2 comments on “Skin of Evil

  1. A full quarter of the episode is about Tasha, and those scenes are mostly good; Troi also gets surprisingly good play, both as empath and counselor; and I like how Armus is a TNG variation on energy beings like Redjac or Cochrane’s green cloud. (I wonder if Armus’ dialogue was drawn from TNG’s first season of fan mail, or their experiences on the convention circuit.)

    Obviously, I won’t like that the episode killed off a favorite character, but I think the real problem is that her death doesn’t fit the structure of the episode, and that the conflict with Armus isn’t satisfying.

    Structurally, her death isn’t a B-plot; it’s something that just suddenly happens, upsets the crew 20 seconds (the conference scene), and then gets ignored until the epilogue. It’s out of synch with the pace and escalation of Armus’ other actions, it contrasts sharply with how drawn out and developed Riker’s and Troi’s ordeals are, and it’s utterly inconsequential to the A-plot. (The A-plot would have run exactly the same with /any/ cruel action which induces the away team to retreat, and could probably dispense with the incident entirely.)

    Killing Tasha like she’s just another redshirt amounts to trolling the audience. I can appreciate that such trolling is on-message for the episode, and I can appreciate the meta-ness of it; I like the concept of having the Enterprise encounter an intractable troll, and I agree that Armus’ character and backstory have potential depth; but compared with Chekov’s or Dukat’s, Armus’ trolling is one-dimensional and pointless, and Picard’s counter-trolling is equally stark. There’s no satisfaction, catharsis or even schadenfreude for me there.

    Supposing an alternate script where Tasha’s, Picard’s and Riker’s parts get shuffled a bit and Troi dies instead, I wonder if they’d have Armus kill her while talking to Picard, evacuate her to die in sickbay, or leave her alive in the shuttle to be killed by the torpedo.

    I’m sure there’s been a Picard speech before this one, but I’d bet this weaponized version is what really set the pattern for the rest of the series.

    Heh, Tasha updates her holo-obits as obsessively as Kirk updates his Captain’s logs. Go go starfleet hypno training!

    I think I read somewhere that the Armus suit *was* hot and suffocating, and those takes could only last as long as the actor could hold his breath.

    I wonder if Armus being cast off from the “race of titans whose beauty now dazzles all” inspired the Vorlons and Shadows on Babylon 5.

    • The Shadows and Vorlons seem pretty archetypical. “A Fire Upon the Deep,” IIRC, had post-singularity beings that still occasionally slummed around with space travelers. Armus seems like a cool twist.

      Yeah, Armus is definitely doing one of those energy beings that Q couldn’t do.

      I’m sold on this episode because I appreciate TNG breaking it’s rules for something senseless and non-narrative happening. I buy that everyone feels bad and then soldiers on through the pain (the briefing room/holodeck bookends sell it for me).

      As an added bonus, every time Derek says someone can’t die because they’re the main character, I’m going to say “Tasha died” and enjoy it. Y’know, like Picard at the end of Season 3. Derek will be totally unprepared/prepared for his untimely…loss.

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