Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Skin of Evil"

1.5 stars

Air date: 4/25/1988
Teleplay by Joseph Stefano and Hannah Louise Shearer
Story by Joseph Stefano
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A shuttle carrying Counselor Troi (and some poor guy named Ben that the episode doesn't care about because he doesn't also have awesome boobs) crashes on a planet. The away team beams down to rescue the survivors but encounters Armus (Mart McChesney), who initially resembles a miniature tar pit. He turns out to be an intelligent, albeit hopelessly embittered, being who can rise up and take humanoid form, and who has a voice that sounds like Megatron, only deeper and meaner. Maybe he's Unicron.

He also has the power to do ... well, whatever the plot requires him to do, including killing people at will and creating forcefields that prevent the beam-up of the shuttle survivors. Armus' biggest claim to fame is that he kills Tasha Yar, who dies a rather ignominious death, which is ignominious in no small part because of that goofy splotch on her cheek during the ER sequence — one of few TNG season-one moments to actually use hand-held cameras. (Things must really be bad when the hand-held cameras come out.)

You know, there really should be a "Skin of Evil" drinking game where you drink every time Armus rises up into humanoid form from his tar pit or descends back down, or every time he covers or uncovers the crashed shuttlecraft. Because it's a lot. If anyone sells that game, I expect royalties. Armus is occasionally amusing, simply because he's such an incredible bastard that you almost have to like him — or else hate Troi for trying to disarm him with her psychobabble. Come to think of it, maybe I'd just rather hate Troi in this episode.

The battle of wills (wits?) with Armus goes on for too long and gets too repetitive. (Did I mention that the scenes of Troi trying to counsel Armus really tried my patience?) The episode, at the very least, does not try to redeem Armus, and leaves him stranded and as unhappy as ever. Yar gets a holodeck funeral, which is well-intended, yes, but way too cloying and pushy. But what else would you expect from TNG?

Previous episode: Symbiosis
Next episode: We'll Always Have Paris

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59 comments on this review

Mon, Apr 14, 2008, 1:33pm (UTC -6)
I actually thought "Skin of Evil" was a bit better than most seem to make it. The sudden death of Tasha, while somewhat anticlimatic, was still a shock. The Troi/Armus scenes weren't as powerful as they wanted to be, but the funeral scene for Tasha at the end was fine, I felt.
And, as you pointed out, the episode "does not try to redeem Armus, and leaves him stranded and as unhappy as ever," which is another thing I liked about it, including Picard's great line("I'm not taking you anywhere") and his following log entry revealing that the shuttle has been destroyed to prevent Armus from leaving and declare Vegra II off limits.
Of course the best part is that this 'lemon' led to the 'lemonade' that was "Yesterday's Enterprise."
Sat, Aug 20, 2011, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
Mostly spot on, but I have to disagree on "skin of evil". It isn't perfect by any means, but such a bastard of a villain is rare for tng, especially season 1. And yar's death is admittedly meaningless, making this episode further removed from season 1 foppery. Plus it holds interest if unevenly due to the high tension. 6/10
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
Using Jammer's scale, I would give this 3 stars. It was entertaining, did not have a cheap ending, was truly sci-fi, and did demonstrate some human values (stand up to evil, not give in to it).

I wish Starfleet would have learned a lesson from this incident though. Their hand phasers were ineffective -- their backup weapon? Nothing! Starfleet should have immediately did some R&D on different types of weapons! Somewhat frustratingly, this same situation happened again later (e.g. hand phasers ineffective) and Starfleet never learned! These humans more advanced than 20th century my foot!
Wed, Oct 10, 2012, 11:04am (UTC -6)
The only redeeming quality of this episode is the death of Tasha Tar, imo. I was done with the driving force of the plot by the third time the bad guy raised and uttered its 'uugh' and 'aargh' for what seemed like forever. At least we got plenty of meme material: Riker's 'Data, something's got meeee!'- and Picard saying at one time 'forever... alone'. Now, how convenient that when they see Tasha' holographic will, she only talked about the few guys that were there. No more friends? what a sorry life she had.
Mon, Nov 5, 2012, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
"A shuttle carrying Counselor Troi (and some poor guy named Ben that the episode doesn't care about because he doesn't also have awesome boobs)"

So true! First, Beverly asks Troi is she is all right. But no question for poor Ben.

Then Picard teleports into the shuttle, and Ben is still in the same position, Troi didn't even try to put him in a more comfortable one.

