Is Data a man or a machine? That’s one of the keys to the character, and while most of the crew of the Enterprise recognize Data as a friend and companion, some people haven’t gotten that memo.
Jimmy and Tom discuss one such person from the episode “The Most Toys”.
“The Most Toys”
A collector of unique objects tries to add Data to his collection!
jimmy: Niles’ lawyer sure wasn’t a very nice fella.
tomk: Well, you never know what someone is like when they’re not working.
jimmy: Guess we’ll get the sad part out of the way first:
David Rappaport, a well-known British dwarf actor, had originally been cast for the part of Kivas Fajo. Rappaport struggled with depression during his life, and attempted suicide shortly after filming some scenes as Fajo. (Rappaport later died by suicide on 2 May 1990, three days before the airing of this episode). Saul Rubinek was brought in to take over the role and complete the episode. Select scenes with Rappaport were included in a special In Memoriam reel on disc five of the third-season TNG Blu-ray set.
tomk: Well, way to bring the doom, Jimmy. I had no idea on that one.
jimmy: I only knew because of the scenes with Rappaport that were included on the Blu-ray.
tomk: Well, I have nothing to add to that. It’s a sad story.
jimmy: It is. That said, I do think Rubinek works better from what I’ve seen. Not that he’s intimidating (though he does play the sadistic up pretty good) but Rappaport is almost like a stereotype. Pointy hat and ears. He looks like an elf. Especially during the climax when he is facing off against the almost 6 foot tall Brent Spiner.
tomk: I will take your word for it. I think the Fajo role works best as sort of a slimy dude who seems harmless but maybe not someone you want to spend a lot of time with. We don’t need some kind of Keebler elf type.
jimmy: Agreed. I think it works out better. Sadly.
tomk: Well, then, shall we point out the crew seemed more broken up over the presumed death of Data than the actual death of Tasha Yar?
jimmy: Hey, they smiled at her hologram thingee.
tomk: Look, you know it’s bad when Worf is the one who looks shocked someone died. He’s the MVP.
jimmy: “Data?” – sad Worf.
tomk: “Well, we have places to be.” -everyone else at first.
jimmy: Nah, they all looked pretty shaken up, especially Picard.
But no, they didn’t stick around long to investigate.
tomk: True, there was a (manufactured by an idiot) emergency, but after the initial shake-up, off they went.
jimmy: Granted, they had a time sensitive mission and as far as they knew, Data was dead.
tomk: Yeah, but Picard wasn’t exactly encouraging Geordi to look into any further. That said, how dumb was Fajo? An emergency that really wasn’t, and the one-known merchant with the stuff had just the right amount of the stuff to fix things. Ferengi are better shifty businessmen than that. Ferengi!
jimmy: I guess he figured if they thought Data was dead they’d just go on their way and not look back.
tomk: But these are Data’s closest friends. Very smart people. Best in the fleet. Riker can crush a coconut with his bare hands. Geordi can see when people are lying and plays along. Picard is a Frenchman who loves Shakespeare instead of Voltaire or something. Troi is sometimes useful. Crusher will fix any illness after it has killed no less than three people. Wesley is evil and special. Worf is MVP. That guy didn’t stand a chance.
O’Brien knows exactly what a Klingon painstick can do to various animal skulls. Barclay will make embarrassing holograms of people he doesn’t like and use them for satirical purposes. All those women Geordi almost dated have a network of spies spread throughout the Alpha Quadrant. That thin Vulcan doctor can easily hide behind a flagpole. Ensign Jason Improbable is the best guy to ever appear in a fanfic about Star Trek. There’s two whales and a dolphin in navigation that really love Data. Batman is hiding in stellar cartography, waiting for the right moment to come out. Lt. Popeye has a full supply of spinach. Q likes Data. Guinan just knows things. Need I go on?
jimmy: No, no you don’t.
tomk: Good. We need to save some for later.
jimmy: At least Geordi never gave up.
