Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 23

Skin Of Evil

Aired Unknown Apr 25, 1988 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
267 votes

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Episode Summary


Stardate: 41601.3 When Troi's shuttle crashes on an alien planet, a new being is discovered: an entity that thrives on the suffering of others. The rescue attempt results in the death of a crewman.

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  • The best thing to occur as a result of this episode was Tasha Yar's death.

    First of all, I love Star Trek: TNG. In my mind, the first season was the worst of all the seasons. The reason: Tasha Yar.

    The best thing to occur as a result of this episode was Tasha Yar's death. Yar's character was obvious and painful to watch. It was obvious (to me) that the writers wanted a woman to play the part of the security officer to show that women can do anything. Though women can do most anything, it really gave the feel of an after school special rather than a flourishing Sci-Fi series. That said, I believe that Yar's death was absolutely needed for the show to become as great as it did.moreless
  • Goodbye Tasha - hello better days for The Next Generation....

    It really is unfortunate that Denise Crosby was unsatisfied in her role on The Next Generation and missed out, personally and financially, on the eventual monster success of the show - but her departure here in "Skin Of Evil" was a step forward for the show. Tasha Yar is simply not an interesting character - it was Roddenberry's attempt at another Uhura statement on women (in Yar's case, that women were just as strong and commanding as men) that really only contributed to all the stuck-up Star Trek finger-wagging at the late 1980s seen in season one. Crosby did an admirable job in the role but the character was weak on paper and the departure of that character was a good thing for the show, however dismissive it feels, as it leads to the promotions of and greater screen-times for actually likable and interesting characters of the show: Worf and Geordi.

    As far as the actual "Skin Of Evil" episode goes, it is not bad: Troi crash lands on a planet and the Enterprise goes to rescue her but they find an evil tar-like being, Armus, who will not let them rescue her.

    Some ideas eventually did not look as good as they must have on paper - the special effects are a huge let down, Riker's decent into the tarry pool of Armus is pretty lame, even Yar's demise is awkward (too quick and untimely for a supposed tough-as-nails security officer), and her final holographic farewells to the crew is marshmallowy lame and kind of dumb (do Starfleet crew members make sure that their farewell holograms are the most up to date as possible?). But the episode does include a great theme on violence, does include some good tension (Armus' cruel joke with Data is especially good), and Marina Sirtis gives her best performance of season one and one her best performances of the entire show. Overall I would say that "Skin Of Evil" is, while disappointing in many areas because of the potential it had to be great, a pretty good episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation if not only because of the importance of the passing of Tasha Yar.moreless
  • A shuttlecraft with Troi crashlands on a planet, and an away team discovers a creature is holding her captive.

    The dichotomy of "Skin of Evil" is that there are some boring, poorly written parts and then there are some jaw dropping, incredibly dramatic moments as well. It's certainly a must see for a Star Trek fan, but most of the episode isn't all that good. The problem is two-fold. Firstly, the premise of the story is weak and not something that could ever hold a viewer's attention for more than 15 minutes. Second, there are big budget problems; most of the episode takes place on the first season's fake looking planet set, and there are a lot of repeated shots to save money. There's also a lot of talk. Troi talks to the creature. Picard talks to the creature. The creature talks to them. The creature talks to himself. Troi talks to Picard. Picard talks to his crew. Tasha Yar ends the episode by talking to everyone. If you like talk, this one's for you! Still, this is a must see for Star Trek fans for its historical significance, and the last scene is wonderful.moreless
  • while resueing troy, lt yar is killed trying to save her.

    i have to say this is the first episode that i cried. when troy shuttle crashes into a planet her pliot is hurt and she is trapped inside. the enterprise sends an away mission to rescue her. while on the planet lt yar and the others meet an evil races. called arnus. he won't let the others go and help troy. when lt yar does he hits her with some kind of force that kills her. when the captain beams down he has a plan and at the end they beam off the planet and leave arnus there alone. lt yar leaves a message for all her crew mates which is very moving. in this episode we say goodbuy to our friend.moreless
  • One of the finest first season episodes

    A disturbing but pivotal episode in the STTNG canon, featuring one of the series' most nihilistic scripts. "Skin of Evil" is aptly titled, smartly plotted, and moving in its heartfelt portrayal of shared grief and lost friendship. Yar's meaningless death seems somehow sadly logical, and the final scene is both redemptive and cathartic. The episode is significant in at leat two respects: 1) the development of Data's character, learnimg as he does that death is not only inevitable for humans but is often a means for growth and understanding, and 2) the emotional binding of the STTNG cast, as each struggles to make sense of a senseless tragedy.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

Denise Crosby

Denise Crosby

Tasha Yar

Mart McCesney

Mart McCesney


Guest Star

Walker Boone

Walker Boone

Assistant Chief Engineer Lynch

Guest Star

Brad Zerbst

Brad Zerbst


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • The away team beams into the transporter room rather than into Sickbay. In the next episode, "We'll Always Have Paris", Paul and Jenice Manheim are beamed directly into Sickbay, so it is possible to do. But instead, they waste precious minutes carrying Yar from the transporter room to sickbay.