And when the Enterprise beams up the shuttle's crew, we only see Troi's beaming, and not a single moment for Ben.

The funeral scene was overplayed and way too corny. And only the protagonists were there? Why not any other crewmen? Didn't she have any friends in security team?

Best part of the episode is the fact that Worf takes her place as Chief of security. Tbh, I won't miss Tasha at all. Go Worf!
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
Armus is a novel adversary.

Yar's death comes almost too soon and is unexpected. But voltage (microvolts)??

If anything, Yar's prerecorded message that assumes nobody's moved to new assignments is a tad contrived and mawkish... and, of course, has the Windows XP wallpaper in the background... TNG really was ahead of its time.

The questionable pacing between the mush-fest with Troi, Picard's stern attitude, and Armus' trickery with the crew, and not to mention newly-appointed Worf coming across a little too cowardly to be believed...

2.5 of 4 stars, despite being remarkably watchable...
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
P.S. Great bit about the boobs; Yar did have the best...
William B
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 6:24pm (UTC -6)
I go back and forth on this one, and I was all set to agree with the 1.5 rating, but I think I'll go up to 2. This is a bad episode for Yar, and poorly paced. But Armus as a total bastard actually works well for me -- as well as the central idea of him being cast off from being the worst of a society. I think that one could even argue that Armus is a parallel to Yar -- Tasha came from Turkana IV, which was, indeed, a planet formed up of the worst of the worst of humanity and the Federation, and she managed to pull herself into being a good person with Starfleet's help. Armus is what Yar could have let herself become -- consumed by loneliness and not unjustified anger, letting the worst traits of its background define it and taking that out on others. It's somehow particularly tragic that he kills Yar, but on some level it makes sense that he targets her, since she represents the thing that Armus cannot do, which is rise above the circumstances of its creation. (Note: I don't mean that Armus literally recognizes these traits in Yar or anything -- it's more of a point of thematic interest.) I find some of the scenes between Armus and Troi fairly engaging, actually, and Armus' attempt to torment the crew by, for example, having Data point in various directions with his phaser, works for me too. It still ultimately does not work -- the episode is padded out because there simply is not enough material here, and it's hard to get through the funeral scene which is where the episode's emotional stakes actually are. And yet, there is something here.
Thu, May 23, 2013, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
I think this episode went a long way to establishing the camaraderie between the crew that would eventually give TNG its special atmosphere. Also, it was 'good' to see a death handled like it actually meant something, rather than nameless people just disappearing off. A tad weak, yes, like other season 1 TNG, but certainly not awful, and definitely a little meaningful, more so than in many other sister-series episodes at this point of time, even our Jammer's beloved DS9, and certainly more so than VOY. I'd go for at least 2.5.
Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
So who drops his phaser into Armus when Riker gets sucked in? It really looks like Data's holster is empty. Clutzy android. Overall its a pretty slow episode though I'd give it 2.5 stars at least as its still more dramatic and important to the show than most of the first season.
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 10:21am (UTC -6)
I must be one of the few people who actually liked Tasha and wish she'd stayed around a lot longer. TNG's first season was, let's be honest, pretty dire and seems horribly dated now in every respect; consider how much the other characters developed in the subsequent six years, something Tasha never got the chance to do. I think she could have become a great character. After all, even Picard was quite weak in season 1. Anyway, one of the most widely criticised aspects of Skin of Evil is that Tasha's death was 'meaningless'. I actually see this as a plus point. The Heroic Sacrificial (tm) Death has been way, way, WAY overused in sci-fi - actually in all genres of fiction - and I for one get quite tired of it. I loved that Star Trek was brave enough to give such a swift, pointless and arbitrary death to a main character. Because the painful reality is that most sudden deaths are just like that, and I really appreciated seeing Star Trek reflect this for once.
Reverend Spork
Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
The only good thing about this mushy episode was the death of Tasha Yar, and not because it was done well. Yar was not only a fairly non-descript character, but her presence kept Worf largely in the footlights. Denise Crosby's departure turned out to be a boon for Michael Dorn, as Yar's death paved way for a much larger - and satisfying - role for our favorite Klingon. episode? One star.
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 3:53pm (UTC -6)
I just finished rewatching this episode after a long time. I have to say, despite vividly remembering not being too keen on it when i first saw it, it definitely left a better impression on me now. Despite the age of TNG, the visual effects still work reasonably well which definitely helps on an episode that relies so much on them. After all, Watching Armus do it's thing is undeniably central to this episode. Reading the comments, i also fully have to agree with most statements, especially rob's. It is quite refreshing to see an actual unredeemable villian in star trek for once. One might argue many more were to follow but although that may be true upon their introduction, in most cases, later developments in the franchise destroyed that aspect for most adversaries. Even the borg tended to display some human elements by the end of Voyager (geesh, thanks Berman). I also have to agree with the, admittedly pointless and low-key, death of Tasha be fitting for the episode and the character of Armus, making this a strong point. Even so, it's never a good sign when the initial impression wasn't good. Still, in retrospect, i'd have to rate this one 3 on the jammer scale.
Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 12:01am (UTC -6)

