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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old January 9 2009, 09:31 PM   #1
Lt.Cmdr.LaForge
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Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar'?

I recently watched 'Yesterday's Enterprise'. Seeing Tasha again reminded me of 'Skin of Evil' when she died. Was being killed by a lump of black slime really what Denise Crosby had in mind when she decided she wanted to leave Star trek? Was it a dignified death? Tasha Yar always said she wanted her death to mean something, but did it?
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Old January 9 2009, 10:40 PM   #2
Timelord Victorious
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

No, that was the point of the episode, wasn't it?
That sometime people die meaningless deaths.
Great exits like Spock's in ST2 are the exception. And this epsiode was a reminder of that.
Sometimes it can be even a senior officer like Tasha instead of a redshirt that gets eaten by salt vampires, energy clouds or big black blobs.
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Old January 9 2009, 10:43 PM   #3
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

Tasha's death was a meaningless one - and I believe that was the point. I seem recall reading that Gene Roddenberry felt that getting killed in a meaningless way like that is an inherent risk of the security officer position.

Denise made comments about being a glorified extra during her time on the show, and I think it even went to her death - how many standard issue red-shirts get that same style death.
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Old January 9 2009, 11:10 PM   #4
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

True, but redshirts wouldn't have gotten that poignant funeral scene Yar received in the episode, nor the occasional reference like the one in "The Measure of a Man." The episode in which she died could have been better, but the meaningless nature of her death was an important and well-executed one, I thought.
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Old January 9 2009, 11:16 PM   #5
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

I agree with the comments here that Tasha's death was supposed to be meaningless. But my only issue with it, is that I think it would have had more impact for how quick and pointless it all was had she been a better developed character. Personally, I liked Tasha and was disappointed when she died, but the same goes for characters like Joseph Carey in Voyager.
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Old January 9 2009, 11:28 PM   #6
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

I would like to argue that Tasha's death was a meaningful one. She died preforming the duty that was assigned to her without running away when things looked bad; she was committed to her job. Every Starfleet member knows that death is a real possibility out in the wilderness of space and every Starfleet member knows that if the time comes they have to 'go down with the ship', so to speak. Or the mission, at least. Despite this, it's still a choice. I can't remember offhand any specific episodes where a Starfleet officer ran away instead of doing the right thing but I'm certain it happens from time to time in that universe.

It also sort of comes down to the same theory as the "Support the Troops, not the war" mentality. (Let's avoid the debate about Starfleet and the military and focus on the sentiment.) If a soldier dies in Iraq fighting a war I don't believe in, was it a meaningless death? No. Because he volunteered to fight and die so that people like me and my family weren't forced to do it.

I will say that Tasha Yar's death was a non-cinematic death. She didn't walk into a chamber of radiation to save her best friend and dye giving a salute to him in the process. She didn't even get exploded at the end of a movie when she let her Captain use the last emergency transporter in her place. Death just happened to her. In movies people are always dying to sacrifice themselves for their friends for the good of the world/universe/time/multiverse but in the real world most people either die in a hospital after a long battle with disease or out of the blue with a sudden medical crisis. You can milk a little bit of drama out of that sort of death, but you can milk out an even larger amount of drama with heroic sacrifices so they appear more in film.
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Old January 10 2009, 02:31 AM   #7
Obi Wana Jones
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

The death was supposed to meaningless; the crew even commented on it in the episode.

The sad part was Tasha was killed by a guy in a slimey black sheet d/t an exhausted budget and not knowing whether or not ST:TNG was going to make it to a second season.

Remember, it struggled for an audience it's first year. Tasha was one of the better characters, along with Riker. Picard was too uptight, Beverly was OK, Geordi kind of just hung around as an obligatory minority wearing cool sunglasses; Worf was the obligatory alien who shot first, asked questions later; Data was Spock's comical clone; Wesley was just plain annoying, and so was Troi, who looked completely stupid with her hairstyles and uniforms.

