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July 17 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

The Most Toys

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at September 19, 2008 - 7:53 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Most Toys' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Data's shuttle explodes while transporting a volatile element to treat an environmental disaster in a Federation colony. An initial investigation suggests that unstable hytritium destroyed the shuttlecraft - a risk of which Data had been aware before the mission. As the Enterprise hurries away to neutralize the contamination in the colony, Data finds himself imprisoned by Fajo, the trader who provided the hytritium. Fajo collects unique objects and planned all along to add a one-of-a-kind android to his treasure room. Data discovers that Fajo's assistant Varria despises him, but the entire crew is terrified of the trader. At first Data will not sit in a chair on display, but when Fajo threatens to kill Varria with an illegal disruptor, Data obeys. Meanwhile, LaForge can't figure out why Data overlooked a regulation by not transmitting a confirmation when he left Fajo's ship. At the Federation colony, Crusher finds that the colony's water has been corrupted and suspects that Fajo might have contaminated it in order to sell the hytritium to neutralize it. Then Picard learns that Fajo is a collector of rare items and suspects that the entire disaster was manufactured to allow Fajo to abduct Data. The Enterprise rushes back to the trader's ship, but not before Fajo learns that Varria is working with Data to escape. Fajo murders Varria, then loses his weapon to Data. Fajo taunts that the android can't overcome his programming and kill his captor, which will leave Data and the crew once more Fajo's slaves. At the moment the Enterprise beams Data away, the disruptor has been activated. Picard has Fajo arrested and the collector finds himself looking at his prized possession from the inside of a prison.

Analysis: Hot on the heels of an episode warning fans not to become too obsessed with fantasy entertainment, we get an episode warning fans not to become too obsessed with collectibles. Sure, there's other stuff going on in "The Most Toys," but given that the episode takes its title from the popular bumper sticker slogan "Whoever dies with the most toys wins," I'm inclined to think the pitch had more to do with the fanatical collector than with Data's moral dilemma (which he solves by trying to kill the crazy fanboy, then lying to Riker about it!). It's an interesting episode while LaForge and the others pore over their grief and frustration at Data's death, but when Fajo starts showing off his Roger Maris baseball card and waving around a collectible weapon, it feels pretty icky to be watching. Just like the previous week, when I wanted to tell the producers, fine, we'll stop watching your show so you and your writers can go get real jobs, this week I want to tell the producers, fine, we'll stop buying your action figures, comics, mugs, jewelry, replica weapons and all the rest so you and your licensees can go get real jobs. Honestly, what is the point of a franchise that made its fortune on fan passion after its original was cancelled picking on its fans so much?

Unsurprisingly, my favorite scenes don't involve Fajo or Data, and could have been set during any episode in which Data is presumed dead. There's an echo of "The Tholian Web" - one of my very favorite scenes in the original series, when McCoy and Spock look through Kirk's belongings and find his last orders - as LaForge and Wesley Crusher go through Data's things, finding his medals and his commemorative hologram of Tasha Yar. (I guess fetishizing objects is acceptable if they represent heroic deeds and dead lovers rather than pop culture.) Troi conjures Yar's spirit as well in a lovely scene with Worf, asking how he feels about the fact that this is the second time he's advanced in the common Klingon manner of taking over for a dead crewmember. Worf claims to be honored, but he looks as unsettled as the rest of the bridge crew when Picard unthinkingly asks Data rather than Worf for a scan. There's a real sense of mourning that's much more substantial than Fajo's caricatured obsession with his prizes - his isn't a mature, frightening avarice like Indiana Jones' competitors for the Ark of the Covenant or the thieves who inhabit the Die Hard franchise, but that of an obnoxious little boy like Trelane who doesn't even seem to realize his own power until he kills someone just to see what it will be like.

LaForge's certainty that they must be overlooking something - even though he doesn't quite trust his feelings because he knows he's grieving and looking for reasons not to give up - is quite touching. He frets over the sudden calamity with Wesley, who's also troubled, and finally wakes from a nightmare with his first real indication that something may be amiss: Data, who never overlooks a single Starfleet rule, never transmitted what should have been his last words to tell the Enterprise that he had left Fajo's ship. Then LaForge's suspicions put everyone else on alert. Worf announces his own doubts about the manner of the Federation colony's contamination. Dr. Crusher quickly follows, guessing it was sabotage made to look like a natural disaster, which sets off Riker's alarms about the speed with which they were able to secure just enough hytritium to halt the contamination. Picard checks up on Fajo and is on his feet the moment he learns that the trader collects unique objects. On most shows, this would all feel a bit too quick, but with this crew it seems like business as usual. They don't give up on their own.

I don't want to think too much about the fact that Fajo looks and talks just a bit like a Jewish merchant stereotype even with alien makeup. I alternated between wanting to see Data grab him, twist his arm and start making demands - frankly, I'm puzzled why Data didn't give Fajo a demonstration of his brute strength without using a deadly weapon - and wanting to see Data outsmart him using logic alone, which is what Spock would have done until the moment presented itself for a nerve pinch. It's touching to see Data ask straightforward, almost childlike questions about his captivity and expect straightforward expressions of dismay to win his freedom, but it goes on too long - it's nearly as infuriating for a viewer as it is for Fajo to see so many scenes where nothing happens. Data's salvation comes in the form of a woman nearly as passive as he is, in Fajo's clutches since adolescence, who wants to set Data free so that he can become her rescuer in turn. He is unable to protect her from Fajo, and Fajo's willingness to treat her as just another object seems to be what makes Data pull the trigger of the painful deadly weapon. But then why not simply admit to Riker that he fired the weapon in self-defense, believing that otherwise he and the rest of Fajo's people would remain trapped?

"The Most Toys" isn't a terrible episode - certainly not using The Next Generation's first season as a standard - but it's not very good either, ultimately bogged down by technobabble, plodding drama, and lack of a clear theme or moral. Sure, it's fine to have a storyline without a patented Captain Kirk speech about The Right Thing To Do, but I don't know what to make of Data shooting and denying it and I'm not happy that Fajo's biggest flaw is is portrayed as his obsession with material possessions rather than his treatment of people. What "The Most Toys" really needs is a witty ending like "The Squire of Gothos," when Trelane's parents insist, "If you cannot take proper care of your pets, you cannot have them."

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.

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