Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Most Toys”

“The Most Toys”
Written by Shari Goodhartz
Directed by Timothy Bond
Season 3, Episode 22
Production episode 40273-170
Original air date: May 7, 1990
Stardate: 43872.2

Captain’s Log: In order to stop the tricyanate poisoning of the water supply on Beta Agni II, the Enterprise has obtained hitritium, a highly unstable compound, from a trader named Kivas Fajo. Hitritium is too unstable to transport, so Data flies it from Fajo’s ship the Jovis to the Enterprise in a shuttle.

As he’s about to take his third and final trip, Varia, Fajo’s aide, neutralizes Data with some form of electrical shock and examines his molecular structure. A few minutes later, the shuttle leaves the Jovis and explodes.

The Enterprise crew thinks Data has been destroyed with the shuttle (Varia left enough trace elements of what he’s made of to fool a scan). They must proceed to Beta Agni II, so off they go — unknowingly leaving Data behind.

Fajo, it turns out, is an obsessed collector-type, and like all obsessed collector-types he has a particular type of object he prefers: unique items that cannot be found anywhere else from paintings to sculptures to weapons to other apocrypha, including a Lapling, an animal believed extinct. Of course, unlike the other items, Data is sentient and objects to being kidnapped. Fajo, however, views Data as the jewel of his collection. Fajo has a personal force field that reacts only to Data, preventing the android from touching him, and the trophy room has a door that only responds to galvanic skin responses and DNA, and is also excessively heavy, so even he can’t open it. Data objects, and Fajo counters — they debate spiritedly, but Data is still trapped in the room. Fajo even contrives to destroy Data’s uniform, thus forcing him to wear the (butt-ugly) clothes Fajo wants him to wear. Data, however, refuses to sit in the chair that Fajo has set aside for him to be displayed in.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

Fajo brings a colleague/rival named Palor Toff on board to show off Data. However, Data stands completely, unmovingly still as only he can. Instead of getting to show off an android, it appears to Toff as if Fajo is just displaying a dull mannequin. Even when Fajo hits Data with the force field, Data simply falls over. “He falls well,” Toff says, unimpressed. Fajo, though, is livid.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

Back on the Enterprise, La Forge and Wes go through Data’s things: his latest painting, his violin, a Shakespeare volume given to him by Picard (which La Forge gives back to the captain, who quotes Hamlet from it during the episode in remembrance of Data), his poker cards and chips (which Wes thinks should go to Riker), his impressive collection of Starfleet medals, and his hologram of Tasha Yar.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

La Forge is also convinced that something’s wrong with the explosion. The only explanation that makes sense is pilot error — which makes no sense when Data’s the pilot. His engineer’s brain wants it all to make sense, but it doesn’t.

And then he hits on it: on the last run, Data did not inform the Enterprise that the shuttle cleared the cargo bay of the Jovis, which he did do the first two runs. Anybody else, it wouldn’t be worth remarking on, but Data not following standard procedure is unheard of. But even as La Forge and Wes go over the shuttle recordings, they have no idea what it all means.

Picard and Riker agree to have Worf replace Data at ops. They arrive at Beta Agni II. The hitritium they have would appear to be just enough to stop the tricyanate contamination. But Worf reports that the hitritium is affecting the tricyanate faster than expected — further, there’s no geologic instability that would explain the tricyanate. Riker, Worf, and Crusher beam down and discover that the tricyanate is artificial. But tricyanate is not the most efficient method of poisoning a water supply; the only possible reason to do it is because hitritium is so hard to find. Which means it was darn fortunate that Fajo had some, and just enough to solve their problem.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

A look into Fajo’s record reveals that he’s a collector of rare and unique items, at which point the other shoe drops.

The Enterprise warps to where the Jovis was last reported. Meanwhile, Fajo threatens to use his Varon-T disruptor — one of four that Fajo has (there are only five in existence) — on Varia unless Data sits in the chair. Data accedes, but Varia is shaken by the experience and helps Data attempt escape.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

The attempt fails, as Fajo kills Varia with the disruptor — a vicious, violent, awful death — leading Data to aim a disruptor of his own at Fajo. The Enterprise arrives and O’Brien transports Data away before he has the chance to fire — but O’Brien tells Riker that the disruptor was firing during the beam-out. O’Brien neutralizes the weapon, and Data says that perhaps something happened during transport.

Fajo is captured, his collection confiscated, his future bleak. Data “taunts” him one last time by telling him that he feels no pleasure in his incarceration. “I am only an android.”

