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The show sought out actors to play certain characters at younger ages for what were first planned as double flashback episodes to air in the second half of the season.
Roles for the 1973 scenes were to include William Walker at 33, Nora Walker at 28 and Holly Harper at 21.
The 1986 scenes included Sarah Walker at 20, Kitty Walker at 18, Tommy Walker at 16, Kevin Walker at 14 and a 6-yr old Justin.
Ultimately, only the 1986 scenes were utilized, featuring the 5 children and Sally Field as a young Nora (although mainly heard and seen in shadow only), in a storyline that revealed a long-hidden family secret about Kevin accidentally causing a friend's paralysis, and Nora and Holly in partnership trying to fend off a hostile takeover from Dennis York, William's former "enforcer" who attempted to blackmail Nora.
Nora begins to date a younger man, Simon, an oncologist who volunteers at her cancer shelter - however Sarah and Kevin become suspicious after they discover he was sued twice as a doctor and believe he had his license taken away.
After Nora gives him a sizable amount of money, he apparently loses interest in her and tells her he has to travel for a few weeks.
The storyline followed the final demise of Ojai Foods and the discovery of Narrow Lake (an untapped aquifer that made the family rich), as well as the rocky relationship of the finally-married Justin and Rebecca and the politically volatile Kitty and Robert.
Denzel Whitaker, 19, was cast as Carter - Justin's new lab partner - for several episodes as Justin attempted medical school.
Gilles Marini joined the show as Luc Laurent, an artist Sarah meets in France and who eventually follows her home to Pasadena.
He was first confirmed for a five episode arc before joining as a permanent part of the Walker tribe.
It was speculated that he would move to a recurring character and not be killed off, a theory supposedly first supported by the news that the character 'Alec Tyler' who caused problems between Robert and Kitty in the previous season was set to return.