Nuff said.
Patrick D
Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 7:07pm (UTC -6)
Well, I have to disagree with the J-Man on this one. A solid 3 stars for me.

This is *the* episode that made the world of TNG seem real. Tasha Yar dies and there's no miraculous fix. ("Yesterday's Enterprise" doesn't count because it's an alternate timeline and she dies again ultimately.) None of the major players of any Star Trek up to this point ever really died, not even Spock. This episode shattered that precedent. And the loss is felt throughout the rest of the series. Episodes like "The Measure of a Man", "The Bonding", "Ethics" and "All Good Things…", proved she was not forgotten by our heroes. Compare this to the exit of Kes on Star Trek: Voyager.

Could they have toned down the funeral to make it less maudlin? Sure, but it's still heartfelt (Marina Sirtis was not faking the tears).

Other things that work:

*Counselor Troi saves the day in this episode. She's actually useful and she does it by using her counseling skills!

*The scene where the crew is upset in the briefing room and are talking all at once. Picard taps on the table to remind them that they have to focus on the mission.

*The scene where Picard was pushing Armus's buttons was nicely played, and just as he beams away says: "I am not taking you anywhere"--as if passing sentence on the creature for Tasha's murder. Very pulse pounding…

*…which brings me to Ron Jones memorable score that injects true passion to the episode. As it has been stated, it's such a stark contrast from the later seasons.

*And finally, this is a well directed and edited episode that and moves smoother than a lot of the saggier episodes of TNG's first season.
Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 9:29am (UTC -6)
Everyone has pretty well covered the strengths and weaknesses of this episode--I wanted to bring up something different. The legend around Trekland is that Denis Crosby became increasingly dissatisfied with her diminishing role and made the choice to leave the show in the first season.

However, as best I understand, that assumption is based on comments Crosby made after the fact rather than any official statements.

While re-watching Season One, it occurred to me that Crosby's role was purposefully diminished because she was an appallingly bad actress. Far Point was rough for everybody, but all the actors except Crosby seemed to find their niche by the midpoint of the season. Sirtis toned down the theatrics, Spiner became less glib, Stewart became less grouchy. Crosby just stayed stilted.

Even in Yesterday's Enterprise, her line delivery seemed very fake. Trying to accept she was some kind of kick-ass warrior was painful.

I tried to find any comments from the production staff regarding her departure--it seems they stayed silent, which would suggest to me they were trying to be kind and allowed her to leave for the reasons SHE thought. But if she'd been great, I imagine they would have fought to keep her.

I don't hate Crosby--in fact, I am kind of glad her success was limited because it gave her the incentive to do the excellent "Trekkies."

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
I thought Crosby was ok as Yar. I always saw the character as "damaged"...her brutal childhood left her a loner who is slow to trust and cannot forgive. She would have no friends of lesser rank, and very few, period.

Ironically, Sirtis originally read for that role (then named Marla Hernandez), and Crosby read for the role of Deanna Troi.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 10:09am (UTC -6)
I think Yar could have been my favourite character but a show like TNG was the wrong vehicle for her backstory. Not to knock TNG, I honestly love it and DS9 in totally different ways, but the show just wasn't the right format for a character like hers. You need time to see just how damaged she would be and how little trust she lacks, and see her grow to accept her childhood and go in new directions.

I do think she was poorly cast though. I think I read they initially had a Vazquez from Aliens type character in mind. But a blonde Vazquez? Maybe if she had been a reboot Starbuck kind of person, but Denise Crosby was just all wrong.

