Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Nov 25, 2013.
Ah, yes. A great episode. Fajo is truly one of the slimiest, most disgusting, despicable villains in not only all of TNG, but in all of Star Trek, IMO. Maybe I'm incorrect on that one - I might be forgetting some even nastier characters here and there - but it isn't really about that. We've met villains who are more typically 'evil', more dangerous, more threatening, more scary, sure, but I don't think we've met many who are this much of a slimy, weaselly, sneering coward, thief and bully as Fajo. When an episode makes you hate a villain character so much that you actually want one of the main characters to kill him in cold blood, you know you've got an interesting creation.
Fajo was disgustingly arrogant, unbelievably selfish and a truly revolting, pathetic excuse for a life-form - to see him crushed and defeated at the end was very satisfying. But would it have been more satisfying if Data had actually killed him? And more interesting? This is something which I don't think ever happened that much in Star Trek - and no, I don't count Riker killing Yuta in The Vengeance Factor, that was a completely different matter as he was preventing her directly from killing someone else. Here, Data might - by the looks of it, did - actually point a gun at an unarmed, although horrifically evil villain, and decide to execute him - because, as he said: "I cannot allow this to continue". He saw no other course of action available.
But if you look closely at Data's behaviour when dealing with particularly nasty villains, he does display a level of what could almost be termed 'veiled emotion'. He isn't actually emotional, but he certainly does make moral judgments based on his ethic subroutines. Two prominent examples would be 1. in Skin of Evil, where the tar man asks Data what he thinks of him, and Data's response is, AFAIK:
"I think/believe you should be destroyed."
And 2. In this very episode, where at the very end when Data is visiting Fajo in the brig, and after Fajo laments his own capture, Data says something along the lines of: "So it seems" in a manner so cold, so cynical, that I really believed that on one level or another, Data actually detested and despised Fajo because Fajo was such an evil, perverted, sadistic, and generally dreadful person. For all of his "unemotional" qualities, Data hints at having something akin to emotion in these moments, plus countless others. That's probably why his character has always been so interesting.
Worf's reaction to Data's apparent death was intriguing too - he was the first one to actually react verbally, if you remember; he said "Data" quietly, in an subdued manner, right after the shuttlecraft exploded. And when Deanna came to talk about his new place at the con with him, he gave her a very "shut off Klingon reaction", in that he wasn't expressing much emotion but was perhaps quite troubled and affected - dare I say upset - by the apparent demise of Data.
It's interesting mostly because we don't get much interaction between Worf and Data throughout the series. They must obviously be friends, but their relationship is maybe the least developed amongst all the major characters. There was a later two-part episode in Season 6 called "Gambit" which dealt somewhat with their relationship as officers and friends, and Worf's inability to respect Data as a commanding officer at first, but in general they don't get much development.
Yes...The Most Toys is a winner. Again, it's rare for a series like TNG to create a villain, especially in just one single episode, who is so repulsive you actually want him to die at the hands of your hero/heroes. That might just be my reaction, of course...but I'm sure the producers intended Fajo to be a character the audience hated. That's why we don't feel bad even if Data did lie - it's just another clever, unusual detail of the episode.
Honestly, most humans would have killed Fojo just for enslaving them (If escape was not possible in any other way). For Data it took the guaranteed future murder of other living beings, with no other known alternative way to prevent it.
It is odd that he denied it to Riker after. He certainly must have wrote that he pulled the trigger in his report.
Data's comment on arriving back on the Enterprise *is* odd. Data saying that, given that he cannot lie to his superior officers per his programing, give some weight to the idea that "something" *did* happen during transport that made it seem that the weapon went off. Maybe that rare weapon is unstable in transporter beams?
