Sunday, April 23, 2017

Episode Review - Rascals (Next Generation, Season 6)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Returning from an expedition, Captain Picard, Guinan, Ensign Ro, and Keiko O’Brien encounter an occurrence that puts their shuttlecraft in jeopardy. When the Enterprise beams them aboard, they appear on the transporter pad as children. The altered crew members try to adjust to their new youthful states and the rest of the crew try to help them adapt. As Doctor Crusher searches for a way to reverse their condition, a group of rogue Ferengi attack and capture the Enterprise, forcing the adult crew members into slave labour. Picard and the rest of the “children” are left to retake the ship.

A surprise upon their rescue.

Score: 8/10 – I must admit that while I was writing the overview for this episode, I was taken aback by how ridiculous the summary sounded. Yet the episode is oddly endearing and fun. Yes, it is a bit incredulous that the Enterprise could be taken over by the Ferengi in such a manner, but if you can suspend your belief over that, the story is quite clever and enjoyable. We love to see our beloved characters in interesting, unusual, and odd situations, and who wouldn’t want to see them as children with adult personalities. I must say that the casting of the child actors was brilliant. Isis J Jones, who plays young Guinan, was also cast as a young version of Whoopi’s character in the movie “Sister Act”. To cast David Tristan Birkin, who previously played Picard’s nephew, as a young Picard was clever and perfect. Caroline King and Megan Parlen are wonderful as the respective younger Keiko and Ro Laren. Each child actor wonderfully captures the essence of their adult counterparts. In addition, we get to use Worf’s son, Alexander, in a more meaningful manner. I also love the humor in this episode, from Riker’s techno-babble to confuse the Ferengi Morta, to Guinan and Ro’s polar opposite approaches to their condition, to Picard’s “temper tantrum” to get access to his “father” Riker (“He’s my Number One Dad!”), the script is cleverly written. Yes, it is odd that the hundreds of experienced Enterprise crewmembers are unable to fend off the Ferengi, yet Picard and a bunch of kids are able to retake the ship, and yet I can’t help but love this episode.

Guinan and Ro, perfectly cast.

Relevance - 3 points. One point for the first time that Hana Hatae as Molly O’Brien. This is also the final episode for the O’Brien family on TNG as they will be going to Deep Space Nine after this episode (which was actually filmed after DS9’s pilot). This incident is referenced in the DS9 episode “Bar Association” when Odo is reminding Worf of various security breaches on the Enterprise during is tour as security chief, so a third point is scored.

O'Brien is not too sure how to take his wife's change.

Continuity - 2 points. Character continuity works perfectly here, especially with the children versions. I loved how Picard runs his fingers through his hair, how Keiko still acts like a wife to Miles (which was also quite funny), and how Guinan especially is thrilled to be a kid again. Mostly, it is Ro Laren that acts perfectly here, as her childhood was much less enjoyable than the others, leading her to first resent and then love this second chance. Story continuity is spot on as well. While to enjoy the episode requires the viewer to simply ignore the relatively easy manner in which the Enterprise falls to a bunch of Ferengi with a couple of old Klingon ships, I cannot ignore this bit of universe continuity violation in this section. I must deduct a point for making the Enterprise crew look either totally incompetent, or the Ferengi extremely lucky.

Can you believe these guys took the ship?

Character Development – 2 points. I would say that if there is one character whose story is advanced in this episode, it is Ro Laren. We get a deep insight into her childhood that explains much about her tough manner. She is then taught to appreciate childhood thanks to the guidance of Guinan, her friend and mentor. The other affected characters are also given a bit of depth, but none more than Ro. Of particular, the ending which has Ro choosing to remain a child for a little longer so that she can continue to enjoy her coloring is sweet. This is before adult coloring books were created, so I am sure a lot of us adults were thinking how nice it would be to spend the afternoon coloring like a kid again.

Kids mobilizing to retake the ship

Social Commentary – 2 points. What would we do with a second childhood? That is a great question that we the viewer can’t help but ask ourselves upon watching this episode. For some of us, like Ro, we need to learn to be kids again. Others of us are like Guinan, who take the most of the opportunity. We also explore a bit of what we would do with Picard, contemplating everything from taking a sabbatical to returning to the Academy to take more courses. There may also be the time-honored parenting lesson of never underestimating the tenacity of children.

Like father, like son.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. As I have mentioned several times, we have brilliant casting that gives us one of the coolest moments with seeing some beloved characters as children. A second point is scored for the director. This is the first Trek episode directed by Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy. It was neat to know that the son of the legendary actor and director was following in his father’s footsteps by directing Star Trek.

One of the more touching moments for Ro and Guinan

Rank – Captain (19 points). A great episode full of light-hearted fun and shenanigans. Try not to let the incompetence of the Enterprise crew get in the way of enjoying a trip to a second childhood.

Picard and his "#1 Dad"
If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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