Star Trek 177: The Most Toys

177. The Most Toys

FORMULA: The Tholian Web + Plato's Stepchildren + Requiem for Methuselah

WHY WE LIKE IT: Kivas Fajo is a nasty, memorable villain. The crew's reaction to Data's death. The startling conclusion.

WHY WE DON'T: Fajo's plan requires total suspension of disbelief.

REVIEW: I own a book called The New Trek Guide, and it has very brief reviews of every TNG episode along with a choice of great lines and technobabble, info about aliens, various funny bits, etc. Now, I like to glance at this thing to see if my opinion differs from the authors' (who also penned the excellent Discontinuity Guide for Dr. Who). They call The Most Toys "a rather ordinary comedy episode", which tells me that, in this case at least, they completely missed the point.

The Most Toys is most definitely a drama and a strong Data episode. Saul Rubinek does a fairly good job with Kivas Fajo, a bit over the top, but only in the way an eccentric, amoral billionaire might be. He's cruel, petty, nasty, and uses his intelligence only to devise ways to possess others. Data's point to Varria that Fajo has them both is a strong incentive for her to later help the android escape. Data fights his captor in every possible way, only staying his hand when it would cost the life of others. When Data realizes at the end that Fajo will keep killing, he makes a choice that goes beyond his programming, and is about to kill Fajo when he's beamed to safety. This is a shocking moment made even more shocking when Data then lies about it to Riker. And does he then go see Fajo to gloat? Data really does seem on the edge of his humanity here. Powerful, and very ambiguous, stuff.

Back on the ship, the reactions to Data's apparent death are uniformly excellent. As Picard says, for someone who had no feelings, he certainly ellicited them from his crewmates. Ending that scene with a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet scores big points from me. Worf having to fill another dead crewmember's shoes is addressed as well. Not quite a funeral scene, but a greater variety of scenes that avoid this cliché. Also of note: Some pretty cool effects, like the destruction of the shuttle and Fajo's eye-popping force field.

Of course, the episode is far from perfect when it comes to the premise itself. Fajo's plan seems entirely too complex, and yet avoids one central question: How did he know Data would fly the shuttlepod? In fact, they don't address why he would even pilot it. But accept it, we must. I'm not that keen on the Fajo's collection either, even if that is a minor point. It seems incredibly humano-centric to me (or was that just for Data's benefit or as part of a theme?). And another baseball reference? Keep it for Deep Space 9, please!

LESSON: Collecting is evil. (Oh, no!)

REWATCHABILITY - High: If you're a Data fan, I can't guarantee you'll be as much of one after The Most Toys, but it's a must-see. Adds a level of complexity to the character, with a nasty bad guy to chew up the screen.


omne51 said...

I couldn't agree more with your review of this episode. I am a huge Data fan, and I was stunned not only when he chose to kill the protagonist, but lied about it to Riker and then went to rub it in the villain's face.

This episode made Data more human than he had been. This is one of my favorite episodes (the one where Picard lives out an entire lifetime as a member of another world and is rewarded with the flute at the end is #1 in my book, and I love how they make references back to that episode as the series advances).


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