Revisiting Star Trek TNG: The Most Toys

Review James Hunt 15 Aug 2014 - 08:24

Even a slow Data episode is better than most, says James of this week's TNG look-back, The Most Toys...

This review contains spoilers.

3.22 The Most Toys

Data, the crew's most disposable member, is ferrying the highly explosive element Hytritium back and forth between the Enterprise and the ship of an eccentric, huckster-ish trader named Kivas Fajo. Shortly after he radios in his final delivery, the traders zap him with a taser and start listing his ingredients. On the way back to the ship, his shuttle blows up! He's probably killed instantly. OR IS HE?

No, he isn't. Though the Enterprise crew is shocked by this suspiciously watertight death, the crew has to deliver the Hytritium they were collecting, and so off they head, leaving Fajo behind. Data then wakes up aboard Fajo's ship and finds that he's been added to the trader's collection of rare and curious items. He's basically PT Barnum in space.

While Data protests his capture, Fajo tries to convince him he's better off. A sceptical Data attempts to retaliate by performing a flying clothesline on Fajo, but his personal forcefield protects him from all forms of Android-based attack. Fajo shows Data to the chair he'll be sitting in for the remainder of his life, but he remains defiant, preferring to stand.

One of Fajo's lackeys, Varria, comes to ask Data to change his clothes. She urges Data to comply with Fajo, pointing out that anyone who disagrees with their master is punished. A lot. Data points out that she's as captive as he is, demonstrating that his psychobabble routine has remained intact. That was an insight worthy of Deanna Troi.

Back on the Enterprise, Geordi and Wesley are looting Data's quarters and dividing up his stuff ("Oh, a deck of cards, Riker can have that. I'll just keep any money we find.") and then Geordi reports to Picard about what went wrong. Basically, he's convinced nothing went wrong, but Picard tells him to get himself together and concentrate on delivering the plot devices they collected earlier.

Back on Fajo's ship, he's becoming annoyed by Data's refusal to co-operate. He pours acid on his uniform so that Data has to change clothes. Data retaliates by pretending to be a mannequin when Fajo invites his fellow collector over to see him. It's all very undignified. Fajo eventually threatens to shoot data with a rare, illegal weapon if he doesn't comply. Data calls his bluff, so Fajo threatens to kill Varria instead. This convinces Data to comply, because of the first law of robotics.

When the Enterprise reaches its destination, they discover the Hytritium they delivered was only necessary because someone spiked the planet with Tricyanate. Technobabble aside, this means they've been tricked! Together with La Forge's hunch that things aren't as they seem, they realise Fajo has probably kidnapped Data and warp off to find him.

Back on Fajo's ship (yes, still there) Data is sitting in the chair. Varria breaks in and decides she might help him escape as long as he takes her with him. Data agrees, and Varria attempts to get them out in a shuttle. Naturally the plan fails. Fajo kills her for her insubordination. Data grabs one of Fajo's weapons and threatens to shoot him, but Fajo is convinced that Data can't do that, because it's murder. After a protracted scene of taunting (Bond villains have nothing on this guy…) Data is transported to the Enterprise, rescued by Chief O'Brien (and the rest).

O'Brien notes that the weapon is in discharge mode and asks whether he should disable it. After mentally weighing up the odds that O'Brien will be killed by the stray gunshot, Riker reluctantly allows him to disable the blast. Data claims that it was probably an accident. Although he's fooling no-one.

Now in the brig, Data visits Fajo one last time to explain that they're going to ebay his entire collection. Fajo has lost everything. He's never seen again.

TNG WTF: Kivas Fajo's friend, Palor Toff, appears to have lost a fight with a giant slinky. Or maybe he won. Either way, no-one's come out of it looking good.

TNG LOL: Maybe it's just me, but I had to laugh at Troi singling out Worf for some mid-walk counselling. After she tries to psychoanalyse him en route to his new assignment, he ends the conversation with a short and probably insincere thanks. She turns away… grinning to herself. Like "Oh, that crazy Worf. Getting all curt when I try to remind him of his dead friends. He's such a Klingon."

Who's That Face?: Kivas Fajo is played by Saul Rubinek, who's one of those guys who turns up everywhere, though I mostly remember him as being Donny, the man who Daphne jilts at the alter in Frasier (er, spoilers). He's also Artie in Warehouse 13, although I haven't seen that.

Time Until Meeting: 17:00. Geordi, Picard and Riker have a chat about the cause of Data's death in the ready room.

Captain's Log: I remember Data being pretty badass in this episode, and while that's true, the more interesting elements actually lie elsewhere. Geordi's persistent investigation into Data's apparent death is great, as he pieces together the clues and eventually chips away until the truth is revealed. Similarly, Fajo's various attempts to cow Data are actually quite clever, in that he's constantly backing the notionally superior android into a logical trap. Someone was having fun with this episode's writing, at least.

That said, it feels like a better concept than execution. Data's pacifism seems overplayed for the bulk of the episode, especially in light of Fajo's obvious crimes. But then I suppose it would've been a short episode if he'd just found a way to break through the forcefield and subdue Fajo physically. Personally, I'd have smashed up his collection as a way of making my point.

Still, the scenes between Fajo and Data are just about good enough to carry what is mainly an episode of talking heads, and those final few scenes just tip it over the threshold. There are better Data episodes out there, but even a slow one is better than most.

Watch or Skip? Watch.

Read James' look-back at the previous episode, Hollow Pursuits, here.

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