Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 4/23/1990
Written by Dennis Putman Bailey & David Bischoff
Directed by Robert Scheerer
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Starfleet has observed a mysterious space object — believed to be a "living starship" and dubbed "Tin Man" — orbiting a star that's about to go nova, and sends the Enterprise to investigate and make contact with it. But the mission is a race: The Enterprise must reach and contact Tin Man before the Romulans do. Starfleet assigns a mission specialist to the Enterprise, Tam Elbrun (Harry Groener), a man with extraordinary telepathic skills, even for a Betazoid.
"Tin Man" exemplifies the balanced TNG episode. It's good, not great. It puts emphasis, in nearly equal measure, on its central character crisis (Tam's), the seeking out of Strange New Life (Tin Man), and a showdown with a familiar foe (the Romulans). Tam is an intriguing, flawed individual with unique problems — a loner who tries to push everybody away, and is borderline unstable. Troi knows him from the past (he was a patient) and his psychological torment is understandable; he hears every thought of every person on the ship, constantly. Put yourself in his shoes and you'd probably be hard-pressed to consider sanity as a likely outcome. Tam is in contact with Tin Man, which has even more powerful abilities for telepathy. Tin Man is in the TNG spirit of ancient, wondrous, and powerful forms of previously unknown life. Starfleet is curious of such things.
On the other hand, the Romulans would dissect Tin Man given the chance. After the terrific "Defector," in which the Romulans were both smart and ruthless, it's kind of a shame to see the Romulans reduced to such bland thuggery. I guess someone's gotta do it. When Tin Man destroys a Romulan ship while protecting itself, a second ship announces its right to claim vengeance on Tin Man. I don't understand what makes them think they could possibly be successful, but given that intention, I couldn't figure out why the Romulans then just sit there while Tam and Data beam over to make direct contact with Tin Man. Why don't the Romulans attempt to board Tin Man?
The episode's solutions are tidy in the sense that the story has a certain number of pieces (two, really) and they are destined to fit together. Tin Man once had a crew, but the crew died. It has since roamed the galaxy alone and now wants to die, hence it being parked in orbit of a star about to explode. Tam and Tin Man provide each other a symbiosis that was meant to be. Tin Man will no longer be alone, and Tam will have just one voice to contend with rather than hundreds. The episode is the first to be scored by Jay Chattaway, who in season four would eventually replace Ron Jones and go on to write music for Trek for the next 15 years.
Previous episode: Captain's Holiday
Next episode: Hollow Pursuits
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79 comments on this post
Thu, May 3, 2012, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 7, 2012, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
At first I thought it was ok. The guest star left a good first impression (an annoying one, but that was the intent), and a lot of the scenes with Riker and LaForge worked pretty well. And the scene with the Hood's captain was nice, giving us a little bit more of what Starfleet is like (showing us a bit of what the non-top of the line ships do). But after thinking about it more, certain events just bugged me too much. It was set up well, but just ended up a letdown.
- The Romulans were portrayed as random brute thugs. I didn't understand why they were so obsessed and why they acted that way. After their brilliant use early on in the season, they just seemed to be generic villains here. I know these words are almost impossible to utter for many, but frankly... this episode would have been better with Ferengi.
- Picard's intransigence didn't make much sense. His orders were to cooperate with Tam; why was he so dead-set on keeping him from beaming over? Yes, I understand the danger to the Enterprise when Tam asked Gomtuu to protect itself. But that was an oversight on Tam's part, not malice or uncaring. Keeping a connection with Gomtuu via Tam would have better protected the Enterprise, as Tam could have requested Gomtuu to be more careful. It makes sense to get Troi's and Data's advice first, but I don't see why he still refused.
- And as Jammer said, once he did decide to let them beam over, why would the Romulans let him?
- Meanwhile, why was Tin Man such a big deal anyway? OK, yeah, he's interesting to a bunch of explorers. But a top secret ultra-high priority? Absolutely must beat out the Romulans to it? Why? Heck, it's not even the first living starship the Federation encountered (no matter how much we might want to forget Encounter at Farpoint).
In fact, this episode reminds me a lot of a season 1 episode. An interesting premise falling flat. Poor Picard utilization. Generic villains. Telling us stuff is important when we don't feel it. The best I can say is that Season 3 has far more polish than the 1st, which probably is enough to give this an extra star or so. Still, a very "meh" episode to me.
