Tin Man

A lonely alien, an insufferable telepath, and the least consequential Romulans ever faced. There is peril! There is learning! There are inconsequential Romulans! See it all when we put Tin Man in the Mission Log.

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  • Harry Groner “Tam Elbrun”

    • Muthsarah

      I enjoy these looks into how these guest actors are lookin’ these days. I don’t know anything of their lives, but it’s re-assuring to see that, many years after Trek, they’re still doing (and often looking) quite happy and vibrant.

      • I am glad you appreciate them. I used to replay my VHS tapes so often in the 1990s then of course moved onto DS9. Rewatching, analyzing TNG now w IMDB/wiki I can’t help but wonder who we’ve lost and how others are doing. Fun but bittersweet sometimes. Remember ST III : TSFS ? Young Spock? Check it out….

  • Lou Dalmaso

    He’ll always be the Mayor of Sunnydale to me

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Actually re-watching Buffy and just come to the parts with him.

  • CmdrR

    Bailey and Balock, scurge of every bar from here to the Mutara Nebula. Keep an eye on your women and your tranya! Tam and Tinman, meanwhile, are off having adventures and trying not to drive each other… crazy.
    And speaking of close relationships… John and Ken, you guys are gonna be buried intertwined one far off day.

  • Danny-wa

    Eureka! The Romulans were only important enough to show Gomtuu had the power of V’Ger! And V’Ger was definitely a “Tin Man,” in several ways. Thanks guys . . . whew. And I actually got it on time this week. Now I have to get rid of it. 😮

  • Scott Newland

    Excellent discussion, and I especially liked the points John made. This was a mildly clunky episode at times, but I have always really liked it. The music was noticeable and unique, and at times the intermittent low flute chords evoked a lonely, alien sense – perfect for the story and the characters of Elbrun and Gomtuu. To me, the themes of the episode focused on “differentness”, on the desire for solitude for different reasons, and on the question of needing purpose in one’s life. Whether Elbrun and Gomtuu died together or escaped the nova to live together, it didn’t matter to me because I felt they were content and at peace which ever way it went. Perhaps “Tin Man” was an appropriate nickname for Gomtuu since the creature was, in a sense, missing its heart without a crew to host and interact with. This one was nicely haunting, I thought.

    • very thoughtful analysis….I feel positive they both survived…their joy would have been cut so short, and Tin Man seemed to have the power to leave if needed. I thought the tune was only good for Tin Man, and felt odd when first played solo for Tam….

    • Space_Magic_5

      “Heart” is a another term for one’s vitality. Gomtuu had lost its crew, virtually its only motivating force, just as the O. G. Tin Man was immobilized by seized joints when he is first discovered – then perhaps even projecting his physical immobility onto his psyche at some point. It certainly raises the question of whether it is enough for a sentient creature to simply exist… For sanity’s sake, probably not.

    • I thought the music was very “Karate Kid” Asian theme or….wise master to student type…I Native American flute-like as well, mother nature like…

  • Muthsarah

    Firstoff, whether or not the episode’s title makes any sense, Starfleet’s name for Gomtuu absolutely makes no sense. Sure, Gomtuu was missing his/her heart, but the admirals didn’t know that. The name only makes sense in retrospect, and that’s just a big faceplant for this episode. I guess the writers just liked the symbolism so much they figured it didn’t matter. Had they kept it as the episode title, but not ever mention it in the episode itself, it woulda been really clever and rather touching.

    It is indeed clunky at times, the Treknobabble is, I think, very distracting and does drag the show down. The Romulans are almost as embarrassing as they were in The Neutral Zone. Their depiction rang more of the simplicity of TAS aliens.


    I used to think this was a Season Two episode, and for years I
    considered it my favorite episode of that season. Which it still might
    have been. Tam is a really refreshing character, both abrasive and sympathetic, and, especially at this point in the franchise’s run, much more sympathetic than Lwaxana, his nearest analogue. He genuinely feels alien, like a “true” Betazoid. Troi is basically human with plot-relevant-and-plot-defined empathy only, but Tam’s superhuman powers define his character completely. And he’s compelling. Even for Season Three.

    The Treknobabble and unnecessary Romulan subplot are all the more tragic because the episode needed more time to explore Tam, to not have to rush his early scenes, to maybe show him trying to keep his psychosis bottled up and have it overwhelm him as he knows he’s getting closer to a possible resolution. I’m not surprised to hear that this was based on a book, since this episode easily coulda been expanded into one. You don’t need the Romulans to be an additional obstacle to the crew, as the difficulty of understanding and working with Tam, and Riker’s grudge in particular, are all the conflict you’d need. I gotta wonder if there was, at this point, still some chance that Gene’s dictates about the Federation not fighting each other (unless some alien is really at fault, of course) had anything to do with it.

