Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, January 29, 2018

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty "Tin Man"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty "Tin Man"
Production Order: 20
Air Order: 20
Stardate: 43779.3
Original Air Date: April 23, 1990

Picard's Log 43779.3: "We're doing this boring-ass thing, but I like this job, so I'm going to fake a bit of enthusiasm in case any of my bosses are listening to these. Anyway, it's not relevant to this episode, so you can pretty much forget I said anything."

Everyone is on the bridge diligently working on the boring-ass thing when Data pipes up.
"Hey, the USS Hood is high-tailing it out here to us."
"Why?" asks Picard. "We're not due to meet with them."
Hella secret mission, Picard. Keep your Stafleet-issued pants on.
Worf announces the hail from Captain DeSoto.

Everybody's happy to see DeSoto. He and Picard are friends. Will used to be the the first officer of the Hood. They make friendly small talk. DeSoto's here on official business, but because everyone's buddies here, it's all casual. He even uses the phrase "haul my butt back and forth between starbases,"
and I feel like that's the first time Star Trek has used the word butt on this show when talking about posteriors.

"So hey," says DeSoto, "they have a new assignment for you, and it's all top secret, and they were worried about the Romulans listening in. Also, we have a passenger for you, which are two good reasons why they sent me instead of calling."
Picard asks what passenger, and DeSoto replies that it's Tam Elbrun, their mission specialist.
Suddenly, no one is happy. Riker is pissed. And Troi looks introspective.
"Is that the same dude from The Ghorusda Incident?" demands Riker.
"Yep," says DeSoto. "And you're supposed to cooperate with him fully."
(No, it's okay: you didn't miss an episode. We're not supposed to know about this incident yet.)
DeSoto wishes them luck and signs off.
Picard chooses Data to go with him to the transporter room, and Troi immediately asks if she can go as well.
"Oh, do you know Tam?" asks Picard.
"Kinda?" she replies. "He was at the university on Betazed when I was studying there."
"Oh, yeah? He's a colleague?"
"No... he was a patient."

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

So all through the opening credits, I'm sitting here wondering about how this episode is going to go. Here we have a mystery guest on the E, and all we know about him is that he was involved in some kind of infamous incident - one which pisses off Riker - and that he has some kind of presumed mental illness, probably either corrected or currently being treated. This episode is 27 years old, and while things were not too terribly different overall in those times as compared to now, there have been a lot of changes just in the last few years in how we view others, especially ones who are stigmatized. Mainly because we can go online and read articles and Tumblr posts about how it feels to live as someone with (fill in the challenge). This means that we've often changed our minds about things quickly. It also means that we now cringe at things that were perfectly okay then.
The dramatic music was saved for the announcement that Tam had, at one point, been a mental patient. Not for his role in the aforementioned incident. So I guess we should be more concerned about his mental condition? Surely Starfleet would not be sending someone shaky out to the middle of nowhere with the Enterprise if his mental state were shaky, so he's probably just fine now. But we're supposed to be concerned about his previous state...?
*narrows eyes at this episode*

Picard, Data and Troi go down to the transporter room, and Troi tells Picard that Tam is a gifted telepath who specializes in first contact. She seems to have a high opinion of him.
Okay, episode. You get a point.
O'Brien beams Tam aboard, and he's friendly enough, though he does do that thing that Lwaxana Troi does where she reads your mind, then tells you what you were thinking. He flips Picard a USB with the mission details on it, as he knows that Picard was mostly interested in that, then he goes straight to Troi, calling her Dee and saying he sensed her out here. They share a laugh.

 Data interrupts them briefly, and when Tam's attention is turned to Data, he panics a bit. He cannot read Data, and our mechanical friend must explain what he is. Troi reassures Tam with a look that Data is cool. Tam is kind of fascinated. But then he tells Data that Picard wants him to get the USB drive up to the bridge and get them started on that new heading, because time is of the essence. Annoyed, Picard confirms this. He then calls Riker and tells him he wants to do a briefing in 15.
Picard starts to ask, "Do you want to see..."
"My quarters?" interrupts Tam. "No, I wanna do this briefing thing and then be left alone until I'm needed."
Dude. World's brashest introvert.

