S1 E18 - Coming of Age

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Ianburns252, Apr 9, 2021.

  1. Ianburns252

    Ianburns252 Commander Red Shirt

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    Today in "things that have right got on my tits" - anyone else consider the system for gaining a place in the academy, as shown in the episode, to be completely batshit insane?

    You have 4 of ostensibly the finest minds there and 3 get cut? Presuming that there are similar tests carried out elsewhere then surely it is possible that the winner of a heat somewhere else would be below the standard of 2nd place here.

    Also, the numbers don't work for me - to train sufficient cadets to staff the ships of the fleet they must surely be allowing many, many more people than implied in to the academy.

    If this was sold as being a special entrance where you skipped a year or were selected for Red Squad or something that might stack up but I'm not having any of this bull as presented in the episode.
     
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  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Then again, Wes Crusher is woefully underage here. Supposedly there's a quota for Wunderkinds, with a very special test for them, and perhaps only half a dozen indeed attempt such a crazy stunt at any given time.

    I mean, you clearly can't take the "Wesley Exam" at a random location (say, the holodeck of your starship), but have to travel to a special one for it, thus Wes misses his next opportunity, too. If the test is to be competitive, gathering all three to five contestants in the same location would seem necessary.

    Why the Wunderkinds would need to fight each other, rather than just pass a numerus clausus... We don't know. But perhaps this is for discouraging people from attempting this stupid thing, which usually spells nothing but trouble?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  3. at Quark's

    at Quark's Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^Yeah, I've also struggled with the problems indicated by the topic opener, and my head canon always has been that this isn't just a regular admission exam, but a coveted special spot for exceptional students gaining early admission. Even though it apparently also contains standard elements that the other officers can relate to (the psychological test, for example).
     
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  4. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    It always bugged me as well; it's simply an inefficient process.

    The episode still has redeeming values, such as Wesley having to deal with alien cultures. DS9 has a lovely nod to this in "Blaze of Glory" regarding Nog and Martok, but TNG's scene had its own charm. I think that was just before of the Psych test...

    The other mullety wunderkid who stole the shuttle had a decent subplot too...

    Note that the 1:1 matter:antimatter ratio is mentioned. A week or two later and they do a ratio of 20:1... oops... :devil: or was it a week or two prior?

    Of course, one cannot forget to mention the subplot of Remmick and the attack of the alien crawdads, which reminds me...

     
  5. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe the other 3 genius candidates get sucked up into Section 31?
     
  6. DGCatAniSiri

    DGCatAniSiri Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That’s been my headcanon patch, that the competition between them is for an AP admission. Which honestly still makes something like the psych test being administered still make sense - the aptitude tests show their skill, but the psych test is about their suitability to BE Starfleet officers
     
  7. cgervasi

    cgervasi Commander Red Shirt

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    At the time this aired I was applying to a somewhat elite high school program that promoted helping to get people into elite Ivy League colleges. I got into the high school. The college admissions system, as seen from high school, seemed equally insane as what was shown in this episode. For one thing, they told us the Ivy League colleges usually only accept one person from any one school, even from elite high schools that had many qualified candidates.

    I never went to an elite college, so I don't know if it's worth all the fuss that my high school made about it. From my perspective 30 years later, elite high schools attract faculty who are bitter they're not at an elite university and students whose parents similarly have something to prove. Add in the normal stresses of adolescence, and it's something that makes Star Fleet Academy's early admissions system seem very reasonable.

    In the show the school tricked Wesley into thinking he was saving someone from a situation similar to how his father died. They were hardcore messing with him. It all rang true to me at the time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Also, that room with the kaboom is so a holodeck, easily reset for the perfect mindfucking of each and every candidate.

