Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 70 (The Most Toys)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

One of the episodes I have a better memory of is “The Most Toys”.  In this episode, Data is transporting some material to the Enterprise to fix some contaminated water.  The material is unstable and hard to come by, so Data is transporting the material.  Data’s an android and less likely to make a mistake.  He’s also one of a kind.  This makes him attractive to Kivas Fajo, who just happens to have the material that the Enterprise needs to fix the water supply.  On Data’s last trip, it appears that the shuttle has blown up with him on it.  The truth is that he’s been replaced with just enough material to make it look like he was lost.  He’s been added to Kivas Fajo’s collection of rare and unique items.

Data resists at first, not realizing that he’s presumed dead.  Even when he’s told of what happened, he still resists.  Fajo wants Data to change out of his uniform.  It takes a splash of acid to get Data to agree.  Then, Fajo wants Data to sit in a chair.  Fajo has to threaten his assistant’s life to get Data to comply.  Data finds new ways to annoy Fajo.  When Fajo has a rival collector over, Data stays perfectly still, even when pushed.  This infuriates Fajo.

Fajo has made several mistakes at this point.  The first was in assuming that no one would notice Data was gone.  The crew of the Enterprise eventually realizes that they have just enough material to fix a problem that was probably set up. When they realize what Fajo’s hobby is, they go looking for him.  The second was in assuming Data wouldn’t resist.  We’ve already seen how that played out.  The third mistake was in assuming that his assistant wouldn’t turn on him.  When she sees how casually Fajo treats her life, she agrees to help Data escape, provided she can come along.

When Fajo realizes what she’s done, he kills her and tries to make Data feel guilty about it.  He tells Data that he’ll kill again.  Data has to stop him.  Data agrees and points a disruptor at him.  (The disruptor in question has been shown to have only one setting:  horrible, agonizing death.)  At the last moment, Data is beamed away by the Enterprise.  During beaming, it’s discovered that the weapon has been fired.  It’s disabled, but the implication is that Data fired at Fajo.  When questioned about it, Data states that something must have happened during transport.

This is disturbing for two reasons.  The first is that Data lied.  There was no “perhaps” about it.  Data knows darned well that he fired it.  Yes, it’s lie of omission.  This will prove important in later episodes and isn’t that disturbing.  What’s really disturbing is that it’s implied that Data made the decision to kill.  It was supposed to be ambiguous, but Data doesn’t make mistakes.  This has been established in the episode.  It’s possible that he intended to fire a warning shot, but he had no way of knowing if he could get away.  What was to stop Fajo from following Data?

This is really the only thing that bothers me.  For years after first seeing the episode, it bothered me that Data might kill.  The lying, not so much.  There are cases where lying is important for the greater good.  Data even has to do it to save the lives of the crew.  In the end, it’s still a good episode.  You’re left wondering if Data really would have done it. 

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