A glowing Space Thing causes the transporter to revert Picard, Guinan, Ro and Keiko into 12-year-olds, with their adult memories intact. The four child actors do a fantastic job channeling the personalities of characters we already know well.
Tween Picard tries to carry on giving orders as usual, and contemplates returning to the Academy or pursuing archaeology until he grows up again. Keiko finds her husband and toddler are treating her very differently. The already testy Ro has one more thing to be testy about. Guinan is determined to enjoy every moment of her second childhood.
According to various Trek trivia websites, the young actress playing tween Guinan had already played a young version of Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Sister Act earlier that year, and the actor playing tween Picard had already played Picard’s nephew René in S4e2 “Family,” so the casting department didn’t have to look far to fill those roles.
The actress playing tween Ro does a fantastic job, first rejecting and then warming up to Guinan’s sisterly outreach, and then opening up a bit about her difficult original childhood.
The technobabble explanation of the youthening process is pretty weak, but at the character level it was working well enough that, when a bunch of Ferengi pirates take over the Enterprise, seeing plucky kids defeating comic villains definitely channels the “Home Alone” vibe. (That movie had premiered just two years before this episode aired, but Annie, Pippi Longstocking, Huckleberry Finn, and David (foe of Goliath) all did the trope, too.)
Watching tween Picard trying to issue tactical orders to a schoolroom computer, pretending to throw a tantrum, and calling Riker his “Number One Dad,” are all highlights, but all the kids get their moments. The writers deserve Kudos for including Worf’s son Alexander among the otherwise rotating cast of resident children we never see again. (But even then, we never see Keiko’s toddler during the crisis — I guess because having tween Keiko interacting with her child would slow down the hijinks.)
While it’s no surprise that, with O’Brien at the transporter console, the right technobabble restores the crew to their natural age, a final scene in which adult Guinan colors with the still tweenified Ro is touching and bittersweet.
Michelle Forbes, who played adult Ro in a handful of TNG episodes, was offered a lead role in Deep Space Nine, but according to Trek nerd websites she had already turned down the role by the time this episode was filmed. Acknowledging that Forbes was not interested in committing to the role, the producers briefly considered having the character choose to stay a tween. (Ro does return for the very last regular episode of season seven, just before the series finale.)