Riker and Geordi are walking through the corridors, talking about Ghorusda. We get some exposition here: 47 people were killed at that incident, including the ship's captain and two of Riker's friends. Apparently, Ghorusdan culture is so different and complex that they sent Tam as a specialist to help smooth first contact. Riker is fair enough to tell Geordi that what happened was not Tam's fault directly, and that a board of inquiries found that the captain had gotten careless about cultural taboos.
"But if Tam was so good, why didn't he warn the captain?" demands Riker. "What was he doing there if he couldn't sense that much hostility?"
Geordi looks uncomfortable with the amount of hostility radiating off of Riker right now.

On the bridge, Data puts the USB into a port at the science station, and he, Riker and Geordi all take a look. They're going to the Stromgren system, to follow a probe. Data keeps reading, but to himself.
We cut to the briefing a few minutes later, where he finishes the explanation of the mission. The star Beta Stromgren is in the process of going supernova, and the probe found something interesting. Tam, sitting behind him, is bored from the tedium. He knows this already and wants to cut to the chase.
He leans over and switches the viewscreen to a new feed, of some kind of organic ship near the collapsing star. "It has a propulsion system and chambers for a crew, but it's alive."

"Like the Borg?" asks Geordi.
"No. They call it Tin Man. I'm going to talk to it, make contact."
"Have they tried calling?" asks Riker.
"Yeah, they tried all of that," Tam waves him off. "All the different ways of communication. But only mind-to-mind contact will work."
Troi interjects. "I don't understand why we're rushing."
"The Romulans," says Picard.
"Ugh, I forgot about them," mutters Tam.
I relate to this guy in many ways. Introvert... thinks the Roms are tedious...
"The Romulans claim the area of space that Beta Stromgren is in," Picard explains.
Sassy Worf Moment: "The Romulans claim all that is in their field of vision."
Lol. The suns never set on the Romulan Star Empire.
The group surmises that the Roms have probably been watching their probes and will be sending a ship to investigate, but Tam tells them that the Roms are sending two ships. Then he actually tells Data to explain to them so he care stare out the window while the rest of the senior officers discuss this new situation. Data confirms the ships, but also that the class ships they're sending are a bit slower than the E.
So the race is on to get there first and contact this new ship that has better technology than either the Federation or the Romulans.
Sassy Geordi Moment: "Bet they'd dissect it."
Picard assigns Data to work with Tam, as Data is the exobiology expert on the ship. Tam's muttered response of "excellent" seems to walk the line between sarcastic and pleased.

The meeting breaks up, and everyone leaves, except Picard, Data, Tam and Riker.
Picard tells Tam that he assigned a crew member to this mission because he wants to make sure that Tam doesn't leave anything out again. Translation: he's salty that Tam didn't mention the Romulans.
"Yeah, sorry," Tam waves off. "I was distracted."
Riker makes a face.
Tam is instantly pissed, because he can read Riker's thoughts.
"NO, Billy boy, I wasn't distracted on Ghorusda! The captain didn't listen to me!"
He starts to storm out, then turns back. "No? Well, I don't care whether you believe it or not!"

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

He did indeed call Riker "Billy Boy"

Picard's Log, supplemental: "We're traveling at highest warp, but we're still several days away from Tin Man. But I'm really more worried about Tam Elbrun, who seems unstable."

Impatient and manic do not mean unstable, Picard. Gonna need more examples.

