Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tasha Yar's death in "Skin of Evil"--episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation

I love Netflix. I can access episodes faster than if I had the DVD boxset.

So I am re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation from beginning to end. In the first season, I get to "Skin of Evil" again. Watched it years ago, maybe twice, remembering that it is not a very good episode overall. I wanted to see it again after all this time, especially to consider again when watching those ones later where Tasha's Romulan daughter attacks.

This is the episode with the death of Tasha Yar. This is a main character, credit during the opening and everything, something very prestigious in Star Trek overall. What, did she last 23 episodes? And, she gets her name still on the credits for at least the next episode after her death, where she is not seen or mentioned. Anyway, just pretty cool to kill a main character instead of a redshirt, albeit in a silly, stupid way.

Good episode. Fighting just a purely evil entity. Good stuff. But it is the end that bothers me.

After they all get back to the Enterprise, they go to the holodeck for a funeral. And then, they come up with some kind of hologram recording of Tasha saying goodbye to all her friends and coworkers.

Was this a reverse-eulogy??

Does everybody record these? Is Riker's waiting in his quarters on the chance he doesn't make it back from an away mission?

Do they get updated regularly? New people, new relationships, how relationships have grown and changed? Is there a standard from Starfleet for this? "Once every 12 months, Starfleet personnel must record their goodbyes to friends and loved ones in case of accidental death in the line of duty." My goodness, how morbid that would be to do! Here, let's remember our mortality once every year.

Does it only play the ones for those present? For instance, what if Wesley Crusher was still away trying to get into Starfleet--would it just be waiting for when he came back, or would it still have played if he were not present? Does she have one or more still on the record for people that she knew from before the Enterprise?

This is my only problem with the episode. Yeah, I get that they were trying to milk some character development, and that it does. I get that they were trying to shine the spotlight on Tasha's sacrifice, and that it does.

But I can't help but think that this Starfleet regulation came about after Spock's death in Wrath of Khan. See, if Spock had just recorded his goodbyes, logically, he would have added one little footnote: "Oh, and just in case, I may not be really dead. I may have been able to transfer my consciousness into another being before my death, you know, to hold on to. Check the cameras and see who I came in contact with last." Then all that trouble on the Genesis planet could have been avoided. So now they make everyone record last messages.

(Ha ha--that last bit is just flippin brilliant, if you ask me.)

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