ST:TNG really grew in the second season. Characters were really fleshed out, the writing made leaps and bounds in quality.
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Old January 10 2009, 05:26 AM   #8
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

She was a security officer and was killed in the performance of her duty. Given that it's an ever-present risk, one would think that if she were inclined to view that potential outcome as a meaningless sacrifice she'd have sought other work.
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Old January 10 2009, 05:38 AM   #9
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

I just want to know what that weird splotch was on her face when she went to sickbay.
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Old January 10 2009, 02:31 PM   #10
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

Subdermal results of the thing that struck her... A spreading patch of poisons or other vile deathiness? Clearly it wasn't supposed to imitate a natural bruise or wound, but was meant to look exotic.

...redshirts wouldn't have gotten that poignant funeral scene Yar received in the episode, nor the occasional reference like the one in "The Measure of a Man."
Do we know that, though? The camera could have missed all the times Kirk lamented on a security bloke he lost, or the funeral he gave to Ensign Mallory's few remains. Top brass did honor the death of the lowly Muniz in DS9 "The Ship" with all sort of ritual and emotion.

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Old January 10 2009, 05:05 PM   #11
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

Thingol wrote: View Post
No, that was the point of the episode, wasn't it?
That sometime people die meaningless deaths.
Exactly. In real life, death isn't usually noble or purposeful, and it sure as hell isn't dignified. It's ugly and painful and messy and random and frustrating. That's why it's bad!! Sanitizing every fictional death, making it noble or meaningful or fulfilling, is a copout and a cheat. Death should make you angry and frustrated and hurt. It should leave you anguished about the sheer needlessness and wasted potential. A story that insists on giving a character a noble, romanticized death just isn't being honest or courageous enough.

I do wish that Denise Crosby hadn't left the series. I wish the writing staff had handled her character well from the get-go so that she wouldn't have felt compelled to leave. But I'm glad that they handled her death in a way that was honest, that rejected the idea of glorifying or romanticizing death.

And I've never seen her death as meaningless anyway. She died trying to rescue her crewmates. That's as heroic as it gets. The being who killed her had no reason for doing it, but she gave her life doing the one thing that had the most meaning to her in all the universe: protecting her crew. I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of. I think that "Yesterday's Enterprise" was wrong to interpret that as a meaningless death, to devalue it like that. There doesn't have to be some big epic purpose for it to have meaning. She was doing the job she loved, and she was doing it on behalf of others. How can that not be enough?
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Old January 10 2009, 07:55 PM   #12
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

What Starship Polaris and Christopher said.
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Old January 10 2009, 10:10 PM   #13
The Sneeze Police
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

She died in the line of duty...I don't recall thinking that she had an undignified death. Given the current trend of TV shows to kill off main characters for no other reason than the creators think it is a cool, brave, or gutsy thing to do, her death was reasonably handled, besides her leaving wasn't a gimmick or a fad...the actress wished to leave the series.

I did feel her memorial service was touching and at least gave me some closure about the loss of the character. I was delighted when Tasha showed up in Yesterday's Enterprise and All Good Things.
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Old January 11 2009, 04:52 AM   #14
Red Ranger
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

People,

I think why some people found the ep difficult to take -- as I did -- is because the point of the ep, as others have mentioned, was to highlight how meaningless death is with a pointless death. Ironically, Tasha Yar's character got a meaningful send-off in that we're still talking about her senseless death.

It was also a significant development drama-wise for Star Trek because up to that point, unlike other TV shows, no major character died an irrevocable death. Before then, it was just crewmembers of the week biting the dust, mostly red-shirts. And of course, we had Spock's very dramatic death in TWOK, swiftly undone in TSFS.

So Denise Crosby did get what she said she didn't get, a good, memorable performance. Of course, that exit helped Michael Dorn and the character of Worf.

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Old January 11 2009, 06:06 AM   #15
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Re: Was 'Skin of Evil' an undignified/meaningless death for 'Tasha Yar

So, basically, we're basically agreeing that there was meaning in the meaninglessness?

Although Christopher raises a valid point - she was trying to rescue her fellow crewmen, which is particularly meaningful. I think, though, that the meaningless that Guinan drew from her death was that it wasn't actually anything that Tasha did that resulted in the rescue of the shuttle - the death itself served no purpose more than getting Tasha killed. It didn't get the others any closer in saving Troi and the pilot.
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