    That Starfleet in general would be an elite institution doesn't seem likely. If anything, it would be the mandatory vent for the misfits who prefer death and misery in space to life in paradise; the tests would be tailored accordingly, mercilessly weeding out the sane. Wesley never ends up in the supergenius section of the organization. Because he gave up on that? Or because there is none, and the screening for the seemingly required qualities was merely to discourage anybody from applying before species-appropriate entry age?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There are also enlisted personnel who didn't go to the academy.

    Kor
     
  10. penguin44

    penguin44 Commander Red Shirt

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    I always thought it was an early admission test as well. I remember Picard stating when he became acting ensign that an application to the academy at the earliest opportunity will be applied.
     
  11. trekshark

    trekshark Captain Captain

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    I too always assumed it was some kind of early admissions but I can't remember specific dialog (either in that episode or in others) that would support that
     
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  12. Ianburns252

    Ianburns252 Commander Red Shirt

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    If I remember rightly, they go out of their way to make clear that the other 3 are normal entrants and only Wesley is an early admission.

    I appreciate that the point is to make it a great character story rather than 500 nameless potential cadets in an exam hall but it still feels strange.

    There does, however, seem to be a trend with TNG (I think more than others - I give TOS something of a pass due to it age and how ridiculous many concepts we now take for granted will have seemed, although maybe I should do the same for TNG) to overcomplicate matters or to forget what tech they have (not the fun stuff, basic stuff).

    In Time's Arrow, for example, Worf states that they can have no idea whether Clemens made it back. Well here is an idea for you, go on the 24th century equivalent of Wikipedia and just see if he had any books published/life detailed after the dates the crew were there. Seems like an easy way to check, right?
     
  13. StefanM

    StefanM Commander Red Shirt

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    I also think, it was a "special exam" for people, who couldn't enter Starfleet Academy in the regular way:
    - Wesley: too young, not finished school yet
    - Mordock: a Benzite, not a member of the Federation. Nog needed support from a Starfleet officer. Mordock may not have had such support
    - T'Shanik: a vulcan, but from Vulcana Regar. Maybe a colony seperated from the federation, so she also needed a special entry into the Academy
    - Oliana Mirren: maybe also too young?

    So the 3 three others just had to wait for regular entrance into the academy.
     
  14. Ianburns252

    Ianburns252 Commander Red Shirt

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    That would have made sense but the dialogue implies that Wesley is the only outsider and the back and forth with Oliana gives the impression that they will be back the following year for the same process.

    You then have Picadd saying that he failed the first time around - I would doubt a special entrant exam would be something one attempts twice. He plays it as just being the standard entrance exam.
     
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  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    All data points considered, Picard tried to get in at seventeen, while our general bio data indicates humans should wait until eighteen. Wesley is not yet sixteen. So he might face different challenges, being underage for the underage quota!

    Mordock never says whether he is young or old, and Wes expected him to be in already so he's probably facing other hurdles there besides age. T'Shanik and Mirren both point out Wesley is young, and the Vulcan even explicates Wesley looks as if he could not meet the "age requirements"; neither reaction would be consistent with the idea that this is the underage exam as such. But it's still likely to be a special exam, because Wes basically says you have to be a genius to attend, and yet genius is not a required characteristic once you're in. This is a special bunch, and they know it; all that's left for the audience to decide is whether all Starfleet entry is special (possibly the misguided intent of this episode) or whether only this particular type of entry is (the interpretation supported by the rest of Trek).

    So we have to decide what sort of special. What benefit will come to Mirren for competing in this category when she could just waltz in? Should we instead assume that everybody is handicapped here (Wes by his age, the rest for other reasons), and why go that extra mile when we already can say they are special due to their genius?

    Commander Chang does outright say that the competition is between candidates "from Relva", and he actually feels this is "unfair" that only a single one can go to Starfleet from that location. But it's unlikely that the location would really matter. None of the candidates are from Relva, after all: they could have taken the exam elsewhere if that were decisive. So we're back at special people gathering at Relva for their special exam.