I can't comment too directly on her acting, but I see she's about to appear on The Walking Dead (at 57!) so we can see if she got better with age. And let's face it, first season scripts didn't give her much to work with. It's a shame, I can imagine an alternate universe where her character really found her feet and became awesome.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 11:28am (UTC -6)
Crosby was in an episode of Dexter a few years ago. She did well, but I couldn't help but snigger at the irony that her character showed up, only to be killed. It may be in her contract.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
@Elliot - Denise Crosby is the female Sean Bean.
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 12:51am (UTC -6)
We haven't focused enough on Armus. Intriguing: a being composed of 100% negativity ... of all a society's negative aspects ... and putting them into one big glop ... and then dumping it on to an uninhabited planet never to interact with other beings. Can we do that with us? Please?

Also, should we feel sorry for it? (alone, angry, etc.) It can't change, but, should we anyway?
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 3:30am (UTC -6)
I actually thought this ep was not bad. Tasha's death was terrible and anticlimatic, but I kind of liked the rest of the episode. It felt like an old TOS script, right down to the captain's speech which helped defeat Armus - much like "Day of the Dove" when Kirk and Kang basically laughed the evil alien off the ship.

The worst flaw was the manner of Tasha's death. She should have gone out with phasers firing, rather than dying meaninglessly, which was lampshaded in "Yesterday's Enterprise" - I like to think the writers were admitting they screwed up here. Considering that it's now relatively commonplace for TV shows to kill off prominent characters just for shock value, I wonder if this ep started a trend.

The voice of Armus reminded me of the voice of the Beast entity in the Doctor Who two parter "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit".
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 9:14am (UTC -6)
The best part about this episode was the series loosing a misscast/horribly written full time character.

On to Worf as head of security!!
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 5:17pm (UTC -6)
What stuck with me about this episode was the final scene between Data and Picard.
Data: "My thoughts center on how I will miss Tasha. Did I miss the point of the funeral?"
Picard: "No. You got it.".

Subtly reinforced one of the central core elements of TNG: Data learning about humanity as a literary method for studying it.
And also one of the scenes that subtly thrust Data up there next to Picard as the central characters of the show.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
"Now, how convenient that when they see Tasha' holographic will, she only talked about the few guys that were there. No more friends? what a sorry life she had."

Most people would be lucky to have as many true friends--significant enough to be personally addressed in a 'funeral' record--if that's what they all were to her.

And the natural presumption would be that they were there *because* they were so addressed.
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
@Carrots: Isn't that the plot of Ghostbusters 2...?

Anyway, I don't... hate this episode. I don't think it's GOOD, though. The constant showdowns grow tiresome, and nothing really feels like it's progressing anywhere until the end of the hour. Tasha dying early on (I forgot how early) works, giving the show a bit of a jolt that becomes legit creepy when Riker gets pulled into the tar (although that could just be 6-year-old me talking, who was terrified of Armus). Armus himself is menacing at times but comes off as childish at others. I suppose that's the point, but a bit more nuance there could have made it more interesting. I'm not asking for Dark Knight's Joker, but... something more than "I AM A SKIN OF EVIL".

I will say that I found Armus's backstory fascinating, though, in that mix of truth and myth sort of way. It's not on par with the Vorta backstory from DS9 (not even on the green, actually), but it has that same idea as a kernel-of-truth-wrapped-in-a-creation-myth. Admirable, but probably less thought out than I'm giving it credit for.

Ugh, look I want to hate this one because of how ridiculous it comes off but I'm really having a hard time actively disliking it. Its heart is in the right place and I think the hour has that subtle horror vibe that makes early TNG unique among the rest of Trek (see also: "Where Silence Has Lease", "Time Squared", "Q Who", and "The Royale"). 2-1/2 stars. Recommended but with a huge glaring asterisk to remind you that this is still TNG S1 we're talking about.
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 7:06am (UTC -6)
A year ago (almost to the day), my father was driving to work, lost control of his car and crashed into a truck. He was killed instantly. To quote Guinan, it was « an empty death. A death without purpose. » I am sharing this for it may help you understand my change of opinion regarding this episode.

Sure, Armus is still one of the most uninteresting and implausible villains in the entire Trek canon. I feel bad for Lt. Prieto who may as well be wallpaper. I also fell bad for Frakes having to be covered in printer’s ink and metamucil. Apparently LeVar Burton went over to him after they shot it and said « I would never have done that! »

But the sudden death of Tasha is arguably the bravest moment of the season, if not the series. Having her go out in a blaze of glory would have been a hoary cliche. Most deaths in real life don’t have a purpose, they’re just a result of circumstances. It’s a gut-punch that stays with you and makes you realize how precious life is. It even makes up for all the silly « redshirt » deaths in TOS, because you can imagine them being ‘real’ people too.

