Same here. After recently rewatching it on Blu-Ray myself, it really is a good episode, but I was surprised how much I liked Deanna Troi. I consider her the weakest character in the show overall, and think Face of the Enemy (Where Sirtis isn't even playing Troi but a Romulan) is her best episode, but Skin of Evil, from a pure Troi standpoint, is pretty close.
As for everything else you mentioned, yeah that was great stuff too. I don't get why a senseless death is a bad thing, if it is something that is handled well. I find Yar's death better than Dax's death in DS9 mainly because I found Dukat's "It wasn't meant for you" line corny as hell and ruined the entire scene.