In which youth is wasted on the young.
Before I even hit ‘play’ here I have to get something off my chest. I try really hard to focus on the parts of Star Trek that explain the larger world-building conceits, but occasionally I go off-mission and start railing against inconsistencies or insane troll logic. This is likely to be one of the latter, rather than the former.
Picard, Ro, Guinan, and Keiko are all in a shuttlecraft together for some insane reason. Picard is showing off some relics he gathered ’cause remember how he’s an archaeologist in his copious free time? And remember how archaeologists get to just take stuff home from dig sites? And remember how everyone is always fascinated by ancient ceramic fragments, including botanists, bartenders, and bitter battle-weary Bajorans?
I swear I didn’t mean for that to be alliterative until I got to ‘bitter.’
Ro actually is more interested in the plants Keiko brought, but fortunately efor everyone a crisis pops up and they can’t talk about Picard’s new cookware. Then they slam into an energy field that was just hanging out and have to beam the shuttle crew out. As always happens, something goes weird with the transporter, O’Brien registers a 40% loss of mass and reveals how bad he is at math, and beams aboard four children in baggy uniforms. The shuttle crew have all become twelve-year-olds.
If Barclay is not in this episode to scream “I told you so” regarding his transporterphobia, I will be sorely put out.
Exposition – their DNA has reverted to pre-adolescence, their brains and memories have remained intact, and it’s anyone’s guess what happened to the mass. Picard has no time for this, or Riker’s hesitance to take orders from someone with hair. Larren and Guinan quickly establish themselves as being the archetypes of a buddy comedy, which leaves Keiko’s sub-plot to examine… well… let’s hope Miles O’Brien doesn’t wind up on a registry after this.
Of note: Ro makes a comment about wanting to be back in her own uniform, which indicates to me that most of the time a uniform is perfectly tailored, but they were in a rush and just replicated her one ‘off the rack.’ Then again, Picard’s never fit right, so young Picard just does the uniform tug as per usual and goes about his day.
There is a disturbing lack of professionalism on the bridge. I could understand it from Worf, because I still remember that time he tried to shoot out the viewscreen, but when Data “forgets” to ‘sir’ Picard, we have a problem. His emulation is getting a little too perfect. And Crusher is just itching to relieve him of duty, too. Hence his obvious frustration.
Also, note that Guinan was a fully-grown adult, at least physically but human standards, in the 1800s. So it’s not a time thing. It just set DNA back, and apparently her species DNA works similar enough to human DNA that whatever finely-tuned mechanism accomplished this didn’t turn her into a horrible mutant. Recall that recently Q indicated the jury was still out on Picard and humanity. I am now going to assume that all this weird nonsense the Enterprise runs into is Q’s fault.
O’Brien isn’t going to lift a finger to help his child bride do her plants. The good news is O’Brien is intensely skeeved out by the situation and the prospect of being married to a child. The bad news is that Keiko’s daughter doesn’t recognize her and everything is sad forever.
The bright side is that if this lasts, Picard could get another degree or digging up pots until he’s old enough to command people without them snickering again.
I don’t know enough developmental genetics to know if Crusher is talking nonsense or not, so I guess that’s successful technobabble. Crusher is going to develop a transporter protocol to replace their agey-bits, but they need more sciencing in order to make sure it works correctly. The amazing news is that if they figure out what caused this and reverse it, they will have perfected immortality.
So the shuttle turns out to have been caught in a ‘molecular reversion field’ which I’m almost positive wasn’t a thing until Geordi decided to name it that thirty seconds before that briefing. Fortunately, that makes it easy to fix, assuming the Enterprise isn’t suddenly ambushed by cloaked Birds-Of-Prey or anything.
Moments later, the Enterprise is boarded by Ferengi, who start beaming all the adults down to the ship. Worf utterly failed to secure the bridge, but Riker was able to lock out the command functions before the Ferengi can get to it.
Apparently, Ferengi salvage law allows them to claim any ship they find that is “a loss.” The details of this are unclear and probably irrelevant, since the invading Ferengi declares the Enterprise open for salvage while everyone is still on board. Remind me again why the Federation hasn’t just glassed the Ferengi’s godforsaken swamp of a planet? Oh, because these particular Ferengi have declared themselves as independent contractors and therefore the Ferengi Alliance can’t be responsible for their actions.
The Ferengi throw Picard into school where he gets to meet up with the rest of the reduced adults. Alexander is also there, but unimportant. Picard tries to formulate a plan which does not take into account his apparent age. Guinan overrules him because. Just because.
The classroom computer system is locked out, which is good, but it also has the worst UI ever. It’s like if Clippy got a lobotomy. These kids do calculus, Alexander is playing with an RC robot he probably built himself, they don’t need some dippy computerfish.
This episode is now Home Alone, incidentally. Using distraction and guerilla tactics, Picard, Keiko, and Alexander steal some phasers and hyposprays while Ro and Guinan go the long way around to Engineering. Now Picard has to get to the bridge, so he throws a tantrum ad the Ferengi guarding the school. Ferengi are really bad at catching tantrums, and leave the school unguarded just so that child Picard will stop whining.
Using an extremely clever and devious code, Picard recommends Riker grant command access to the computers in the schoolroom, but this exposes them as hostages, and Riker is compelled to turn on the computers and ‘teach’ the Ferengi how to use it. Riker has clearly been brushing up on Kirk’s mission logs. While showing off how good he is at making things up, Riker gives the school computer full access, and the child crew start beaming all the Ferengi onto a transporter pad that’s isolated in a force field. And I was absolutely right about Riker studying Kirk, because he uses the patented Double Hammer Fist, and they easily beam everyone back out of neverland. They even thought of putting them back in their baggy uniforms.
So yeah, now any time someone is getting a little long in the tooth they ought to be able to beam them back to childhood, which capability will never be heard of again.