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 6, 2014, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I thought the episode has good intentions and a ok execution, but ultimately didn't resonate with me.
The thing is (and this is a personal take) at this point in the series I'm more interested in the problems and general progress of the main cast, instead of random dudes that come and go so easily.
Wed, May 28, 2014, 5:06am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 5:29am (UTC -5)
The look of the alien, both inside and out, is uninspired and silly after all the build up.
Tam is also tedious; I felt no empathy for him whatsoever. I don't know if that is the fault of the actor or the writing, but I just didn't much care what happened to him or the alien.
Sat, Nov 8, 2014, 3:34am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
All in all, plain fare, but nothing offensive.
Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 2:04am (UTC -5)
This follows show, don't tell, unlike the floppy Borg 2-parter. Picard has lost his humanity? He's just written like he's possessed.
Meanwhile Tam has problems they only hint at, and provide an allegory for with the creature. I've seen this episode many times.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
I also don't understand why Starfleet, and the Enterprise crew especially, is so thunderstruck and awed by the thought of a space-dwelling life-form. Haven't we already seen at least one such creature in this show already? The Crystalline Entity, anybody?
Add to that, the fact that the Romulans are so woefully misused here and you have some serious flaws in an otherwise average episode. Seriously, why are the Romulans suddenly presented as little more than brutal thugs? This isn't exactly a chess game, like it usually is with the Romulans. It would have made more sense if it had been Klingons, or at least rogue Klingons, who were the antagonists. That would have at least added an interesting ripple to the story in that they would have to face the possibility of conflict with their own allies instead of someone who we already know is the enemy.
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
On the other hand we have some pretty terrible Troi season one style acting from the guest cast ("The pain..." "So alone..."), and the Romulans seem somewhat bolted on as a rather unnecessary threat. 2 stars.
Sat, Sep 12, 2015, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 27, 2015, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 19, 2015, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Also the music cues for Gomtuu are haunting and almost tribal, a definite departure in sound.
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 5:29am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Didn't care for this much?
I think this episode gets a little too much praise both from the fans and the showrunners. I expected so much more out of Tin Man from the way this show builds him up. Then we get stuck with another eyeball-to-eyeball Romulan episode.
Maybe if Tam came off more likable, this episode would work. Because as much as I liked Tin Man himself, there was a part of me that didn't want Tam to get his way in all this.
Oh well, I at least agree this episode has less idiot plotting than "Samaritan Snare".
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 7:27am (UTC -5)
I also really enjoyed some of the one-off special effects that are unique to the episode (Tim Man blowing up the Romulan warbird with that hyperspace wave thing was awesome) and this was back when the music was still allowed to be cool.
This episode definitely falls into my top 5 for STNG.
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 4:37am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 2, 2016, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 5:59am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 12, 2016, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 13, 2017, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Why did the Romulans let them beam aboard? How would they stop them? Was Dikembe Mutombo the Romulan transporter chief?
Why didn't the Romulans try and board Tin Man? For the same reason the Enterprise immediately lost transporter lock as soon as Data and Tam beamed aboard. Tin Man raised its shields.
Why was Picard EXTREMELY reluctant to let Tam beam over to Tin Man? 1) He's been warned repeatedly by counselor Troi, someone he trusts implicitly, that Tam's mental stability is questionable, some of which he has observed himself. 2) Tam apparently received much of the blame for what occurred in the Ghorusda Disaster, a first contact encounter of which Tin Man is yet another. 3) Showing increasingly erratic behavior, anxiety, and then outright panic, Tam warns Tin Man without any thought for the safety of the crew. Tin Man instantaneously responds by effortlessly destroying a Romulan cruiser and collaterally causing as much damage to the Enterprise as the earlier Romulan attack.
Although to a lesser degree, people seem not to like Tam for similar reasons why they don't like Captain Jellico. He's an unpleasant individual. But much like Captain Jellico, he's just trying to do his job.
The interaction between Data and Tam was excellent in this. This episode is far from perfect, but 3 stars is well deserved.
