48

In the 23rd episode of Season 1 ("Skin of Evil"), Tasha Yar is

killed.

At the end of the episode, the main crew of the Enterprise attends a ceremony where a hologram of her addresses each attendee. It looks like this, to jog your memory:

enter image description here

Also, totally the Windows XP wallpaper, right?

Anyway, why did Tasha Yar record this message? She

died

suddenly and had no reason to expect this was going to happen.

Is this something people do in the Star Trek universe, much like people have wills?

Side question: Since the message addresses individuals, how did Tasha know who would be attending?

  • 7
    Perhaps she knew the dangers of being in Starfleet and wanted to make sure she could say goodbye. She might have expected death considering her childhood. – OghmaOsiris Sep 28 '11 at 19:33
  • 3
    +1 for the wallpaper, but it's not quite. :-) – Hand-E-Food Sep 28 '11 at 23:39
  • I think in the current military, troops often make wills or have final messages prepared in advance. Star fleet exploration is potentially hazardous so I would expect crew members to take similar actions. It is unusual that a member of the bridge crew dies, the red/yellow shirted security guy may leave a message, but it probably isn't to members of the bridge crew so wouldn't be relevant to the series. Notable exceptions would be Spock's death and Data's. Neither of whom left a message afaik. – Jaydee Sep 15 '14 at 12:51
  • 4
    It's worth noting that Windows XP was released over 10 years after that episode aired. – MartianInvader Oct 3 '14 at 17:03
48

There are really two angles to consider on this:

  1. Tasha led a very hard life. She spoke at length through the series about what it was like to grow up. How she had to avoid what are delightfully called "Rape Gangs" as she matured. Not happy times. See this entry about her sister for more on that.
  2. Computers do a lot for people in ST without bothering to tell you.

What these come together to produce is this: Tasha, as part of her psyche, recorded messages to all the people she cared about. She probably updated them often. She isn't shown having any kind of a night-life, her quarters are decorated in a spartan fashion. She left a lot of people, like her sister, behind. Death would have been a constant part of her mindset.

Combine this, with the computer knowing who is present and not bothering to show messages to people who weren't, and you have your answer. Additionally, the Holodeck would be able to weave messages that are out of order into a sensible structure. It just filled in any gaps with probable expressions.

Probably, the computer unlocked and sent the other messages to those relevant people as well. Again, you just don't see it happen.

  • 20
    I think you guys put even more thought into these things than the writers – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 29 '11 at 4:59
  • 19
    Computers is the ST equivalent to "A wizard did it." – DampeS8N Sep 29 '11 at 11:12
  • 2
    @BlueRaja - that is definitely true. Writers mostly do this stuff for a paycheck, and most of them are good at producing writing that would be acceptable to studio execs. Whose main priority is NOT thinking things through. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 1 '11 at 3:02
  • Reference Planetes (anime) for the enforced company will, and Red Dwarf for having your personality stored in a computer to be displayed as a hologram... – AncientSwordRage Apr 24 '12 at 19:47
  • 1
    Another thing to consider in addition to her harsh childhood putting mortality into her mind is also the fact that the worked as a chief security officer. So in addition to having a mortal mindset, she also was in a field that was likely to routinely put her in mortal danger. – eidylon Jun 12 '12 at 19:18
53

It is a fairly common practice for soldiers and sailors in the military today, and throughout at least recent history, to write "goodbye" letters before embarking on missions or going into battle. During war time, many also keep a letter which they update on a regular basis and leave behind in more secure hands to be sent in case they do not return. If they return alive, all the better that it was never needed to be read or sent.

It is not at all inconceivable that this practice would continue into Starfleet, especially for someone who is in security and would regularly be selected to go on away missions. Starfleet officers know full well the dangers that frequent their occupation from battle or phenomenon of all sorts. They would be likely to create such goodbye messages on a regular basis, always hoping they would never be needed.

I watched an episode of Star Trek TOS recently where they believed Captain Kirk was dead. He had left behind a message for Spock and McCoy to be viewed in the event that he ever died.

  • This is by far the best answer. Common modern practice carried into the future. No super-AI shenanigans, just life in a hard business. – Patrick Hughes Sep 15 '14 at 2:48
18

We see the other side of this during Deep Space 9. In the episode To the Death, O'Brien and Dax discuss their recording audio/visual goodbyes for their loved ones before heading out on a dangerous mission. So Tasha simply made something similar and periodically updated it.

8

Many people have a last will and testament written up while they are still living and healthy. The difference between then and now is that in Star Trek land they have advanced holographic projection systems and computers that can create holographic representations of nearly any random person from the smallest shred of optical evidence and then incorporate highly accurate personality matrixes extrapolated from a wide variety of sources.

That said, Tasha's hologram would have been a simple task for nearly anyone in the 24th century to put together, to read her will while adding personal touches based on entires in personal logs and field reports.

8

I don't think it requires much explanation beyond being a 24th century Video Will, which has been a thing ever since video cameras and VCRs became widely available in the 20th.

It wouldn't be too out of character for Yar to record such a message. Her parents were killed when she was young, and her childhood was rough, and so she was probably attuned to the fact that life is short and friendships are precious. It wouldn't be surprising to find out that she routinely kept such a message up to date, which would explain why it was tailored to the people she was serving with.

It's also possible that she addressed people in her message that were not present at the memorial service, and that the computer (or a human) edited out those parts before playback.

As for whether it was common or not, that's hard to say. The only similar instance I'm aware of is a recorded message to Wesley from his father (episode "Family"), but Jack Crusher didn't expect to be dead before it was playbed back. No other Starfleet memorials that I can recall have involved playing back such a message (Spock's memorial in Wrath of Khan, and another in Enterprise), but those instances took place much earlier than TNG.

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