“Skin of Evil” is the twenty-third episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and originally aired on 25 April 1988, in broadcast syndication.
The story premise was written by Joseph Stefano, and the screenplay was re-written by Hannah Louise Shearer. The episode was directed by Joseph L. Scanlan.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise races to rescue Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) from a crashed shuttle, which is being held captive by an alien life form called Armus (Mart McChesney, voiced by Ron Gans). In investigating the crash, Lieutenant Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) is killed by Armus, and Troi is eventually rescued after Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) distracts the alien.
Yar’s death in the episode was the result of Crosby asking to be released from her contract, although her last filmed episode was actually “Symbiosis” as it was filmed subsequent to “Skin of Evil”. The manner of her death was intended to be typical of the threat posed to a security officer, and was what the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry had intended. The episode was received poorly by most critics, especially the manner of Yar’s death and the Armus creature in general.
The Enterprise receives a distress signal from a shuttlecraft returning Deanna Troi from a conference. They find that the shuttle has crashed on a desolate planet, Vagra II, and while they can find the life signs of Troi and the pilot, Lt. Ben Prieto, they are unable to beam the two to the ship. An away team beams down and discovers an animated pool of a tar-like substance, a malevolent life form that calls itself Armus. When Lt. Yar attempts to approach the shuttle, Armus hurls her back with a psychokinetic blast, killing her instantly. The away team is brought back to the Enterprise but the damage to Yar is too great for Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) to repair, and they are unable to resuscitate her. A second away team is sent to the planet. Armus taunts the crew members and maintains his grasp of the shuttle. During this time, Troi has communicated with Armus and learned that it is a physical manifestation of evil from the bodies of an ancient race, abandoned on Vagra II.
The away team scans Armus’ energy field, finding that when Armus engulfs the shuttle and speaks to Troi, expressing his remorse and pity, the field disrupting their transporter signals is weakened which could allow them to beam Troi and Prieto out of the shuttle. After Armus toys with Troi by completely engulfing Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Captain Picard beams down to speak to Armus directly, sending the rest of the away team to the ship. Picard engages Armus in a heated discussion to discover its motive, which is to seek revenge on those that abandoned it on Vagra II. Armus is riled to a point where the energy field is dissipated enough, allowing for Picard, Troi and Prieto to be safely beamed back to the Enterprise. After destroying the shuttlecraft from orbit, Picard orders a quarantine on Vagra II.
As they leave Vagra II, the crew holds a memorial service for Lt. Yar, with a pre-recorded simulation of Yar addressing each of the senior crew members telling them what they meant to her and what she learned from each of them. After the service, Data (Brent Spiner), who had previously become close to Yar, tells Picard that he is confused as to the purpose of the service. He says that his thoughts are not for Tasha, but for himself, because he can only think of how empty his life will be without her. He asks if he has missed the point, but Picard assures him he got it.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Joseph L. Scanlan.
- Writer(s): Joseph Stefano.
- Release Date: 25 April 1988.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.