6/10/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Most Toys"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E22
Air Date: May 7, 1990
Written by: Shari Goodhartz
Directed by: Timothy Bond

Premise
Artie from Warehouse 13 bags and tags Data after faking the android's death.

Review
So Data is taking shuttle trips back and forth to and from Kivas Fajo's ship to pick up hytritium, a rare, volatile element needed to treat a tricyanate-poisoned water supply on Beta Agni II. All seems to be going as planned right up until Data's shuttle EXPLODES.The crew assumes Data to be dead and contacts Fajo about it, but all he can do is send his condolences. So the Enterprise warps off to Beta Agni II and Worf takes another dead officer's place. Except he's not dead. Later, Data wakes up inside Fajo's ship and he is informed that he is to be a part of Fajo's collection of rare, one-of-a-kind artifacts. Welcome to Warehouse 42.

Obviously, Data refuses to be a part of Fajo's collection, but it doesn't seem that he has much of a choice. He is unable to open the door, and Fajo is very insistent. Not to mention he has a personal force field around him. At least Data can stop every now and then to smell the bubble gum from Roger Maris's rookie baseball card or feed the small Lapling animal. But while he's there, Fajo insists that Data is no longer a part of Starfleet. He is to sit in a display chair as part of the collection. But Data says keeping him in captivity is a hostile act. As if Fajo cares.
A Soong on the duranium throne.
Back on the ship, Geordi refuses to believe that Data is gone. He keeps going over the accident in his head and doesn't believe that Data could have fallen for pilot error. While the rest of the crew mourns, Geordi listens to recordings and finds that Data didn't follow exact protocol on the last trip. Something was wrong with him. On Fajo's ship, Fajo's assistant comes along and gives Data some clothes to change into. Data solicits her for help, assuming that she's trapped her like him, but she says that Fajo is cruel and would never let them leave without a fight.

Initially, Data refuses to put on the new clothes, but then Fajo comes along and throws some acid on his uniform. Data's choice now is to either go around naked or wear the new clothes. The purpose of the new clothes is for Fajo to show of his new piece to a friend of his. So Data changes, but when the friend comes around, Data acts like a mannequin, not entertaining him in the least bit. After the friend leaves, Fajo comes back and threatens Data with a powerful, deadly, and torturous disruptor. Data says Fajo wouldn't use it on him because he finds Data too valuable. Fajo admits that Data is right.
The assistant will have to do.
The altruistic Data, sits on the chair in compliance in order to save the assistant's life. But Fajo doesn't know the fullness of what he's done. By risking the assistant's life, he awakened a rebellion in her and she helps Data escape. Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, they get to Beta Agni II and find that their hytritium works a heck of a lot better than it's supposed to. They find that that's because it's not natural hytritium, but was, rather, created in a lab. They begin to suspect that Fajo poisoned the water specifically to sell the hytritium to them, but why? They look up Fajo's past and find that he is a collector of rare, one-of-a-kind artifacts. That's enough for them to head back to the site of the shuttle's explosion at warp 9.

On Fajo's ship, Data and the assistant have made it to the shuttle bay with the disruptor. While the assistant opens the shuttle bay doors, the alarm goes off. She and Data are able to fight off a couple of goons, but then Fajo himself arrives, he gains control of the disruptor and kills the assistant in cold blood while Data watches. Shaken, Fajo drops the disruptor and walks slowly away. Data picks up the disruptor and now it's a showdown. Fajo defies Data to kill him because he's been programmed to respect life in all its forms. But Data cannot allow his crime and his killing to continue. He points the disruptor and... IS BEAMED BACK TO THE ENTERPRISE.
Goodbye, friend, I am gone.
O'Brien notices that the disruptor is in a state of discharge in the middle of transport, so he deactivates it before materializing Data. Riker welcomes Data back to the Enterprise, tells him they plan to pick up Fajo to arrest him and then asks him about the disruptor. "Perhaps something happened during transport," Data says, leaving whether or not he intended to shoot Fajo a mystery. Later, a properly uniformed Data visits Fajo in the brig to tell him that all his stolen artifacts are being given back to their proper owners. Fajo says it must give him a lot of pleasure, but Data responds "No, sir, it does not... I do not feel pleasure. I am only an android."

Overall Thoughts
This episode is a reminder that not everyone sees Data as a humanoid with rights of his own. In fact, the galaxy is full of bigots like Fajo that have long since been eliminated from the surface of Earth. It's interesting to see Data wrestle with moral puzzles without having the emotions with which to process them. He's using only his programming and logic to come to the conclusion that kidnapping is wrong and Fajo deserves death as a matter of justice. Shari Goodhartz and Brent Spiner both believed that Data really did intend to kill Fajo and Goodhartz would later admit that, had she been more confident, she would have fought for that to be more clear in the episode, but the powers-that-be wanted to keep it ambiguous. I agree with her and Brent that intending to kill Fajo makes the story a lot more provocative, but it's a great story as it is, anyway. Thumbs up!