Data would have been in real trouble if he wasn’t such a creature of habit who always does things the same way.
jimmy: He is a computer.
tomk: But he’s a friendly computer who understands nonviolent resistance.
jimmy: That said, the Enterprise never really did anything besides show up and beam him out. He had essentially escaped anyways by that point.
tomk: Yes, once he found people he could grab and toss across the room.
Oh, and convinced a woman to help him.
jimmy: Seems it was more Fajo that convinced her.
tomk: Well, Fajo had to be good for something besides rubber puppet care and the smell of bubblegum.
jimmy: That puppet was bad.
tomk: No wonder its species almost went extinct.
Regardless, I am sure Data would have gotten out of there eventually. He probably would have worn a brilliant disguise.
jimmy: Lol. Man, I don’t miss laugh tracks. Or 80’s hair.
tomk: We’re watching a show from the late 80s/early 90s.
jimmy: But they have 23rd Century hair.
tomk: Even Picard?
jimmy: For what he has left…yes!
tomk: Well, I’m convinced. Here’s a free token to a drink of your choice in Ten Forward.
jimmy: I’ll get a lager and sing drinking songs with Picard.
tomk: Too bad that was a Picard double.
jimmy: After a few lagers, it won’t matter.
tomk: Yeah, all that synthenol is bound to get him drunk. Besides, he’s more of a wine man since, you know, family vineyard.
jimmy: Since you won’t let me have any fun with Picard I’ll post this instead that I came across:
Writer Shari Goodhartz related, “I asked Brent Spiner whether he thought Data purposefully pulled the trigger or not, and he was adamant that Data did fire the weapon, which was my intent as well, but the powers-that-be wanted that kept ambiguous, so it was. If I had a chance to do it over, with all the experience I have behind me now, I would argue passionately for Data’s actions and their consequences to have been clearer, and hopefully more provocative.”
tomk: That is a good point. It also means Data lied to Riker in the end.
And you can still have fun with Captain Jake.
jimmy: I feel like he fired and lied to Riker, though the way it was filmed leans more towards him not firing and assuming O’Brien’s an idiot.
tomk: Or Riker can play along.
jimmy: I thought it was pretty clear he fired the way Spiner played it, but Fajo wasn’t fried from the inside out, so the only real “proof” is whatever O’Brien cleaned up when transporting Data aboard.
tomk: So…O’Brien played along? That seems more likely. O’Brien has seen things.
jimmy: I bet he’s seen a lot of things he wishes he hadn’t.
tomk: Like Geordi’s pick-up lines at work?
jimmy: Exactly like that.
tomk: Regardless, Data came really close to killing that Space Watson.
jimmy: Since he’s a Space Watson, it goes without saying that someone would want to.
tomk: Like Space Jenny?
jimmy: Especially Space Jenny.
tomk: Still, Data found interesting ways to resist.
jimmy: And knew when to fold’em.
tomk: Well, at one point he was sniffing that baseball card, knowing full well Galacdick wanted that box closed to hold the bubblegum smell in.
jimmy: Well, he did tell him to smell it. What a douche.
tomk: Data probably also overfed the puppet.
jimmy: I was going to say “he definitely did that” but Data wouldn’t. No matter how “pissed off” he was.
tomk: He did more by not doing anything. I am sure if TV standards allowed, he would have walked around naked after his uniform was destroyed.
jimmy: Good point. There’s no need for Data to be modest. Speaking of hard core nudity:
“In a scene present in the script but not the final episode, Fajo sends Varria to test Data’s sexual abilities (in which Data references his only sexual encounter from TNG: “The Naked Now”). However, Data learns of Fajo’s intent, leaving Varria utterly humiliated, which would later fuel her desire to betray Fajo in the climax.”
tomk: Uh huh huh. Uh huh huh. It said “climax”.
jimmy: I noticed that choice of wording as well.
tomk: Actually, the uniform thing reminded me of an episode of DS9 when O’Brien and Sisko were stuck on a world where technology didn’t work. The anti-tech leader kept calling Sisko by his first name and insisting he change clothes into something more comfortable. Sisko kept refusing silently, but given how much he values his uniform and position, it was clearly an important part of who he was that she wanted him to discard and he wouldn’t.
