maybe they feared the academy wasn't for him and that he needed more time to figure it out? -Mordock was the first Benzite ever admitted to starfleet, so it also seems more than likely that this poliical consideration would be of far more importance *for the Federation* than having one more genius in Starfleet. I definitely didn't take away this time that Wesley wasn't good enough to get in or anything like that. However, one of the weaknesses of the episode is that we get too much from the boy wonder POV and almost nothing from Starfleet's side. If they have some specific reason we're not treated to even a hint of it. And worse than that, we're supposed to have this wonder about the great wisdom of the admittance process, like they have the key to every person's mind. But if so, I never saw them administer any test or ask Wesley any questions that even hinted at the fact that it might be best if he waits a year. He seemed to just pass everything, so we're left with this false notion that he 'deserved' to get in and that he just arbitrarily had it held from him. But that doesn't make sense, so the script is missing something.

@Peter G. I always understood Wesley failing as a case of "even geniuses can have trouble when it comes to performing routine tasks". Maybe the test was *too easy* for Wesley and he just didn't put his heart into it like Nog would've had to. I think Wesley failing works in the scheme of Wesley's arc, as it's a hint of things to come. Wesley typically engages in behaviors that break the mold of a Starfleet Officer, like performing a Kolvoord Starburst which cadets "shouldn't" do. Later during peace negotiations with the Cardassians, Wesley pretty much disrupts that whole endeavor as he sees the treaty as wrongly oppressing the truly powerful - spirituality - which perhaps only a being like Wesley can comprehend. At any rate, Wesley just isn't good at Starfleet and following its rules, even if he's much more advanced in other ways.

@ Chrome, I guess that's the friendly way to look at it. For my part I have a tough time seeing any arc for Wesley that was actually intended and moved forwards. I *could* choose to look at this one as "Starfleet is challenging for him because it's not just about intellect", except we didn't see him failing at anything at all in this one. And we likewise don't get to see "Starfleet may not be for him", because he seems to thrive on the environment and sincerely admires the process and the instructors. The 'moral' at the end with Picard seems to be that even gifted people can fail, and they just need to try again. So on the surface the only point of having Wes fail seems to be to poke a hole in the "he's a Mary Sue who succeeds at everything" thing he had going. Basically he failed because of the Bugs Bunney phenomenon, where the write is making the character fail because the writer wants the character to fail (as Bugs does to Daffy), rather than because of any organic story reason why this makes sense. I could see reasons why it *could* make sense, such as you suggest, or others that I suggested, but I'm sort of clear in my head now that these weren't intended here and that they were actually jerking us around with having Wes be absolutely perfect at everything and failing anyhow. But it's not even a Peak Performance lesson of 'it's possible to make no mistakes and lose', but rather us seeing Wes get whiplash just because he was due for a comeuppance from previous episodes. I'm not crazy about that, and it feels fake anyone because the script is sort of winking at Wes at the same time, basically acknowledging that he was the best candidate and that 'he'll get his due next time'.

@Peter G. "And we likewise don't get to see "Starfleet may not be for him", because he seems to thrive on the environment and sincerely admires the process and the instructors. The 'moral' at the end with Picard seems to be that even gifted people can fail, and they just need to try again." I think we do see a glimpse of this isn't for him as Wesley was more interesting in helping a struggling alien companion (Mordock) and the other girl than winning the competition. I imagine the academy is very competitive and Wesley is already showing signs that he doesn't want to cut someone off to get ahead. I see this as a softness that might be *fatal* in a military officer who makes difficult decisions which hurt others all the time. I agree with you about Picard's lesson, but it could be that the lesson was correct for someone like Picard but *not* Wesley (We see this pattern again when Picard messed up at the academy and had to repeat a year, which again was something Picard could do but Wesley couldn't). Of course this is a charitable reading of a messy season one episode with full hindsight in mind, but I do think later seasons try to take full advantage of the good material in these early messy episodes.

