(written from a Production point of view)
As Wesley Crusher faces the Starfleet Academy entrance exam on Relva VII, representatives from Starfleet Command conduct an exhaustive investigation into Captain Picard and the Enterprise-D crew.
Wesley Crusher runs through a corridor to catch up with his friend Jake Kurland and tell him he's sorry that he didn't make the final exam for Starfleet Academy. Jake was short just 32 points says it is okay and wishes Wes the best. The USS Enterprise-D is in orbit around Relva VII, where Wesley is taking the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. Captain Picard's old friend, Admiral Gregory Quinn is also at Relva and he requests to beam aboard immediately. He brings Lieutenant Commander Remmick with him, and wants a private meeting with Picard, on official business. The three officers go to the ready room. Remmick is with the Inspector General's office and is there to conduct a thorough investigation of the Enterprise-D. According to Quinn, there is something seriously wrong on the Enterprise-D, but he won't tell Picard what. He orders him to cooperate fully with the investigation.
On Relva, Wes is in the testing center examining a flux coordinating sensor, when a Human girl comes in. She introduces herself as Oliana Mirren, and she is also taking the test. Then a Vulcan, T'Shanik, enters, along with a Benzite, Mordock. Wes has heard of Mordock; he constructed the Mordock Strategy. The officer in charge of the test, Lieutenant Chang, enters. He tells them that they are all top candidates, but only one of them can go forward to the academy this year. He warns them that the test will be challenging, as well as exhausting and wishes them the best.
Remmick is on the bridge, watching the crew, who are not happy with his presence. Riker goes to the ready room to ask Picard what is going on. Picard tells him he doesn't know. Riker is unhappy with this, so when he returns to bridge and Remmick asks to talk to him, Riker refuses, saying he has duties to attend to. Down on the planet, the candidates are finishing one part of the exam, the hyperspace physics test. Oliana comments how lucky Wes and Mordock are that everything comes so easy to them, but Wesley denies this, saying he has to study hard.
Riker apologizes to Picard for his earlier behavior, and goes with Remmick when he asks him to. They go to the ready room, where Remmick questions Riker about discrepancies in the logs. Riker argues with him and is generally uncooperative. Remmick asks La Forge in engineering about the incident with Kosinski and the Traveler, and La Forge is forced to acknowledge that the captain lost control of the ship. He questions Troi about the incident with the USS Stargazer, saying it demonstrated a mental lapse on Picard's part.
Wesley is in an empty holodeck when Worf enters. Wes asks him about the test, saying he's most worried about the psych test. Worf tells him there's no point in worrying about something that you can't change. The test confronts you with your greatest fear, and Worf reveals that his own greatest difficulty is depending on someone else for his life.
On the bridge, Tasha Yar detects an unauthorized entry to the shuttlebay. It is Jake Kurland, and he steals a shuttle, intending to sign onto a freighter at Beltane IX. Picard orders him to return to the ship, but then Jake 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. Picard orders him to point the nose of the shuttle towards the planet. Jake initially resists but then he does as he's told. Picard tells him to restart the engines and pull up when he reaches a certain speed. Jake does this and manages to pull out in time. All on the bridge cheer, and La Forge says that he built up enough speed, and then bounced the shuttle off the atmosphere. Remmick questions Picard on how he got access to the shuttle, but Picard assures him that he will get a refresher in discipline.
Wes and Mordock meet a tall Starfleet officer called Rondon in a corridor down on Relva. He bumps into Wesley and starts to insult him. Wes apologizes, then Lt. Chang arrives. Wes stops apologizing and shouts at Rondon. All of a sudden Rondon's mood changes, and he laughs and leaves. Chang asks what happened, and Wes says he noticed from his webbed hands that he was a Zaldan, and Zaldans hate courtesy. They see it as covering up true emotions. Chang congratulates him and tells him it was part of the test. Mordock admits he wouldn't have passed.
Remmick interviews other crewmembers, among them Worf and Data, who says that there is nothing wrong with Picard, despite Remmick's claim to the contrary. He also questions Dr. Crusher, asking her how she feels serving with the man who was responsible for the death of her husband. She says her personal feelings are irrelevant. He finally questions Picard himself about his violation of the Prime Directive with the Edo. Picard gets angry and goes to Quinn to ask him what's going on. Quinn tells him Remmick's report is nearly due. The candidates are taking the dynamic relationships test and Mordock is having trouble, so Wes helps him. Mordock finishes first, and Chang comes in and tells him his time was the second fastest ever. Mordock tells him that Wes helped him, but Chang knows this. There is only one test left – the psych test.
Remmick makes his report to Quinn, and tells him he could find no problem on the Enterprise-D despite his best efforts. Quinn dismisses him, tells Picard he had to be sure about him. He says there are problems in the Federation and that someone is trying to destroy it. He says he needs people he can trust, and offers Picard promotion to admiral, as Commandant of Starfleet Academy. Picard says he doesn't think he's the best man for the job, but promises to think about it.
Wes enters room 101 where the psych test will take place. It is empty except for a chair. At first nothing happens, then he hears a noise outside. He goes out, and the corridor is deserted. He hears shouting coming from the environmental lab. He goes in and sees a technician trapped under a pipe. Another technician is frozen with panic and won't leave. He frees the trapped man, and drags him out, but has only just enough time to get him out before the lab is sealed off. He sees Lt. Chang standing over him. He tells Wes that this was the psych test, confronting his fear of having to choose between saving one man and leaving another. This was because the same situation resulted in the death of his father. Wes had overcome his fear and made a similar choice; whom he chose was not as important as the fact he actually chose; Wes had passed the test. Chang says he's proud of all the candidates and hopes they will all return next year. He reveals that Mordock has won, and tells him that Wes' help wasn't the only difference between them. With this, Mordock became the first Benzite in Starfleet. The other candidates congratulate him.