Data was the same here.
jimmy: I think he even says something along the lines of “I am a Starfleet officer, this is what I wear.”
tomk: Data knows his job.
jimmy: We’ve had a few episodes now that deal with Data’s emotions or lack there of. Including one where he couldn’t tell his daughter he loved her. But I felt like this one might have put them on display to a greater degree than any of the others, even if Data won’t admit (or realize) he has them.
tomk: What? He couldn’t impassionately decide Fago had to go?
jimmy: Perhaps but the whole episode seemed very emotionally charged. Data’s defiance to do anything he is told and only doing so to protect others. His insistence to be freed/attempting to escape. Basically deciding to kill Fajo and then lying about it. (Open to debate.). Even his last visit to Faja in his cell to tell him all his possessions were being returned to their rightful owners was such an “F you”, even if he is just an Android.
tomk: What? You think Data is learning how to be human from Evil Wesley?
jimmy: From all of them.
tomk: Maybe he was hoping to taunt a little person.
jimmy: He learned that from Worf.
tomk: Worf does it more to depowered cosmic beings.
jimmy: But having seen that photo, no offense to the guy, but don’t you think it worked out better the way it ended up?
tomk: Yes, actually.
Though that comes from the feeling I have that they were exploiting the actor for his height, possibly to make him look like less of a threat, but also to unintentionally make him look more like one of Tolkien’s dwarfs, greedy people that they were.
jimmy: I think you’re right about him not looking like a threat. But I didn’t think they needed to play up the dwarf/goblin/whatever angle.
tomk: It would be nice to live in a world where little people actors didn’t have to settle for sci-fi shows and comedies that at least make their height part of the joke, but they can’t all be Peter Dinklage.
jimmy: Even he can’t avoid it. It was talked about on Elf. He was constantly called an imp, etc on Game of Thrones. I think him being a giant in Thor was part of the joke. And so on.
tomk: True, but Dinklage also made it a point to never do stuff like play a fairy tale type of character as he worked his way to fame.
jimmy: Fair enough. It helps when you are an incredible actor.
tomk: Very true.
So, anything else to add here? We seem more interested in the actor who wasn’t in the finished product than the one who was.
jimmy: That’s where the story is. 🙂
tomk: Well, you have a point there. Have a slice of marble cake.
jimmy: Nom nom nom.
How about you? Anything else?
tomk: I think I’m good. I liked how Data flopped motionless like the machine that he is.
jimmy: And held that thumb on the iPad pose until he unexplainedly rebooted.
tomk: A friend told me Wil Wheaton once spoke well of Spiner by noting how much his double in “Datalore” was unable to hold as still as Spiner does when playing Data. That takes some skill.
jimmy: Ask Drax.
tomk: Spiner might be better than Drax.
jimmy: That’s why sometimes we can’t see Data on the bridge.
tomk: He’s not as good as Wesley. Sometimes we don’t see him for whole episodes.
jimmy: I wonder if I would have noticed if not having seen that interview, but they really have given him very little to do this season.
tomk: But how would you have noticed how much Wesley was up to no good otherwise?
jimmy: You would have told me. 🙂
tomk: I do what I can to spread knowledge. And waistlines. Have a plate of ribs.
jimmy: Please Hammer don’t hurt’em.
tomk: Sometimes, characters end up in pain. Like, sometimes a beloved supporting character from the original series.
jimmy: Ohh… that sounds like a segue to me!
tomk: Well, that’s because it is.
Are you ready to see a very old Vulcan?
jimmy: Ready and waiting.
tomk: Then let’s check in on a legend.