    Lose the Romulans. Lose the Treknobabble scenes. Give us a slower reveal of Tam’s powers, his instability, his tensions with Riker and Picard, his warming up to Data, all while Troi acts as the crew’s medium. Maybe still have Tam freak out, Gomtuu freak out in response, and have that imperil the ship (DIRECTLY paralleling the incident where Riker’s friends died), to add fourth-act tension. Have Riker urge caution, and Troi trying to reach Tam so she could feel safe urging Picard to trust him. Make more of all that great stuff you’re only dealing with in passing.

    To me, “Tin Man” is a near-great episode. It’s very good sci-fi, its atmosphere was beautiful, its guest character (and actor) were fantastic, it could have been a good early showcase for Troi, and the plot could have been all about how the crew deals with a psychologically-unstable/damaged person who they nevertheless need to rely on to complete their mission, about Starfleet reaching out to a truly alien alien (kinda like with Farpoint, only with far more interaction, buildup, and general goodness), and two wounded souls finding solace in each other. In a very different, very Trek way.

    It’s an 8 out of 10 kinda episode. Three stars. A “B”. It’s frustrating how close they got to greatness. Nevertheless, it’s a personal favorite of mine.

    As are the next three. 😀

    • as always very detailed analysis! As I wrote above, I think Tin Man was read into a bit more deeply than intended. It’s an alien like we have never seen.how can a ship be alive…wow!, yeah, the Romulans are a joke, more and more shoulder puffing,hahaha. Great point about the Farpoint station jellyfish…cosmic almond w/ tadpoles ahead next season? lol- Starfleet should be a bit more accustomed to these interstellar whales or whatever… I like the parallel idea of a similar Garushden scenario, wow, Riker would incinerate everyone!! hahaha.

  • Durakken

    The idea that Gomtuu is symbolic of Tin Man is on the nose and hiding the the truth of the symbolism…

    The idea behind that part of the Wizard of Oz is that it is a sham in the first place as is everything given by the Wizard. The truth is that the characters already had what they were searching for.

    A Brain
    The Way Home

    Tam is obviously the wizard imo.
    Data is obviously the tin man.
    Gomtuu is probably the Lion (the will to continue living)
    The romulans might be the Scarecrow

    That’s all I can think of since I haven’t watched this episode in a while nor did i try to deconstruct it when watching it, but i remember plenty about it ^.^

    • I think the Wizard of Oz analogy might not carry over as much as we’d like. I think the alien was given a callsign, codename, designation,– it’s alive but they can’t figure out why- no heart or just not a traditional life form….

      • Durakken

        You could just chalk it up to Earth Governments misleadingly label things if you really wanted to, but I prefer to think of it more symbolicly cuz it’s fun and can fit…

        btw… Tam could be the Wizard and Dorthy. Both essentially express to others and trick them into realizing that they had what they needed all along. In the case of Tam he is going to go with Gomtuu and we’re not going to see the rest of his journey, but if we take it as “Find their way” rather than “way home” then Tam going with Gomtuu is him finding his way… and will likely or has already found that he had it in him all along and he didn’t actually need to go with gomtuu to get it ^.^ That’d be a terrible discussion to have when that happens lol.

  • btw Riker talking trash about Tam Elbrun is not insubordination. Just mayyyybe a bit unprofessional. Tam is a consultant but not in the chain of command.

    • Dave Steph Taylor


  • Dave Steph Taylor

    A few thoughts:

    1- The whole idea of an emotional is just a bad idea. I have a hard idea enough with non-emotional machines.

    2- Love the message that Data is just fine the way he is.

  • Gail Gerard

    Is it just me or was anybody else creeped out by the fact that Tam Elbrun’s eyes seemed to be so dark they had no pupil? Kinda like some weird doll’s eyes?

    • We do see that on other Betazoids (it particularly stands out with Majel’s Lwaxana look), but on Groener’s coloring you can’t help but see the contrast with the eyes.

      • Gail Gerard

        You’re probably right about the coloring thing. It was just a little unnerving, especially as Tam was supposed to be like this superBetazoid who didn’t seem to mind going “Oh you’re going to say THIS. So don’t even bother.” all the time.

    • I thought that look added even more depth to his wonderful performance. Akin to someone on drugs, whose pupils’ are stuck wide open, letting in too much light and information.

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    Anyone who annoys Riker is okay in my book.