Take "Clues" for example where Data goes to complete and total ends to not tell the crew what really happened during the previous day (that they worked to hide the discovery of the xenophobic aliens and to alter memories of the crew.) Picard gave Data an order to not reveal what had happened and Data didn't at the very risk of his career, his friendships and perhaps his "life" (given that Picard suggests Data will be "stripped down to his wires" to find out what happened. Given Data's "rights" I doubt this means that he'd literally be taken apart. But was akin to telling someone that a boss will rip them a new asshole if they don't talk. So while Data may not have been "killed" to find out what happened he may have undergone some sort of heavy interrogation or at least been incarcerated.)
Data only reveals what happened when he was backed in a corner and had no other choice when the xenophobic aliens were threatening again.
So, really, I don't see that Data has cause to "lie" to Riker when he arrived on the transporter pad. Had he fired at Fajo he in all likelihood would've been in the right to do so legally in the eyes of the standards and morals of the Federation and of a Starfleet officer.
"My captor had left me with no other choice, Commander. He was putting the lives of myself and the other inhabitants of the ship at risk. I felt I had no other choice to fire at him with the disruptor in the hopes of saving us all."
So I don't really think Data lied as that doesn't seem to fit with what we know about him (aside from the odd circumstance where he's malfunctioning, damaged or acting on some other outside influence.) Even if he thought he was "dead" in the Federation and rationalized he was no longer under the control of Federation ideals and standards for self-defense/defense of others. Once back on the ship he'd calculate in nanoseconds that his commission was still intact and that he had to tell the truth to a commanding officer.
And FURTHERMORE, why fire the weapon?! Data is faster and stronger than Fajo and is currently holding the only weapon in the room! Why not pocket the weapon or drop it and just bum-rush Fajo? Data would be no match for the pudgy alien and Data was currently in a position of power no longer trapped in a room he cannot escape from. Once he has Fajo under his control make him do whatever you want! Use pain or whatever means to get him to the bridge and contact the Enterprise, or get into the shuttle or whatever. Firing the weapon should have been a last resort and Data should have seen other options in nanoseconds that would've been just as, if not more, effective than killing Fajo.
.... I like this episode okay but it makes no sense.
Data can obviously lie, even to his superiors. They ended up doing a whole episode about it called Clues. It was never unclear at all to me that Data pulled the trigger. He made the choice to end Fajo's life to save others. As for how he reported, he was not on a mission. He was a captive. They've all lied. Worf doesn't get this much scrutiny for not reporting the truth of the Romulan Khitomer prison camp in Birthright II.
Data lying is no worse than any of them, especially when you consider Data has to take into account that he is not like any of them. He has consistently been subject to defending himself from situations which others in Starfleet would never have to. He is an android. It's possible he thought that if it was known that he'd followed through on trying to kill his captor, that people wouldn't understand & would react unfavorably, regarding the fact that he is an unemotional machine
Plenty of times Data has been treated badly by people who think that he is lesser for not having emotions. How might he think they'd treat him if they knew he had decided to kill Fajo? In truth, his comrades would most likely understand his actions, but maybe he didn't have enough confidence in that to let it be known
Frankly, Data, above all others, I give some latitude on this one. Maybe it's best that the official record not reflect his willingness to end someone's life. Let's face it, Data's liberty & trustworthiness relating to emotionlessness hangs on a thread at least once a season. This could just be a potential difficulty for him, when in truth, I believe his decision was the right one
Worf lying about the Romulan prison camp isn't problematic because it's consistent with the rest of his character. He's been shown on more than one occasion to be willing to place his obligations to Klingon society above his obligations to Starfleet. Not so with Data. He's never been shown placing his own self-interest ahead of others. The only times I can think of that Data lies is when telling the truth would place others in danger.
And even if he was was willing to do that, I don't think the situation warrants it. It seems to me that an episode like "Brothers" presents Starfleet with a much better excuse to have Data dismantled than anything that happens here.
