15 December 2011
Angela Melzak was excited about the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 6x07 "Rascals," one which I feel just the opposite about. This was going to be a short and cheeky reply to her Facebook but instead grew to the point where I felt weird about posting such a long diatribe. Rather than have it go to waste I'll just toss it here instead, fleshing things out a little more now that I'm not self-conscious about space. I'll even add pictures.
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The Premise: Captain Picard, Ensign Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien are turned into kids by a transporter accident shortly before three rogue Ferengi manage to take over the Enterprise. The kids save the day.
This episode hurts me severely, but here's ten things I have learned just now about "Rascals," after reading Trekcore's behind the scenes page.
Screencaps from Trekcore.
1) This episode was originally conceived for Season Five but didn't make it into the final schedule. They had been wanting to tell this exact story for the better part of a year.
They saved this one, it was that important.
2) Leonard Nimoy's son could have gone to law school but chose to direct this episode instead.
Good choice, Adam Nimoy.
3) Writer and executive producer Jeri Taylor's rationale for using the Ferengi: "Would you believe four little kids could retake [the ship] from the Cardassians?" The writers knew very well that of any of the established alien species, whether Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, or the happy-go-lucky Bolians, that each of them would shoot-to-kill when attempting to hijack a Federation ship.
These guys would leave no survivors.
This boarding party? They will mess you up.
These two alone might not succeed but there'd be a lot of casualties.
The same with this guy.
4) Knowing this, they deliberately picked the most mentally-challenged species Star Trek has ever produced, simply because that's the only way the story could proceed. The antagonists had to be certified idiots so they selected the only aliens they felt could be bested by four twelve-year-olds, neverminding the fact that such a trio would never have managed to hijack a starship in the first place, if they didn't choke on their own spit first.
The faces of fear.
Their success also depended on Security Chief Worf, a tough, violent, Ferengi-hatin' dude, not playing any part in the ensuing story. Solution: shoot Worf first thing, the only victim of the takeover, and get him out of the picture early. With Worf around, the story could not conceivably progress because you know -- you know -- that he's never gotten over his first encounter in the middle of a shrieking Ferengi gangpile.
Welp, problem solved.
Man, we don't need to be reminded of this. Gross.
5) There are over a thousand people on a Galaxy class starship, meaning that a boarding party of three individuals is really no threat at all. It also doesn't matter that the Ferengi somehow managed to get their hands on a pair of Klingon ships. Riker! You have the strategic advantage! They're probably too stupid to use the Bird-of-Preys properly. Riker should be arrested for criminal negligence in letting this go down.
Turn in your pips, Will. Your career is finished after this.
Riker, tell the 990 other people on the ship about this!
They clearly have the resources to handle these situations.
Stock footage of Klingons being effective doesn't mean Ferengi are.
6) And really, there's no reason why the "crew becomes kids" story and the "aliens hijack the ship" story had to be the same episode. They neutered both ideas by merging them. Both stories should have been separate episodes. Well ... the second should have been, anyhow. And I don't mean when the empty-save-Picard Enterprise was nearly hijacked eleven episodes later in "Starship Mine."
Star Trek: Voyager, despite its faults, actually handled the "aliens hijack the ship" story fairly effectively in the second season cliffhanger, "Basics." In a slight twist, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did "aliens hijack the station" with the season five finale, "Call to Arms." Years later, Star Trek: Enterprise botched this theme by once again using the Ferengi in the ridiculous first season episode, "Acquisition." Kirk's Enterprise in the Original Series was susceptible to being hijacked, as in "Space Seed," "And the Children Shall Lead," "The Way to Eden," and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
He doesn't understand this.
7) In any event, it doesn't matter that Picard, Ro, Guinan, and Keiko turned into kids since they still maintained the full knowledge of their decades of experience. It doesn't appreciably hamper their abilities other than being unable to reach the top shelf, but neither can the Bynars, the Evora, or any number of height-deprived Federation members.
Picard knows full well that he's normally bald.
You never saw Balok complaining, Keiko.
8) This is the kind of story I would expect from Star Trek: Voyager, not The Next Generation. Voyager, the series that turned two characters into salamanders after crossing the "Warp 10 threshold." Yet Voyager never turned anyone into a kid. I think.
Granted, the second season Voyager episode "Innocence" included a species that aged backwards, Benjamin Button style, but that's a slightly different case than what we had in "Rascals."
God dang it, Voyager.
9) Jeri Taylor thought Ro could be left as a kid, suggesting that "where else but on Star Trek could you do something like that?" Then they didn't do it because "it seemed too drastic for us, and we were sort of squelched on that." So ... I guess that Star Trek isn't where you could do something like that after all, because Star Trek never does things like that. As much as I love Star Trek, it's a series that never cripples characters or otherwise changes them in a drastic way that would affect their future appearances on the show. Everything is always fixed by the next episode. Select episodes of Deep Space Nine and Riker's beard notwithstanding.
Star Trek has never had the guts to stick with something like this.
But man, does he love being William Riker.
10) Isis Jones repeated her childhood vision of Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 film Sister Act.
Yeah, I can see it.