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Hitritium is extremely unstable, so much so that if containment is breached, it can blow up a shuttle. But it’s the only thing that will stop tricyanate — faster if the tricyanate is artificial.

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data takes every opportunity to spoil Fajo’s fun — but does so methodically and meticulously, even going so far as to state that he must attempt escape before calmly walking over to the door to try to force it. It’s especially amusing that his most successful endeavor is when he stands stock still and does absolutely nothing. He also occupies himself while alone by feeding the Lapling and trying to impersonate the Mona Lisa’s smile.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi expresses concern to Worf over how he feels replacing a dead crewmate for the second time (having already replaced Yar after she died in “Skin of Evil“).

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf deflects Troi’s concerns, pointing out a) that he has served at ops before (in various first-season episodes, most notably “The Naked Now“), b) that serving in place of a crewmate who died is commonplace on Klingon ships, and c) that he intends to honor Data the same way he honored Yar, by serving as well as he can in their former posts.

The Boy!?: Wes helps La Forge work through Data’s last minutes to see if they can figure out what happened. They fail.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

I Believe I Said That: “It’s so single-minded, isn’t it?”

“Very persistent.”

“But it’s very polite, which is a very nice touch.”

Fajo and Varia discussing Data as if he wasn’t right there in the room with him.

Welcome Aboard: Nehemiah Persoff makes a very entertaining cameo as Toff, and Jane Daly does well in a fairly standard role; the moment where she touches her chin when describing Fajo’s punishments as being as “lavish” as his rewards for loyalty is very compelling.

But the episode is owned by the great Saul Rubinek as Fajo. Best known these days as one of the great character actors of our time generally, and specifically as Artie on Warehouse 13, Rubinek was a last-minute substitute who had asked his old school chum Timothy Bond, the episode’s director, for a tour of the set. But he got a much more detailed tour than expected when David Rappaport could no longer play the role of Fajo due to a failed suicide attempt in the middle of filming. (Another attempt was successful a few months later, just before this episode aired.) Twenty years ago, so much energy was focused on the fact that Rappaport couldn’t do it that Rubinek was kind of lost in the shuffle. But looking back on it now, it’s a superb performance by one of our finest actors.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

Trivial matters: Kivas Fajo was named after a mineral mentioned in “The Trouble with Tribbles” and Lolita Fatjo, TNG‘s script coordinator.

Fajo’s collection includes the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, a large replica of Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, a 1962 Roger Maris baseball card (the first card made from Topps’s run that year, as it was the year after Maris broke Babe Ruth‘s single-season home-run record) with the smell of bubblegum preserved, among many other things.

Data’s current painting is the same one of the spatial anomaly from “Time Squared” that Tam Elbrun was admiring in “Tin Man.” Data’s facility with the violin was established in when he played it as Sherlock Holmes in “Elementary, Dear Data,” and the fiddle in his quarters is presumably the same one he played as part of a string quartet in “The Ensigns of Command” (and will play again in “Sarek,” the very next episode after this).

Both the Shakespeare volume and the hologram of Tasha Yar were also seen in Data’s quarters in “The Measure of a Man.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

Data’s shuttlepod is the Pike, named after Kirk’s predecessor as captain of the Enterprise, as established in “The Menagerie” and “The Cage” (and, sorta, the 2009 Star Trek).

Make it So: “Mr. Fajo has no moral difficulties at all.” This has always been one of my favorite episodes. The script is fine: Fajo’s abduction of Data is quite clever, Data’s resistance (both active and passive) is completely in character, and Fajo’s collection is entertaining.

However, several elements raise it above fine. First of all, there’s the wonderfully ambiguous ending. Both scriptwriter Goodhartz and Brent Spiner were firmly of the opinion that Data intended to kill Fajo, but Data’s line about something happening during transport casts doubt, since Data isn’t supposed to lie (a line that was apparently inserted at the insistence of the producers).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch:

The consequences back on the Enterprise are magnificently played, from Picard and Riker’s professionalism — grieving, but not losing sight of their duty — to La Forge and Wes’s more emotional outbursts to the awkwardness of Worf having to fill Data’s shoes. That last is put in sharp relief when Picard, out of habit, calls for Data to scan Beta Agni II, leading to a most awkward pause before the captain gently apologizes to Worf.

But the main thing that makes this episode stand out is seeing two of the finest actors around, Spiner and Rubinek, going at it. The banter flies beautifully between these two, and it’s just poetry in snark. Add Persoff for a scene, and it’s just gold. Great great stuff.

 

Warp factor rating: 8


Keith R.A. DeCandido is a writer. No, really!

29 Comments

Subscribe to this thread