The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Coming of Age

When the Enterprise stops by Relva VII so that Wesley can take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, Picard takes the opportunity toplay host to his old friend Admiral Quinn. But Quinn seems to be anything but friendly when he gets his staff officer Remmick to conduct an investigation into Captain Picard. What do Quinn and Remmick want? And is Wesley’s boy genius status really enough to get him into the Academy?

Even though it dangles the prospect of getting rid of Wesley in front of us only to snatch it away, this is actually a pretty decent episode. Entrance exam stories are always good fun to watch, and this one is no different, what with its mix of overt exams and secret tests that might be sprung upon you at the last minute. The B-story about Picard being under investigation is far less compelling, although it turns out pretty well once the inevitable “all is not what it seems” reveal is made – and of course, it sows the seeds of a storyline that will culiminate in the penultimate episode of this season, Conspiracy.

Starfleet Academy Entrance Exams

Entrance exams take place annually on various planets, with competition for places being fierce. On Relva VII, four candidates take part – Wesley, another human, a Vulcan (hooray), and a Benzite. Benzites are a new alien who will show up as background characters from time to time – since they cannot breath a standard oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, they have to constantly breathe gases from a special device attached to their chests. In some ways, they are the pioneers of vaping.

Preliminary exams must be taken to even qualify for these final exams – another teen aboard ship fails to make the grade.

  • The minimum age for entering the academy is sixteen – it is unclear whether this is scaled for races who mature at different rates to humans.
  • Captain Picard failed his entrance exam the first time. Never tell.
  • Tests include hyperspace physics, dynamic relationships (which seems to be moving spheres into a lattice somehow), dealing with unexpected encounters with other races, and the infamous psych test. The psych test, or “it’s not a psych test, it’s a psychological evaluation” is all about forcing a candidate to face up to their worst fears – the latter having been deduced from their existing psychological profile.

Investigate the Enterprise

Maybe Remmick was right to investigate the Enterprise – after all, I’ve already pointed out many times when theire procedure has been lax or suspect. In this episode, a civilian teenager is able to steal a shuttlecraft – yes, he was an Academy candidate and so probably had special student clearances for the computer, but surely these clearances should still be limited until he qualified as an academy cadet or licensed shuttle pilot.

A point of note from Too Short a Season – Jameson is considered old and past it at the tender age of 85, whilst McCoy is still going strong at 137.

Summary – Coming of Age: “Don’t fight it. Relax into it and let it come by itself.”

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