The first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is universally considered pretty bad, but Skin of Evil stands out as particularly awful.
It’s still hard to believe that Star Trek: The Next Generation actually made it past that first season. While there are a handful of gems in the rough, most of that season is a mess of bad scripts, poor acting and a general lack of direction.
To be fair, almost every new series goes through this, but fans and the public were expecting a lot more from a show with Star Trek in the title. Unfortunately, they would have to wait until the tail end of the third season and the amazing Season 4 for The Next Generation to hit its stride and realize it’s potential.
But getting back to that first season, there is one episode that stands apart as particularly bad. Yes, even worse than “Justice” which is considered one of the worst episodes of the series ever. That would be “Skin of Evil.”
The buildup to “Skin of Evil” was remarkable even for a Star Trek episode. This was due to the fact it was well known that Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, was going to be killed off. Crosby wanted out of her contract and the producers obliged. It was the first time a main character from a Star Trek series was going to be killed off and fans were naturally pretty curious how it was going to happen.
You can be sure they weren’t anticipating Yar being meaninglessly killed in the first 15 minutes by a large talking tar pit.
The plot of “Skin of Evil” saw a shuttle craft containing Deanna Troi crashing on Vagra II, so the Enterprise heads off to the rescue. An away team beams down, Yar buys the farm, Riker gets engulfed by Mr. Tar Pit and Picard has a deep philosophical discussion with a puddle.
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And things just continue to go downhill from there.
I remember thinking that Armus, the talking puddle of black goo that served as the villain, was about as terrifying as a dog turd. The writers tried to make the character scary and evil personified, but instead it came across as more funny than anything else. Which is not what you want when the character in question kills someone.
Then there was Armus’ voice, which pretty much sounded like Mr Krabs trying to do a Wolverine impression while gargling mouthwash.
In the end, Armus gives an impression of being more of a whiny b*tch that needs a hug than real threat to the crew of the Enterprise.
And, then, Picard leaves him there! Instead of blowing him up or beaming him into a jar in a holding cell, Picard just flies away. Seriously?
Now, we could talk endlessly about the memorial service for Tasha Yar that wraps up the episode. The fact that a hologram of Yar seemed to know where everyone was standing even though it was obviously prerecorded, or just how awkward it seemed, or how bad the effects were. But we won’t because there’s no reason to kick an episode when it’s down.
“Skin of Evil” was supposed to be this dramatic sendoff for Tasha Yar and show the dangers inherant in exploring space. Instead it was just a really silly, badly written and poorly executed example of what not to do in a science-fiction television series.
That all being said, it would be a real kick to see Armus show up in Star Trek: Picard, wouldn’t it?