Picard and Troi are in Crusher's office, talking about Tam. Crusher tells Picard that Starfleet considers Tam a prodigy, and he's surprised.
But STFU, Picard, because Troi is about to give us a whole bunch of exposition on Tam and his background.
"Most Betazoids aren't born telepathic," she explains. "We get those abilities during adolescence."
So along with hormones, periods and uncontrollable erections, you also get to read other people's minds and confirm that everyone hates you. Being a Betazoid teen must suuuuuuuck.
"Sometimes a Betazoid is born with his abilities switched on, like Tam."
Crusher demonstrates some empathy. "That must be awful, not being able to turn off the flow of everyone's thoughts and feelings, from a really young age."
Troi nods. "Betazoids born that way struggle to lead normal lives. They get early intervention and training, but it's still difficult for them to adjust."
Hmmm, sounds a lot like a certain spectrum-based disorder that humans have...
Picard brings up the fact that he was a patient during Troi's training. She explains that he was hospitalized for stress that he had been dealing with his whole life.
"I often wonder how one person is able to hold it together through those kinds of stresses while some others are not," muses Crusher.
Dude, I wonder about that a lot as well.
"Yeah, well, I wonder if he can hold it together for this mission," steams Picard.
Okay: I get it. Picard has to worry about the mission, its success, and a whole ship full of people, and mostly what he knows of a previous mission with this guy is that it killed a bunch of people. I get his concern. I do. But he's awfully salty, even after he found out a little bit of what it means to be this guy, and here's the thing: if he were to show Tam a bit of empathy, and how to deal with things on Tam's level, things would probably go smoother. As much as I loathe Kirk, he at least was able to get into that kind of headspace once in a while. Picard is going to go bullheaded all the way with this.
Crusher points out that Tam's track record shows that he likes doing first contact with more unusual species. He purposefully picks assignments that will take him away from humanoids.
Troi looks a little concerned about this, but really, if you were Tam, wouldn't you avoid humanoids, too?

Data is in charge on the bridge when Worf and Wes alert him to some kind of sensor weirdness following behind them.
"Maybe Roms," says Worf.
It doesn't really read as a ship, and there isn't a visual, so there's a suggestion that maybe it's sensor malfunction. But we all know it isn't, including the bridge officers.
"If it's a Rom ship, and they have their cloaking device up, why would it give off any signal?" asks Wes. "Should be invisible."
"It might if they're blowing through power like nobody's business," says Geordi darkly.

Troi goes to see Tam, saying she thought he might be lonely, as he only ever sees Data.
"Nope, not lonely," he replies. "Never lonely. They don't like me."
"You don't want them to," she accuses.
He starts to give her some crap excuse about not being a nice person, but he knows he can't lie to her, so he breaks down and admits that knowing everybody's thoughts and feelings all the time is totally overwhelming. He can't turn it off, and he describes the feeling as drowning. He opens up to her, because previously, she was the only one who seemed to understand him.
"It's nice that you found a place where you belong," he smiles.
"You're still looking," she chimes in.
He brings up Ghorusda, and she asked him what happened.
"I thought everyone knew that," he says bitterly.
"No, what happened to you?"
"I probably got a bit too involved with the Ghorusdans," he admits. "I could have been more insistent with that captain..."
And that's all we're gonna get on that matter.
She brings up his most recent assignment on Chandra V, and he waxes poetic on how peaceful and untroubled the Chandrans minds are. He's also the only humanoid assigned to that planet. That's why he likes Data. He can't read Data's mind, and all is quiet on the android front.
"It's nice to get to know somebody a little bit by talking to them, rather than getting all of their info right at once in my head, whether I want that info or not."
"But you took this mission willingly, on a ship with more than a thousand people, when you could have stayed on Chandra V," she points out.
"No, no. This is really cool. A brand-new life form, but totally ancient. And so lonely, for so long..."
Troi is suspicious. "How can you know that?"
Tam is silent. And he won't look at her.
"You've been in contact with it!" she guesses.
He starts to deny it, then recalls hello, talking to a Betazoid and admits that he has been, just a little, but only some light consciousness. And he can't do it. Only Tin Man can.
"But we're light-years away from Tin Man!"

