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Star Trek: Asterisk "Coming of Age"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E19
Air Date: March 4, 1988
Written by: Sandy Fries and Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by: Mike Vejar

Premise
Wesley undergoes testing to get into Starfleet Academy while Picard undergoes testing to gain the trust of a conspiracy theorist.

Review
The Enterprise pulls up to Relva VII with the intention of dropping off Wesley for his Starfleet Academy entrance exam, but Picard is surprised to find that his friend, Admiral Quinn, is requesting to come on board for a bit. So, after Wesley says good bye to his poor buddy, Jake, and goes down to the planet, Quinn beams up with Lt. Comm. Remmick and asks to speak to Picard in private. Without Riker. Which is highly irregular.

Down on the planet, Wesley is getting to know the people he'll be testing with. There's Mordock... and a couple of girls who aren't important. Mordock had invented the "Mordock Strategy" and apparently Wesley had heard of him and thought he was already in Starfleet Academy. That's how smart he is. But Wesley Crusher isn't intimidated. As soon as the professor comes in and gets them started, he jumps right on the test with fervor. Because that's what Wesley does.
Wesley Crusher: test-taking enthusiast.
Meanwhile, back on the ship, Remmick is freaking everyone out because Quinn thinks there's "something wrong" on the Enterprise and has tasked Remmick with finding out what. Remmick goes around watching people and judging them and writing about them in his PADD and being an all-around jerk. Finally, he interviews them one-by-one inside the ready room and in the conference room. And by "interview" I mean "insult". He asks Riker about discrepancies in the captain's log, he asks Dr. Crusher about her relationship with the man responsible for her husband's death, he asks Worf about Picard letting a contagion on the ship. Nobody quite likes Remmick, Remmick is a jerk. So now Picard is gonna face Admiral Quinn about it.

During a break in testing, Wesley is hanging out in the holodeck trying to figure out how he can test for the psych evaluation. He needs to scare himself but he can't be sure about what would actually scare him. Worf helps him out a bit and Wesley goes back down where he bumps into a Zaldan and handles the confrontation perfectly. Yes, it was part of the test. Mordock said he would have failed. Not only that, but when they take another part of the test, Wesley helps Mordock out, losing time in the process. Looks like this Mordock guy is a hack.
I'm betting there's marijuana in his little vaporizer thing.
On the ship, Jake has become so distraught about not making it to the test, that he steals a shuttle and tries to run away. In the process he screws up the navigation and ends up plummeting toward the planet. Remmick is all up on top of this, because it's the first time he's actually seen something go wrong. Well, it turns out Picard is able to talk him through surviving and then explains to Remmick that young men sometimes make rash decisions and that Jake is going to get a stern lesson about discipline now. Remmick just can't get anything on this ship, and that's exactly what he reports to Quinn. He's failed to find anything wrong.

Picard finally asks Quinn what's going on and Quinn says that it was all a test. He believes there's some kind of conspiracy going on in Starfleet and he had to make sure that Picard was someone he could trust. He wants people he can trust in high positions, so he's offering Picard the position of Commandant of Starfleet Academy. Picard is honored by the promotion, and tells as much later to Riker, but ultimately ends up letting Quinn down. Picard's place is on the Enterprise.
"Ah, Picard, my love!"
Back on the planet, Wesley is finally facing his psych evaluation. They bring him into an empty room with a chair. He sits... waits... and finally... KABOOM! Investigating the explosion, he finds a room in shambles with two people who need saving. One of them is injured and the other is just really scared. Wesley saves the injured one and is really sorry that he had to let the scared one die. After saving the man, the professor comes up and says "Good job! That was all totally the test!" Turns out Wesley's biggest fear was making a decision that ends up killing a man. Like Picard did with his father.

In the end, Wesley ends up not winning acceptance into Starfleet. That honor goes to Mordock. Wesley goes back to the ship and Picard talks with him about it and confides in Wesley that he failed his first Starfleet Academy entrance exam, too, but not the second time- AND YOU MAY NOT TELL ANYONE! Wesley then feels a lot better about the outcome and everyone lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about shuttle security.

Overall Thoughts
This is a pretty good Wesley story. He's maybe a little bit obnoxious, but at least it's with people his own age this time. And there were some really good thematic parallels going on with Quinn's investigation which leads to the "Conspiracy" episode (which we'll cover later). The more I think about this episode, the more I admire it's storytelling as a connection to the whole. And Wesley's journey is actually pretty fascinating to me, to be honest.