    So is it a competition between geniuses? Sounds like the silliest interpretation of them all - why does Starfleet want to prevent geniuses from entering? A competition between geniuses with a handicap? But then why test for their genius when it's the handicap that matters?

    At the end of the day, I'm ready to call it a simulation. There were no other candidates! The real Mordock was indeed already in the Academy, "T'Shanik" was a generic Vulcan bully to unsettle Wes, "Mirren" was a generic human love interest to unsettle him in another way, and it was all about testing young Crusher's character... And he failed due to giving away points to a competitor, something that would not have been revealed in another type of test.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Herbert

    Herbert Commodore Commodore

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    It's a plot device nothing more than that and sets up the end of the episode where Picard is mentoring Wesley about perseverance/determination and assuring him that he is not required to live up to anyone else's standards, only his own.

    PICARD: Mister Crusher? Why aren't you in your dress uniform for Admiral Quinn's farewell dinner?
    WESLEY: I didn't think that would be appropriate.
    PICARD: Why not?
    WESLEY: I failed, Captain. I didn't get into the Academy. I failed you and I failed the Enterprise.
    PICARD: Ridiculous. Did you do your best?
    WESLEY: Yes.
    PICARD: When you test next year, and you will test next year, do you think your performance will improve?
    WESLEY: Yes.
    PICARD: Good. The only person you're truly competing against, Wesley, is yourself.
    WESLEY: Then you're not disappointed?
    PICARD: Wesley, you have to measure your successes and your failures within, not by anything I or anyone else might think. But, if it helps you to know this, I failed the first time. And you may not tell anyone!
    WESLEY: You? You failed?
    PICARD: Yes. But not the second time. Now, you'll do me the courtesy of joining us at dinner. I have to disappoint an old friend.

    This is really the whole point of the episode. No need to overanalyze it.
     
  17. Ianburns252

    Ianburns252 Commander Red Shirt

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    Can't agree with you more about the spirit of the episode and what it is trying to convey.

    I had intended with my tone for it to be more of a light hearted ribbing of the way the story was told and the implied structure of SFA than a genuine analysis. That said, isn't this the sort of shit that we as Trek fans, and the wider Sci fi & Fantasy community are famed for?
     
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  18. Herbert

    Herbert Commodore Commodore

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    I am continually amazed by how many take it so damn seriously. They try to explain everything in universe and try to fit everything into continuity and canon, even when some of that stuff contradicts.

    We could use a little more light hearted ribbing in place of that seeming compulsion.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Why not both... Herbert? <nudges ribs and winks>

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Ianburns252

    Ianburns252 Commander Red Shirt

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    This is arguably a topic for another thread but it was something a friend and I were discussing at length the other day - it does appear to be the case that the SF, Fantasy and Comic fandoms are more closely attached to things such as lore, canon etc whereas in other genres there is not so much of a militancy to it.

    Our first point was that the level of world building within "our" genres is of a great level than in those outside that circle which allows for easier immersion. With world building comes a wealth of backstory and lore obviously.

    There are also, often, reader characters with whom you can relate and see as an avatar for yourself - kind of like Whedon = Xander in Buffy. I would use GR = Wesley but he was overwritten whereas Xander was bumbling at times, useful at times like many normal people.

    We then got to a more contentious point - is there an element of protectionism due to real world factors? So it's not exactly news to anyone that the fandoms generally attracts those for whom real life isn't great. One just has to look at the societal bullying of "nerds" for that. Is it a case that the combo of my first two points, plus looking for a world away from the harsher parts of real life draw people in deeper and make them more protective of the media with which they have become aligned?

    What I don't get is the heavy head canon stuff - Star Wars and GoT being particularly affected - where becuase a story doesn't conform to what you have decided the outcome should be that it is inherently bad. That isn't to say that there weren't faults with both but story direction, to me, is a creators choice. It is our right as fans to enjoy the execution of it as much or little as we like but not having story beats that we expect shouldn't be a stick to beat something with