All The [Trek] 55 – “Coming of Age”
Do you have what is takes to join Starfleet Academy? This week we take a peek at the rigorous tests candidates take in the TNG Season 1 episode “Coming of Age.”
Haven’t seen this episode yet or need to re-watch? Click here to check it out on Amazon in glorious streaming HD. It’s also available on Netflix.
Mar. 14th, 1988
Typically I dislike erroneous subplots, but this episode of Star Trek manages to successfully interweave two storylines without making either one seem superfluous. Half of the episode follows Wesley Crusher through his Starfleet Academy entrance exams. The rest of the episode is dedicated to a witch-hunt investigation of Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew.
Wesley’s plot follows a fairly typical arch. He meets up with a veritable Burger King Kids Club of diverse young adults who are all competing for a single spot in the Starfleet Academy.
A veritable rogue’s gallery of diversity. Here we have girl, boy, pointy girl, and blue boy. All of them get substantial character development…except pointy girl. She’s a Vulcan, and writers don’t know how to handle Vulcans who aren’t Spock. The blue boy is a child genius who becomes fast friends with Wesley, and the human girl is a self-doubting love interest. It’s like walking into a dorm room full of freshmen on the first week of college, but with more prosthetics.
This episode shows Wesley interacting with people who are (ostensibly) his own age, and it plays so much better than the typical interaction we see him have on the Enterprise. When Wesley is on the bridge he typically appears smarmy and occasionally alternates between being impotent and a deus ex machina. In this episode he appears helpful, capable, courageous…and he also seems more like a typical kid with interests that relate to his peers. I can’t imagine that he’s very approachable while strutting around the Enterprise with special privileges and endless screen time.
Unfortunately, Wesley does not obtain the sole spot open at the Academy…a necessary plot device to keep him on the show. Damn.
Meanwhile THIS MAN
Is harassing the crew in hopes of outing Captain Picard as some sort of rogue asshole who is besmirching the name of Starfleet? The inquisitor uses every dickwad move in the book to discredit Captain Picard, and I mostly met with contempt from the crew as a whole.
After being a complete heel for the entire episode, the inquisitor finds nothing of substance…and in fact tells his superior that he would like nothing better than to work on the Enterprise someday. Picard is offered a job teaching at Starfleet Academy…which he turns down.
I mean, come on, this is Season 1. There’s no way they were going to get rid of Wesley or Picard.
Overall Rating: (5/5)
This episode has the best writing, acting, and directing of anything we’ve seen from TNG so far. The shot transitions during the crew interrogation are absolutely flawless. If you missed them, I suggest going back to approximately the 25 minute mark of the episode to check the whole scene out.
Side note: Holy shit look at these skants LOOK AT THAT HAIR. I love it when we get a glimpse of life beyond the Enterprise bridge crew.