^Maybe so, but that doesn't alter the notion that Data is always in a risky situation where other's perceptions of him are concerned. This episode represents a certain amount of growth for his character. So consistency of character is what is specifically being altered. Even he didn't realize he could be pushed to that limit. It stands to reason that he might have reservations about reporting it. Brothers is a design issue. The Most Toys is a matter of him learning about who he is
Read my post, I mentioned "Clues." In that episode Data protected the secret until the ultimate, extreme, bitter end when he was painted completely into a corner and had nowhere else to go but to tell the truth or to die with the rest of the crew. Clearly a "better option" situation.
This is different than the situation in this episode where telling the truth was a valid option since he did, possibly, have cause to shoot as he was defending himself and others.
And it just dawned on me that I forgot that Fajo had the personal force-field protecting him from physical attack. So Data couldn't strong-arm him. I'm guessing that personal force-fields aren't powerful enough to defend from energy blasts. (Which sort of goes along with what we see with The Borg and their personal force fields.) So if Fajo's personal force field would've prevented Data from physically over-powering him to gain control of the ship I guess using the weapon was the only valid option.
Also, is anyone else bothered by the Mona Lisa being among the collection? Doesn't this seem like something that'd have been very hard for Fajo to get a hold of considering it's home on Earth, the heart of the Federation? I'd assume that the painting is heavily protected from theft with force-fields, transporter inhibitors and all kinds of things and wouldn't be something someone can just "steal." I always just assumed Fajo had some rare print or duplicate or something.
No. Earth went through some dark times where protecting things like paintings may not have been of much importance. An alien collector could've picked it up during a visit during those times.
Or it somehow made its way to someone's personal collection then they sold it to an off-world art collector.
Earth went through those "dark times" before First Contact at which point they had some support from the Vulcans and were finding their own footing. So unless some alien came across Earth before FC, saw this painting, knew its importance, cultural significance and saw as it a masterful work of art in the whole of the galaxy sitting in a museum on an unknown planet in the ass-end of the galaxy it makes no sense for it to be Fajo's collection.
Earth wouldn't have been a blip on the galactic community's map until First Contact and even then just barely as it was still over a century before exploring and and entering the interstellar community and another near-century after THAT before co-founding the Federation and becoming a galactic seat.
So it's a bit of a stretch that the actual, original, Mona Lisa means anything to anyone off Earth and would even have been known about without having some contact with Earth or someone who had contact with Earth and THAT person would have had to raved about this great painter who lived 800 years ago and this painting of an average-looking smirking Earth female.
(Along those lines we could argue that the baseball card wouldn't be meaningful to anyone off-world.)
It seems to be a very, very big stretch that the painting would be noteworthy to anyone off-planet and even if it did it seems even more unlikely they could get to the planet, steal it, and then get off-planet.
So they have talented art thieves in the future...and some objects from individual cultures have found value in the greater intergalactic community. I can buy both.
Reminds me of Dr. No having a painting of Napoleon in his possession that had recently been stolen in the real world.
I also think they could have just had Data vaporize him. I mean, Riker killed the assassin in that one episode and moved on, why can't Data?
I kind of just find the ending of this episode disturbing. A horrendous death to the person helping Data. In this case I do agree a female character has been sacrificed to further Data's story. I didn't really need that for a valid reason to shoot the kidnapper.
Has it ever been specifically stated that Data is incapable of lying? or his programming prohibits lying to his superiors? His programming was created without superior officers in mind. I've always been under the impression he could lie just as easily as anyone else, and in this circumstance, he made a personal decision to withhold, based on the fact that this was a clearly personal situation, & Data had to grow as a person
It's not that Data is incapable of lying, it's that doing so in this instance seems out of character.
I've just realised that the "Episode of the Week" schedule means we'll be treated to BOBW over Christmas and New Year.
I liked Fajo's guest with the gold gift wrapping ribbon wrapped around his head and went into his nose. He was clearly flirting with Fajo's woman who Fajo "met when she was barely an adult" (creepy). Was the guest intending to hook up with her or her and Fajo? "You are more interesting than Fajo's mannequin".
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