Up on the bridge, Riker tells Picard that they're about 18 minutes away from the Stromgren system, and the probe is sending new footage. They put it up on the viewscreen, and see Tin Man, who looks like one of those underdeveloped pinecones.
Picard tells Majel to find Tam Elbrun, and she tells him that Tam is in the lift, headed for the bridge.
Picard and Riker smile at one another.
Tam and Troi enter the bridge.
Data tells everyone that that weird sensor disturbance that's been following them is still there, and also a wave of ionized particles is headed for them.
Hello, Romulans!

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Everybody rushes to put up the shields and brace for some kind of rudeness from the Romulans.
"Thought you said they were slower than us," says Riker.
"They are," starts Data, but he's interrupted when Picard asks him to open a communication channel.
"They don't want to talk to you," Tam waves off.
And indeed they don't. The uncloaked Roms sail right past them toward the star, which Wes has already reported as collapsing faster than anticipated. As they fly past, they drop that ion wave on the E, which takes out 70% of their shields.
"They wanna get to Tin Man at all costs," says Tam.
"Seriously," says Data. "They pushed their warp engines 30% past maximum, and fried everything. This was a one-way trip for them."
"Still one more ship a day or two behind," Tam reminds them.
"How do you know all this?" asks Picard.
"Saw it in the mind of the Romulan commander during the attack," Tam tosses out.
Dude... they just flew by.

Picard calls Geordi to found out how long it'll be until they have shields again. It's a nice segue into Engineering.
Geordi asks Majel to do a thing to get some power for the shields. She tells him no, that's dangerous, and he overrides. There's a small part here where he asks another engineer to do a thing, and when the engineer fiddles with a panel, Geordi tells him it's too much, and they'll have to go manual. Sometimes those bug me, because it seems like they had a few seconds to kill, and plugged in some meaningless stuff about science or military-type things or whatever, but this kind of works. Would have been nice if the other engineer got a line or something, but it's not terrible.
Geordi calls Picard back and says they can get some shields in like half an hour.
"Ten minutes," says Picard, which is some middle management crapola.

Back on the bridge, Picard has decided to let it slide that the Roms will get to Tin Man first.
Tam is pissed. Pointy-earred peeps will get to talk to his friend first, and that doesn't sit well.
"It's fine," snaps Picard. He seems to have figured out that Tin Man will probably not talk to the Roms, anyway. "Also, get me the info off that probe."

Later in Data's quarters, our android friend is working at his station set up while Tam just kind of hangs out.
(And holy shit are these quarters ever spacious. They're bigger than my apartment.)
Tam comments that Data's place is a bit sparse, and Data responds that he doesn't really need to sleep.
"But you paint!" says Tam, delighted, checking out the painting on Data's easel.

Data draws Tam's attention back to the topic at hand: Tin Man.
"It has all these chambers and things set up for carbon-based life forms, but there are none. Like it has no more purpose."
"Do living beings need purpose?" asks Tam. "Maybe they exist just to exist."
"I do not think I am qualified to answer that," Data replies.
"Naw, I think you do qualify," says Tam. "I think you think about what it means to be human a lot, and you're very curious about things, and an honest researcher."
"Maybe," muses Data. "You said you could not read my mind."
"Does that bug you?"
"No, but now I am wondering if there is anything worth reading."
"You're just different," smiles Tam. "It's not a sin, though other people might say it is."
Did... he just give Data an existential crisis, then be super supportive of him?

