Why did Data lie in "The Most Toys"?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Spicy Thunder, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Spicy Thunder

    Spicy Thunder Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I've been thinking about this lately. When Data gets out of the transporter, he lies to Riker about firing the phaser. The thing is, there really would have been no other way to escape Fajo other than killing him. Data could have just been honest and explained his situation because he didn't have any other choices. Thoughts?
     
  2. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    He didn't wanna deal with the paperwork that would follow. :crazy:
     
  3. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He never actually lies. He avoids an implied question by offering a possible scenario for why the weapon may have been in a state of discharge.
     
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  4. Spicy Thunder

    Spicy Thunder Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    True, but why do you think he dodges a direct answer?
     
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  5. nutshell

    nutshell Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It was the human thing to do.
     
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  6. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Because he wasn't asked a direct question. :)
     
  7. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because he has more reason than any person in Starfleet to expect that any question about his motives will be handled poorly, & not in his best interest. I believe he was in the right to fire on Fajo, but as the scene lays out, it did go against some protocol he had, a protocol likely known very well to Starfleet. If it became known he had outgrown it in some way, it could very well bring his status into question yet again

    Even though his choice was no different than one any other officer might have to make, Data doesn't need people scrutinizing his motives, because he has been historically held to a different standard than others in Starfleet, & they too often go hard about on his liberty. Why risk that, when you could just say "Meh, who knows?". Besides, his actions weren't in the line of duty, & didn't result in anything. It was a personal matter, & none of Starfleet's business imho. Probably why Riker never pushed harder for an explanation, if you ask me
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  8. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I also didn't like that at all. He should have admitted he came to the conclusion that this was the only option to stop Fajo. He didn't know he was gonna be rescued, and Fajo arrested, just after this. His Starfleet training probably agrees with that too, since the disruptor was the only weapon available, and Fajo was clearly dangerous, had killed someone just for the thrill of it, and kept threatening others. If the disruptor had had a stun setting, I'm sure he'd have used it.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How so? Data is Superman. He can easily subjugate an entire starship, as sometimes seen: the only thing holding him back from doing so to Fajo's ship was modesty and a bit of blackmail, and Fajo had just blown that by killing his trump card.

    Data is standing in an airlock. He could easily suffocate Fajo (and his entire crew!) without killing him; he could use the lock part of the facility to fortify himself against threats; he could do exactly as he was planning to do and leave the vessel in one of the auxiliaries, after crippling the mothership. And he could keep on pointing that weapon to Fajo, meaning none of his crew would dare act lest they stop getting paid.

    Data doesn't need to kill Fajo. If he wants to, he can even become Fajo, and turn Fajo into his boy toy, turning the tables. The world is Data's oyster, here just as elsewhere and elsewhen.

    The willingness to kill Fajo does not emerge from desperation for being stranded. It emerges only from the threat of soon being rescued by the other heroes, at which point Data would no longer be able to kill Fajo.

    To be sure, Data often lies, fluently and extensively. Whether he does so here is arguable; whether he lies in, say, "Time's Arrow", not. We shouldn't argue on the basis of Data's "inability" or "unwillingness" to lie, is all.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My statement was only in regards to the scene in question.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Quite so; I just felt obligated to point out that this should indeed be something we may or may not observe here, and not an a priori assumption that guides our observations. in terms of character, Data would be equally at liberty to say "perhaps something occurred" or "no doubt it was Fajo firing at me, Sir" or "the gun had a failsafe against transport and was about to blow up; thank you for saving my hand, Chief"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  12. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Anybody with an off switch is most assuredly not an unstoppable superman, & even Superman has Kryptonite. Data may have some superhuman abilities, as do many life forms in Star Trek, but he is proven to not be unstoppable on many occasions. There are many things shown which Data cannot outmatch

