Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 6 Episode 7


Aired Unknown Nov 02, 1992 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
215 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 46235.7

A transporter accident transforms Picard, Ro Laren, Guinan and Keiko O'Brien into small children who appear to be about 12 years old. Matters become complicated when the Ferengi seize the Enterprise.

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  • This is one of those sci fi ideas that leans more towards the fi.

    This episode, with shades of "The Counter-Clock Incident" from the animated series, is one of those stories (more common in the early part of the series) where a one line pitch idea is stretched out for the duration of the hour. In this case the idea is "what if Picard and some others suddenly became kids again?" (The Ferengi, completing their fall to the bottom of the Star Trek alien food chain, serve as the kids' antagonists.) While this premise would seem to be more suitable for an episode of The Smurfs (a show which in fact had already used it) "Rascals" is somewhat fun to watch because of the magnificent performances of the children, who are quite convincing in their attempts to make us believe they are our beloved crewmembers trapped in adolescent bodies even if the science is rather shoddy. (Director Adam Nimoy, son of a certain Leonard, also deserves credit for giving a shallow script depth by emphasizing its humor and humanity.)moreless
  • When Picard, Guinan, Keiko O'Brien and Ro Laren are transformed into children in a transporter accident they find that they are the only ones who can save the crew when they are captured by the Ferengi.moreless

    Although the science is flawed this is an excellent episode. The story is entertaining and we learn about the characters’ childhoods.

    The young Picard has several excellent lines which are extremely funny when you know that it is actually an adult supposedly saying these words. My particular favourite line is when Picard has a tantrum in order to see his ‘father’: “I want to see my Father! I want to see him now! Now now now now now!”.

    The child actors are very good; they capture the personalities of the grown-up characters very well.

    As this is the second time that Riker has had a ‘son’ named Jean-Luc I wonder if he ever really will have a real one of the same name.moreless
  • The Writing of Rascals: A Play in One Part by Hal10000

    Michael Piller, a Writer: Hi there. I've got a great idea for STNG.

    Ronald Moore: Pitch it.

    Hock: Well, several of the crew revert to children, so we get lots of touching insights into childhood.

    Moore: That's stupid.

    Brannon Braga: No, we'll just have DNA rewrite itself. That works all the time.

    Ward Bostford, a writer: We'll have to spice it up. How about aliens take over the Enterprise and the children have to take it back.

    Moore: Didn't the old series do that with "And the Children Shall Lead"

    Piller: Well, yeah, but this may not be as terrible. Let's see, the aliens will have to be really stupid to be taken out by some kids.

    Diana Dru Bostford, a writer: How about the Romulans? Remember in Unification when Sela left Spock and Data alone in a room with a computer that could control the entire planet?

    Moore: Nah, the Romulans would just shoot everyone and ask questions later. Even they're not that dumb.

    Piller: How about the Ferengi? They are the dumbest aliens we've ever had.

    Moore: OK. Now they'll need to take over the Enterprise, somehow. That won't be easy as she's the most powerful starship in the Federation. How about the old reliable -- a malfunctioning holodeck?

    Piller: Nah, the next episode has that. Um, we'll have the Ferengi steal two extremely powerful Klingon warships. You know how the Klingons just leave their warships lying around. And we'll have Riker just stand there like a dope while the Bird of Prey pound them until their shields drop. Then we'll have a single guy beam onto the bridge and take over the ship. 'Cuz no one can fight against a single guy.

    Bostford and Bostford: Brilliant!

    Moore: What about long term stuff? Won't the Federation by angry about the hijacking? How do we get them back from being kids?

    Piller: Oh, we'll just say they're an independent Ferengi group that somehow have the resources to steal two Klingon warships.

