(written from a Production point of view)
Captain Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien are regressed physiologically to the age of twelve, by a transporter accident, but retain their adult memories, resulting in different reactions from each. When rogue Ferengi hijack the Enterprise, the young crewmembers, along with Alexander Rozhenko, lead the revolt.
- "Captain's log, stardate 46235.7. Ensign Ro, Keiko O'Brien, Guinan, and I are returning to the Enterprise after a fascinating visit to the planet Marlonia."
Captain Picard, Ro Laren, Keiko, and Guinan are returning to the starship aboard the the Enterprise-D shuttlecraft Fermi. Their recent visit to Marlonia was a botanic and archaeology expedition, during which Keiko found a specimen of Draebidium calimus and Picard found 700-year-old crockery, with inscriptions somewhat resembling early Taguan but more closely resembling Barolian designs. Suddenly, their shuttlecraft is enveloped by an energy anomaly. They are beamed out of the emergency, but their transport to the Enterprise is difficult – Chief O'Brien having been puzzled by the implications of a forty-percent drop in mass of the transportees. When the four members of the away party are beamed aboard the ship, they and O'Brien are shocked by the materialization, on the transporter platform, of a twelve-year-old captain, bartender, botanist, and Bajoran ensign, instead of their adult selves.
The four Enterprise crewmembers, despite their new appearances, fortunately still have the mental capacity and memories of their former bodies. Since he seems physically fit enough, Picard immediately heads to the bridge to handle the situation. While dealing with the crew's discomfort at his appearance, he gives the command to leave a probe to study the area and head to Ligos VII, once they are done salvaging the remains of the Fermi. Privately, Doctor Crusher tries to convince him to relieve himself of duty, in case the transformation becomes more serious. He reluctantly agrees and retires to his quarters.
Elsewhere on the ship, Guinan and Ro are trying to adjust to their new lifestyles. Ro just wants to return to duty, while Guinan is enjoying this experience. She tells Ro she has not been this young in a very long time and intends to enjoy every minute of it. Ro complains constantly about how much she hates being a child, but Guinan insists on how fun childhood is. Ro leaves to contemplate her current situation alone in her quarters, although young Guinan joins her in a turbolift.
Also, Keiko's situation is at odds with her family life, what with her being a wife and mother. Her husband, Miles, is confounded by the fact that she now resembles the image of a twelve-year-old girl. In the course of a difficult discussion with Keiko, who is worried about their marriage, he eventually reassures her that they will make it work but admits he does not know how to do so. Their daughter, Molly, does not recognize her mother when she comes to read her a bedtime story. Rather than telling Molly what has happened, Keiko leaves the room and Miles tells the bedtime story.
- "First officer's log, supplemental. The Enterprise has reached the Ligos system. We have begun to search for the missing Federation science team. Doctor Crusher reports no progress on a cure for the members of the shuttle crew."
Counselor Troi comes to see Picard. Exploring the possibility that he must grow up again, she suggests alternatives for him, should Starfleet not accept a child captain, such as getting another degree at Starfleet Academy or taking a sabbatical, and studying geology or archaeology. He admits the options have an appeal, but still seem like a big step, and feels like moving backward, instead of forward.
Doctor Crusher compares the rybo-viroxic-nucleic sequences of tissues taken from Picard prior to the event and afterwards. It appears that the new sample is missing several key viroxic sequences. She explains to Riker that, somehow, these sequences were lost during transport. The same effect happened to Keiko's plants. By accelerating the growth, the plant became a normal, older plant, which means, if they do nothing, the four crewmembers will grow up again, like normal. She wonders if they can use the transporter pattern buffer since she has their patterns on file.
Geordi La Forge arrives in the cargo bay with a sensor report to meet O'Brien. They proceed to study the shuttle debris. It looks like tritanium's molecular structure on the starboard side has completely broken down and can be easily crushed with the hand. La Forge decides to run a metallurgical analysis on it in engineering.
Meanwhile, Guinan finally persuades Ro to have a little childhood fun, which apparently allows Ro to relax and enjoy herself; they jump on a bed, each trying to go higher than the other.
La Forge and O'Brien report to Riker their theory: a molecular reversion field caught the shuttle and threw off the transporter lock, reconstructing the away party as children when it missed the RVN sequences. Crusher starts to confirm her transporter option with O'Brien when Riker is called to the bridge, since they have arrived at Ligos VII.
The crew starts their investigation when two Klingon Birds-of-Prey decloak and start firing.
The Enterprise is able to fire briefly but quickly loses systems. Soon, the ship is boarded by Ferengi at multiple locations, including the bridge. Fortunately for the Enterprise crew, Riker manages to lock out the computer's command functions. They begin transporting all adults to the surface of the planet.