This episode is also an opportunity to gaze at Patrick Stewarts amazing acting chops. No matter how bad the dialogue is, he can make you believe it. His "Au revoir, Tasha" brought a tear to my eye.

So 3.5 stars for Tasha’s death, 1.5 stars for Armus. Overall grade: 2.5
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 8:49am (UTC -6)
P.S. Even in the remastered version, Tasha still has that fake-looking blood sploch on her cheek. This is an instance where I feel the Okuda's tenet of preserving the original artist's intent went a bit too far.
William B
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Thanks for that, Nic, especially for sharing about your own harrowing experience. I agree that the concept (if not necessarily the execution) of Tasha dying randomly is not a bad idea at all, and true to life.
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Nic. The fact the death is "meaningless" is the point (as in the case of Course Oblivion - though I'm not a fan of that episode, I do appreciate what they were going for with the ending). I was 7 when I saw this episode and it had a profound impact on me. Like Conspiracy a few episodes later, it's marvellously un-Trekkian - irredeemable badness exists and good people die for no "meaningful" reason. There's a unsettling rawness and viscerality to both episodes that I find very effective and powerful.
Tue, Feb 3, 2015, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
The episode is mostly stupid, but noteworthy for setting up the premise that even main characters can die permanenently (a premise which would never be followed up on for the whole series) and for the touching memorial service scene.

And by touching, I mean extremely depressing.

Just how sad is it that Yar, a woman in her early 20s who usually appeared friendly and rather upbeat to the other crew members, had a prerecorded message for her friends to be read out after her death? Yes, the life on an exploration vessel can be dangerous, but I have never seen anyone else on the Enterprise do such a thing. I guess it's one of the damages Yar received from her upbringing on Turkana IV, where death was probably ever-present.

Still, how sad is it that in her message, the only people she addresses are her fellow bridge officers, whom she has just known for a few months? How lonely is this woman?

How broken is her relationship to her sister, whom she doesn't even mention (well, obviously the writers hadn't come up with the idea of her sister until much later)?

How sad is it for Data, who thinks that their drunken romp in "The Naked Now" gave them a special connection (which will be brought up again in "The Measure of a Man" and "Legacy"), that she doesn't say anything about their relationship?

And of course: How sad is it for Geordie, who had the hots for Yar in "The Naked Now" and "Hide and Q", that she is the first in a long list of failed romantic encounters during his seven year run on the Enterprise?

I guess I'll go cry myself to sleep now...
Mon, May 11, 2015, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
I never interpreted the final Holodeck scene as being a "recording" that Tasha made when she was alive. My feeling was that they programmed the Holodeck to say what they thought she would want to say. It certainly explains why she only adresses those who are present, and why the message is a tad impersonal.
Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Of all the ways to kill off a main character, this had to be the absolute worst. The whole concept of Armus was just absurd, his scenes with Troi are beyond annoying, and having him swallow then throw up Riker was just plain ridiculous... About the only thing good about this episode was getting rid of Yar, as she was pretty irrelevant since Denise Crosby was never given much to do (save that awful episode Code of Honor). This allowed for Worf to play a much more prominent role, a great benefit to the show... I did like the last scene, it was well written.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 4:51pm (UTC -6)
OK, at its heart this is an episode with all the production values of a TOS episode, a ridiculous villain, horribly stilted dialogue and terrible acting.

And yet, and yet... it actually manages to kill off a major character, which in today's Game of Thrones world is now becoming a cliche of its own but back then was an incredibly ballsy move. And the way it was handled - in such an abrupt and arbitrary way - is particularly noteworthy.

I remember being rather affected by the funeral back when I first saw this as a kid, but today it now seems rather mawkish. So it's a terrible episode then... but a brave one nonetheless. 1.5 stars.
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:53pm (UTC -6)
Dax's death should have been more like this, she should have just died with one of those sparky computers going off, rather then the big villain killing her in church.
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
In re watching this first season, I'm really starting to appreciate Worf more and more and Michael Dorn's abilities.
Jason R.
Tue, Dec 8, 2015, 11:14am (UTC -6)
I liked this episode. It's a solid 3 star outing for me.