    • When Armus give Riker back to Picard, the arm of Riker's uniform isn't covered in the black slime from the pit.

    • Trivia: At this point in the series, shuttlecraft have numbers, not names. In the teaser's log entry, Picard reports that the Enterprise is enroute to rendezvous with "shuttlecraft thirteen."

    • When starting up the warp core, Lynch tells the computer to set the ratio of matter to antimatter to 25:1, which completely contradicts the "trick question" given to Wesley in the episode "Coming of Age," when it is stated that the only viable ratio is 1:1.

    • Armus refers to Data as "Tin Man" - how would Armus know of an old Earth reference?

    • There are two separate wide shots where we see the actor playing Armus standing in the sand pit but the F/X of the oil slick filling the pit hasn't been filled in - Armus just looks to be standing in an empty hole.

    • Where is Riker when Armus emerges from the pit and engulfs the shuttlecraft? Armus covers the shuttlecraft at a very thin layer but there's no Riker-sized bulge.

    • Geordi's phaser falls out when the away team moves to help Riker and gets sand on it. After Picard beams down it's back in Geordi's holster, clean and shiny.

    • When Worf first scans the shuttlecraft, we see a topographical map of the area, but it's the same graphic they use later when measuring Armus' energy levels and their fluctuations - you see the fluctuations before they even know Armus is there.

    • Worf says they're going to do a parallel transport of Troi and Picard, but when he actually does it he beams out Troi first and then Picard a few seconds later.

    • For some reason when Worf is reading off the strength of energy levels, he uses two decimal points - 2.6.205 and 2.6.3. This doesn't seem to make much sense.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Tasha: If you'll meet me on the Holodeck later. I need your help on the Mishiama wrist-lock and break. If it works on you, I can use it on anyone.
      Worf: A valid assumption.

    • Tasha: I'm more concerned with Lieutenant Minnerly's kickboxing.
      Worf: You are favored in the ship's pool.
      Tasha: You bet on me.
      Worf: A sure thing.

    • Data: You are capable of great sadism and cruelty. Interesting--no redeeming qualities.
      Armus: So what do you think?
      Data: I think you should be destroyed.

    • Armus: I do not serve things evil, I am evil.

    • Picard: A great poet once said 'all spirits are enslaved that serve things evil.'

    • Armus: You humans are puny - weak.
      Picard: But our spirit is indomitable!

    • Picard: Shall I tell you what true evil is? It is to submit to you. It is when we surrender our freedom, our dignity, instead of defying you.

    • Yar: Hello, my friends. You are here now watching this image of me because I have died. It probably happened while I was on duty, and quickly, which is what I expected. Never forget I died doing exactly what I wanted to do. What I want you to know is how much I loved my life, and those of you who shared it with me. You are my family. You all know where I came from and what my life was like before. But Starfleet took that frightened, angry young girl and tempered her. I have been blessed with your friendship, and your love.

    • Yar: My friend Data, you see things with the wonder of a child. And that makes you more human than any of us.

    • Yar: Ah, Worf. We are so much alike, you and I. Both warriors, orphans who found ourselves this family. I hope I met death with my eyes wide open.

    • Yar: Captain Jean-Luc Picard, I wish I could say you've been like a father to me, but I've never had one so I don't know what it feels like. But if there was one person in this universe who I would choose to be like, someone who I would want to make proud of me, it's you. You who have the heart of an explorer and the soul of a poet. So you'll understand when I say, 'Death is that state in which one exists only in the memory of others,' which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes, just good memories. Hailing frequencies closed, sir.

    • Data: Sir, the purpose of this gathering, confuses me.
      Picard: Oh? How so?
      Data: I find my thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking, how empty it will be without her presence. Did I miss the point?
      Picard: you didn't Data. You got it.

  • NOTES (6)

    • The black substance that was used for Armus was made out of metamucil and black printers ink.

    • The death scene was originally slated to occur much earlier in the episode, with the rest of the hour focusing on Armus and none of the farewell scenes included. However, Gene Roddenberry overruled the original script decision and the sequencing was changed.

    • Working title - "The Shroud."

    • Tasha's death marked the first (but not the last) time a continuing Trek character was killed off and remained (more or less) deceased.

    • This is the last regular appearance of Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar. Crosby (who is the granddaughter of Bing Crosby) asked the producers to write her off the show because she landed several movie roles. She had a very brief appearance in "Symbiosis," which was filmed after this episode. When her movie career went belly up, she returned in several guest appearances as Yar in alternate-reality and time-travel episodes, and as the Romulan Commander Sela.

    • Although Tasha Yar is killed in this episode, Denise Crosby's name continues to appear on the opening credits until the end of the season.


    • Picard: A great poet once said "all spirits are enslaved that serve things evil."
      This is a quote from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.