    As such, Data was still imprisoned on a ship he had no authorization to access, by an individual who had unknown numbers of security measures protecting himself, and imprisoning essentially his entire crew, who then deliberately set his sights to the specific task of capturing & holding indefinitely a Soong Android. He knew particular enough details about Data that he'd have especially set up his prison ship to specifically hold him. The only known advantage Data had, was a weapon in his hand, designed solely for "Vicious" lethal force. You use that advantage, if it's all you have, which is what the episode is saying was the case
    Should he have though? In season 2 Starfleet tries to strip him of his rights. In season 3, they try to strip some of them again. After the unintended issue in season 4's Brothers, he likely had to have been scrutinized pretty significantly, and a whole bunch of new measures had to be taken, so he could no longer so easily hijack the Enterprise, & that very same season, he has a very close call with losing Starfleet's trust in Clues. Data walks a fine line with Starfleet trusting him... A fair explanation for why he never advanced beyond Lt.Cmdr.

    So he has this publicly known protocol, whatever it is, that in some measure prohibits his ability to use lethal force, but in this conundrum, he has to use it, as a last resort, to safeguard other lives. However, if Starfleet learns he's now able to circumvent this heretofore accepted protocol, after so much other stuff they've misjudged, he could easily wind up defending himself yet again, if/when they determine that he can't be trusted, in the light of finding out this new development

    If Data were anyone else, I'd agree with you that there is no reason to withhold the details of that incident, but Data isn't anyone else. No one is like him at all, except Lore, who is another huge hurdle in why Starfleet jumps to fearing Data. There's people in this thread charging Data with attempted murder. Why should we think Starfleet would be more trusting, given their track record with him?

    No, Sir. Data should be keeping his mouth shut about anything that might get looked at the wrong way imho, especially where his parameters for lethal force are concerned, & by this time in the show, after all that's happened that was risky for him, Data should, & apparently does know that, enough to zip his lip
     
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  13. Spicy Thunder

    Spicy Thunder Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Wow! You really thought this through! You make a really good point, and I hadn't thought of it that way before.
     
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  14. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've argued this subject for 25 years :guffaw:
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The point being, this is not one of those. Fajo thought he had Data contained. He was wrong. It's pretty unlikely the villain would have a Plan B in place to cover this catastrophic failure of his.

    Fajo himself is a weak point in his schemes, and when we enter the controversial bit, he is utterly at the mercy of Data - whose ability to wallop mere humanoids to submission is one of those "proven on many occasions" things. Were Fajo to actually possess a means to protect himself, it's rather likely he would make use of it, rather than just prattle away phrases that reveal his ignorance and tactical weakness.

    On top of which he was an utter idiot who thought Data obeyed the Three Laws. Data is specifically an expert in circumventing security measures aboard enemy ships and facilities; Fajo's skinlocks, passwords and forcefields are merely a series of obstacles Data might need to clear one by one. But he doesn't need to, now that Fajo has placed himself at Data's mercy.

    This is the setup, yes. Like every setup where Superman is supposed to be out of options, it faces a steep uphill battle. The audience is familiar with Superdata coping with like obstacles already, and the villain furthermore has just been shown throwing away his trump cards. It just takes some doing to make the audience accept the premise here, is what I'm saying.

    And again, it appears that Data's disinterest in using force to defend himself is the root cause. As soon as Data feels he has been wronged too much, he forces his adversaries to their knees, and nobody dares complain. He's always back in uniform after an episode spent fighting for the enemy, those who derided his ability to command bow to him in the end, and even those detractors of his wearing flag markings on their collars apologize for their obstructionism afterwards.

    Fajo feels he has Data subjugated because Data doesn't resist. But Data has little reason to resist. Fajo isn't in the process of doing immediate harm, and Data will have plenty of opportunities to bring him to justice later on. Every moment spent shipboard helps Data along in his inquiries and the building of a case against Fajo.

    But Fajo's out-of-the-blue utterance here is our sole reason to think such a protocol should exist. Data freely takes lives in Starfleet service otherwise, whenever the need arises. But just like Picard flies a ship that can afford to take a pounding while her captain quotes ancient wisdom to his attackers or debates finer psychological points with his officers, Data walks in a body that can take sticks and stones, and seldom needs to kill up close and personally.