I couldn't stand Troi and her inane psychobabble for most of season 1, but in this case it actually worked. Given a near omnipotent foe with no obvious weakness, her insights into his psychology were actually pertinent and his response was at least plausible. I liked how uncompromising the episode was with Armis being portrayed as this sadistic bastard - quite a change from the moral grey zone most Trek characters (even villains) have occupied.

I thought Armis himself (in terms of his appearance) was a creative idea, far more interesting than the typical ridged forehead humanoid, and Armis's brief descriptions of his origin left me intrigued. The cast off skin of a "race of Titans"? Wow, cool.

I thought Tasha's death could have been handled better, but the hollow and flippant manner of it did nicely set things up for Yesterday's Enterprise.

Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 1:06am (UTC -6)
I'm gonna miss looking at Denise's butt. She definitely had the best body on the show.

Armus: cool concept. I wish us humans could dump our evil skin.
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
At the time the rumor was that Crosby was fired from TNG because she had posed in Playboy. I thought that was a pretty lame reason to fire her, but I never particularly liked her or Yar anyway, so I never missed her. I never thought she was all that attractive anyway.
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
Despite its many flaws, "Skin Of Evil" sticks in my brain as most memorable, not because of Tasha's death, but because of the Armus character. As a physical embodiment of the concept of evil, it takes my imagination to science fiction nirvana. Far more interesting to me than the intricacies of Klingon politics.

isn't that sort of what STV The Final Frontier was about? A powerful force, locked away, without redeeming merit? A favorite theme of Roddenberry's, that we should avoid being ruled by our emotions.

Now that we are once again being blanketed with political nonsense, I would certainly vote for rounding up all the evil and shipping it off to a distant planet.
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 10:06pm (UTC -6)
I don't think there's anything not to like in this episode except maybe the red bloch on Yars face, i think it's an unforgettable episode,
4 stars
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 6:15am (UTC -6)
This episode always gets me, but it sneaks up on me.

I think Armus is a terrible villain, and I think a lot of the scenes on the planet were bland and repetative. Yar's death was a bit botched, even if I do agree with idea the writers had to give her a random death. The type of death a security officer should face all the time (as it did in TOS all the time).

Two things save the episode for me. After Yar died, Armus asks Data what should happen to him, Data says "I think you should be destroyed." The way he says it almost shows emotion, and I loved that moment. It hints back to the almost special relationship they had after having sex during The Naked Now.

Of course, her holo-funeral at the end hits me every time. I don't know why, being as Yar was only in season one, and her lack of development was one of the reasons Crosby left was the lack of development. Nevertheless, talking to each character gets me misty eyed.

I always wonder what Yar could have been like in Michael-Pillar-TNG in season three. You know, besides changing the timeline back to how it should be.
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
A very amusing bit of trivia -- even though this episode is where Tasha dies, it actually was not the last Yar-episode filmed -- that was "Symbiosis", the episode that aired before this one. If you look at Symbiosis, Denise Crosby's very last moment on a Trek set was near the end of that episode, during the scene in the cargo bay. As Picard and Crusher are leaving the cargo bay and the door is closing behind them, you can see Tasha jumping up and down in the far background and "waving goodbye". Very funny -- check it out.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
Hey at leadt they didn't try to make Star Trek II The Wrath of Armus...just sayin...
Sat, May 21, 2016, 11:42pm (UTC -6)
NCC-1701-Z says:"The worst flaw was the manner of Tasha's death. She should have gone out with phasers firing, rather than dying meaninglessly, which was lampshaded in "Yesterday's Enterprise" - I like to think the writers were admitting they screwed up here."

I seriously doubt it. The character Yar was literally off-screened, once again summarily dismissed. So basically all they did in that episode was bring back the character just to be killed off summarily once again in TNG: "Redemption II." Basically, they killed the original character to give Crosby a half decent character to play, which was all she wanted in the first place. Hence, the way news of her death is delivered as a foot note from the new character. This means that literally NO ONE on TNG is sorry about the manner of the original character's death or they wouldn't have done it twice and even MORE dismissively the second time.
Mon, Jun 27, 2016, 2:08am (UTC -6)
I remember this episode above most others. While it's apparent defining moment was Yar's death, it was really Troi's emergence. We can debate if Sirtis took full advantage of the gift, same with Worf who also benefitted, but the counseling she did, starting with "Liar!" was some of her best acting.
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 7:42pm (UTC -6)

I had never saw that before with Denise waving, and although I had heard the story before, I never knew exactly where to look. Hilarious indeed!
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 3:08pm (UTC -6)
Well there goes any pretence at science fiction.

