The Rewatch 96: Coming of Age

Series: Star Trek The Next Generation
Episode: 1.19 Coming of Age (03-14-88)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1

Notable Guest Stars:
Ward Costello – Admiral Gregory Quinn. Besides being an actor, he was also a composer and lyricist.
Robert Schenkkan – Lt. Commander Dexter Remmick. Schenkkan was also a playwright and screenwriter, and won a Pulizer prize for a play in 1992, and a Tony for a play in 2014. He is also the uncle of actor Ben McKenzie, who played the main character in The O.C.
John Putch – Murdock. He would appear on TNG several times. He also happens to be the grandson of Jean Stapleton, who is known for being Edith Bunker in All in the Family.
Robert Ito – Lt. Chang. He is known for his role as Sam Fujiyama in Quincy, M.E. and the soap opera Falcon Crest.

Review:

This is a really weird episode. In it Picard is under investigation by Admiral Quinn. Lt. Commander Remmick is sent to investigate the Enterprise for Quinn. I have a feeling this episode had two reasons for it. One, other then Wesley’s B plot of getting into Starfleet (which I will go into later) they used previously used sets. The Guest Quarters (rearranged slightly). The Captain’s office, the bridge, the halls. So it probably saved some money in the budget for more intensive episodes. It also connected back to several episodes, as well as begin a plotline that will continue for a few episodes.

One major difference between TNG and its predecessor is that it does arc storylines. Episodes carry on into other ones, events in previous episodes are brought up again. TOS was more like a new story every week, with no connection to previous episodes. Not that it was completely unconnected like a show like Wagon Train. It just wasn’t written to flow like TNG was.

While Remmick is investigating, he brings up several previous missions. For example he brings up the Edo amongst others. I think this is the first on screen sign that these mission reports get read by Starfleet. He also mentions the incident with the Stargazer. He pushes and annoys people trying to get them to express a truth that will give him what he wants -the issue with the Enterprise.

Honestly, the Remmick storyline is boring, although it does some character development for Riker and Worf primarily. It brings forth more of the Crusher family backstory as well, but so does Wesley’s part of the plot.

On Wesley’s side, we have the academy acceptance testing. I do not understand why they would only be sending one person from a testing center. Considering the crew sizes of these ships, I would have thought that the Academy classes are quite big, with diverse classes. No reason why they would do testing to determine which one would get in.

Now, an test to see if they are up to the challenge and education level required by a Cadet is another story. Or if this was for early admittance. Perhaps Only a certain amount of cadets are allowed in before they turn 18. I’m not sure. It just doesn’t make sense to me the way it is stated here.

On the interesting side, they appear to have an admittance test similar to the Kobashi Maru for ispiraing cadets. They are given a psychological examination through a simulation to see how they react to certain things. As Wesley explains to Worf earlier in the episode, they focus on your greatest fear.

In Wesley’s case, he wonders if he could do what Picard was forced to do. To make a decision that leaves a man dead. In the end he does, but he seems very self aware for a sixteen year old. This scene also gives us more information about Jack Crusher. Apparently Picard was forced to choose to leave him behind to save someone else, and Jack died. The show has already established that Picard never forgave himself for it, Wesley is just now realizing he is affected by that decision more then he thought, and Beverly seems to have forgiven him.

Not that she will discuss this with Rimmerick who tries to push the matter.

The show combines the two plots with the character of Jake. Jake was a friend of Wesley’s, about the same age (who would have thought given the last episode that Wesley had any of age friends) who had also wanted to test into Starfleet. However it turned out his exam results were too low. He is a little depressed, which Wesley notices but can’t address because of a timetable.

Eventually Jake decides to take a shuttlecraft and sign up to be on a freighter service, so sure that he’ll never get into Starfleet and that his father will be eternally disappointed in him. Picard manages to help him out of a dangerous situation, which impresses Rimmerick, and helps Jake a bit out of his depression.

We learn a couple of things from this storyline. One is that there are other people on Enterprise who are given training for Starfleet as teens. We just only see Wesley. It never mentions of Jake was considering an acting ensign or not. Second is that Riker is put in charage of these trainees’ education. Something Riker seems happy to do. I wonder if Riker would have accepted the Commandant position that Picard rejects.

As an additional note, this is the first episode that has a direct sequel. It will be later in this season, in the episode Conspiracy.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Sandie Fries (with some rewrites done by Hannah Louise Shearer)
  • Directed by Mike Vejar
  • The first episode with a shuttle.
  • The first TNG episode with a Vulcan who has a spoken line.

Pros:

  • Character development for Worf – he talks about his time at the academy with Wesley, and we see he can be quite sarcastic with people.
  • Character develop with Riker and how he views his position as first officer. And anyone attempting to get to the captain

Cons:

The whole academy thing doesn’t quite make sense

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s