    Starfleet apparently doesn't much care whether Data is a sentient being. The organization would not be so understanding if one of its soldiers was a known (un?)conscientious objector!

    But Starfleet adores murderers. It wants its employees to kill, and extends serious professional latitude for them to choose the whys, hows and whens. Data is in certain practical aspects more efficient in disposing of Starfleet's enemies than, say, Riker or Pulaski, who also kill left and right; all the more support for him, then.

    I certainly agree Data might feel the need to say little. I just don't think it works to his advantage in practice. But that is just another aspect of his Superman invulnerability: he doesn't need a career, either. If he does want one, he can outlive his bosses and/or become them, at his leisure.

    That's what Superman is all about, too: he could be Eternal King of All Earth easily enough, but unlike mere humans, he is not interested in being that, and doesn't need to in order to be a success story. Which is what makes him a hero rather than a villain.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Herbert

    Herbert Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Once Fajo dropped the disruptor, Data could have easily incapacitated him. While I have no problem with Data disintegrating the little weasel, he didn't need to fire. He had other options. It's an odd scene.

    If the events in that episode had been a springboard into Data truly exceeding his programming and beginning to develop emotions for example, then maybe it would make more sense but of course, we never hear about that incident again in the entire show.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It might have been improved, were Fajo able to more concretely demonstrate his untouchability in that very scene. Say, the forcefield that fries positronic brains would limit Data's options while being unable to stop death rays - but it is not referenced in the scene, nor would it suffice when we can so easily point out other ways of harming Fajo, such as (the most obviously) firing the death ray at targets other than Fajo.

    When Fajo instead bets his survival on demonstrably false assumptions about Data's psyche, the villain does not convince the audience of his untouchability, but of the opposite. Which jarringly brings the audience back to the default concept of Data as the invincible one, the one who can but will not kill. The one chance to make him the one who must kill is lost there and then.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  19. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The guy has a forcefield that Data is shown to be unable to penetrate. It's his ship. He has sole authorization access, & the only person who had managed to sneakily find out some passwords to it is now dead, before the plan got completed. She was literally the only reason Data was even able to get out of his chair. Data is still trapped on a ship he has no authorization to get off of.

    His super strength is nullified by forcefields. His super intelligence is negated by the fact that he'd need time to attempt to hack anything on board, and the person holding all the advantages has lives aboard he is willing to end, right at that moment, in the event that Data attempts to do so. The episode has stated & demonstrated that he has only one advantage, a ray gun, that's sole design is to viciously murder. Aiming at other things risks failing to neutralize the target... again because he has forcefields protecting him. Failing to neutralize the target means you risk him harming people

    Nobody argues Data's fallibility at all on issues like the D crew getting the drop on him in The Game, but let the issue of lethal force come up & suddenly everybody is a Monday morning quarterback, that are willing to fill pages of whatever nonsense they think Data should've done. Data is not infallible. He fails at things all. the. time. This guy got the literal jump on him. It's not out of the realm of possibility, & for what the episode is displaying, it was a just action imho
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Certainly the setup is plausible. It's just that it is not automatically convincing, especially when the adversary has just made a series of errors and is in the process of committing the greatest one, that is, counting that Data doesn't kill. Going the extra mile would have helped...

    ...But it's unclear what this mile would have been, exactly, and whether three miles would have been better. At some point, spoon-feeding the facts to the audience has to end. But drama would benefit from a tiny bit of repetition on that forcefield thing at the very least - and even then we'd be speculating about Data MacGyvering the airlock to his advantage, or something similar we've seen in other shows a dozen times by now.

    Which isn't really the point, because Data did make a choice to kill, and that was the point. He had his reasons, but they were his reasons, not mere circumstances Fajo forced upon him so that he could turn that input into the single possible output like a dumb automaton. The more ambiguity on Data's true predicament, the better!

    Timo Saloniemi