@ Chrome, I think you're on to something zeroing in on the angle of Wesley helping others in preference of winning. In fact I think that's almost the core of the entire episode. It's almost like they're trying to say that Wesley helping Mordock get in isn't fundamentally a loss for Wesley, but a win for everyone, including Wesley, so long as Wes doesn't look at Mordock as being a competitor. It's almost like it, but not quite, since this is really not the focus. Too bad, because that would have been a neat message. In terms of being soft as a negative trait for a competitive academy, this brings to bear a tension in the series that persists into future seasons. How much is Starfleet an elite heirarchy trying to be the best, with the Enterprise especially being the ultra-elite, versus a representation of humanity pulling each other up and winning as a team rather than a group of individual over-achievers flying around cool ships? I don't think it's supposed to be just one or the other, but A Matter of Honor in S2 does a pretty explicity job - including direct references to Mordock and Wes' experiences here - of telling us that Starfleet *is not* about outshining everyone else on your own and rising to the top. Or at least, it's not supposed to be; maybe in practice it really is. People like Shelby (and young Riker) do make us wonder whether the "we're all a team" idea is more of an idea than a reality. My issue here is: are we supposed to see Wes helping others as making him *more* Starfleet material, or *less* Starfleet material? We get zero on this front, which reflects my frustration earlier about the fact that we are totally left out of Starfleet's side of the admission process here. It really does seem to be a giant gag to have Wes fail just to see him finally fail at something.

Wow, turning down good students because they didn't score as high as others. This is min/maxing to the extreme. Instead of having 4 good students they want 1 perfect one.

This whole test scenario always bugged me. Wesley is constantly presented as this super genius. I try to imagine Worf doing these tests and probably succeeding by "Worf go smash". It makes no sense. No wonder the Federation was running out of officers during the dominion war...

I honestly can't recall a Wesley episode I liked more. His interaction with the webbed finger angry alien man is one that has stuck with me from the first time I saw the episode on TV to now, several mostly Trek-less decades later. I also really enjoyed the whole antagonistic investigator premise. I could have done with a better Psych test for Wesley. Have the 'test' start as one premise and then have one of the teachers run in and say all students have to evacuate, tests are postponed, etc. It was too obvious that the emergency was the test because nothing else had happened after he entered the room. Bonus amusement at the idea of Starfleet bringing in failed actors for low paying gigs for corporate training (something I've personally done) instead of just using holodeck tech...

Jeffrey Jakucyk

"Bonus amusement at the idea of Starfleet bringing in failed actors for low paying gigs for corporate training (something I've personally done) instead of just using holodeck tech..." I would hope that the "lab" was at least in a holodeck even if the actors were real. Otherwise that's an awful lot of construction for a two minute test of one cadet candidate.

Commander Remmick is the most intriguing character in the story. Were he and Quinn corrupted before or after this point? If it’s later, and he was sincere about wanting to serve on the Enterprise, would he have made a good fit? He’s definitely detail-oriented and efficient. Too bad we didn’t get to know him better, like Admiral Nechayev. One of the best Wesley episode, as he actually has to look inside himself and deal with how he got here.

I think Remmick and Quinn were compromised after this, by the very organisms they were working to expose. We see later in Conspiracy that those aliens are very good at identifying potential threats, and either assimilating or disappearing them. Remmick and Quinn were prime targets. While they were never specific about what they were looking for, the whole bridge crew knew they were looking for something, and there's no way that knowledge wouldn't make it up the chain. Ironic that Remmick gets the "queen" alien or whatever you want to call it in the end. I also think Remmick's portrayal in this episode is about 50/50 genuine and putting on an act. He has no problem being so brusque, but at the same time it's just a means to an end. He's investigating something very serious, and not only is there no room for pussyfooting around, his antagonism could also be a tactic to trip up potential conspirators. The admission that he'd like to join the crew would seem to be his more genuine self, it's just unfortunate that he had to burn so many bridges in the investigation, and also the head exploding thing.

Bob (a different one)

"Were he and Quinn corrupted before or after this point?" That's a very interesting question, Buckbart. I don't think Quinn was infected at this point because, as shown in Conspiracy, he did not recall his conversation with Picard from this episode. But Remmick is a possibility. What if his professed desire to join the Enterprise was just laying the groundwork for infecting Picard? We know he was a target. Maybe Remmick/Space Critter were already setting up a plan B. Probably not true, but fun to speculate about.

