Tasha Yar Deserved Better aka Why Yesterday's Enterprise is my favorite Star Trek: TNG Episode
Tasha Yar deserved better. Even non-Trek fans know that. For those who are unaware, I’ll fill you in. Lieutenant Natasha Yar was a character from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She was killed off that same season. Now, I’m not arguing that Denise Crosby shouldn’t have left, since she’s stated in interviews that she left due to being unhappy on the show, and it was her prerogative to leave the show to explore other interests. In fact, she cites that she didn’t want to stand behind the console and say “Aye, aye, Captain” for several years. Though if she had it might have been her that got sent to Deep Space Nine… What a show that could have been… Anyway, I’m getting off track. What I disliked wasn’t that she left, I disliked how she left. Admittedly, it was twenty-two episodes in, and they weren’t completely set with characters yet, but considering that the last permanent cast member to die was Spock, and he got “I have been, and always shall be, your friend” and Tasha got killed by a sentient oil slick, you can see why I’d be a little miffed.

I can’t say that Tasha Yar was my favorite TNG character, she wasn’t, and she doesn’t even rate in my Top 3 (which are Riker, Picard and Data with Worf and Geordi tied for 4th place) but the fact that she got such a rushed and unfitting death has stuck with me since I started watching. I mean, again, it was twenty-two episodes in, but still. I considered her a valued member of the crew and all she got was a one-parter? And a pretty crappy episode at that. Her death felt anti-climactic, like, she didn’t die like a main character, she died like a redshirt. Redshirts get killed by the slime monster, that’s how it goes. Main characters make grave sacrifices and their death is tragic. And that brings me to “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

“Yesterday’s Enterprise”, which features the immediate predecessor of the Enterprise-D (the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-C)) emerging from a temporal rift and causing an alternate timeline to become reality, featuring the warship Enterprise, new uniforms, no counselor on the bridge, and most notably of all, a lack of Lt. Worf, instead a noticeably alive Natasha Yar standing at the tactical station (As the Enterprise-C had traveled through the rift while fighting in a battle that contributed to the Klingon’s permanent allyship with the Federation as the Enterprise-C sacrificed itself to save a Klingon outpost from Romulans, showing courage). The entire episode, Guinan, the ship’s bartender, played by Whoopi Goldberg, senses something wrong about the ship, the universe and with Tasha. During the course of the episode, Tasha becomes friends with Lt. Castillo from the Enterprise-C, as Picard and the senior crew, including Tasha try to decide if they should fix the ship and bring it back to home base to help in the war effort, or if they should send the ship back to be destroyed with all hands lost. The decide to send the ship back, but the captain perishes before they can, and with the casualties incurred by the battle before it arrived, the ship doesn’t have a lot of people on the bridge. After a discussion with Guinan, which tells of her empty death in the other timeline, which I previously mentioned, she decides to go out preserving a timeline of moderate peace and transfers to the Enterprise-C to help Castillo with tactical and the ship goes back, with Yar seemingly perishing and the timeline restoring itself to normal, with Tasha now getting a fitting death.

That was the death she deserved. Not an empty death, but a death with meaning, saving several lives and preserving the Federation that we know and love. That is the death deserving of not only a main character, but of Natasha Yar, survivor of the warfare on Turkana to enlist in Starfleet, who raised her sister, Ishara and was a valued member of the Enterprise-D crew for her short tenure on the show. Tasha Yar got the death she deserved, two years too late. It’s my favorite episode for many other reasons, namely it’s story and the interesting take on the alternate universe, not where everyone is evil for evil’s sake, but because of a single change, for want of a nail, indeed, but Tasha’s reappearance and the reversal of her meaningless death in “Skin of Evil” makes it not only a good episode, but an episode worthy of carrying the name Star Trek. Let’s make sure history never forgets... the name... Natasha Yar.

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