Is there a more divisive episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation than "Skin of Evil"? The debates over this hour – the exit of Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar – are boundless and ongoing, even now. The episode premiered on April 25, 1988, or 30 years ago today. It came into being because Denise Crosby, not happy with Yar’s development and eager to pursue other opportunities, asked out of her contract. And, Gene Roddenberry obliged. Yar died in a sudden and unsentimental manner, and in the line of duty, killed by the energy creature, Armus.
A good many fans felt that Yar deserved a far better send-off. And most of them deemed Armus, basically a walking oil slick, such a silly adversary that it only cheapened Yar's already lackluster demise. On the other hand, there are those fans who -- despite the laughability of Armus -- appreciated the fact that Yar died as many people do, on the job and without warning, with no departing words.
Of course, Yar did utter final words, saying goodbye to her beloved crew (and fans) via a hologram played during a tearful memorial service in the holodeck. And Crosby ultimately -- and triumphantly -- returned to the TNG, both as Yar and Sela, in several memorable episodes and more recently in Star Trek Online.
So, the question remains: What did YOU think of "Skin of Evil"? Was it a total disaster? Or was it almost great? Did it do justice to the Yar character? Or was it too unceremonious a demise? And did you hate Armus as much as everyone else seemed to?
While you ponder those questions, below are some factoids about "Skin of Evil" that may surprise you:
Shrouded in Secrecy
The episode, like the creature, was originally called "The Shroud."
Joseph Stefano conceived the story and co-wrote the teleplay with Hannah Louise Shearer. If the name Joseph Stefano rings a bell, it's for good reason: He penned the screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho and was a veteran of The Outer Limits.
Not There, But There
Crosby's name remained in the TNG credits for the rest of season one, despite her departure in "Skin of Evil." Recounting her decision to leave TNG during an interview in 2003 with Star Trek Magazine, Crosby said, "... I had no dialogue. So what was the point? It was torture to stand there. I felt like I was wasting away. I felt that if I had any chance to become the actor I had trained to be, the kind of actor that I admired, that this was not going to propel me into that. So, I had to leave and, no, I don't regret it."
The mix of stuff used to create Armus included... Metamucil and printer's ink. Armus was played on set by Mart McChesney, who later portrayed Sheliak in "The Ensigns of Command." Ron Gans provided Armus' voice. McChesney, whose only other known credit was the horror film Girls Nite Out, died in 1999, a few days short of his 45th birthday. Gans, meanwhile, was an actor and voiceover artist who passed away in 2010 at the age of 78. His other credits included Dragnet, Lost in Space, Coffy, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Hell Night, The Transformers and Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Crosby most recently recurred on both The Walking Dead and Ray Donovan. She’s also completed the horror films Itsy Bitsy and The Doctor’s Case.