Frake's Nightmare

Wesley's jumper - still with the fakey uniform thing....

Good lord I think I need an insulin shot, the Wesley plot is so unbelievably cloying. It's like a Leave it to Beaver episode dipped in honey, covered with sprinkles and dusted with powdered glucose. It even (seemingly) infected the other plot when Remmick says he sure would gosh love to join the Enterprise.

Good episode, though I'm a little skeptical that it's this hard to get into Starfleet. I can't help but flash forward to the Dominion War when their entrance requirement probably looks more like, "You have basic piloting skills and aren't afraid to die? Great, you're hired!"

In rewatching this, I noticed a lot of minor holes in the plot. I won't got into the whole list, but the biggest to me was that Wesley supposedly fears making life-or-death choices, but in the test he never shows indecision at all and isn’t influenced by the man who’s not hurt, just scared. My other major negative is that for the first time, Riker comes across as a loud bully, a trait that became worse over the rest of the series. The major positive for me was the improved writing for Worf, finally getting to reveal his character. And I maintain that Wesley isn't nearly as "obnoxious" as the script calls him; in the one instance here, I think in real life he would have been considered friendly and nice. All told, I wasn't as impressed by the eppy as most people seem to be. I had no memory of it at all from just the title.

As a first time S1 watcher after skipping the first two seasons for more than thirty years (!), I'm shocked every time I find a decent episode. The binary one was the first; this is the second. There's almost something domestically attractive about this episode, the non Wesley plotline. Am I mistaken or is this the first episode where we see the Riker Maneuver (sitting down by hurdling over a chair's back to show off his manly gait)?

Seems daft for an organisation like Starfleet to have one space for someone. I get it is for the drama but with an organisation like them in a society like that. Letting potentially good candidates go is mad.

This strikes me as being the first real TNG episode. Pretty much every other season one ep was clearly derivative of some amalgamation of TOS episodes/tropes, but here we finally get some new ground broken. For that alone, I can appreciate this one. I too was always bothered by the evidently bonkers Starfleet entrance procedure, seems like a massive waste of potential. However, consider this: perhaps Starfleet academy had already been infiltrated by insectoid impersonators who were going out of their way to undercut the quality of starfleet personnel by a) selecting lesser candidates, and b) vastly reducing the volume of candidates accepted. After all, Picard is offered the headmaster position at the academy *after* he’s cleared of buggy influence, implying that the academy needs safeguarding and perhaps there had already been some shenanigans raising some red flags. In this(super hypothetical) scenario, Wesley wasn’t rejected because he failed, but rather he was rejected precisely because he was unequivocally the best candidate. I mean, if you were a parasitic body snatcher planning a massive invasion would you want Wesley “wunderkind” Crusher running around the science labs of the federation?


It's laughable how we keep hearing about the difficulty of Starfleet Academy and the brilliance of its cadets, while episode after episode we also keep seeing the most boneheaded/ignorant/stubborn/immature/careless/etc. actions and behaviors from Starfleet crew members and officials.

After the environmental lab test, Wesley called Chang "Officer Chang".

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Doux Reviews

Star Trek The Next Generation: Coming of Age

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I just rewatched the episode tonight and it was a lot better than I remembered. The crew are starting to feel like themselves, especially Picard and Riker, and Wesley was quite enjoyable, showing he had the experience and maturity to give Mordock help when it might have cost him the coveted slot. The slot thing didn't make sense, though. You'd think Star Fleet would want every overqualified and perfectly StarFleetable cadet it could get. And did anyone else think of popping a clutch when Picard got that kid to bounce the shuttlecraft off the atmo?

imdb star trek coming of age

It doesn't make sense that only the highest scoring applicant out of every four that applied makes it in.

@Billie, yes I did think of popping the clutch and wondered why Picard wouldn't explain at all - just order but I guess that is best in a crisis. Also @ lisa if Starfleet took ever top qualified candidate then we wouldn't have a story :)

imdb star trek coming of age

I have to agree once again, this is a solid episode, and it feels like the crew that we know and love are finally here! Worf is great and I love the fear discussion. As the third Doctor has said before, 'Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.' He's not the only person to have said that, but it's a personal favorite from my 2nd favorite Doctor, and it fits here so well. This for me, is where Wesley went from kind of annoying but tolerable, to a great part of the cast and crew. And this is a large part of why I like this one quite a bit.