The leader of the Ferengi invaders, DaiMon Lurin, enters the bridge, and the Ferengi crew reports that they have secured the ship but don't have command access. Addressing Riker, Lurin declares the ship to be a loss and open for the claim to salvage, demanding the Enterprise officers help or the Ferengi will start killing them.
The Ferengi decide to keep the children aboard the Enterprise. One of the Ferengi takes Picard to a schoolroom aboard the ship and leaves him there. Ro, Guinan, Keiko, and Alexander are already in the room. Ro knows the Ferengi have control of engineering and several decks, and the children have to assume the intruders have occupied the bridge. With command functions locked out, the children have limited options.
Lurin is enjoying the captain's ready room and tells Riker that he and his cohorts are not affiliated with the Ferengi Alliance. He reveals they plan to use the crew as additional slave labor in extracting vendarite from the planet, the Federation science team already being used. Lurin wants to sell the Enterprise to the Romulans and threatens to kill the vessel's entire crew unless Riker helps him.
Picard and Guinan wrestle with a computer in the schoolroom, which won't allow normal schematic information, but they do manage to obtain a decent representation of the ship in general. Ro and Keiko open up a panel to a Jefferies tube, and they all head in to begin putting in action what they have planned. Picard and Keiko lure the Ferengi in the transporter room out with a toy car, obtain phasers, and set up a force field around the transporter pad, while Alexander steals two hyposprays from sickbay, and Ro and Guinan head to main engineering and wait there.
Next, Picard needs to talk to Riker. By tricking Berik, the Ferengi guard outside the room in which he is held captive, by acting petulant (as a child might), Picard manages to get him to bring him to Riker, under the pretense that Riker is his father. Riker is surprised, but immediately plays along.
Pretending to want to play computer games, Picard conveys a message, while sitting in the observation lounge, to Riker to activate the LCARS net in the schoolroom, which would give them full access to the computer systems. Once Picard is back in the classroom, Lurin threatens to harm the children if Riker does not unlock the computer and teach his lieutenant Morta how to operate the Enterprise. Riker pretends to instruct the Ferengi officer but only speaks in nonsensical technobabble. On the side, Riker unlocks the computer in the classroom.
When the "children" gain control to the transporter, they start using combadges, to beam the Ferengi behind a force field on the transporter pad, and the weapons deactivation program, to disable their sidearms. With the majority of the Ferengi confined, and with help from Riker, Picard disables the Ferengi on the bridge and confronts Lurin in the ready room with a phaser, thus ending the siege.
- "Captain's log, stardate 46236.3. We have taken Lurin and his men into custody. The Ferengi Alliance has quickly disavowed any knowledge of these renegades. With the mining operation closed and our crew back on board, we can now turn our attention to other problems."
After the Ferengi are taken into custody, Doctor Crusher and Chief O'Brien use the transporter to change Picard, Keiko and Guinan back into adults. However, at Guinan's suggestion, Ro stays a child a little longer, so she can finally learn to enjoy her childhood.
"Look at these fragments. They're… they're very nearly in perfect condition, and yet they're seven hundred years old."
"So is my father."
- - Picard and Guinan
"So, what the hell am I supposed to do now?"
- - Young Ro, getting used to being a child again
"You are asking me to step down."
"You are still Jean-Luc Picard. What do you think you should do?"
- - Young Picard and Crusher, after she advises him to hand command of the Enterprise to Riker
"Well, I should be doing something, instead of just standing around, waiting for them to find a cure!"
"You're right. Let's go play."
- - Young Ro and young Guinan
"[Childhood] was a long, depressing period of my life and I was grateful when it was finally over. I'd rather not relive it."
- - Young Ro
"I haven't been young for a long time and I intend to enjoy every minute of it."
- - Young Guinan
"It's… I don't know, but this feels wrong somehow."
"Miles Edward O'Brien, I am still your wife."
- - Miles O' Brien and Young Keiko, readjusting to married life
"You could return to the Academy. Take another degree. Brush up on your Latin."
"And be Wesley Crusher's roommate?"
- - Troi and Young Picard, discussing Picard's choices while waiting for his body to mature again
"[…] I've spent my life looking forward […]"
- - Young Picard, about his attitude toward life
"It's a child's computer, remember? Computer, can you show me a picture of the inside of the Enterprise?"
"Yes, I can. The Enterprise is a Galaxy-class starship. Can you spell Enterprise? E-N-T-E-R-…"
- - Young Guinan, the elementary school computer, and young Picard
"This is the first time these Jefferies tubes haven't seemed cramped."
"How much farther do we have to go?"
"About fifty meters. Don't tell me you're tired."
"I'm not as young as I used to be."
- - Young Ro and young Guinan
"I need to see my father. … I need to see him right now! … I need to see him now! Now, now, now, now, now, now, now, n- – Stop it; you hurt me! I want my father! I want my father!"
