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Star Trek: Asterisk "Skin of Evil"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E23
Air Date: April 25, 1988
Written by: Joseph Stefano and Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by: Joseph L Scanlon

Premise
An evil tar monster blocks the away teams path to their crashed shuttle with Dianna Troi trapped inside. And then someone dies.

Review
So, after Tasha and Worf have a chat about a martial arts competition that Tasha was going to be in and how Worf bet on her in the ship's pool, Geordi says that Troi, who was coming back on a shuttle from a conference, was having troubles and was falling into the atmosphere of a planet. Unfortunately, the incompetent engineer, Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch, is in the middle of re-aligning the dilithium crystals, so they won't have warp speed until well after Troi's shuttle has crashed. After a while Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch says that they have minimal warp power, but when Picard calls for warp 8, he sasses back saying "I said minimal warp power!" and we never see Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch again.

When they get to the planet, they find that there's some kind of force field preventing them from beaming her immediately up, so Riker takes a team of Data and Tasha do the planet to find her and Picard tells Crusher to go along. When they get down, they encounter an oil slick that follows them around like a lost puppy and disallows them to get to Troi's shuttle. Data scans it and doesn't find any kind of organs or recognizable material of any kind, but it does seem to be alive. And then it talks! "VERY GOOD, TIN MAN." It rises from its place on the ground and takes humanoid form. Riker quickly surmises that they've found trouble.
There's no way a sentient tar monster can be a good thing.
They try to reason with the being that calls itself Armus, but all Armus wants to do is use the crew in his own little sadistic game of The Sims. So when they don't comply with his commands, he is disinclined to let them pass and check on Troi. And when Tasha tries to force her way past, he shoots her with a bolt of lightning that causes her to fly across the scene and die. Bevery quickly checks on her and then beams her up to the ship. In the sick bay, she does all she can, but in the end Tasha Yar succumbs to her wounds. And we never see Lieutenant Natasha Yar alive again. ...In this timeline... short of time travel. ...right.

Back on the planet, Troi starts talking to Armus after he completely envelops the shuttle. Armus tries to gloat that he'd killed Troi, but Troi knows. She sensed it. Further, she says that the crew will not give him what he wants. When they talk more, Troi analyzes him and discovers his deep loneliness. Meanwhile, up on the ship, they're regathering after Yar's death and Worf is taking over the security duties. He and Wesley discover that Armus is his weakest when he's enveloping the shuttle. The away team, back on the planet, confronts Armus again and Armus just plays around with them. After knocking Geordi's VISOR on the ground, he just up and eats Riker.
To be fair, Riker is pretty tasty.
Sensing this, Troi is obviously pretty upset. Picard finally beams down and confronts Armus. Denying him any satisfactory entertainment, Amrus gives up and spits out Riker. Riker and the rest of the team beam back up and Picard is left alone with Armus. He asks Armus what he wants. Armus wants to get off this planet. Picard says he has the means to do that, but he must first speak with Troi. So Armus transports Picard into the shuttle where Troi tells him that Armus is lonely, having been left there by a race of titans. And whenever he's forced to confront that fact, he weakens a little. So, Picard goes back out and forces Armus to confront that fact. He weakens, the Enterprise beams up Troi, Picard says he's not taking Armus anywhere, they beam Picard up, shoot a photon torpedo at the shuttle so Armus can't escape and they're home free.

The episode ends with a holographic projection of Tasha Yar addressing the crew upon the occasion of her death among the backdrop of the Windows XP classic desktop wallpaper. After a heartfelt farewell, Data admits some confusion to Picard. He says that during the ceremony, his thoughts were not on Tasha, but rather on how empty his own life will be without her. Picard just tells him, no; Grieving: You're doing it right.
Excuse me while I make this my wallpaper.

Overall Thoughts
Overall, this was a pretty good episode. The story of Armus and what he was, how he came to be, was interesting and held my attention. I don't think there's any argument that they could have handled Denise Crosby's exit from the series a little better. "Yesterday's Enterprise" will go a long way toward fixing that, but until then we're left with a sudden, meaningless death just because Denise thought her character wasn't being given enough to do. So, mixed feelings for this episode.