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YMMV / Star Trek: The Next Generation S1E18 "Coming of Age"

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  • Captain Obvious Reveal : An accident supposedly interrupts Wesley's psychological test, but it turns out that the accident is the test itself. It's quite easy to see coming due to the fact that it is in the middle of a Starfleet facility but there's no alarms or assistance.
  • A very easy argument that fans can see if that Wesley was brushed off simply because he's not legally an adult at age 15 (going on 16 which is apparently the legal age for joining Starfleet). No matter how good he is at the testing part, Starfleet might reasonably believe that is too young to join for a human.
  • Another consideration is that there may be a fear of Wesley advancing too quickly for his own good. Gifted students who experience little difficulty early on may have difficulties dealing with failure later on in their lives. Presenting Wesley with failure now is a chance for him to experience such disappointment and learn from it, rather than letting it cripple his development by occurring too late.
  • Fridge Brilliance : Zaldans hate human forms of courtesy, similar to Klingons and Tellarites. Mellanoid slime worms are sweet, passive creatures. Rondon would consider the comparison insulting.
  • Special Effects Failure : Either that, or someone at the station put up a full-size artwork that looks almost, but not quite, like a corridor.

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The voyages of the Starship Enterprise came to a sudden and premature end on June 3, 1969, with the airing of the final episode of the Star Trek original television series. Ironically, the show’s cancellation came just six weeks before humanity embarked on its first voyage to land on another celestial body. Although the show ran for only three seasons, it generated a devoted fan base disappointed by the cancellation despite their write-in campaign to keep it on the air. But as things turned out, over the decades Star Trek evolved into a global phenomenon, first with the original episodes replayed in syndication, followed by a series of full-length motion pictures, and eventually a multitude of spin-off series. With its primary focus on space exploration, along with themes of diversity, inclusion, and innovation, the Star Trek fictional universe formed a natural association with NASA’s real life activities.

A scene from “The Man Trap,” the premiere episode of Star Trek

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry first had the idea for a science fiction television series in 1964. He presented his idea, a show set in the 23 rd century aboard a starship with a crew dedicated to exploring the galaxy, to Desilu Productions, an independent television production company headed by Lucille Ball. They produced a pilot titled “The Cage,” selling it to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) network that then bought a second pilot titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” NBC introduced the show to its fall 1966 lineup, with the first episode “The Man Trap” airing on Sep. 8. To put that date in perspective, NASA launched Gemini XI four days later, one of the missions that helped the agency achieve the Moon landing nearly three years later. Meanwhile, Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise continued its fictional five-year mission through the galaxy to “seek out new life and new civilizations.” The makeup of the Enterprise’s crew made the show particularly attractive to late 1960s television audiences. The major characters included an African American woman communications officer, an Asian American helmsman, and a half-human half-Vulcan science officer, later joined by a Russian-born ensign. While the show enjoyed good ratings during its first two seasons, cuts to its production budget resulted in lower quality episodes during its third season leading to lower ratings and, despite a concerted letter-writing campaign from its dedicated fans, eventual cancellation.

NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, left, with the creator and cast members of Star Trek at the September 1976 rollout of space shuttle Enterprise

Despite the show’s cancellation, Star Trek lived on and prospered in syndication and attracted an ever-growing fan base, turning into a worldwide sensation. Often dubbed “trekkies,” these fans held the first of many Star Trek conventions in 1972. When in 1976 NASA announced that it would name its first space shuttle orbiter Constitution, in honor of its unveiling on the anniversary of the U. S. Constitution’s ratification, trekkies engaged in a dedicated letter writing campaign to have the orbiter named Enterprise, after the starship in the television series. This time the fans’ letter writing campaign succeeded. President Gerald R. Ford agreed with the trekkies and directed NASA to rechristen the first space shuttle. When on Sept. 17, 1976 , it rolled out of its manufacturing plant in Palmdale, California, appropriately accompanied by a band playing the show’s theme song, it bore the name Enterprise. Many of the original cast members of the show as well as its creator Rodenberry participated in the rollout ceremony, hosted by NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher . Thus began a lengthy relationship between the space agency and the Star Trek brand.