    Braga: Besides, DNA rewriting itself is easily cured once you realize what the problem is. Now I'll go back on work this script called "Threshold"


    That kids, is how this got written. The Ro-Guinan storyline is nice. And Picard Jr. has some funny lines. But the premise was so silly, it could have come out of an episode of SNL.moreless
  • Picard, Ensign Ro, Keiko, and Guinan on their way back aboard a shuttlecraft experience an energy field. The energy field destroys the shuttlecraft. O’Brien is able to beam them back aboard the “Enterprise” with the exception of a loss of 40% in mass.moreless

    Picard, Ensign Ro, Keiko, and Guinan on their way back aboard a shuttlecraft experience an energy field. The energy field destroys the shuttlecraft. O’Brien is able to beam them back aboard the “Enterprise” with the exception of a loss of 40% in mass. What does this mean? It means they are all kids now. Picard acts like nothing is wrong and tries to command the bridge. The bridge members are not sure of Picard. Is he really the Captain? Beverly suggests to Picard to temporarily transfer command to Riker. Now Ferengi take over the ship. Darn it Riker.moreless
  • Mixed feelings about this one

    I don't really mind the bad science about this one. I hadn't noticed it then, nor did I when recalling it now, though the critics do have a point.

    I think the way I thought of it, was that the changes in DNA were observed as a side-effect of the de-aging, rather than the change in DNA causing the de-aging. It would actually be incredibly strange for an anomaly to just alter your DNA selectively like this. In fact, our aged cells, damaged by entropy over time, do not possess the required information to become young again, because they are compromised.

    Instead, it was very likely a temporal anomaly which connected them to a previous state of their bodies (DNA included) and retained their mental states somehow.

    I think this can be ignored for the humourous and serious aspects of the show. Of all the characters, I think I would respond most like Guinan in being so appreciative of the change, though I'm not sure why someone so appreciative would change back. Considering she does not play a combat role, I would think someone like her would relish the chance to live longer. I would stay young a bit longer, like Ro Allen, though perhaps just leave it. You would still keep aging after all, so why not take the extra years and run with it? I think I would probably want to be treated equally in my past role. I think Picard having to defer to Riker due to this is sort of a humiliation for him. I would also be pissed off at people who considered me lesser just for my body, like Miles did with Keiko.

    In regard to the mothering problems Keiko experienced, I think a solution could be to place Molly into cryogenic stasis until Keiko had grown to her previous age again, to assume the dynamic of their past relationship. At that point they were on Enterprise alone without a significant amount of children around for her to play with, and it remained like that for a while on Deep Space Nine also. I am not sure if they have technology like that though. That said, the characters would probably miss their daughter, but it would sort of be for their own good. Miles could have been put in stasis too, but he was a valuable member of the crew so being without him could be tough. Plus then Keiko would have to miss both of them.

    One thing I do think this episode suffers from is a lack of continuity. The three O'Briens go to DS9 right after this, and despite the great strain placed upon all of them, none of this is really reflected. It's like they block it out, and the significant implications this placed upon the bond Miles and Keiko share.

    It also bears comparison to a later DS9 episode, where rather than having Keiko become 12, Molly becomes 18. Whereas Keiko got a chance to live life over again, Molly suddenly loses years to isolation in a time warp. They are like reverses of each other, yet both considered tragedies. Molly's lost time is a legitimate tragedy, however Keiko's is moreso a tragedy only because of other people's perceptions. Due to Miles being unable to accept her as his romantic partner anymore, and Molly being unable to accept her as a mother anymore. I think Molly's reaction was mainly due to confusion and that she could have eventually grown to accept it, since she is still older and could be like an older sister to her. It was common in large families in the pioneer times for older girls to raise their younger siblings anyway. I can't help but think that Molly's reaction was somehow picking up on Miles' bad reaction to it.

    I also felt Miles seemed very insecure and repressed in his reaction to this. It is possible he was worried about how Keiko might react later on if she chose to become older again, in regards to what they did during that time and how he reacted during that time. Oddly enough, this cold shoulder probably (along with Molly's reactions) influenced Keiko to age herself. I think she could have reacted more like Guinan without these negative responses. Those two are more peacable learners, compared to Picard and Ro who are authoritative warriors who are attached to the sense of authority their age and size get for them.

