This episode is memorable only for the demise of Tasha Yar and the holodeck scene where she says goodbye to her friends. A shuttle-containing counselor Troi crashes on Varga 2 and the Enterprise rushes to assist. When the landing party arrives on the surface, they are confronted by a mobile oil slick called Armus. He prevents them from reaching the shuttle containing Troi and the pilot and in a fit of pique, kills Tasha. Phaser fire is ineffective against him, so the landing party is powerless. Armus begins speaking to Troi, so using her empathic ability; she is able to learn something about him. Picard beams down to the surface in an attempt to negotiate with Armus, but he does little more than play childish pranks on them. Fortunately, the Enterprise crew discovers that when Armus is angry, the force field that he has created is weakened. Therefore, they frustrate him to the extent that all he can do is scream with rage, which lowers the strength of the field to the point where the landing party can beam off the surface. I consider Armus to be one of the most poorly thought out aliens to appear in TNG. He has no redeeming qualities, apparently he is the evil essence that a species culled from their being and then abandoned on the planet. While the idea of an evil life force does have many interesting possibilities, in this case, it is not well implemented. The idea that a being powerful enough to resist concentrated phaser fire and possessing intelligence would simply stand and scream with rage is difficult to believe. The final scene is a very emotional one, where a pre-recorded holographic image of Tasha says goodbye to her friends on the Enterprise. At the end, Data expresses puzzlement over the funeral, noting that all of his thoughts are about himself and not Tasha. He asks Picard if he perhaps has missed the point of the funeral, to which Picard replies that no, he has in fact gotten it. However, this is not enough to save the episode, and I rank it in the bottom ten percent of the series.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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A substandardTrekadventure that attains a bit of notoriety as the final episode of Denise Crosby's Tasha Yar--at least until her cleverly conceived return in the third season's "Yesterday's Enterprise." When a shuttle crash strands Counselor Troi and a (barely glimpsed) crewman on a barren planet, the away team's efforts to rescue her are frustrated by a black, viscous pool that moves to block their path. The oily goop soon identifies itself as Armus, not an alien being per se, but rather the cast-off remnants of an ancient race that had learned how to make manifest the cruel, destructive sides of their own nature and abandoned this physical embodiment of evil as a hindrance to their evolution. Armus immediately proves his own motiveless malignancy by killing Tasha with wonton dispatch. But murder proves insufficient to satisfy his cravings, and he goes on to torment and torture the remainder of the landing team through such schoolyard stratagems as playing keep away with Geordi's visor and forcing Data to hold his phaser on his comrades. A pretty regrettable episode overall, with laughable dialogue and special effects (the evil oil slick may be the lamest-looking villain in all ofStar Trek), but in hindsight the brutal offhandedness of Tasha's death, done without preamble or any great effort on Armus's part, was the first healthy sign that TNG would outgrow the self-congratulatory PC smugness of its first few seasons.--Bruce Reid