- - Young Picard, to Berik
"Thanks, Number One."
(A Ferengi guard eyes Picard and Riker with suspicion)
"- He's my number one dad!"
(Picard and Riker embrace, grinning widely)
- - Young Picard, plotting with Riker to recapture the Enterprise
"I believe you're in my chair."
- - Young Picard, as he points a phaser at Lurin in his ready room
"How do you feel?"
"I feel fine. Everything… seems a little smaller."
- - Crusher and Picard, after the latter is returned to being an adult by the transporter
"Did you do this one, too?"
"Uh-huh. I did that one, all of them!"
- - Adult Guinan and young Ro, discussing Ro's drawings
- Writers' first draft script: 10 November 1991
- Third draft script: 12 August 1992 
- Final draft script: 4 September 1992 
- Premiere airdate: 2 November 1992
- First UK airdate: 23 August 1995
Story and script
- This episode's story idea was bought by Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor during the fifth season. The script went through a number of rewrites before being assigned to Ronald D. Moore. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- Moore recalled, "When Michael bought the premise I thought he was completely insane: An Away Team rematerializes on the transporter as children — with adult minds! I tried again and again to bury this idea, which of course meant that I would get saddled with the inevitable rewrite when the script came in. I just thought it was a ludicrous idea and wanted nothing to do with it. That said, once I got the assignment, the professional writer in me had to commit to the material and do the best with it that I could, so I tried very hard to bring humor and humanity to the proceedings, chiefly through the Guinan/Ro story." (AOL chat, 1997)
- In another interview, he remarked, "It was not my favorite assignment and it was a difficult show to write." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 264)
- Taylor noted that Ferengi were chosen as antagonists because "Would you believe four little kids could retake [the Enterprise] from the Cardassians?" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- Langford was named after a woman Moore was dating at the time. He commented, "She wasn't a fan and we stopped going out soon after, so I don't think she ever saw it!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- Moore referred to the scene where Riker confuses the Ferengi with fictional technology as his "salute to technobabble". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- As a self-described "liberal arts moron", Moore turned to science advisor Naren Shankar for assistance. Shankar remembered, "The problem was that it was virtually impossible to come up with a sensible explanation and so we kind of did a lot of hand waving on this episode." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 264)
- "Rybo-viroxic-nucleic" (RVN) was invented by Moore and Shankar in the hope it would be a pleasing sound of letters that would not invite close scrutiny. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- As originally scripted, when the Ferengi begin to board the Enterprise, both Worf and Data were rendered unconscious by the intruders.  In the final episode, Data remained uninjured and was held captive along with the rest of the bridge crew.
- Jill Sherman Donner was credited as co-writer on the third draft script but was not credited in the actual episode. 
- This episode was directed by Adam Nimoy, the son of Leonard Nimoy. He also later directed "Timescape". Naren Shankar remarked, "For Adam, that was a helluva way to make a directorial debut. Directing kids is not easy under any circumstances." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 264)
- This episode was filmed after the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot, "Emissary" (although it aired two months earlier). (citation needed • edit)
- Two shots of the battle against the Birds-of-Prey were reused from "Yesterday's Enterprise".
Cast and characters
- As Ro was not seen returning to an adult in this episode, the writing staff considered having her choose to remain a child. Jeri Taylor commented, "Where else but on Star Trek could you do something like that? But it seemed too drastic for us, and we were sort of squelched on that." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 223)
- This episode marks the only appearance of Hana Hatae (Molly O'Brien) on the series. The character of Molly O'Brien was previously played by the Tadeski twins.
- Mike Gomez and Tracey Walter previously appeared together as different Ferengi, Tarr and Kayron, respectively, in "The Last Outpost". Michael Snyder also previously played a different Ferengi, Qol, in "The Perfect Mate".
- The young Picard is played by David Tristan Birkin, the same actor who played Captain Picard's nephew René Picard in the episode "Family". David was actually fifteen years old when "Rascals" was filmed.
- The actress who played young Guinan, Isis J. Jones, also played a young version of Whoopi Goldberg's (adult Guinan) character in the movie Sister Act, which was released the same year as this episode aired.
- This is the last episode of the series, chronologically, in which Miles, Keiko, and Molly O'Brien appear. Soon thereafter, Miles O'Brien transfers to Deep Space 9, accompanied by his family. An earlier version of him does, however, appear in TNG finale "All Good Things...", in scenes set in 2364. Although Miles appears as early as DS9 pilot "Emissary", both Molly and Keiko make their first DS9 appearance in "A Man Alone".
- There is a reference to this episode in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fourth season episode "Bar Association". In that episode, Odo cites the case of the Ferengi invaders as an example of a security breach aboard the Enterprise-D.
