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Old March 6 2013, 02:07 AM   #31
yousirname
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Re: Data and killing

ITT people make unwarranted assumptions about disruptor technology.

Viewing the episode as a piece of drama, what it wants to do is force Data - the implacable, flawlessly logical, unbiased and emotion-free sentient machine - to a position where he must kill an unarmed man. Where he is ethically compelled to do so.

There are arguable flaws in the episode's depiction of that crux. For example, if nothing else, Data could destroy himself (we know from Nemesis that he's prepared to die to save others - it's possible to argue that his actions there were emotionally driven but I'm not inclined to accept that). Currently Fajo is threatening the lives of others in order to gain control over Data. If Data were dead, Fajo would then no longer be in a position to threaten the lives of others because of Data. But it would still leave Fajo in a position to threaten others. We know he has wilfully endangered the lives of others to get what he wants, has tortured to get what he wants, has killed to get what he wants.

We might ask if Data should attempt to convert Fajo's employees. Given that Varria explicitly says that "[Fajo's] rewards for loyalty are lavish", we can reasonably say that it is possible that such an attempt would not succeed. Since, as we said at the beginning, the episode wants to force Data to fire, these objections can be neutralised quite simply: We imagine that Data attempts to convert the crew. But he fails. They are simply too greedy, too terrified, too whatever. And we imagine that Data tries to whack-a-mole Fajo into a confined space by throwing things at him. But Fajo simply closes his eyes. He can no longer see what's being thrown at him and will not jump where Data wants him to. We imagine that Data throws things at Fajo with the intent of injuring him - and we imagine that Fajo dodges the first shot and runs straight out of the cargo bay to the nearest panic room (one of many on the ship), far from Data's reach.

As I said earlier, for the sake of discussion, I'm happy to interrogate the specifics of situations like this. But I think there's a golden rule that when judging the episode, you have to meet it half way. I don't think there's a show in the series that doesn't require that kind of 'good faith viewing' - Why isn't the anomaly there when the Pasteur first arrives in All Good Things? How much does Odo weigh? How can Data get drunk? "I'm fine, Sir"?!?! Are you conscious during transport or aren't you? Why aren't Starfleet soldiers in the Gamma Quadrant surgically altered to look like Founders? Is Mirror Bashir also genetically enhanced, and if so, how, and if not, why isn't he mentally deficient?

All of these are potentially fun discussions, and they're just a tiny sample. And if some of them simply don't have proper answers, well what then? Is the episode ruined forever?

If the only objection to 'The Most Toys' is that it doesn't depict Data exhausting all his options, then that's no objection at all. What it wants to do is show the consequences of all Data's options being exhausted. As long as it shows something that looks like Data exhausting all of his options, it achieves that.

We hear clocks chiming in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. But clocks didn't exist in ancient Rome. Does this destroy the play? If you think so, I think you're doing it wrong, even though there's nothing wrong with pointing it out.
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