In the twenty-second episode of the third season of The Next Generation, Data is kidnapped by Victor Dubenich. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For kidnapping and consent
I can’t deal with this show right now. I CAN’T.
There are two important aspects of this episode that I want to address, so I’m jumping right into it. This is a spectacular study of Data, his humanity, and his morality, but I think it’s vital that we talk about how the crew of the Enterprise react to the apparent “death” of Data. The writers brilliantly keep the crew in the dark so that we can see these reactions, and it makes this a rich, emotional experience outside of what Data is going through. This is mainly a setup so that I can shriek and cry about Geordi, okay? ALLOW ME THIS.
Because holy mother of god, none of this is okay. It doesn’t matter that I know that Data is alive. It still destroyed me to see Worf’s face when Deanna pointed out that this was the SECOND time he was taking a dead colleague’s job. It still ruined me to see Geordi find Data’s holograph of Tasha Yar. And it still annihilated me to see Geordi refuse to accept that his best friend was dead. HE REFUSED. Oh my god, I adore their relationship so much, y’all. It was heartbreaking, then, to have to watch Geordi begin to accept that maybe he was wrong. Maybe Data really did die senselessly.
BUT THANKFULLY, THIS ISN’T TRUE, I’M RELIEVED.
And then I’m immediately unnerved UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Look, I cannot imagine anyone but Saul Rubinek playing Kivas Fajo. The man’s ability to play such a slimy and vocal character is a gift from the heavens. This episode gives us a villain who is unmistakably amoral and proud of it. He has no qualms about bragging about the many laws he’s broken or the horrible things he’s done in order to get what he wants. He’s openly selfish, he’s greedy, and he views all things as objects of value.
That includes Data, who he has kidnapped just so he can have him on display in his collection. Granted, this is a storyline that seems a whole lot like that one equally disturbing (and entertaining) episode from Star Trek: The Original Series, but the experience of “The Most Toys” FUCKED ME UP. Part of that is Fajo’s ruthlessness, but I think that the exploration of Data’s morality adds to the plot.
How does that manifest? Well, initially, Data simply refuses everything that Fajo demands of him. And until that one sequence, I couldn’t figure out how Fajo would get leverage over Data. (SORRY, COULDN’T RESIST.) Data didn’t feel pain, so he couldn’t be tortured. I think Data used that to his advantage by plainly denying everything Fajo wanted, which was certainly glorious to watch. It was a pleasure to see Fajo become so frustrated that his “acquisition” would not perform as demanded. That scene with Fajo’s visitor was so glorious because we knew that Data could keep embarrassing Fajo every time something like this happened. What was the worst that could happen to Data? How do you torment someone with no emotions?
You don’t. You torment someone else.
Jesus, that scene where Fajo threatens Varria? It’s horrifying because we now know just how insensitive and savage Fajo is. But I’d suggest that the most important part of that scene is Data. The writers understand his character and that he’s programmed to respect life. Therefore, he truly wouldn’t waste any time ensuring that Varria stayed alive. There’s no reluctance on his part at all here. The scene is not dragged out so that we wonder whether Data will save Varria or not. He saves her life within seconds of the threat to it.
Gods all bless Data.
I wondered then, if Varria truly wanted to save Data, and in hindsight, I really shouldn’t have questioned it. I get that Fajo would try anything to get to Data, but she most likely appreciated that Data so quickly did as he was told to spare her life. She did the best that she could to set him free. I guess I’m not surprised, then, that Fajo disposed of her, given that he viewed all of these people as disposable means to an end. Hell, I think that also meant Data, at least for a moment. But even if Fajo considered it, I believe that Data’s assertion was correct: Data was always way too valuable to get rid of. Everyone else, though? All replaceable.
Which is why I am convinced that Data intentionally fired that gun. I will write a THESIS on this shit, y’all. I believe that Data’s logic told him that this person was a threat to the lives of others, and if Data did not stop him, he would kill again and again and again. I do not think that this was something he considered lightly, either, and that’s what will always haunt me about this episode. In that moment, Data was finally going to kill someone in order to save others. Is that his own morality separate from his programming? I don’t know if that matters, honestly, because either way, Data chose to protect life, even if it meant extinguishing one of them. His final line to Fajo in this episode is meant as a taunt, then, a way for him to remind Fajo of that very same lack of emotion that he tried to exploit. In the end, Fajo is ruined forever. He lost. He lost to an “unfeeling” android, at that.
Good lord, THIS SHOW.
The video for “The Most Toys” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder ofÂ The Legend of Korra, series 8 ofÂ Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!