Star Trek cast member Nichelle Nichols, left, in the shuttle simulator with astronaut Alan L. Bean at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston

During the development of the space shuttle in the 1970s, the need arose to recruit a new group of astronauts to fly the vehicle, deploy the satellites, and perform the science experiments. When NASA released the call for the new astronaut selection on July 8, 1976, it specifically encouraged women and minorities to apply. To encourage those applicants, NASA chose Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the Starship Enterprise, to record a recruiting video and speak to audiences nationwide. She came to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston in March 1977, and accompanied by Apollo 12 and Skylab 3 astronaut Alan L. Bean , toured the center and filmed scenes for the video in Mission Control and other facilities. NASA hoped that her stature and popularity would encourage women and minorities to apply, and indeed they did. In January 1978, when NASA announced the selection of 35 new astronauts from more than 8,000 applicants, for the first time the astronaut class included women and minorities. All distinguished themselves as NASA astronauts and paved the way for others in subsequent astronaut selections. Nichols returned to JSC in September 2010 with the Traveling Space Museum, an organization that partners with schools to promote space studies. She toured Mission Control and the International Space Station trainer accompanied by NASA astronaut B. Alvin Drew . She also flew aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne telescope aircraft managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, in September 2015.

Nichols, center, aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy aircraft

Meanwhile, the Star Trek brand renewed itself in 1979 as a full-length motion picture with the original TV series cast members reprising their roles. Over the years, several sequels followed this first film. And on the small screen, a reboot of sorts occurred in 1987 with the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a new series set in the 24 th century aboard the Enterprise-D, a next generation starship with a new crew. That series lasted seven seasons, followed by a near-bewildering array of spin-off series, all built on the Star Trek brand, that continue to this day.

Actor James Doohan visits NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center in California in 1967 with NASA pilot Bruce A. Peterson, in front of the M2-F2 lifting body aircraft

James Doohan, the actor who played Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the Starship Enterprise’s chief engineer, had early associations with NASA. In April 1967, Doohan visited NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center in California, spending time with NASA test pilot Bruce A. Peterson. A month later, Peterson barely survived a horrific crash of the experimental M2-F2 lifting body aircraft. He inspired the 1970s TV series The Six-Million Dollar Man, and the show’s opening credits include film of the crash. Doohan narrated a documentary film about the space shuttle released shortly before Columbia made its first flight in April 1981. In January 1991, Doohan visited JSC and with NASA astronaut Mario Runco (who sometimes went by the nickname “Spock”) toured the shuttle trainers, Mission Control, and tried his hand at operating the shuttle’s robotic arm in the Manipulator Development Facility. In a unique tribute, astronaut Neil A. Armstrong , the first person to step on the lunar surface , spoke at Doohan’s retirement in 2004, addressing him as “one old engineer to another.”

Takei and Robonaut both give the Vulcan greeting

George Takei, who played Enterprise helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu, and his husband Brad, visited JSC in May 2012. Invited by both Asian American and LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups, Takei spoke of leadership and inclusiveness, including overcoming challenges while in Japanese American internment camps during World War II and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He noted that Star Trek remained ahead of its time in creating a future when all members of society could equally participate in great undertakings, at a time when the country struggled through the Civil Rights movement and the conflict in Southeast Asia. The inclusiveness that is part of NASA’s culture greatly inspired him. JSC Director Michael L. Coats presented Takei with a plaque including a U.S. flag flown aboard space shuttle Atlantis’ STS-135 mission. He also visited Mission Control and spent some time with Robonaut.

Star Trek cast member Leonard Nimoy gives the Vulcan greeting in front of space shuttle Enterprise after its arrival in New York in 2012

Leonard Nimoy played the science officer aboard the Starship Enterprise, the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. The actor watched in September 2012 when space shuttle Enterprise arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on the last leg of its journey to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, where it currently resides. “This is a reunion for me,” observed Nimoy. “Thirty-five years ago, I met the Enterprise for the first time.” As noted earlier, the Star Trek cast attended the first space shuttle’s rollout in 1976. Following his death in 2015, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti paid tribute to Nimoy aboard the International Space Station by wearing a Star Trek science officer uniform, giving the Vulcan greeting, and proclaiming, “Of all the souls I have encountered … his was the most human.”