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 5, 2017, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 17, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
I guess a lot of the episode comes down to how one perceives Tam. He is supposed to be an unstable character as he gets bombarded with everybody's thoughts. I thought the actor did a decent job characterizing such a person -- somebody who is uncomfortable around others and who gets along with Data. It's pretty clear once he beams aboard Tin Man that he's in his own paradise and ain't coming back.
So some good things about the episode but there are also enough problems with it. I didn't like the use of the Romulans and I as much as I dislike the Ferengi, as SkepticalMI suggests, they'd be better suited for the role of the villain here. I don't think the Romulans should act so 1-dimensionally toward Tin Man. They've been built up in S3 as more deceptive, cunning.
The other flaw is Tin Man itself - so what can't this thing do? It can destroy starships, it can beam Data some 3 billion kms away, use telepathy to reach out to Tam light years away, and presumably escape from a supernova ... All very convenient for the writers. I also thought how Riker's role was conceived here was poor - comes across as too domineering toward Geordi, insensitive toward Tam (though it's his thoughts).
I can see why this is a bit of a polarizing episode, however I'd have to give it a fairly average rating of 2.5 stars. I enjoyed the sci-fi aspect of it and the union of Tin Man and Tam, but the other aspects of the episode weren't up to snuff.
Fri, Sep 8, 2017, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
It would be interesting to know where the pair went off to. It looks like that was a powerful ship.
Wed, Sep 13, 2017, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
It lacks urgency and has a few slow spots. Didn't have the energy I'm used to from a TNG episode
The Data and Tam stuff is good like their discussion in Data's quarters. I liked the final scene with Data and Troi
I also liked the idea of a betazoid who is highly empathic that it overwhelms them. That would be a struggle and him finding peace of mind with Tin Man was nicely handled
Also Tin Man did an excellent job in fulfilling the new life part of Trek that I enjoy. From his design to the fact he was a living starship all wondrous.
I didn't care for the ill will directed at Tam especially by Riker. It put me off though
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
It's been two years since I saw this one, but I've probably watched it 20 times over the decades. There was something about it that really struck a chord with me.
The more I think about it, the more I think it would have been better without the Romulans, but I suppose there had to be some URGENCY to it.
The creature was so, so alone, and finally found someone to whom it could talk to. And Tam was so, so alone because he had to isolate himself since he could not shut out the voices.
I would have loved to see them again, either just passing through, or helping the Feds with a crisis that needed a badazz ally. When the fat hits the fan in later years, where are all of these allies they've helped? :D
Enjoy the Day Everyone... RT
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 2:10am (UTC -5)
"That being first at all costs is not always the point!"
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 3:44am (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Even Tin Man could have come out of those juvenile TV shows .
Still, there were some good scenes with Data and Troi.
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Assuming they were using visual sensors, because the magic active sensors were still crapped out, it would take more than twenty seconds to see the supernova occur visually.
Even on Earth, it would take us 8m20s to see our own Sun go supernova, and that's a good deal closer than the Enterprise is to Beta Stromgren at this point.
3,784,292,189 km = 0.0004 lightyear.
0.0004 lightyear = 3.506 light-hours.
That's the most I got out of this episode. The second more minor element was that Betazoids for some reason can't handle all the voices from childhood, when they would be best suited to learn to process external stimuli and filter out unwanted noise, but can handle it during adolescence, when the brain has already undergone most of its formation and should find it most difficult to process a new sensory input.
As some anxiety or agoraphobia analogue, it was interesting to bring that up and how it can affect people so negatively.
Otherwise, this was a pretty flimsy episode with a predictable outcome and transparent process. But it didn't have Riker standing with his legs spread out and dangling his balls everywhere like the first series, so that counts for something.
1 out of 4.
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Otherwise, a great little episode. Data examining the human condition from an alien persepctive...Troi being used like a professional...excellent effects. Throw in a Federation mission specialist who isn't evil or has a secret agenda (from the start, at least) and it's two thumbs up.
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
1. Why would Tin Man care about Tam’s warning if it wanted to die?
2. At 3.8 billion kilometers it would take nearly 4 hours before the exploding star’s light could be seen by the Enterprise, not four seconds.
Fri, Jun 15, 2018, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
@Peter Swinkels In order to die, Tinman put itself in the path of an exploding star. I don't know hat the Romulans had the firepower to kill it but might have wounded it enough to cause it to suffer. Also, now that Tam was near, maybe gave Tin man hope. Joining with a kindred spirit would alleviate it's loneliness.
Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
That special "something" was lost around the DS9 era. From my point of view, DS9 was a good series on its own merits and I still enjoy it to this day. But in the broader Trek context, I feel that it traded that "sense of wonder" for more tangible, grounded, down-to-earth situations, and Trek as a whole lost something when that happened. To DS9's credit, it did ask critical questions about Roddenberry's vision that needed to be asked, which I appreciated.
And now we have STD, aka Trek in Name Only - the only Trek series I have utterly no desire to see a single episode of (and I do occasionally rewatch old episodes of VOY and Enterprise). But that's a topic which merits its own post - something along the lines of Jammer's ST Enterprise "Precious Cargo" review.
I wonder if modern Trek will ever capture that "sense of awe" feeling again.
But we will always have TOS and TNG to inspire future generations, no matter what happens.
(And maybe the Orville if McFarlane can cut down on the excessive toilet humor)
Sat, Jul 28, 2018, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Presumably being engulfed by the nova would be over in a few seconds at most. Being wounded by weapons and then scientifically dissected afterward would be excruciating.
Mon, Aug 6, 2018, 4:19am (UTC -5)
I did enjoy Data's interactions with Tam and the closing scene with Troy though. Brent Spiner is fantastic as always, and for me, salvages an otherwise dull episode.
I'd give it 1.5 stars.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:49am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 3:03am (UTC -5)
Still a favourite of mine 29 years later.
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 30, 2019, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Best part of this episode is when Picard tells Tam, "stand back and learn..."
"That being first at all costs is not always the point!"
Mon, Oct 21, 2019, 2:09am (UTC -5)
Like the other recent eps, we get a lot of talk about purpose - what is life without a purpose, the need to have a purpose. Data, who recently lost Lal, asks Tam if caring for another is what gives life purpose. Tam says yes, he thinks so.
But Tam protects himself by not caring, which is what Picard accuses him of - acting on impulse, not caring who he endangers. But Tam, feeling all those emotions, hearing all those thoughts - he can't afford to care.
Yet he has let himself care about Tin Man. And Tin Man lets itself care again, also, about Tam.
Tin Man. The name brings two things to mind: The Wizard of Oz's Tin Man and his desperate desire for a heart, and Robots/Androids (mechanical men).
Tin Man has no heart because it was broken to pieces; Tam Man effectively has no heart because he's cloaked and shielded it from the onslaught.
Our resident Tin Man, Data, figures out where he belongs: On The Enterprise - where he has connections, relationships, and purpose.
There are multiple references to both space and time, and the need to find your place in them.
Not great, but good.
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Anyhow I think it's a realy good take on how Tam has lots of troubles with the crew even though IMO he seems like a perfectly decent guy provided that you're not thinking insulting things about him. The episode is sort of like Ensign Ro in that we have a 'problem person' who is only really a problem because of how others treat them. That's a really good social message to be promoting, and back in 1990 that was by no means a widely understood thing.
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Yep, I agree. This is a top episode for me. Maybe not in the "classics" category like some myth-level episodes are (BoBW, Chain of Command, etc) but among regular episode it's top-tier.
Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
As a big fan of Star Trek soundtracks, this episode has one of the few standout or at least notable musical scores of Trek post-TOS. The flute is beautiful -- also used on VOY for Chakotay's vision quests and also in "Journey's End" for the Indian Wesley talks to. Too bad 99% of Trek soundtracks post-TOS are so bland.
Really liked the scene in Data's quarters where Tam emphasizes that what the android thinks about existence is relevant -- that he's not just circuits etc. The 2 really have certain things in common and that is well explored here -- ultimately, Data finds where he belongs on the Enterprise and Tam is where he belongs on Tin Man.
One gripe is when Data says no natural phenomenon can travel at warp -- 2 examples from TOS immediately come to mind: the cloud creature from "Obsession" and the aliens in "The Lights of Zetar". Also (if I'm not mistaken) the space particles (tachyons?) in DS9's "Explorers" -- but that would be in the future for Data at this point of time, unless tachyons were already discovered.
