Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Most Toys [3.22]

Data is kidnapped by Kivas Fajo, a ruthless trader who collects rare artifacts.  The Enterprise is tricked into believing that Data is dead, but eventually grow suspicious.  Fajo threatens the life of his assistant Varria in order to force Data to behave in the way that he wants.  When Varria tries to help Data escape, Fajo kills her.  Data is on the verge of taking Fajo’s life to prevent him from harming anyone else when he is rescued by the Enterprise.

Written by Shari Goodhartz. Directed by Timothy Bond.

Previous Episode: Hollow PursuitsNext Episode: Sarek

Comments:
The Most Toys is a bit of a funny episode for me, one in which there aren’t any major flaws, and in fact there is some good drama, but which I don’t really enjoy very much.  Maybe it’s because Kivas Fajo is such an unpleasant character, a villain who is a bit of a rarity on Star Trek in that he seems to have no redeeming features whatsoever.  He’s so unlikeable, and you are just waiting the entire time for Data to get the upper hand.  And in one of the irritating factors of the story, you really do feel like he should have been able to a lot sooner.  Data’s kept at bay by a really heavy door and the villain’s little force field that reacts to positrons, but why doesn’t he just throw something at the guy and knock him out?  So you get this story with a really unlikeable villain who is artificially, sort of, made to be more of a challenge than he should be.

Still, Saul Rubinek does a good job playing this oddly flamboyant and sort of complex villain, bringing a theatrical physicality to the performance, and making the extensive dialogue scenes with Data compelling.  Brent Spiner similarly earns his pay, keeping Data “human” enough to bring an appropriate level of ambiguity to Data.  He’s an android, he doesn’t feel anything…or does he?  Is he satisfied at Fajo’s imprisonment at the end?  Does that signify an emotional reaction?  And did he just lie to Commander Riker about firing the weapon?

That last point is a bit annoying actually.  It’s a bit of confusion that doesn’t really help the episode, I think.  It’s not really relevant whether he fired the disruptor or not – he clearly was about to.  It’s a lot more disturbing that he may have deliberately and needlessly misled his commanding officer.  I’d have preferred it to be clear that he had fired.  What we have muddies the water slightly.

Still, in spite of this, The Most Toys brings out a largely unexplored aspect of both Data’s character and the Star Trek universe in general:  respect for life is key value, but where might commitment to that value require the use of deadly force?  It’s not exactly a story about the death penalty, but it’s not quite a story about self defense either.  It’s interesting ground for the a series about a society so built on its ideals to explore.

Shout Out to the Past:
• There are a number of references to Tasha Yar, as well as Data’s little hologram of her as seen in The Measure of a Man.  We also see his medals from that episode again.

• The shuttlecraft that Data supposedly dies in is apparently named after Christopher Pike, Kirk’s predecessor as commander of the Enterprise in the Original Series.

Guest Cast:
• Nehemiah Persoff, who plays “Toff”, has had literally hundreds of credited appearances in movie and TV, including numerous roles as Rabbi’s, and in several different Bible-based stories.  He also plays the voice of Papa in An American Tail and appeared in one of the funniest movies ever, Some Like it Hot.  

• Jane Daly (Varria) has had a bunch of roles as well, including a tiny one as Tom Cruise’s future mother-in-law in Mission Impossible III.

• Saul Rubinek (Kivas Fajo) had a recurring role on Fraiser.  He also featured in the series Warehouse 13, where he once played opposite Brent Spiner.

Observations:
• Some oddities in the credits:  Nehemiah Persoff’s character’s name is mentioned (“Toff”) – something that hasn’t been normally done since Encounter at Farpoint (although it was for Dwight Schultz in the last episode as well). Similarly unusually, Saul Rubinek’s role is listed as a “special appearance”, the sort of honorific normally reserved for the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Diana Muldaur.  Perhaps it has to do with the fact that he was a last minute replacement when David Rappaport was unable to continue filming, and that he wasn’t an actor who normally did guest roles on television.

• The sadness and shock at Data’s death is evident in Picard’s log entry and his command to “Engage” when it’s time to leave the sight of the disaster.

• It’s effective how Kivas Fajo demonstrates that he’s a more dangerous foe than he originally appears.

• That’s a funny puppet creature in Fajo’s showroom.

• I can’t remember when, but I know we’ve just recently seen that painting of Data’s before.  I read somewhere that it’s supposed to be of the time vortex from Time Squared.

• Worf is the best officer to take over Ops?  Really?  It just seems like he is the only eligible regular character.  Why isn’t there any discussion who will take over security?

• Geordi sleeps on a strange looking pillow.

• Funny line from Toff:  “He falls well.”

• Very effective scene where Fajo convinces Data to sit in the chair.  The moment when Data acquiesces is well directed.

• There is a great shot of the camera tracking across the conference table toward Picard as the crew finally deduce what has really happened.

• Simple but great line from Wesley Crusher:  “Course already laid in, sir,” as they are tracking Fajo.

• Data’s super strength is good is well-used in the escape attempt.

• Varria’s attempt to get to the disruptor is a bit weak.

• Hard to imagine why Data doesn’t pick up the discarded disruptor immediately.  Though I suppose it all amounts to the same thing in the end.

Dialogue High Point
My favorite line is one of Fajo’s during one of his verbal sparring matches with Data.

Can’t you see how much better it will be for you right here? The intellectual rewards alone. Our personal exploration of the galaxy. I am at war with no one. I am your liberator.

Previous Episode: Hollow PursuitsNext Episode: Sarek

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One thought on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Most Toys [3.22]

  1. I really like this episode. Fajo is a fantastic antagonist, so charming and entertaining yet ruthless. And Brent Spiner does a really good job making Data seem angry at it all, while still displaying the lack of emotion. It’s just really, really well-done.

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