Ward Costello(Admiral Gregroy Quinn)
Robert Schenkkan(Lt. Cmdr. Dexter Remmick)
Robert Ito(Tac. Officer Chang)
Stephen Gregory(Jake Kurland)
Estee Chandler(Oliana Mirren)
Brendan McKane (Technician #1)
Wyatt Knight (Technician #2)
Writer: Sandy Fries
This is one of those episodes where there are two distinct plot strands that do not relate to each other at all (suggesting that neither is strong enough to carry the episode on their own). The first is Wesley taking the StarFleet Academy entrance exam. Whilst interesting, it really could not carry the episode. Wesley goes through various tests, including the psyche test, which tests his greatest fear. Whilst he does rather well, he does not get in on this occasion. It is the first of a number of episodes where the carrot of Wesley leaving is dangled tantalisingly in front of the audience only to be cruelly snatched away.
This plot has one of the worst effects on this series – there is a corridor where Wesley has an altercation with a chap with webbed fingers. The continuation of the corridor is a blatant photograph, and it looks utterly shit, not worthy of this series. (As I recall, the happens once more, much later, perhaps even season seven, and it is worse!)
I also don’t like the fact that only one person from this test can get into StarFleet. Surely they wouldn’t turn someone away who did really well just because they didn’t come top? It’s silly.
The other plot strand is the arrival of two people aboard the Enterprise – Picard’s old friend Admiral Gregory Quinn and his assistant Dexter Remmick. Quinn tells Remmick that there is something wrong on the Enterprise and Remmick is to find it. Remmick sets about this task with glee, bossing people around both above his level and below him. We get to see a lot of questions that seem to be aimed at tearing Picard apart – the questions are loaded and also make reference to several episodes that we have already seen. It is done very very well and unlike the previous strand it would certainly have carried the show had it only been part of the story. And for most of the episode we really don’t know what the hell is going on – why is Quinn seemingly out to discredit Picard?
The only point where the stories meet is when a friend of Wesley’s (who is upset because he has not made it to the StarFleet entrance exam) steals a shuttle to run away, the whole operation to rescue him when the shuttle breaks down and is about to lose its orbit is witnessed by Remmick (Picard even tells him to stop interjecting or he will be removed from the bridge). Picard saves the day in a moment that genuinely makes you punch the air (not because you care whether Wesleys irritating friends dies or not, but because Picard has one over on Remmick).
Remmick questions everyone, and even goes below the belt when he tries to upset Beverly by referring to the fact that her husband died under Picards command. Naturally, she blows him out. Picard eventually loses his rag and demands to know from the Admiral what the hell is going on. Remmick reveals that he can find nothing at all wrong aboard the ship. Quinn finally reveals that there is some form of conspiracy within StarFleet and wants to recruit Picard into keeping an eye out for signs. Actually, he wants to promote Picard and put him in the Academy, which Picard says no to. (He also says he doesn’t do politics, which is rubbish, as we get to see in some superb Klingon episodes down the line!)
This is the first time we have had a dangling plot thread on any Star Trek apart from the movies, and whilst it is resolved fairly quickly (this season in fact) we do get to see a lot more later. Although a lot of the time The Next Generation, like the original series, is standalone episodes it is the ability to successfully create plot strands that feature in multiple (if not consecutive) episodes that makes, for me anyway, this show superior to the original.
This is the first time we have seen the real potential of this show. If only the whole episode had concentrated on the investigation/conspiracy plot, it would have been utterly superb.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1