- Captain Kirk and crew had undergone a similar change (reverting to children) in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Counter-Clock Incident".
- Picard pretending to be Riker's son recalls the episode "Future Imperfect", in which Riker had a son named "Jean-Luc" in a holographic simulation of the Enterprise-D.
- In this episode, Miles O'Brien shares a coffee with Keiko in the late evening. By the Deep Space Nine second season episode "Armageddon Game", either Miles made a point to stop drinking coffee in the afternoon or Keiko apparently forgot that he does occasionally drink coffee late in the day. It could also be a one-off, given the strangeness of the situation.
- Ronald D. Moore ultimately wasn't fond of this episode, with the exception of the subplot featuring Guinan and Ro Laren. "I did end up liking [it] in the end," Moore said about that element of this installment. "I still cringe when I think of the episode (the Ferengi capture the Enterprise in a couple of broken-down Birds of Prey???) but many people have told me how much they like it." (AOL chat, 1997)
- Rick Berman referred to this outing as a "fun" episode with a "very imaginative" story. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 18)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 67, 17 May 1993
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien
- Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren
- David Tristan Birkin as Picard, age 12
- Megan Parlen as Ro, age 12
- Caroline Junko King as Keiko, age 12
- Isis J. Jones as Guinan, age 12
- Mike Gomez as Lurin
- Tracey Walter as Berik
- Michael Snyder as Morta
- Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko
Special guest star
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Tony Cruz as Lopez
- Grace Harrell as an operations division officer
- Christie Haydon as command division ensign
- David B. Levinson as Ferengi
- Adam Lieberman as Ferengi
- David Jeffries as Ferengi
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Keith Rayve as command division ensign
- Victor Sein as a command division officer
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- George Colucci as the stunt double for Michael Snyder
- Mark Riccardi as the stunt double for Jonathan Frakes
Stand-ins and photo doubles
- David Keith Anderson – the stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks – the stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Tracee Cocco – the hand double for David Tristan Birkin
- Michael Echols – the stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – the stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – the stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – the stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – the stand-in for Patrick Stewart
adolescence; adult; anesthizine; alloy; archaeology; auxiliary power; bearing; bed; bilateral kelilactiral; bioscan; B'rel-class; Buranian; calcium; childhood; central computer; children; class 4 probe; coffee; colorful metaphor; crayon; cream; Crusher, Wesley; cup; DaiMon; DNA; doll; Draebidium calimus; Draebidium froctus; drawing; Earl Grey tea; elements; Federation; Ferengi Salvage Code; Fermi; firomactal drive; FTL nanoprocessor; Galaxy-class; Guinan's father; Humuhumunukunukuapua'a; inertial damper; interface module; intermix ratio; intruder alert; Jefferies tube; jumper; keiyurium; kiloquad; Langford; Latin; Ligos VII; Ligos system; Lurin's Bird-of-Prey; Lurin's Bird-of-Prey's sister ship; Marlonia; Marlonian; meter; mercury (element); microfracture; Midsummer Night's Dream, A; molecular reversion field; Number one; pattern buffer; preadolescence; phase inducer; plant biology; primary heisenfram terminal; puberty; quad; red alert; redundant melacortz ramistat; refugee camp; remote controlled toy; renegade; Ro Talia; Romulans; roommate; royal blue; rybo-viroxic-nucleic; sabbatical; secondary generator; security access code; security field; seedling; shore leave; spelling; square root; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; sugar; Suvin IV; tag; Taguan; Tarcassian razor beast; tin; tissue sample; torsional stress; toy; transporter; Transporter Room 3; transporter signature; transposition matrix; tritanium; turbolift; Type 6 shuttlecraft; Vendarite; vocabulary
Library computer references
- Table of Elements: accurentum; averyonium; babaloo; beium; bermanium; brownfieldium; bugsonian; californium; cavorite; chanockian; cheeseium; chico; chronister; cosmoium; craftium; curly; daffyduckium; dentium; dilithium; disneyium; drapanas; duckdodgers; estonianium; exitstageleft; fieldium; franconium; freedonia; Gamma series; groucho; grouchoian; harpo; hawkeye; hobbes; hydrogen; Hypersonic series; jamesium; johnsonium; jonesium; keiyurium; kryptonite; lithium; magnumium PI; mazdaium; meeseian; Mega series; monty; neskoromnium; Omega series; paramount; pillerium; poi; potatoeium; princessium; purseronite; quarkian; redskinium; rhubarbium; smutkoian; snarkium; sodium; stimsonium; stoogeian; stoogeium; sufferin'sucat; thomsonian; tngonian; Transonic series; World series; yacobian; zeppo
- "Rascals" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Rascals" at Wikipedia
- "Rascals" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Rascals" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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"A Fistful of Datas"