We're back on the bridge with Tam. Data reports that the Roms are trying to talk to Tin Man, but getting no response.
"Of course not," snorts Tam. "Why would it want to talk to them?"
"Like it'll talk to you," sneers Riker.
Tam is about to retort, and probably spill the beans on his secret, but then he's interrupted again by the news that the Romulans are warming up their guns and shit.
Picard yells to raise the shields.
"No, it's not for you!" calls Tam. "It's for Tin Man! They have orders to make contact or kill it!"
Picard is disturbed by this, and tells Wes and Data to get them over to the Roms.
But they won't get there in time.
Tam rushes forward and pushes Picard out of the way. He closes his eyes and whispers, "Gomtuu, danger. Do not allow."
Outside, Tin Man turns in a slow circle. This sort of force field doughnut thing forms around him with a kind of starburst, and then BAM! Wave of energy radiating outward! Rom ship blows the hell up, and the E, now closer, catches the edge of the wave and is knocked backward.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker and Geordi are down in Engineering, super salty and arguing. Geordi says it's gonna take 20 hours of double shifts to get the engines back up, and Riker points out that they may not have that long because the star is ready to explode.
"Okay, computer first," says Geordi, sitting at a station.
"No, shields," argues Riker.
"We don't have a freaking computer," says Geordi. "That wave-thing fried things that I thought were unfryable."
"Okay, fine." Sassy Geordi Moment: "No more surprises in the meantime."
"Don't ask me," growls Riker. "Talk to Tam Elbrun. He Disabled the Ship."

Tam and Troi are down in sick bay while Picard watches over them like intends to eat Tam just as soon as Crusher is finished with her exam.
"Your vital signs are acting like you just came out of a seizure," Crusher tells Tam. "Your system is stressed."
"Meh, I'll live."
"Good," barks Picard. "Tell me what you did."
Holy shit, people are aggressive today. I understand why, but do you really want to stress out the already stressed dude who just made a whole crew of Romulan confetti?
Tam is holding his head in his hands like he's got a migraine. "I didn't tell it to do that." he says calmly. " I just warned it. It calls itself Gomtuu, and I've been getting info for a while from it in bits and pieces. It's old, really old, from far away, and hasn't seen another one of its kind for millennia. There used to be millions of them."
Suddenly, Picard is much more interested in cooperating with Tam. Always a sucker for "last of its kind."
"Can you ask it to come with us to Federation space?" asks Picard. "Move away from the star?"
Tam shakes his head. "Gomtuu knows the star is going supernova. That's the whole reason it's here: to commit suicide." He pauses, clearly reaching out for an explanation. "There was a crew... then an explosion in space... radiation... the crew was killed, and Gomtuu was alone..." He shudders, and it's obvious that he's a bit too tangled up here for his own good.
Troi grabs his head. "Stop! You're losing yourself!"

Tam comes down. "I know," he says softly. He looks at Picard. "That's all I have. If you want more info, I need to be in physical contact, go aboard Gomtuu."
"Not a good idea," says Picard firmly.
"You don't trust me," guesses Tam.
"No," says Picard, though there isn't really the malice there that there was before. "Tam, when you warned Gomtuu, did you think about this ship or its crew at all, or did you react out of instinct?'
Troi starts to protest, but Tam cuts her off.
"No, he's right," sighs Tam.
Ah, meeting of the minds.
"Here's the thing," says Tam, "I really can't say what'll happen. But this is the only idea I have, and I'm concerned that nothing else is going to work. We fail our mission if I don't go over there and make contact."
Picard nods.

Back to Engineering. We get another scene where only Geordi has lines, and his little helper Golds only nod in response to his requests. They do some stuff and are not able to get online. Riker calls.
"Nope, still got nothin'. I'm thinking of (sciencing) to make (science) happen."
"Yeah, do it," says Riker.
A moment later, they're up and running, but it's with a limp.
"Hey look," says Geordi. "Long range scanners. With a weird blip."
He calls Riker, who asks Worf if he sees it.
Worf fiddles with his station for a moment. "Yep. Probably more Roms."

Picard has called Troi and Data to his ready room to ask their opinions on Tam and this new thing where he sends the dude over to commune with the living ship.
"It's not a question of whether or not he is trustworthy," says Troi. "I trust his intentions, but not his judgment. He's already got problems with a thousand-plus minds on this ship, and now he's being taken over by this alien. I think he might lose himself if he goes over there. However, I don't think he'd intentionally harm anyone on this ship, or cause Tin Man to do so."
Picard nods, and Troi leaves.
"Are we not going to let Tam complete the mission?" asks Data.
"Welllllll," says Picard. "The thing is, all he did was warn Tin Man, and the first thing it did was destroy a ship."
"I get that," says Data, nodding. "Maybe don't send him alone? Send me with him."
Picard shakes him head. "No, Troi knows him better."
"Yeah, but he's more comfortable with me," Data points out. "He's running away from humanity. I could bridge that for him, remind him that he's working with both us and Tin Man."
 "True," says Picard.