3 stars for "Tin Man" -- this is pure Trek and pure TNG. The actor playing Tam does a pretty good job, which was rare in early TNG especially. There's a Season 1 feel to it with bold ideas but what is not Season 1 about it is the execution and writing.
Tue, Nov 10, 2020, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
This man is clearly some form of severely mentally ill, such that he was a patient of Troi. I don’t buy for a moment that that the Feds had no clue of his issues.
Bringing this man aboard and expecting him to do exactly what you wish is like bringing a mentally disturbed Q on board and expecting him to do what you want without fail.
Tue, Nov 10, 2020, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
I’m actually reminded of Janeway’s Omega directive, where at least the episode flat out stated “all the bs is off the table.”
Tue, Nov 10, 2020, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
That being said, I don't think Starfleet did anything wrong sending Tam on the mission, it was a reasonable decision. Trying to enforce orderly expectations on him was perhaps hopeful on their part, but they still had to try. Yeah, they did get upset at him when he essentially took the mission into his own hands, but he's not mentally disturbed in the way the Jack Pack were; he knew what he was doing and chose to do it. I think they were at minimum in the right to suggest that his attitude was part of the problem; or at least part of *their* problem with him. And actually they were right about that since really the best course for him was to be away from regular people altogether. Both sides of the issue were vindicated in how it ended.
Fri, Mar 19, 2021, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
The guy has a lot of issues and Riker's open hostility towards him for the previous disaster are woefully misplaced. If he's _that_ unstable blame the people who put him in that position. The whole premise is ludicrious.
I'm happy for Tam finding some semblance of positive interaction with Data and even happier that he found a happy ending.
I just really don't like what we see from most of the crew save for Troi and Data when it comes to their treatment of Tam who is simply a tormented person in need of help and compassion. I've generally enjoyed Riker throughout most of the show's run but he's an ass in this one.
That stuff aside it was a fine enough episode otherwise.
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Second, a band called "Eighteen Strings" bought out a track called "Tin Man" which has a sample in one mix of Tam Elbrun saying "Finally, all the voices are Silent. Only Tin Man Speaks to me now." In Australia, this song was used as the theme for the radio show "Martin Molloy" and if you were a fan of that show then you know what I'm talking about.
Third: I think this episode has one of my favourite pieces of acting from Jonathan Frakes. If I ever met him I'd have to ask him about this moment. In the scene where Tin Man throws the Enterprise clear of Beta Stromgren (god I love the name of that star), Riker is standing up on the bridge and kind of rotates around in a very particular way as if the ship is spinning around him before he sits down, which of course it is. A very, very simply thing but I'm sure it took great skill to pull that off and make it look believeable.
Moment of annoyance though: Picard has a go at Elbrun about not telling them about the Romulans, but Data had already said he knew about that from the briefing info they received when Elbrun boarded. If Data knew, why didn't HE tell the Captain/Riker as soon as he read it about the possibility of an encounter with the Romulans? For some reason this has always annoyed me.
Otherwise, this to me is a near perfect episode. I can watch it over, and over.
"Russell, watch the lateral grid balance!" Shame poor Russell didn't get paid enough to reply!
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Tam _is irritating._ The actor is overemoting all over the place, and I refuse to buy that "his exceptional ESP powers" can cause such bad acting. I want to sock the guy and tell him "STOP THAT WHINING!! CUZ YA HAD A BAD DAY!!" He doesn't come off as a sufferer of trauma, but more as a screeching overgrown child. Ugh ugh ugh. I would love to have seen Wesley say "Shut up, Tam!!" I've never found a guest character so insufferable.
Secondly, while the composer of this episode may have gone on to be the regular show composer for TNG, this episode is definitely not a great example of his work. The score is LOUD, almost ever-present, and extremely "in your face," and it does next to nothing for me. Guh. It's a total mess, in my opinion.
Third, I really don't understand how Jean-Luc Picard can let ANYONE question his orders on his bridge. Earlier in this season, he both SOCKED a terrorist leader for invading the bridge and SCREAMED at Q for poofing a Mariachi Band onto it. Then this whining telepathic milksop comes on and starts barking orders at everyone, and Picard is just okay with this? I expected "Mr. Tam, see me in my Ready Room immediately--No, I don't care if you do know what I'm going to say, my crew doesn't and I am going to talk to you." (They go in) "YOU QUESTION MY ORDERS ON MY BRIDGE AGAIN AND I WILL HAVE YOU SHOVED OUT THE NEAREST AIRLOCK! I AM CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP AND YOU WILL FOLLOW MY ORDERS!! DISMISSED!!" ...And it never happens. WTF???
