**** (4 stars out of 5)
Lt. Commander Leland T. Lynch is the latest in a parade of increasingly baffling Chief Engineers. Is turnover really that high in this job? Are they dropping dead every week of warp core radiation or something? I won't miss Logan, to be sure, but it's past time for a new Scotty.
But enough puffery, Shuttlecraft 13 has crashed on Vagra II with Counselor Troi aboard!
The rescue team confronts a hideous living oil slick. It's called Armus, complete with a menacing synth soundtrack. And if that was freaky, (it is, I assure you) Exxon Britches is also casually brutal. He kills Yar with a wave of his goop. Crusher shocks the flatline beyond all hope...
Now Armus taunts his prisoner Troi. The filthy thing is not even enjoying its own sadism. You gotta love what you do, or else what's the point?
The crew is angry, but Picard puts them back in duty mode. The Captain gives the Security Chief job to Worf. The Klingon swallows his own desire to battle Armus directly in favour of making a plan.
Armus torments them: making Geordi scrabble in the dirt for his VISOR, making Data point a phaser at everyone including himself, the creature even swallows Riker whole. Not in the good way.
Troi has learned the monsters' origin: he was abandoned, sloughed off by a race that physically expelled its dark impulses. Wherever they went, they believed themselves to be gods- perfect light without darkness.
"All spirits are enslaved that serve things evil." Picard defies Armus and angers it sufficiently to save Troi. They torpedo the wrecked shuttle from orbit, put up a picket fence around Vagra II, and hold a memorial.
Yar's recorded holographic message to her friends was very moving to me. To Worf she says: "Both warriors, orphans who found ourselves this family. I hope I met death with my eyes wide open."
Her holo-ghost tells Picard: "If there was someone in this universe I could choose to be like... who I would want to make proud of me... it's you."
Data expresses his own brand of loneliness to his Captain. "I keep thinking how empty it will be without her presence."
I had never been so blown away by TNG before "Skin of Evil"- THEY KILLED A MAIN CHARACTER!
Tasha never had a story to herself, or much to do, but SWEET CHRISTMAS was that a shock.
Au revoir, Natasha.