Original air date: November 2, 1992
Captain Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan and Keiko O'Brien are on their way back from a botany and archaeology conference when their shuttlecraft passes through a Negative Space Wedgie. When O'Brien beams them aboard just before their shuttlecraft explodes, they arrive as children.
Crusher analyses the four kids and finds that their faculties are identical to how they were as adults, and their bodies are perfectly normal 12-year-olds. Picard tries to resume his command while the doctor continues her research, but Crusher talks him out of it. The rest of the kids have widely different reactions. Keiko's new body puts a serious strain on her marriage. Ro is annoyed by the prospect of living through childhood again because the first time was so traumatic for her. Only Guinan seems pleased to get a chance to spend some time as a kid again.
Picard struggles to figure out what he'll do with himself if he can't return to his normal age. Guinan persuades Ro to cut loose a little and play some childish games. Keiko and Miles suffer an uncomfortable night at home, during which their child doesn't recognize her mother. Meanwhile, Crusher finds that a molecular inversion field stripped out the four crew members' RVN sequences during transport. If RVN could be reintroduced, they could theoretically return to normal.
But as the investigation continues, the Enterprise is suddenly ambushed by two Klingon Birds of Prey. The ship fights back, but its shields get depleted, and a Ferengi boarding party assumes control of the ship under the leadership of Daimon Lunn. Lunn claims to be a rogue from the Ferengi alliance and simply wants to sell the Enterprise to the Romulans. He has the crew beamed down to the surface of a nearby planet to use as slave labor for an additional mining enterprise. Riker has locked out control of the ship, but Lunn tells him that the crew's lives are in danger should he not return the controls to his men.
Meanwhile, the children on the ship has all been herded into the ship's classroom, including our four adults kids. They try to get access to the computer, but the children's terminal in the classroom is insufficient. Picard masquerades as Riker's bratty son and delivers a coded message to him to give computer access to the classroom. Riker agrees to hand over control of the computer to the Ferengi, and Dunn stipulates that he must also instruct one of his men on its use. At a computer terminal, Riker feeds the Ferengi a stream of beguiling Techno Babble while he surreptitiously grants Picard's request.
In the classroom, Picard, Ro, Guinan and Keiko gain access to the computer and set about taking down the various Ferengi guards around the ship. They enlist the help of Alexander to start planting communicators on the Ferengi and teleporting them to a transporter pad that has been locked off by a force field. Using their small size and seeming innocence as advantages, they manage to take down all the Ferengi. Picard confronts Dunn in his own office and holds him at phaser-point.
With the Ferengi brought to justice and the ship restored, Crusher prepares to return the four de-aged crewmen to their original ages by teleporting the back through the molecular inversion field. Picard goes first and emerges as his old self, though he does pass a regretful hand over his bald head. A restored Guinan goes to find Ro, who is still a child and drawing pictures with crayons. Guinan suggests that Ro stay a child for a little longer now that she is finally enjoying her childhood. They begin coloring pictures together.
Contains examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Though not very much as Keiko is still his wife, as she points out to him. Nonetheless, the paedophilia implications of Keiko's transformation are still rather disturbing to Miles.
- Adults Are Useless: Played With. The Enterprise and its crew are saved by the same old Picard trapped in a kids body. Hes helped by his three other rejuvenated comrades, Riker and Alexander, who are the only ones available since all of the other adults were forced down to the surface by that point.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: Lurin is quite the monster, threatening to kill all the children if Riker doesn't release computer control.
- Artistic License Biology: "RVN" doesn't exist. It was invented to provide an excuse to de-age the characters.
- Batman Gambit: Riker agrees to unlock the computer controls, counting on the prospect that in the process, he'll be able to grant full access to the classroom's computers. It works with the help of some distracting Techno Babble.
- Brick Joke: Young Picard gets a scene where he gets to run his hands through a full head of hair. Once he's restored, he strokes his once-again bald head.
- Character Tics: Notably Picard's shirt tug and Guinan's eye roll continue to be featured behavior for their younger selves.
- Contrived Coincidence: It's not explained how or where this temporal anomaly that stripped out vital parts of the four's DNA came from, only that happened to be in the right place at the right time to bring about the episode's events.
- Cringe Comedy:
- Miles O'Brien getting (understandably) creeped out by a young teenage girl cuddling up to him, made all the worse by the fact that he's married to her.
- The only way teenaged Picard can reach Riker is by pretending he's Riker's son, but he accidentally calls him "Number One", after which he tries to cover it with "He's my Number One dad", prompting an awkward hug between the two.
- Cursed with Awesome: How Troi tries to get teen Picard to look at his situation in the event that his condition can't be reversed. "You've been given a gift: a second childhood... without the pain of having to grow up again." By contrast, Guinan, who is centuries old, immediately decides to enjoy this second childhood while she can.