On the Enterprise-D, Picard is walking down the corridor when he meets Jake, who apologizes for what he did. Picard reminds him that running away solves nothing, but compliments him for keeping his wits about him. He finds Wesley in the observation lounge. He tells Picard that he failed the exam and let him down. Picard disagrees, saying that as long as he did his best, and would improve next year, he shouldn't worry. He then confides that he failed the test the first time himself. Quinn is leaving, and says he's sorry that Picard turned down the promotion. Picard promises that he will be ready if Quinn needs him. With that Quinn beams back down to Relva.
Log entry Edit
Memorable quotes Edit
"Thinking about what you can't control only wastes energy, and creates its own enemy."
- - Worf
"Only fools have no fear."
- - Worf
"Expect the unexpected."
- - Chang
"My personal feelings about Captain Picard are irrelevant to this investigation... and none of your business."
- - Beverly Crusher, to Remmick
"Just how did this contaminant come on board?"
"By accident, sir."
"Meaning that Captain Picard has no standing procedure for this type of situation?"
"No. Meaning 'by accident,' sir."
"You don't like me very much, do you?"
"Is it required, sir?"
- - Remmick and Worf
"Any problem with using your ready room, captain?"
"No, Mr. Remmick. Be my guest."
- - Remmick and Picard
"How dare you! I am Rondon, you despicable melanoid 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?"
- - Rondon and Wesley Crusher
"If you prefer to stand, fine Mr. Riker. It won't have an effect on the length of my inquiry."
- - Remmick
"A very strange reaction!"
"Not really. When he raised his hand, I saw that it was webbed - the sign of a Zaldan."
"But you became hostile!"
"Zaldans are infuriated by courtesy - they view it as a form of phony social behavior designed to cover true feelings."
- - Mordock, Wesley and Chang, after Rondon leaves
"Was this 'incident' deliberate?"
"It's important to know how you...candidates deal with other cultures, other species..."
"Then it was a test!"
"Yes...not all tests are announced or...what they appear to be."
- - Mordock and Chang
"Zaldans have webbed fingers... hmph. I wouldn't have passed."
- - Mordock
"Did you hear what she said, Mordock? She said I was cute."
"Is that good, Wesley?"
"Yes... I think."
- - Wesley and Mordock
"Mr. Crusher... you're next."
- - Chang, to Wesley prior to the start of his psych test
"I failed, sir. I failed you, and I failed the Enterprise. I'm sorry."
"Nonsense! Did you do your best?"
- - Wesley and Picard
"I failed the first time, too. And you may not tell anyone!"
"You? You failed?"
"Yes. But not the second time!"
- - Picard and Wesley
Background information Edit
Story and script Edit
- 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)
- 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)
- 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) 
Cast and characters Edit
- 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 "The Expanse".
- 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 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.
Sets and props Edit
- The original matte painting of the Relva VII surface is in the property 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" , 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.
- A mission report by Patrick Daniel O'Neill for this episode was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 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 Edit
- 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 Edit
Also starring Edit
- 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 Edit
- Ward Costello as Gregory Quinn
- Robert Schenkkan as Dexter Remmick
- John Putch as Mordock
- Robert Ito as Chang
- Stephen Gregory as Jake Kurland
- Tasia Valenza as T'Shanik
- Estee Chandler as Oliana Mirren
- Brendan McKane as Technician #1
- Wyatt Knight as Technician #2
- Daniel Riordan as Rondon
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Darrell Burris as operations division officer
- Dexter Clay as operations division officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
- Nora Leonhardt as science division officer
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- Command division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female transporter officer
- Five civilians
- Nine Relva VII Starfleet officers
- Operations division officer
- Relva VII female test computer voice
- Relva VII male computer voice
- Three command division crewmembers
- Three operations division crewmembers
- Three Relva VII workers
- James G. Becker - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Susan Duchow - stand-in for Denise Crosby
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for Wil Wheaton
2161; 2348; Algeron IV; antimatter; aquarium; arch; atmosphere; Beltane IX; Benzite; Bulgallian rat; cargo management unit; cockpit; commandant; Constellation-class; Copernicus; Crusher, Jack; Deimos; desktop monitor; dilithium; dynamic relationships; dynamic relationships test; Edo; elevator; Emergency Manual Override station; Enterprise, USS; Enterprise-D, USS; Enterprise models; environmental maintenance lab; fish; flight emergency override; flux coordinating sensor; freighter; Galaxy-class; glass; guest quarters; holodeck; hyperspace physics; hyperspace physics test; Inspector General; intermix ratio; kilometer; Kosinski; Kurland; lightning storm; liquid hydrogen; Livingston; main shuttlebay; maneuvering jet; Mars; matter; Mellanoid slime worm; model; Mordock Strategy; NCC-7100; number one; observation lounge; Operations center; orbit; PADD; painting; prime directive; psych test; ready room; second; shuttlecraft; shuttle drone; skant; standard orbit; Relva VII; respiration device; sculpture; starbase; Starfleet Academy; Stargazer, USS; Support Services; TAC officer; thought maker; three-dimensional chess; tractor beam; transporter room; turbolift; type 7 shuttlecraft; unnamed plants; viewscreen; VISOR; Vulcan; Vulcana Regar; warp drive; web; Zaldan
- "Coming of Age" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "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 MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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