What?? I like “Skin of Evil”???Well, yeah. I kind of do. I mean, compared to season one TNG crap like”Angel One” or “Code of Honor” this episode…is still lame. But watchable! Let’s take a closer look at one of the worst shaftings to a popular regular character ever seen on Trek.




Skin of Evil was the 23rd episode of the first season, and was an episode swirling in controversy. When Denise Crosby decided her character was pointless (she was, more on that in a bit) she decided to leave the show. For some reason the creators chose to kill her off in a very cold way. Thankfully she would return but at the time this was huge, I still remember the coverage this got in the now defunct Starlog Magazine at the time.By the way, Starlog was an awesome sci-fi magazine and I may even still have those issues somewhere. Oh and yes my friends they in fact had spoilers beforethe internet. So, what happens in the episode? Let’s take a look!


Plot Synopsis:


The Enterprise has to divert course when they discover the shuttle carrying Deanna Troi has crashed on some planet. They arrive and an away team beams down to rescue Deanna and the pilot.  An oil slick gets in their way, and suddenly the slick rises to take on a humanoid form calling itself Armus. When Tasha Yar attempts to cross to the shuttle to save her friends, Armus attacks and instantly kills her.
The away team get Tasha back to the ship but it is too late. After Picard reminds the others they have to focus on Troiand will grieve later, another away teams beams down while Worf and Wesley discover Armus is using an energy field to surround the shuttle. Troi discovers that Armus is the physical manifestation of a magnificentrace shedding their evil and leaving it behind. It then begins to taunt the away team by making Data almost shoot his friends, Geordi loose his visor, and submerging Riker within itself.
Picard beams down, and after Riker is returned unharmed Picard is allowed to check on Troi. When they compare notes they realize that when Armus is angry and feeling rage the energy field gets lower. Get him angry enough they may be able to beam Troi home. So Picard taunts Armus, pointing out how abandoned he is and will be forever, and finally the field drops and everyone is safe. Picard makes sure the shuttle is destroyed and the planet is marked off limits. Sadly, the episode ends with our heroes saying their final goodbyes to Tasha.




Guest Stars:


None really unless you count thepeople who had to perform Armus. I will admit, Armus was a special effectsfail. A big oil slick…ooh, scary! I mean, I suppose it could have been worstand I give them credit for effort. Man, imagine what they could do with himtoday with CGI! The voice wasn’t bad at least it gave the feeling of a littlemenace. It helps when they have a professional voice actor doing it.
Episode Pro’s :


Tasha’s death has pro’s and con’s so let’s first look at the good part. For what they were, the scenes were acted well. She dies in sick-bay and it’s handled just right (though why they didn’t beam her directly to sick-bay I will never understand). And the memorial at the end is very sweet to. Tasha was a favorite character of mine and it was sad to see her go. What else is there? I like the scene at the end between Picard and Armus, the way Picard ouwits him. Troi also comes off good in this one, using psychology to analyze and ultimately beat Armus. And there is a sweet scene between Yar and Worf opener that even Crosby herself said she wished she hadgotten more like. Finally, the whole memorial is very good but I especially like the scene with Picard and Data at the end Data notes how empty the days will seem without Tasha.


Episode Con’s :


There is more to complain about with this episode. The pacing is kind of slow, for one thing. And the stuff with Armus gets boring after awhile. But the real problem is how they handled Tasha’s death. While it was well acted, you can’t ignore the fact that this character was killed for no reason in a moment when she wasn’t even in battle. It was treated much the same way the original series would kill of security guards, but there is a difference. But let’s really discuss this for a second.
Last week I talked about the classic episode “The Changeling” and there is a scene where Scotty is killed by Nomad.The death is quick and pointless, why? Because he is brought back five minutes later. You just can’t do that when the death is supposed to be permanent. Tasha wasn’t some red shirt extra she was a strong character that many had learned to love. As Linkara once said, if you’re going to kill off a popular character you had better make it be as strong as possible, and have the character go out in a blaze of glory, for it to have the desired effect. At least Kirk in Generations died for something. Even Jadzia on DS9 had a better death (though not by much I admit) because she was at least trying to defend herself before she was attacked. If Jadzia had run she might have lived but instead she saw Dukat and was ready to fight. Plus she had that tender scene with Worf. Not bad. Course it could be worst look what they did with Tripp on Enterprise! That makes Tasha’s death look strong as heck. Heck even Data in Nemesis was a stronger death! Of course Spock will always be the gold standard after the exit he got in Wrath ofKhan. It was done perfectly. Here, Tasha’s death here was just so empty and pointless…..which is why I am so glad that two years later “Yesterday’s Enterprise” came along.It gave us the exit for Yar we wanted to see and in some ways, makes me hate “Skin of Evil” a little less.



“Fast Forward” Moment:


You could fast forward through the stuff with Armus taunting the away team. It really does nothing but waste more time. We know Armus is evil, we know he can kill, and we know he will never allow them to reach the shuttle. So, why are they even down here? The scene had potential to be real suspenseful but overall fails. Even the bit with Riker being enveloped relies too much on our being told what is happening to be truly effective.


Final Thoughts:


I guess this is a guilty pleasure for me. I know I should hate this episode, and yet I still like it especially over some of the other crap that came along in Season One. It is amazing this show ever made it out of that first year. Crosby chose to leave, but looking back on it I think it was the smartest move. Tasha had potential to be a strong character, but they really didn’t do anything with her. Had she stayed I think she would have been like Kes on Voyager. Kes started out with a strong backstory but after three seasons the creators just didn’t know what else to do with her. So Jennifer Lien was out, Jeri Ryan was in. I will talk more about down the road. Thanks to Crosby leaving we got Yesterday’s Enterprise, her cameo in All Good Things, her return as Romulan Commander Sela, and Worf was finally given something to do besides grunt. Honestly, I find it real hard to imagine what TNG would have looked like if Tasha had made it past Season One. So as lame a death, and episode, as it was, I think The Next Generation was all the better for it.


So, think Tasha got the shaft? Wait until next time and you will see how Trek can really ruin a character!

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