22. Skin of Evil

Ten Things I Hate about Skin of Evil

  1. The music and sound stages.
  1. The whinging at the observation lounge after Yar dies.
  1. The back and forth between characters and Armus. It’s so fast it feels false.
  1. Characters barely move.
  1. Geordi’s overacting when he’s angry about being humiliated.
  1. Tasha’s arrogant behavior towards Armus just before she dies. She behaved this way towards Q in Farpoint. I guess her inability to change ultimately leads to her death.
  1. The special effects. Armus moving reminds me of the shadows that take bad people to hell in the movie Ghost.
  1. The long scene in sickbay when Dr. C is trying to revive Yar. All the energy and tension come from the bad music and handheld camerawork.

  1. Geordi’s phaser falling into Armus. It should’ve been cut. I can only imagine the reason it wasn’t cut is having another stunt person fall into the molasses would’ve been too much trouble.
  1. The act one dialogue between Yar and Worf and that long, long awkward grin she’s giving him.

 Ten Things I Love about Skin of Evil

  1. Natasha Yar dies a redshirt death. Remember when I said yellow was the new red? With her death early in the episode to create tension, no character will ever seem safe again. Her redshirt death retroactively restored meaning to all the otherwise meaningless deaths of the redshirts that died before her.
  1. The camera work. Creates tension in sickbay, and emotion at funeral.
  1. Michael Dorn’s delivery of this line: “I will do my best, sir.”
  1. Worf’s first decision as head of security. He already seemed like he was going to be better written and better utilized than Yar was.
  1. Data’s resistance to Armus by saying, “I will not help you hurt him.” Even the notion that humiliating Geordi is hurting him, impressed me.
  1. The meeting of incompatible philosophies. One that all creatures have right to exist and the other that they don’t. The result is that they clash and the federation’s view changes. Data says Armus has “no redeeming qualities.” Therefore he “should be destroyed.” Armus makes Data a darker person.
  1. How Picard ignores Armus at first.
  1. Patrick Stewart’s performance throughout.

  1. The funeral scene. It’s by far the best marriage of acting and directing that TNG has seen. The camera is up close showing mostly the reaction of the crew to Tasha’s words, and every actor plays it subtly. Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, and Patrick Stewart gave most notably.
  1. Patrick Stewart’s delivery of Picard’s last line to Data: “No, you didn’t Data. You got it.”

 Yar’s Message as a Primer on the Crew

Yar’s end feels like a wake up call to a start up business. Everything started with high hopes and good intentions, but a problem developed. This had something to do with Denise Crosby, Tasha Yar, writers, character development, too many main characters, or something.

The problem was never adequately addressed, and Ms. Crosby languished until her bad feelings became incurable. She sought a way out.

Seeing this happening and feeling bad about it, everyone involved in the business pulled together to improve things. So improve they would, but tragically without the one for whom it was too late.

But with the funeral scene, the actors were given moments to shine as Yar addressed each character. What she said, became an explanation of what the writers think of each character. Since I’ve been interested in the crew roles, I thought it was worth noting.

This is a table I’ve come up with to compare what I thought the crew roles were in Naked Now and Hide & Q with Yar’s description in Skin of Evil

Skin of Evil Hide & Q Naked Now
Riker trusting, encouraging, good humored the idiot (meaning the stand in for humanity) sense of duty
Deanna loving, feminine w/o losing anything, doesn’t need to speak emotions
Worf similar to Yar, orphan who found this family honor and physical prowess sense of honor
Dr. C. devotion from w/in, strives for excellence mindless of personal cost wisdom
Wesley kind, innocent creative thinking
Geordi Help see differently, teach to look beyond moment seeing
Data sees with wonder of child, more human than anyone memory and strength memory and learning
Picard father, heart of explorer, soul of a poet decision making
Yar Frightened angry girl made into an officer by star fleet aggressive but tender

Deanna on the Holodeck

Just a quick aside. Boy I was glad to see Deanna on the holodeck. Now that I’ve seen them both at the same time, I can put aside my suspicion that they are the same entity.

 Original Sin

Armus was created by a race of Titans who sought to slough off everything that was bad in themselves so that they might transcend to a better place. This doesn’t mean that he is bad. He can be more than that which created him. It’s his refusal to grow that makes him evil.

I feel sorry for him. After all the potential to be bad isn’t bad, it’s just part of being a person, but the Titans that rejected him by trying to reject their own potential to be bad. It would be far better to acknowledge that part of yourself but then refuse to do bad things. Actions make people bad. But the worst part of who Armus is comes not from his creation, but from his inability to let go of the pain of being rejected.

It’s also his weakness. 

Pragmatic Picard

The great negotiator, Jean-Luc Picard, goes down to Vagra II to get his people back. He has no intention of negotiating. After talking to Deanna, his only goal is make Armus hurt because when those pains are their worst so is Armus’s rage. When he is rageful, he is unfocused and weak.

So Picard has a Kirk speech moment. He undoes the monster with word jujitsu, but he doesn’t talk high ideas (much). Instead he reminds Armus over and over about Armus’s own pain.

Then he condemns him to an eternity of misery.

It’s a dark, dark Picard.

Morals, messages and meaning

  1. Death comes suddenly
  2. Sometimes we meet people who can’t be reasoned with
  3. Evil exists
  4. Use weakness against enemy

 Does it hold up?

No.

I mean you saw the balance. There’s lots I loved and lots I hated, but if someone wasn’t watching every episode, if someone wasn’t focused on the progress of the series but watching only this show, it might not hold up.

The sound and music and sets don’t. Nor do the special effects. That phaser falling off Geordi’s belt and then just laying there and… that was just awful.

But man that funeral is SO well done. Probably my favorite part of Season One.

 

 

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