Skin of Evil
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
25 Apr 1988
Season Ep :
Worf says they are going to do a parallel transport of Picard and Troi. What exacty does he mean by this? Picard beams up several seconds after Troi, so it can't be the same as a simultaneous transport.
Great Moment :
Tahsa's goodbye scene on the holodeck, especially Data's reaction to it.
Body Count :
Joseph Stefano, who wrote this episode, also wrote and produced the classic first season of "The Outer Limits".
The Enterprise-D receives an emergency call from a shuttle carrying Deanna Troi back from a conference. The shuttle is malfunctioning for some unknown reason, and is about to crashland on a nearby planet. Despite the fact that the ship'd engines are undergoing routine maintanence, Picard orders them brought back online and a high speed run to the planet. On arrival an Away Team beams down to the crash site. Their path to the shuttle is blocked by a strange black substance on the ground; on investigation it proves to be a lifeform of some sort which possesses intelligence and the ability to manipulate matter and energy. When Yar tries to srtide past it to the shuttle it blasts her with some sort of energy bolt, and she is rushed back to the sickbay. Unfortunately, Crusher is unable to save her and she ies a few minutes later.
The Away Team returns to try and negotiate with the creature, which calls itself Armus. It seems intent on denying them access to the shuttle, merely wanting to amuse itself by provoking the officers to fear and anger. In between arguing with the Away Team Armus drapes itself over the shuttle and talks to Deanna, trying to provoke the same reactions in her. It claims that it is a personification of evil; a race of beings who once lived on the planet learned to take all their negative emotions and purge them in the form of this black "skin".
On the Enterprise, the sensors detect that there is a drop in the dampening field the creature is using to block the transporter each time it become enraged. Picard beams down personally and sends the Away team back to the ship. He confronts Armus, calmly provoking it to anger by offering to transport it away from the planet - and then rescinding the offer. As Armus flies into a terrible rage the dampening field drops sufficiently for the ship to transport both Picard and Deanna up. Picard orders the shuttle destroyed with a photon torpedo so that nobody will be tempted to beam down there again.
As the ship departs the senior officers gather to view a holographic message left by Yar to be viewed in the case of her death. She explains how much being a member of Starfleet meant to her, and gives her thoughts about each of her friends before signing off.
Some good ideas, some bad. The idea of Armus as an actual skin of evil is pretty silly, and never really explained in believable detail. But if you accept that, the episode is actually pretty good. I like the character play, and most especially I like the way Picard finally deals with Armus. It's a classic Picard moment - he's calm, studied, completely controlled... and yet he finds Armus's weak spot and exploits it ruthlessley to achieve his mission.
Yar's final message... it treads a very fine line between being moving and overly sentimental. But I think it manages to tread that line successfully... just.