    Despite my disapproval for Miles' conduct (Molly can't be blamed since no one told her what was going on or that Keiko was her mother, so she wasn't even given the chance to attempt to understand or accept it) I think the portrayal is interesting and valuable since it helps in demonstrating how people can act with a closed mind. Overall the episode showed the biases people have toward youth and how their abilities and experience and potential contributions can be ignored. It shows how even a whole person can be just totally disregarded simply due to the state of their body.moreless
Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

David Birkin

David Birkin

Young Picard

Guest Star

Isis Jones

Isis Jones

Young Guinan

Guest Star

Caroline Junko King

Caroline Junko King

Young Keiko

Guest Star

Brian Bonsall

Brian Bonsall


Recurring Role

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg


Recurring Role

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Miles O'Brien

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Upon scanning the now young Picard, Dr. Crusher states that "...their DNA structure is now consistent with those of pre-adolescence." This statement is invalid, since DNA does not change with puberty. Their DNA structure would be the same no matter if they were children or elderly.

    • In the scene in the O'Brien's quarters following the transporter accident, the young Keiko collects a black cup of coffee from the replicator in her right hand and a white cup of coffee in her left hand. As the shot changes to her sitting down, the cups have suddenly switched hands.

    • Unfortunately, the writers of the Star Trek series are repeatedly under the impression that altering DNA alters the host instantly. Even if every fragment of DNA in an organism was manipulated in exactly the same way simultaneously (which would be necessary, since many changes would cause the body's immune system to quickly kill the affected cells), the transporter system would have to selectively excise extra cells from the body (hence the drop in mass). Additionally, other changes (such as the fact that Picard had suddenly sprouted more hair) would, at the very least, take time to happen. In short, the whole transporter event is the usual ST bad science.

    • The characters in this episode capture the Ferengi by attaching comm badges to them and then beaming them into a contained area. Why are the comm badges necessary? If they have access to the computer systems, can't they just scan for Ferengi bio signs and site-to-site transport them from inside of the classroom?

    • The Ferengi say they are not affilliated with the Ferengi Alliance--that they are renegades--yet they also say they claim the Enterprise in accordance with Ferengi Salvage Codes.

    • When young Picard asks "Daddy Riker" to turn on the computers in the classroom, he identifies the classroom as schoolroom 8. However, when Picard is at the computer, the computer identifies itself as being in Classroom 7.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • 12-year old Picard: I want to see my Father! I want to see him now! Now now now now now!

    • Guinan: That's the thing about crayons... they can take you more places than a starship.

    • Riker: (confusing the Ferengi) So, one more time. The remastat kiloquad capacity is a function: square-root the intermix ratio times the sum of the plasma injector quotion.

    • Troi: I came to see how you're doing.
      12 year old Picard: Well, I'll have to speak to my tailor, but otherwise I'm well. Thank you. (looking in the mirror) It's just so ridiculous. I can't take myself seriously like this.

  • NOTES (8)

    • The shot of the Enterprise firing from its saucer section as well as those of the Birds Of Prey are recycled FX from "Yesterday's Enterprise."

    • This is the second time on the series that Riker has had a "son" named Jean-Luc. Neither times were they his real son.

    • Riker mentions the name of the computer on the Enterprise. It's likely taken from the German physicist Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976). Heisenberg won a Nobel Prize for physics in 1932 and in World War II he headed the German's unsuccessful nuclear weapons project. Life under the Nazis was unbearable for Jewish and non-Jewish scientists like Albert Einstein, Max Born, Lise Meitner, and Wolfgang Pauli so they left, but Heisenberg and others chose to remain in Germany.

    • Last appearance of Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien on TNG.

    • David Tristan Birkin (young Picard) played Jean Luc's nephew, Rene Picard, in Season 4's "Family."

    • This was Colm Meaney's final appearance in the series due to the character transferring to sister series Deep Space Nine. He would reappear in the two-part finale "All Good Things..."

    • This would be Ensign Ro's last appearance on the show until the final season. The creators of Deep Space 9 wanted Ensign Ro to be in the series. Michelle declined, opting for a movie career.

    • Adam Nimoy, the son of Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series, directed this episode.


    • Computer: I'm sorry, but I can't do that. Would you like to play a game?
      The 12-year-old Picard gets allusions from two different classic sci-fi movies from his ship's computer. The first sentence comes from HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The second comes from the computer in WarGames.