Where'd that globe come from? That's badass.

Later, Picard enters the bridge. The Roms have decloaked.
"What have we got?" Picard asks Riker.
"40% shields, and impulse power."
"We have phasers," says Worf, "but not computer targeting, so we fire on manual."
"Well, shit," replies Picard. "Maybe the Romulans will want to chat."
They open hailing frequencies and turn the screen on.
"Why are you in Romulan space?" demands the commander without so much as a how-do-you-do.
Picard gives that nervous smile he uses when he's covering something up. "Scientific research. Wanna join?"
"The fuck you are," snaps the commander. "We saw on scanners how that alien destroyed the other ship. We claim vengeance."
Y'all, if this is your space, why do you need to announce that you claim vengeance? You don't need to announce to one person who has come onto your land that you intend to kill a second. You just do it.
Anyway -

Dramatic music and zoom-in on Picard's face! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Gonna be a showdown between Tin Man and the warbird. Kinda have no choice but to let Tam Elbrun go over there and talk to Tin Man."

No, that's not true. You could warn the Romulans that Tin Man has hellsa weapons that could wipe him off the face of space. And then the Romulan commander would respond by saying that Picard is lying, or by waving his green dick around and claiming that his own weapons are superior, and then he could get engage Tin Man, and probably get blown to... never mind. No choice.
These Romulans are so boring, you guys. At least the one from TOS thought for himself rather than buying the Romulan Star party line. All these TNG Roms do is say the same shit over and over again. Just like TNG Ferengi. Blargh.

Picard calls Tam and tells him to meet Data at the transporter room.

Tam and Data beam over to Tin Man, and it's kinda weird inside. Like corridors and rooms, but also like CGI representations of arteries? Instantly, Tam folds in on himself. Tin Man is basically uploading its whole existence to his brain in one fell swoop.
Data tries to call for a beam-out, but his comm badge is making that "not working" noise that's so frustrating.
"No, no, don't call them!" begs Tam. "I'm okay now. I'm fine."

Back on the E, O'Brien gets his Nurse Chapel line: "Hey, bridge. I've lost the lock on the away team."
On the bridge, Worf confirms that Tin Man put up a forcefield. "Also, the Roms are arming themselves and going in."
"Crap," says Picard. "Arm us, and follow them."

 On Tin Man, Data and Tam are making their way through the corridors when Tam stops to touch the wall. His hand sinks into the material and he responds to something that Tin Man apparently says. When he moves on, Data attempts to also put his hand through the wall, but it's solid now.
They move forward into a large chamber, and Tam tells Data that this room was where the crew would guide Tin Man on their journeys.
"Gomtuu and the crew existed symbiotically," Tam says. "They needed each other, and when the crew died, Gomtuu had no purpose."
"Is that what the purpose of life is?" asks Data. "To care for someone?"
"It is for me," says Tam. "But I didn't realize it until now."
"Hey, I need to remind you that our mission here is to get Tin Man away from the star and report back to Starfleet," says Data.
"Yeah, about that... I'm not going back."
A chair appears from the floor, growing up next to Tam, an obvious offering.
"Totally not the plan, Tam."

Worf tells Picard that the Roms are calling, and they pull up the viewscreen.
"You better not interfere," the Romulan commander barks at Picard.
"Whatever. We'll hella defend the alien."
They power up weapons.
"Star is shrinking," Wes announces.

On Tin Man, Tam asks Data to convey to the others that he is not coming back, and why. He sits in the chair, and a sort of orifice thing opens up on the wall in front of him. It's a viewscreen.
"We're supposed to save Tin man," Data reminds Tam.
"We are," says Tam. "It's just that Tin Man is saving me too. Seems like I've been waiting my whole life for this. All the voices are gone, except Tin Man's."