Actually Armus could go into partnership with venom from spiderman-basically the same thing.

Tasha's death-I have to accept that it was supposed to be meaningless.

The funeral scene was great-Tasha's hologram manages to patronise all the other crewmembers present as well as remind us what a one dimensional person she was.

It wouild have been so much better if she had come out with a few home truths:
eg: "Deanna: I never liked you with your massive knockers all over the place/"

Sat, Dec 31, 2016, 9:47am (UTC -6)
"Still, how sad is it that in her message, the only people she addresses are her fellow bridge officers, whom she has just known for a few months? How lonely is this woman? "

She might have recorded several messages to other audiences and her will said "play this one for these people you invite, play this one for that lot separately, e-mail this one to those people, etc.".
Sat, Dec 31, 2016, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Also, they could easily have memorial tech that recognizes who is present, and plays only segments addressed to them, or to a general audience. Tasha might have recorded a dozen other segments we didn't see, because those people weren't available to attend. Maybe they got their own custom screening later.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
Apparently I'm a simpleton. I actually thought the villainous gooey moving tar pit was really creepy - especially when it sucked Riker into itself, and his screaming horrified face showed on the surface for an instant. When it moved, the Skin seemed thin, but when it took Riker it appeared depthless. It had a good viscosity, too. And Picard was intense all the way through.

I kinda liked the cartoony red splotch of Tasha's cheek too. It was an Armus-mark. It didn't try to look like anything seen on earth.

Bye Tasha! You could have been a great character in a hundred other scifi shows. But tormented dark heroes didn't really have a place on early TNG,. And on later TNG there was only room for one.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 4:18pm (UTC -6)
Obviously this episode will be one of the most memorable because of Yar's death but it's a pretty silly one for me.
Armus is pitiable, yes -- but I'm not a fan of episodes with these aliens with undefined powers. It's hard to accept what is legitimate about its actions. There's little frame of reference and so a solution can always be conveniently manufactured.
Armus's games are ridiculous, boring -- but if it is meant to evoke pity then it works. Troi's psychobabble is actually useful here in pinpointing how Armus came about -- which is an interesting concept (that all the evil can be shed from beings etc.)
I agree with Jammer's overall rating of 1.5/4 stars here. It is a slow-paced, mediocre episode.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 6:47am (UTC -6)
Every time I see this episode I can't help but think that I'd have liked it more, if the villain didn't look so stupid. He's worse than most of the hokey energy blob enemies in TOS... add the cliche bad guy voice and attitude of a stroppy teenager makes him actually worse than Trelane.

The first time I saw this episode (about 15 years ago) I'd seen quite a lot of the later seasons but hardly any season one episodes and wasn't surprised that Yar died... and then was a bit confused to see a long funeral scene for a what I thought was just another redshirt.

On the whole, though, there is nothing particularly interesting about this episode. Yet another all powerful alien that the crew have to try to stop.

Having watched TNG again from farpoint in order, I actually feel that it was quite clever to give Yar a resdshirt style pointless and quick death. It *somewhat* gives more jeopardy to the rest of the series knowing that they are willing to kill off recurring characters... not that they ever did again.

Yar was one of the most potentially interesting characters but with such poor writing and bad acting, writing her out actually improved the show by letting Worf and Geordi move around to different positions for the later seasons. That the writers find (mostly awful) excuses to bring back Crosby and a quick glance of her imdb page, I'm guessing choosing to leave is one of her biggest regrets.
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
I am introducing my daughter to TNG.. (She is 12 and not an especially discerning viewer, so she is loving the first season. I tell her it gets even better.)

We just reached "Skin of Evil." I am charmed by a scene I had forgotten: the opener with Yar and Worf discussing her upcoming martial arts competition. Worf expresses respect to her fighting skills, quietly telling her she is favored in the ship's pool. Yar is surprised and pleased - almost girlishly - with his laconic Klingon compliment. She beams at him, and you can kind of see in her the slightly insecure young woman who few up unloved in a brutal colony - a woman who later sought out Data for "tenderness and joy", and who despite her outward toughness is socially uncertain and a bit of an outsider (rather like Worf).

It's a spark of chemistry that Season One generally lacked - and does much to counteract the crying and the sexed-up silliness of Yar's earlier outings. I wish the Worf/Yar friendship could have been developed better - maybe over another season or two. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

Also, when a dead Yar is beamed back to the ship, there's a shot of Worf on the bridge, stoically trying not to show his feelings. That's a nice touch.