I made it 31 minutes in, and couldn't take Tam's whining anymore. I shut it off. I do not usually do that with Star Trek episodes but this is too much. "Tin Man" sucks.
1 Star for a novel premise. That's it, that's the best I can do.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 2:21am (UTC -5)
However, there were too many problems with it. Did we really need the sub-plot involving the Romulans? Without that, they could have explored the main theme more fully even if it meant losing the ‘action adventure’ fans.
And why was Elbron so relaxed in Data’s company? Yes, he didn’t get flooded with thoughts that weren’t there, but the rest of the crew were still within telepathy range and therefore no rest even with Data.
What about the title, Tin Man? It was a living ship, not predominantly metal. I believe - it being a heavily Data-centric episode - that the title more refers to our beloved android than to the alien ship, especially as Data learns more about himself in the episode; for instance, that he “belongs” on the Enterprise. So the Tin Man is - or could be - Data.
(A continuing problem: why couldn’t they have given the Betazoids - an alien race - some non-human feature? I mean, even Spock got pointy ears and eyebrows! Are we supposed to believe that Betazoids evolved physically as fully human? Oh please!)
I’m not entirely sure it rates 3 stars, but very nearly. 2.75?
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Tin Man was an artificial being in Wizard of Oz who had no heart. The ship, in this episode, is an artificially created being that was also missing its heart (the crew). Tam filled that void at the end.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 10:13am (UTC -5)
The Tin Man in Wizard of Oz, just like his friends, was a fantastical version of one of the three farmhands at the start of the movie. The three of them are portrayed as idiots, like cuddly subhumans. And I think the story is saying something about how in certain types of societies (especially those valuing gold and jewels above all else) the underclasses are viewed as being deficient, since worth is determined by wealth. In Oz we see three individuals (Lion, Tin man, Scarecrow) who at the end we're told were actually never missing anything at all, they just thought they were. The reason why they thought so is obvious: everyone told them they were missing something. It turns out the things of real value (according to the piece) aren't jewels or gold but the more human virtues. One doesn't lack courage because he's not an entrepreneur, nor does he lack a brain because he's not making lots of money, even though society sees him this way (as even America does to an extent to this day).
On this reading (which incidentally is my own reading of the story) the Tin Man is characterized as someone who has been repeatedly *told* he's missing something, in this case his heart, and has almost come to believe it. At the end he realizes he wasn't missing anything at all, and just needed to be in the right place at the right time to see how he was already whole. He just needed a purpose. And that makes the Tin Man our story's Betazoid, Tam. Everyone was saying how he was a bad person, not to be trusted (no heart = he's a bad man?). Also, he extraordinary powers were portrayed always as being a kind of handicap, preventing him participating in society the same way as everyone else, even making him out to be 'crazy.' But it turns out there was nothing wrong with him at all, he just needed to be in the right place at the right time to use his full talent in the right way.
Of course your read, Jason, casts Tin Man as Gomtuu, who in fact the Federation are also calling Tin Man, so that detail obviously shows that the writers intended something about the living ship as well in the title. So maybe it's about both of them; especially since they merged in the end.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 11:54am (UTC -5)
I do agree, however, that Tam's story tracks with the movie's message that nothing was really missing from the Tin Man in the first place.
Regarding Gumtu, I thought the reason behind him being called Tin Man by the writers was obvious given his back story, although funny enough within the story it makes zero sense for *Starfleet* to have picked that particular name since how the hell did they know Gumtu lost his heart / crew?