"Hey, so... Tin Man is powering up," warns Worf. "Also, the Roms are too."
"Star is going," says Worf.
"Yeah, and Tin Man and the Romulans know that too," says Picard. "Out of time."
Only this time, when Tin Man does its spin of death, the power source is purple instead of blue. It pushes both ships in a spin away from the star.
There's a kind of funny moment where Riker and Picard, standing in the middle of the bridge, spin slowly like kids at a playground.

When the spinning stops, Wes reports that they've been pushed beyond the danger zone of the collapsing star, 3.8 billion light years away.
"No sign of Tin Man or the Romulans," reports Worf.
There's a flash of light way off in the distance to indicate the star going supernova, and they all look at one another.
"Data," says Picard.
There's the sound of someone suddenly appearing in the space.
"Hey," says Data.
"What happened?" asks Picard.
Data pauses, then replies, "Hard to say."
"Tam?" asks Troi.
"I think he found what he was looking for," Data assures her.

 Captain's Log, supplemental: "We got temporary power to most stuff, but we're limping to the next starbase for repairs. Dunno where Tin Man and Tam Elbrun went."

Troi has been called to the Obs Lounge, where she finds Data.
"So Tam wanted me to explain things to the crew, but I think he really hoped you would understand best," he tells her. "When I encountered them first, they both seemed so...."
"Wounded," she guesses. "Isolated."
"Yes to both. But when they came together, I saw a change in them. They fit together. They were no longer alone. They were joyful."
She smiles. "You understand."
"Yes," he confirms. "When Tin Man beamed me over, I realized that I belonged here."
She gives him a sweet little hug.


Bit of a mixed bag here, but I like the way things ended, so not too bad overall. Starting out being up in arms over mental illness gave me pause. Being that this episode is almost 30 years old, there was always the chance that it aged poorly and was full of terrible stigmas about people who deal with mental illness on an everyday level. I cringed when Picard kept losing his temper with Tam. It had the potential to go sideways, and everyone would have nodded and said, "Well, Picard was right, because Tam was unstable." And I would have been pissed because there are ways to work with those kinds of situations. Too many times I've seen someone exacerbate someone else's mental illness challenges because they end up carelessly tossing that kind of thing to the wind. "It sets him off when I yell, and things could be made better by remaining calm? To hell with it, I'll yell." Tam is definitely the kind of person for whom empathy can go miles. When Data treated him equally, when Troi tossed some empathy his way, things worked better for Tam. He mostly struggled when others lost patience with him, brought up past failures, or yelled at him.
But it didn't go as sideways as I thought it might have. Picard never quite fully came around, though there was that moment in sick bay where he seemed to understand that the way to get through to the heart of Tam's dilemma was to understand where he was coming from. Would it have been nice if he had continued that line through to the end, said how it was nice that Tam had found himself? Yes. But the fact that he didn't is why he got a "hard to say, sir" from Data, and why Troi got the full explanation.
And I suppose that works, from a longevity standpoint. Picard is stoic, and doesn't care for emotion or the overemotional. He is not Vulcan, but sees too much emotion as a hindrance to his ship and its mission. He gave just as much as he is usually willing to give, then tempered it with that stoicism again. To have him give more might have been to the detriment of his character. It's possible that in his personal life, he felt for Tam, but chose not to acknowledge it professionally, because that might have jeopardized the ship.
I thought it also worked when he asked Tam if he had given a second thought to the crew of the ship, and Tam admitted that he had not. It ties back to the Ghorusda Incident, and the fact that Tam has trouble with the bigger picture. For one brief moment, they both understood one another better, and hopefully took that knowledge forward.
In the end, the fact that Tam and his situation were not Othered is what counts with me. Was this episode ground-breaking in terms of how people with mental illnesses are treated? No. But he wasn't treated like a leper, so I'll take it.