Star Trek cast member William Shatner, left, receives the Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Robert N. Jacobs in 2014

Captain James T. Kirk, played by actor William Shatner, a life-long advocate of science and space exploration, served at the helm of the Starship Enterprise. His relationship with NASA began during the original series, with references to the space agency incorporated into several story lines. In 2011, Shatner hosted and narrated a NASA documentary celebrating the 30 th anniversary of the Space Shuttle program , and gave his time and voice to other NASA documentaries. NASA recognized Shatner’s contributions in 2014 with a Distinguished Public Service Medal , the highest award NASA bestows on non-government individuals. NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Robert “Bob” N. Jacobs presented the medal to Shatner. The award’s citation read, “For outstanding generosity and dedication to inspiring new generations of explorers around the world, and for unwavering support for NASA and its missions of discovery.” In 2019, Shatner narrated the NASA video We Are Going , about NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the Moon. He has spoken at numerous NASA-themed events and moderated panels about NASA’s future plans. On Oct. 13, 2021, at the age of 90, Shatner reached the edge of space during the NS-18 suborbital flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle, experiencing three minutes of weightlessness.

Patch for the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), including the Klingon writing just below the letters “WORF.”

Elements of the Star Trek universe have made their way not only into popular culture but also into NASA culture. As noted above, Star Trek fans had a hand in naming the first space shuttle Enterprise. NASA’s Earth observation facility aboard the space station that makes use of its optical quality window bears the name the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF). The connection between that acronym and the name of a Klingon officer aboard the Enterprise in the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series seemed like an opportunity not to be missed – the facility’s official patch bears its name in English and in Klingon. Several astronaut crews have embraced Star Trek themes for their unofficial photographs. The STS-54 crew dressed in the uniforms of Starship Enterprise officers from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, the second full-length feature motion picture of the series. Space shuttle and space station crews created Space Flight Awareness (SFA) posters for their missions, and more than one embraced Star Trek themes. The Expedition 21 crew dressed in uniforms from the original series, while the STS-134 crew chose as their motif the 2009 reboot motion picture Star Trek.

Picture of the Gemini VI launch in the background in the 1967 Star Trek episode “Court Martial.”

As much as Star Trek has influenced NASA, in turn the agency has left its mark on the franchise, from episodes referencing actual and future spaceflight events to NASA astronauts making cameo appearances on the show. The first-season episode “Court Martial” that aired in February 1967 featured a photograph of the December 1965 Gemini VI launch adorning a wall aboard a star base. In the second-season episode “Return to Tomorrow,” airing in February 1968, Captain Kirk in a dialogue about risk-taking remarks, “Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn’t reached the Moon?” a prescient reference to the first Apollo mission to reach the Moon more than 10 months after the episode aired. Astronaut Mae C. Jemison , who credits Nichelle Nichols as her inspiration to become an astronaut, appeared in the 1993 episode “Second Chances” of Star Trek: The Next Generation , eight months after her actual spaceflight aboard space shuttle Endeavour. In May 2005, two other NASA astronauts, Terry W. Virts and E. Michael Fincke , appeared in “These are the Voyages…,” the final episode of the series Star Trek: Enterprise.

NASA astronaut Victor J. Glover, host of the 2016 documentary “NASA on the Edge of Forever: Science in Space.”

In the 2016 documentary “ NASA on the Edge of Forever: Science in Space ,” host NASA astronaut Victor J. Glover states, “Science and Star Trek go hand-in-hand.” The film explores how for 50 years, Star Trek influenced scientists, engineers, and even astronauts to reach beyond their potential. While the space station doesn’t speed through the galaxy like the Starship Enterprise, much of the research conducted aboard the orbiting facility can make the fiction of Star Trek come a little closer to reality. Several of the cast members from the original TV series share their viewpoints in the documentary, along with those of NASA managers and scientists. Over the years, NASA has created several videos highlighting the relationship between the agency and the Star Trek franchise. In 2016, NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden led a video tribute to celebrate the 50 th anniversary of the first Star Trek episode.