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Note that I was presenting my reading of the Wizard of Oz, as I see its theme presented by the film. I haven't read the books, so as you mention they may differ. And if course it's pertinent to say that *my* reading of the film may not have been shared with the Tin Man writers, insofar as the political angle is concerned, so I mostly mentioned that as a backdrop to *why* the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion are presented as thinking they are deficient when in fact they really aren't. That backstory doesn't need to track onto this episode. So it's needlessly political insofar as that part of my post is strictly about Wizard of Oz, and not about this episode at all. However it's worth noting that there is a sort of parallel being presented quite strongly in Tin Man to a 1920's notion of the political underclass; the difference only lies in the currency of the land. I believe the screenwriters of Wizard were concerned about a society worshipping money, but Tin Man seems to portray a society that 'worships' good behavior as a social currency. We've seen it in other episodes like Hollow Pursuits and Ensign Ro, where someone who behaves abnormally receives some social castigation, and in this episode too we have someone treated pretty poorly based mostly on rumors and his eccentric comportment. So it does have that in common with Wizard's political theme, which is that people who don't fit into to the 'winners circle' of a given society will become a sort of underclass seen mostly as a problem. So at least that much of it does track.
And yes, good point about Starfleet reading the writers' minds! At best they may have intended the designation to imply that it's an 'artificial life form', and maybe Tin Man was a way of them suggesting nothing more than that it was a mechanical being? But since it was organic rather than mechanical, it seems a real stretch. Then again maybe I'm wrong to think of the original Tin Man as having been mechanical. Maybe he was just (as the actor was) a strangely colored organic being. Eh.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
I think you've interpreted my comment - which I admit wasn't very well articulated - to mean that I think Tin Man ONLY referred to Data. No, clearly it was the Federation's name for Gomtu, but I do think that the producers picked that title with Data in mind. There does seem to be a clear parallel between the two.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Data is made of uranium, not tin.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
In any case, political dimension aside, it's very clear in the film that the message is that the characters all had inside them what they needed, but did need to be shown how to recognize it via their adventure. That the reason they believe themselves to be deficient is because of social oppression of some sort (whether specifically political or otherwise) hadn't occurred to me but is interesting, and does map onto Tam.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for weighing in, that's interesting about the book. I'm tempted to take the time to read it now, just to see this bimetallist argument for myself (or pure silver standard). Fun side tangent, but by the time the book was written in 1900, it was already an established meme to make fun of bimetallists or silver standard people, as seen in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. There's one scene in which a ridiculous person is said to have been espousing bimetallism.
"it's very clear in the film that the message is that the characters all had inside them what they needed, but did need to be shown how to recognize it via their adventure."
Definitely. The interesting thing about their discovery is that it took them apparently adopting the accepted values of the land - following the 'yellow brick' (gold) road and trying their luck in the jeweled city, to realize finally that the face behind all of it was nothing more than a sham. So to the extent that they needed the adventure, it wasn't so much that they could be instructed in learning their own value (at least IMO), but more because they needed the shock moment of realizing that the jeweled way to 'salvation' was empty. So the adventure had as its pinnacle disillusion rather than success. But Tam's case is interesting, because in order to find out that he really was needed just as he was, he needed to not only keep at bay everyone telling him he was a problem, but also to go even further outside the bounds of accepted behavior in his secret communications with Gomtuu, to say nothing of his advising it to defend itself. So in this story he needed to face a shock moment of his own when he was going to cross a line and go all out in his defense both of Gomtuu but also of his own abilities. Things turned out ok, but they could well have ended in disaster as well. But he had to go past the point of no return as well in order to discover finally whether he really was deficient or not. Either way, like Dorothy's gang, it meant having to basically say goodbye to being accepted by the others on the Enterprise; one way or another they were going to be done with him.
Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 2:22am (UTC -5)
“Data is made of uranium, not tin.“
The title is metaphorical, drawn as others have noticed, from The Wizard Of Oz. Data is metaphorically a “tin man “!
Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 3:48am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed the interplay between the two of them, and thought those moments made Tam much more sympathetic - he's so abrasive and troubled elsewhere it would be easy to dislike him, but his friendship with Data shows a much more friendly and likable person. He obviously likes Data and enjoyed the novelty of not being able to read him, but also empathized with his outsider status and provided encouragement when Data was troubled by his thoughts being unreadable - "Maybe you're just different. It's not a crime, you know... Despite what you might have heard *warm smile*" - I found that to be a very human, genuinely sweet response, designed to make Data feel good (if he was able to feel good, that is).