Fun facts:

- The story for this episode began as a short story called "Tin Woodman" that was written in 1976. It was written by Dennis Russell Bailey and David Bischoff and published in the December issue of "Amazing Stories." It was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1977, and used as the basis for a novel of the same name in 1979.

- The 1982 novel reprint contained a quote from Publisher's Weekly, calling it "... a mixture of Moby Dick, The Caine Mutiny, and Star Trek..."
- Lisa Putnum White joined the trio in watching "Samaritan Snare" and together they thought the episode was a huge piece of crap, and that they could write better Star Trek. They adapted the original story idea into a Star Trek script and submitted it. White did not receive a writing credit due to Writers Guild rules stating that only two people could have credit on one story.
- This episode suggests that Picard and DeSoto had served as lieutenants together.
- Data being an expert in exobiology - that's not a thing they just made up out of the blue for this episode. Data told Riker in the first episode that he had majored in exobiology at the Academy. It's a nice call-back, even if it is a bit convenient for the story. It's possible the story was built around that for the get-go. I'm just gonna go with that.
- The sounds that Gomtuu makes as heard from the inside by Data and Tam were a recording of sound FX editor Jim Wolvington's stomach through a stethoscope while eating pizza. This was then mixed with didjeridoos played through synth machines, and whale sounds. Jay Chattaway was the composer for this episode, and had come from years of composing for Jacques Costeau, so he had a huge library of whale sounds at his disposal.
-The growing chair effect was made by creating a chair of wax, melting after the filming was done, then running the filmed melting in reverse.
- Gomtuu's weapon FX were actually recycled and scaled-down versions of V'ger's evolution from the first TOS movie.
- Director Robert Scheerer felt that the story for this episode was interesting, but they weren't quite able to pull off the sense that Gomtuu was a living ship.

Scheerer with Brent Spiner and Harry Groener

-This episode was nominated for an Emmy for Special Effects.
- The inspiration for Gomtuu's look is credited to either a peach pit or the thermal pods from Buckaroo Banzai, depending on which staffer you ask.
- This is the first time the D'deridex-class Romulan ship is named on screen.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 10
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
To date: 7
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 12
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 11
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
To date: 22
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 25
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 4
To date: 28
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 4

Awkward Uhura


  1. Huh. Whenever I see this episode, Tam always irritates me at first, but then I get over it and start liking him and rooting for him. I never made the connection between his telepathy and autism, but I'm married to an Aspie, and I reacted that way to her, too. Interesting.

    1. I never made the connection before now, but having to pick through these episodes with a fine-toothed comb like this has made me realize just what I've overlooked in past viewings. I feel a little abashed about that now, because I grew up with a sibling on the spectrum and never noticed the similarities before. Thinking about it now gives me both a deeper understanding of Picard's frustration and also straight-up anger at how he dealt with the situation.

  2. Gomtuu's weapon FX were actually recycled and scaled-down versions of V'ger's evolution

    I noticed the similarity, but I didn't know they could transplant FX like that.

  3. I like Tam's comfy-looking oversized sweater-thing, but I can't figure out what's going on with his pants. Are those ring? Flaps?

    Also, it occurred to me that he's wearing the same clothes days after his arrival. I wonder if Tam just replicates the same thing every day so he doesn't have to think about what to wear, like someone with a closet full of the same outfit.

  4. Shoot. I know how to make the architectural part of his pants, but I'm not sure what to call it... smocking without the embroidery? You basically fold the fabric so that it forms slats, like mini blinds? Only here it's done very large, like the sleeves on a male samba dancer's coat. Ends up looking a bit like an accordion.
    I hadn't noticed that he was wearing the same thing day after day, but your theory makes a lot of sense, especially when paired with the idea that early-telepathic Betazoids are similar to humans on the autism spectrum. If what we suspect about autistic people is true, and they're constantly being bombarded with stimuli, then simplifying everything else, like wardrobe, would make a lot of sense.