Star Trek 175: Tin Man

175. Tin Man

FORMULA: Haven + Contagion + Encounter at Farpoint + Déjà Q

WHY WE LIKE IT: The ship model work. Some very sympathetic moments.

WHY WE DON'T: Tam Elbrun can grate on the nerves. The Romulans lack personality. Tin Man's interior.

REVIEW: Harry Groener's performance as Tam Elbrun goes a long way in making Tin Man watchable, as he is generally very good. He exudes anxiety, and has some very heartfelt moments with both Data and Troi. I'm surprised at how sympathetically he comes across after those annoying early scenes where he keeps completing everyone's sentences. Thankfully, there's more to Elbrun than that, and the episode is peppered with good character moments. The performance does dive into the melodramatic occasionally though, and this may well turn off some viewers.

Betazoids are meant to be somewhat ethereal, and in Elbrun's case, that comes across as a sort of poetry in describing minds. His link to Tin Man, certainly, but I also liked his description of the Chandrans (Chandrathans?) as a kind of like alien Treeants. The fact he can't read Data makes this yet another episode where Data relates to a guest-star better than most. Passing no emotional judgement, Data can more easily befriend the likes of Q, Roga Danar, and in this case, Tam Elbrun. The two make a good pair onscreen. There's a poignancy in Elbrun's remark that being different isn't a sin, and he clearly shows his expertise when he DOES read Data after all.

The episode is well complemented by dynamic visual effects whenever we get outside the ship. Gomtuu is strange and beautiful, and incredibly lit by a dying star. The Romulan attack on the Enterprise harks back to The Defector in style, and is a great shot, though the Enterprise is very good at just sitting there and taking it. (That's what happens when you put a child at the helm.) Not so great is Tin Man's interior, which is ok, but kind of misses the mark with its clumsy sliding doors, melting wax effects and supposedly spongy walls.

The Romulans are a bit boring here, the commander lacking any kind of personality, but are a necessary evil. The final coda, where Data realizes where he belongs, now that seems unnecessary to me, though the moment is touching thanks to Marina Sirtis' performance. Tam and Gomtuu are a pair I would have liked to see revisited, but alas, we never found out what happened to them.

LESSON: When you can read minds, nobody ever seems to shut up.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A good story with a strong guest star, but somehow it feels a little empty. The Romulans are relegated to special effects, and Data's story arc is pretty shallow.

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