- Debate and Switch:
- When Miles O'Brien gets creeped out by her affections and starts equivocating when she points out she's still his wife, young Keiko asks him point blank whether her being a little girl now means the end of their marriage. Thankfully, the transporter's being able to reverse the effect at the end means he never has to give her a straight answer.
- Interestingly, when Crusher approaches young Picard and asks to speak in his ready room, there's plenty of uncomfortable, awkward subtext in the scene considering the hints at romance between the two characters ever since the show started...but instead Beverly simply brings up the fact that they don't know the cause of his condition or if it could worsen (i.e. give him the mind and emotional state of a teenager, not just the body of one), and so he should temporarily allow Riker to assume command. The fact many will have issues taking orders from an apparent 15-year-old captain also isn't addressed until his talk with Troi.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: When Keiko insists that she's still the same person, Miles starts to agree by saying, "Technically...", which naturally incenses her.
- Emo: How 12-year-old Ro chooses to take her transformation, until a little coaching from Guinan. Though by her own account, childhood and adolescence majorly sucked for her (beyond any normal issues, since she did watch her father be tortured and killed in front of her), so she's not keen on having to go through it again.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Alexander talks and stands like his father◊ when he helps the Captain.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: This is actually the second time the Enterprise's transporter has de-aged somebody (the first was "Unnatural Selection"). Yet still nobody seems to realize the implications of this beyond the immediate issue!
- Full-Name Ultimatum: "Miles Edward O'Brien, I am still your wife!"
- Genki Girl: Little Guinan!
- Hidden Depths: Ro Laren indicates an interest in botany, and then promptly denies it:Ro: (indicating a plant in a basket Keiko is holding) Is that a draebidium froctus?Keiko: Draebidium calimus actually. You can tell by the shape of the leaves. (Beat) I didn't know you were interested in plant biology.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Miles tries to deal with the awkwardness of Keiko's teenaged state by going to get coffee, until Keiko insists upon getting it herself, which makes the situation even more awkward. Then they're so upset that neither of them takes so much as a sip from their coffee before setting down the cups.
- Magic Pants: The clothes of the four de-aged crewmen shrink somewhat upon their first arrival, but by so little that it's a bit hard to notice unless you see Ro's sleeves hanging below her hands. In the very next scene, they've all changed into exact copies of their previous outfits that have been scaled to their current size, making it easy to assume that they arrived with the re-sized clothing. When they go back through the transporter, it's easy to see that Picard has gone back to his adult-sized uniform.
- Pretty Boy: Young Picard; and from the looks of it, he enjoys being back there for some time.
- Really 700 Years Old: While this has always applied for Guinan, it applies even more in this particular episode.
- Pushy Gun-Toting Villain: When the Ferengi board the ship and take everyone hostage; They force the adults down to a planet's surface to work as slave miners, while the leader of the gang threatens Riker at disruptor-point to release the computer security controls and show him exactly how it works.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: The crew accidentally discovers a means of turning adults back into children. They seem to have a firm grasp on how it happened, as well as how to reverse it, and the 'children' retain all of their knowledge and personalities. One would think such a discovery would have tremendous ramifications for society, with the elderly given the option to start their lives over again while retaining all the knowledge and wisdom they've gathered. Naturally, no one thinks of this and the incident is never discussed again.
- Shame If Something Happened: Lurin informs Riker that the Enterprise crew will be used as slave labor in the vendarite mine he has established on Ligos VII, then orders the commander to turn over computer control to him. When Riker refuses to do so, Lurin remarks that the mines can be "very hazardous".Lurin: Now, how many people on your ship?
Riker: One thousand fourteen.
Lurin: Very hazardous, Commander.
- Spoiled Brat: Picard has to act like this to get onto the bridge to relay his need to get the computer unlocked.
- Status Quo Is God: Without much discussion, all four de-aged crewmen decide to return to their previous ages rather than live through adolescence again. In Picard's case, this means turning his back on an extra forty years of life, and several hundred in the case of Guinan.
- Technobabble: Riker distracts Morta with this so he can, with his free hand, release the computer lockout where the kids are so they can begin to retake the ship. It's actually complete gibberish, and Morta is an idiot.
- Villain Has a Point: Luton points out that it's cruel to put children in danger by putting them on a starship. A complaint shared by a lot of the show's fans.
- The Worf Effect :
- The ship gets defeated rather handily defeated by two Klingon Birds of Prey, manned by Ferengi no less, while inflicting only light damage on one of them.
- Worf gets easily beaten in a phaser fight with a Ferengi, who nimbly dodges Worf's fire and then zaps him dead-center in the chest.
- This Is Gonna Suck: When Keiko asks if Picard has figured out a way to get the computer unlocked, Picard answers that he has figured out only one way to do so, in a tone that suggests he's not going to like what he has to do next.