Additionally, he makes a real effort to explain his motivations to Data after they board Tin Man. He genuinely cares about what Data thinks and wants him to understand how much this means to him - and, as the end of the episode shows, he succeeded in doing so. Listening to Data explaining his realization that he belongs on the Enterprise was a touching ending to the episode, and highlights one of the character's biggest strengths - his inhuman humanity. Troi wordlessly cuddles up to him and he seems very content in that moment - with all the strife Data goes through, and all of his challenges and unfulfilled wishes of humanity, it's nice to see such a happy moment for him.
Sat, Nov 27, 2021, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
I think Tin Man the story, draws from The Corbomite Maneuver of TOS in some respects. In "Corbomite, " Mr. Bailey the navigator is incomplete, confused and emotionally unpredictable (like Tam Elbrun who was correctly classified as main 'problem person' in the Tin Man story several posts back, @ Peter G. [Oct. 25, 2019] ).
Bailey is impatient with the Enterprise routine, lashing out, and even accusing everybody else of being, ' wind-up tin soldiers.' After having a nervous breakdown, and being removed from the bridge, Bailey finally interns with the alien entity Balok in the vessel 'The Fesarius' which, like Gomtuu, has no crew.
The parallels are pretty strong. In the mergers of Bailey and Tam with their respective alien vessels, there is much hope for them and a warmth diffuses to the viewer. These are favorite episodes for me.
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 1:06am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 21, 2022, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Throw in some Romulan shenanigans and we've got ourselves a helluva show!
The only, albeit huge, fly in the ointment, is the Tam character. Man, what a freak... - and a boring one at that. A drag. Muy antisimpatico. First of all, he looks and sounds like some New Age-y dope you're just waiting to break out some crystals and start moving your furniture around so it conform to some cockamamie feng shui or whatnot. Then when he starts doing the silly grimacing and facial contortions... Oy vey... As if already having Troi on board to do that B.S. wasn't bad enough...
I was, like, just fire him out of a torpedo tube at the creature and...godspeed! I even hoped Troi would follow him but, heck, I'd miss her caboose.
I liked the line (paraphrasing): "The purpose of existence is to care for someone." Thought-provoking for sure.
Mon, Nov 21, 2022, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
I remember that in the first run, I saw the title "Tin Man" and was excited at the thought that it would be a "Data episode." I was disappointed when it wasn't, in the sense I'd been expecting.
I think my initial disappointment made me kind of dense, because it took a few viewings for me to realize that it actually was a Data episode. As Tam indulges in the new-to-him opportunity to "get to know someone," we, too, are given a chance to get to know some of Data's deepest doubts of his own personhood. "Perhaps there is nothing there to read." Tam assures him that it's all right to be different.
And Data certainly is different, even unique, like Tin Man and like Tam. In uniqueness there can be loneliness, a question of where one belongs. In the end, all three of them find somewhere to belong, and unlike Tam and Tin Man, for Data it is where he was all along.
Mon, Nov 21, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
The guest character in this show is one of the most annoying of all time. A total drama queen.
Mon, Nov 21, 2022, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
"And Data certainly is different, even unique, like Tin Man and like Tam. In uniqueness there can be loneliness, a question of where one belongs. In the end, all three of them find somewhere to belong, and unlike Tam and Tin Man, for Data it is where he was all along."
Now that you mention it, Data and Tam don't only have in common that they're unique and feel like outsiders. They both suffer from problems of being disconnected from everyone around them. In Tam's case it's paradoxical: he is so innately connected to others that he can't connect with them, whereas Data is very much disconnected with humanity and yet is easily accepted by most people he meets. But both of them see themselves as being separated by a large gulf, I think, and in Tam's case he finally embraces it. Maybe this turns a message like "it's ok to be different" and adds a spin, which is that it may actually be bad or damaging to try to be the same in order to connect with others. Most of Data's most embarrassing moments in the series are when he tries his hardest to act like a human. He is most 'like Data' when he really is just different. Being disconnected in the way he is concerned about is precisely why he's valuable.
Wed, Nov 23, 2022, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Yes, he eventually gets an emotion chip. I for one think this is a bit of a cop out. The showrunners for TNG and the films create the impression that the chip is Data's ultimate salvation. But is it really? Does he truly feel or just outwardly emulate a feeling, emotive being? I wonder if the show's failure to press this issue reveals a bias on its part in regard to questions of humanity, free will, and the value of qualia.
Maybe they were just lazy.
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