Every series has an episode that features the death of a major character, it’s never easy when that character is someone who has gained a following. This is that episode this season and it is not an easy one to revisit. So, without delay, originally airing on April 25th 1988, I present to you Skin Of Evil.
Stardate 41601.3: Skin of Evil
The Enterprise is planning to rendezvous with Counselor Troi’s shuttle after she had been away at a conference. As the Engineering crew conduct maintenance on the Dilithium Chamber, the Enterprise is hailed by the shuttle carrying Troi claiming that they are having computer issues and must make an emergency landing on a random planet. The Enterprise, under minimal engine power, must get to the planet to rescue their comrades.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet to rescue Troi and the members of the shuttle team only to find that they can not penetrate the the area the shuttle crashed with their sensors to determine if their crewmates survived. They send an away team comprised of Riker, Data, Dr. Crusher and Yar and, upon arrival, they run into a pool of sentient sludge that will not let them get to the wrecked shuttle.
The sludge (which looks like raw oil) takes ‘human’ form and identifies itself as Armus. Armus refuses to allow the away team to pass, threatening them that any attempt to pass will result in their deaths. Tasha steps forward to challenge it and is swept away, killing her nearly instantly. Picard immediately orders the away team to be transported back aboard to attempt to revive their fallen crewmate but, despite all of Dr. Crusher’s efforts, Tasha Yar is declared dead, becoming the first casualty of the bridge crew in the series.
That’s honestly all you need to know about this episode. Freakin Tasha Yar dies. I’ll tell you the rest but honestly, the single most important takeaway from this episode is that they actually killed one of the key crew members on the show. Holy. Shit.
Meanwhile Armus engulfs the crashed shuttle, threatening Troi and the shuttle crew. The Sludge attempts to provoke Troi in telling her that it killed her crewmate, telling her that it killed her just for the fun of it. It had no reason and acted out of malice alone. It is apparent that this sludge enjoys torment and is truly a skin of evil.
Aboard the ship, Picard assigns Worf as acting chief of security in Yar’s absence and informs the bridge crew that, although sad, they must first rescue their shuttle crew before they mourn their fallen crewmate. It seems cold, but it is indeed the matter at hand.
When the away team returns to the surface, Armus tortures them again and the creature takes Geordi’s visor as amusement and will not let them help him. Armus talks to Troi and reveals that it was part of a species that cast off all of their evil on this planet resulting in his creation. He represents all of this species evil and has been alone, desperate for amusement, for an unknown time. Knowing that they will not get any amusement from the crew, Armus pulls Beardless Riker into his body and tells them all that if they leave he will kill them all.
As this is all occurring, Wesley and Worf have been monitoring the situation and note that every time Armus talks with Troi, its energy patterns change. Knowing that this could be a weakness, Picard beams down to confront the being on his own. After Armus tortures the away team some more,
Charles Xavier Picard talks to Armus and using his mutant powers incredibly ‘British’ accent for a frenchman, he talks the creature down and saves Troi in the process.
In the end, the crew hold a ceremony for Tasha on the holodeck. Tasha has left a message for the crew in the event of her death, and she tells them that she had expected to eventually die in the line of duty. It is a real emotional moment and really gives her character a proper send off.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Yes, I would say it is although a little shaky in the end. While the story is quite dark in it’s manner it really showcases how the crew are a family and care for one another. Although this would be Tasha Yar’s final episode as a member of the crew, it is became a great opportunity for the writers to allow each member to have a moment in remembering her life. The endgame and how they ‘beat’ Armus is a little lame but seriously, how do you defeat an overpowered enemy?
I still get a little misty eyed at the funeral scene in this episode and I dare anyone who is a fan of the series to claim otherwise. Tasha was a cool character that, sadly, didn’t get a chance to really explore her character in full. Her death, however, really allowed growth in the crew, specifically Data and Worf. Data realized that he will miss his friend (lover?) and crewmate while Worf gets a chance to become the Chief of Security, a role that would propel his character much further in the series as time went on.
I remember being devastated as a child that they killed Tasha Yar. After 21 episodes, she was steadily becoming one of my favorite characters on the series and I really liked how she interacted with the rest of the crew. When she was first struck down, I really didn’t believe they would kill her off so easily. You have to understand that, being in a relatively pre-internet society, no rumors or spoilers had made it to my ears by the time this episode ran so the impact was so much more than it would have been had I known she was leaving. That is a major problem these days with having access to so much information, the element of surprise is hard to use these days and media is so much lesser for it.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We meet the fourth Chief Engineer Lt Commander Leland T. Lynch. Once again, he doesn’t last long either. I guess the previous Chief (Mr. Logan) made a critical error challenging Geordi’s command. Come to think of it, has Geordi been quietly culling the competition all along?
You get a nice moment between Worf and Yar in the opening segment that implies that Worf might have some feelings for his crewmate, she is a sure thing in the ship’s betting pool for for a kickboxing contest after all.
We will later learn that Data kept the hologram of Tasha as one of his personal belongings, showing that, in his own way, he really did care for her.
We never see Armus again in the series but we do see Tasha again…but you’ll have to wait for that one. heh.
Riker Beard Countdown B minus 4 Episodes until Beard Emergence.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review. I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: We’ll Always Have Paris
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Late To The Game 5/5/2019 ( Originally Published 02/19/18)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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