In a tribute to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry on the 100th anniversary of his birth, his son Rod, upper left, hosts a virtual panel discussion about diversity and inspiration

In 2021, on the 100 th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s birth, his son Rod hosted a virtual panel discussion , introduced by NASA Administrator C. William “Bill” Nelson , about diversity and inspiration, two ideals the Star Trek creator infused into the series. Panelists included Star Trek actor Takei, Tracy D. Drain, flight systems engineer for the Europa Clipper spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, NASA astronaut Jonny Kim , Swati Mohan, guidance and operations lead for the Mars 2020 rover at JPL, and Hortense B. Diggs, Director of the Office of Communication and Public Engagement at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mutual attraction between NASA and Star Trek stems from, to paraphrase the opening voiceover from the TV series, that both seek to explore and discover new worlds, and to boldly go where no one has gone before. The diversity, inclusion, and inspiration involved in these endeavors ensure that they will live long and prosper.

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Exiled Hong Kong Filmmakers Mark Controversial Anniversary With ‘Tiananmen’ Movie Project Set Amid the June 4 Political Upheaval

By Patrick Frater

Patrick Frater

Asia Bureau Chief

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Hong Kong skyline

A group of independent filmmakers are set to direct “Tiananmen” (working title), a film paying homage to Hong Kong’s golden age of cinema in a story set against the backdrop of the ‘June 4 political upheaval.’

The project will likely stir a controversy as both the word Tiananmen and the June 4 date are taboo in the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) — they are reminders of the student-led pro-democracy movement that was brutally put down 35 years ago by the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to over a thousand.

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“The story is told through the eyes of a 20-something British DJ who lands in Hong Kong hoping to break into the film industry as an actor, but who soon learns that the only work open to him is dubbing English dialog for local kung fu movies. Other characters include a Hong Kong-born stunt actress who dreams of being a leading lady, a film company boss who sells low-budget Hong Kong action pictures to overseas buyers, and the company receptionist who supports the student protestors in Beijing. The film’s narrative will follow the intertwined lives of the main characters in the weeks leading up to June 4, and the immediate aftermath, and show how the tragedy profoundly changed their lives,” the filmmakers said in an email.

Production of the film would, necessarily, predominantly take place far from Hong Kong or the People’s Republic of China, possibly in Australia, the U.S. or Canada. “Naturally INT sets circa HK 1989 (office, apartment, cafe etc) will have to be built and dressed. EXT footage [could] perhaps be shot in HK on the sly, as well as archival footage,” they said.

“The tragic events in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 35 years ago today had a devastating impact on Hong Kong’s filmmakers. They expressed rage as well as fear, and many productions came to a stop as few people could concentrate amid the tears. Some members of the filmmaking community even took part in Yellow Bird, the underground movement that smuggled wanted student protestors out of mainland China to Hong Kong,” the group said in another email.

How much of the events of June 4, 1989, are known about in China is unclear.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin said Tuesday in a Fox News op-ed: “Compounding this tragedy is the fact that today, most people under the age of 40 in 21st-century China have little to no understanding of the events that unfolded on June 4, 1989. [..] educators are still forbidden from teaching about it, references to it are instantly removed from China’s heavily censored internet, and even public memorials for the victims are strictly prohibited.”

Hong Kong authorities in recent years have also limited Tiananmen Square commemoration events and removed physical symbols. Candlelit vigils were regularly held in the territory until 2019. Since that time, public commemorations have been prevented, first by COVID restrictions, latterly by the refusal of police to give their approval.

In recent days, eight people have been arrested in Hong Kong under the new Article 23 law, properly known as the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance. “Police pointed out that a woman in custody had exploited an upcoming sensitive date to repeatedly publish posts with seditious intention,” a government statement read.

The alleged offence took place “on a social platform anonymously with the assistance of at least seven arrested persons since April 2024, with content provoking hatred towards the Central Authorities and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Judiciary, as well as inciting netizens to organize or participate in relevant illegal activities at a later stage.”

“You can’t even light a candle in public in HK on June 4 anymore, so they will try and do everything that can to shut this down,” said the filmmakers collective in another email.

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