Since this is her death episode, I am going to say it: Crosby's face is stunning and she has great hair.

Daniel B
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 1:21am (UTC -6)
Tara - I'm pretty sure Denise Crosby later said the ironic thing was that if she'd gotten more scenes in earlier episodes like the one where she and Worf discuss the tournament, she'd never have left.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 10:13pm (UTC -6)
3.5 stars.

To this day I remember where I was and what I was doing when I saw this episode and Yarbdied. It left me in shock and reeling. It happened so early in the episode and then expecting Beverly, who could heal anything, to revive Tasha doesn’t/- I was floored. This was stunning to me as a viewer. This was back when television didn’t just ‘off’ a character to create water cooler chatter the way modern shows do it on schedule every few episodes in a season. This was also when tv shows would give the deserved due to the aftermath of the death rather than running onto the next plotpoint and never looking back

I have heard over the years people criticize Yar’s death as disapppinting or not being heroic enough. I don’t agree. Most deaths are abrupt and senseless—not occurring in battle or trying to save someone. That made this episode all the more sad and tragic I thought. The way Armus just waved his hand and flung her in seconds to her demise. No pomp. No circumstance

I also thought the episode did a good job with Armus. He was truly menacing and terrorizing with his sadism(dragging a helpless Riker into the tar covering his body and filling his mouth, removing zgeotdie’s visor and moving it away from him each time he got close) and his magical powers (controlling Data At Will pointing the phaser at each away team member one by one) left anyone who beamed down to the planet in real danger and at Armus’ mercy. Even after Yar died I still believed that there could be more casualties among the main cast like riker or Troi—the weekly trailer helped add to this concern

I also thought the weakness Armus possessed was a good one created by the writers and played nicely into his nature. I also thought his origin story was very unique and TOS-like—being the discarded ugliness and evil of a race who wanted to achieve pure beauty

The funeral service for Yar was well written and executed taking place in a rather inspired idea in the holodeck in a nice pastoral setting featuring a pre-recorded message from the late Tasha yar. Which carried genuine sentiment and emotion in a very sincere manner data’s final observation to Picard about the nature of loss was quite appropriate and perfect way to end the hour

The whole episode really did feel like not your-standard-episode-of-the-week. It was a little darker and heavier and really stayed with me after it ended. It felt like an Event episode—not just because a main cast member was killed off but the jeopardy generated and Armus felt like a true extraordinary threat. 3.5 stars
Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
I think Ro Laren eventually became the character Yar was intended to be.
Peter G.
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 9:01am (UTC -6)
I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I think I've realized that this episode is meant to be a possible criticism of the perfection of the TNG crew and Federation society. Armus says that a society of beings wanting to perfect themselves and eliminate their worse parts literally did so, by shedding their evil instincts and becoming beauteous things. When I heard this it occurred to me that this is exactly the manifesto of TNG's world, much more so than TOS ever claimed. In TOS no one claims to be perfect, and although Earth's values have advanced and peace is considered a virtue, individually people still have foibles and don't pretend to be perfect. On TNG, though, their pretensions of being nobler creatures are much more pronounced, and Skin of Evil seems to me to strike directly at the heart of that: if you renounce all the darker sides of humanity and try to shed them, they *will not* disappear, but will end up simply being shunted somewhere else, possibly somewhere unexpected. And the more repressed and ignored these darker parts are, the stronger they'll actually be, especially when they unexpectedly appear and boil to the surface.

I think this is a surprisingly disturbing episode despite having essentially no story, and despite the fact that Yar's passing is fairly unremarkable. In a funny way Armus reminds me of The Incredible Hulk, insofar as he's pure unadulterated pain and rage with no possibility of reasoning with it, and the only possibility of survival is to avoid or escape him. In both cases, despite the threat level, you end up pitying them rather than wishing them ill, because they just can't help it and are only the way they are because they're victims of circumstances beyond their control.
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 11:31pm (UTC -6)
Is it just me or is Denise Crosby mailing it in this last episode, knowing she was gone? The first scene on the bridge with Worf she seems to have this smirk on her face.

Easy in retrospect to say she made a mistake leaving, but I think she would have been canned anyways as the producers wanted to get rid of 2 of the female leads. Still would have been better to have canned Sirtis and kept Crosby on as chief security officer, with Worf as 2nd.

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