Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Unification, Part II”

“Unification, Part II”
Written by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 5, Episode 8
Production episode 40275-207
Original air date: November 11, 1991
Stardate: 45245.8

Captain’s Log: Again, we open with a memorial card for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who died shortly before the episode aired. Then we get highlights from Part 1.

Spock asks what Picard is doing on Romulus. Picard says that was to be his question to Spock. Spock insists that his mission is a personal one of peace. He’ll advise the Federation when necessary—but Picard says that isn’t satisfactory. If he’s to undertake a mission with consequences for the Federation, it behooves him to discuss it with the Federation—in this case, with Picard as its representative.

Grumpily, Spock points out that that discussion was precisely what he wanted to avoid.

Picard softens as he delivers his other news: Sarek is dead. Spock also softens, and asks Picard to walk with him in the caves, away from the others. Picard tells Spock that his father was proud of him and loved him; Spock typically brushes it off as the Bendii Syndrome making him overly emotional.

Finally, Spock explains his mission: there is a growing movement on Romulus of people who wish to embrace Vulcan philosophy. They’re considered radicals, enemies of the state—but there are some, like Pardek, who have some power. Pardek was the one who convinced Spock to come now, as the time may be right for the reunification of the Vulcan and Romulan people. Spock is aware of how unlikely it is to actually come about, but the potential rewards are too great for him not to make the effort.

It is the rise of Proconsul Neral that has prompted Pardek’s desire for Spock to come to Romulus, as he is young, idealistic, and a reformer.

When Picard asks why Spock is doing something so important alone, without consulting either Vulcan authorities or the Federation at large, Spock asks if Picard is aware of the role he played in offering peace to the Klingon Empire. Picard says that history is aware, but Spock shakes his head—what is not generally known is that Spock was the one who pushed Jim Kirk into that mission, and he who bore responsibility for what came next (a nice little spoiler-free preview of Star Trek VI for the viewers…).

Spock insists that Picard leave Romulus, but Picard won’t go until Spock’s affairs are completed. This leads Spock to the inevitable comparison to another Enterprise captain he once knew (in this case, their equal stubbornness), to which Picard simply says that he’s in good company.

Data returns to the Klingon ship. K’Vada isn’t thrilled that they’re staying even longer, and even less thrilled when Data asks to use the ship’s computer to try to penetrate the Romulan information net. However, when Data reveals that they will share anything they learn from the Romulans, K’Vada reluctantly agrees. Data has also figured out a way to covertly communicate with the Enterprise.

On Romulus, Spock and Picard share soup while waiting for the senate session to end and Pardek to arrive. While they talk—and Picard expresses skepticism that this movement is strong enough to reshape the Romulan political landscape—a young boy named D’Tan comes over with an old book that tells the story of the Romulan separation from Vulcan. Pardek arrives and chides D’Tan for bringing that book in public, and sends him off.

Pardek, Spock, and Picard walk. Pardek asks Picard what he thinks of his enemy, and Picard emphatically says that he sees no enemies here. Pardek speaks eloquently of the inevitability of change, and that young people like D’Tan will prevent older folks like Pardek from holding onto old prejudices. Spock himself admits that he wasn’t expecting so passionate a response among those in the movement, and Pardek points out that Romulans are a passionate people, and Vulcans should appreciate that.

Then Pardek drops the bomb: Neral wants to meet with Spock.

The Enterprise remains at Qualor II, trying to track down the missing Vulcan ship. The captain of the vessel they blew up in Part 1 has an ex-wife named Amarie, a four-armed pianist at a bar. Riker talks flirtingly with her, and gets her to tell him that her ex does business with a fat Ferengi named Omag, who always comes in and requests “Melor Famagal.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

Back on Romulus, Pardek brings Spock to meet with Neral. Pardek excuses himself, assuring Neral that he’ll be at the state dinner. Neral confides in Spock that it’s been years since anyone invited him to a state function.

Neral expresses a surprising amount of support for unification. The proconsul says that the people are tired of the conflict with the Federation and the empire’s involvement in the Klingon civil war. He says he’s prepared to publicly request that the empire open talks with the Vulcans.

After Spock leaves—and Neral wishes him both “jolan tru” (a Romulan salutation) and “live long and prosper” (a Vulcan one)—Commander Sela silently steps out of a back room. She and Neral exchange eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil smiles.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

The members of the underground are thrilled at this overture, as it’s everything they’ve been hoping for. Spock is a bit more cynical, declaring it to be far more than they could have hoped for. Picard is equally skeptical, and doesn’t see how Neral can turn his back on the traditionalists in the senate so readily. However, despite his own concerns, Spock does intend to meet with Neral again.

Picard is aghast, since he’s just as skeptical, and Spock for the second time accuses Picard of letting Sarek color his views. Picard assures him that he speaks with his own voice, thanks, even though Sarek is now a part of him, and Spock apologizes. He finds it curious that he hears Sarek so clearly now that he’s dead, and he also sadly says that he will miss arguing with Sarek, as the arguments were ultimately all they had left.

He also says that if the Romulans have an ulterior motive, it’s best to expose it. So he will play the role they would have him play.

Spock accompanies Picard to the Klingon ship. Data, who has already removed his Romulan disguise, has yet to penetrate the Romulan information net. Spock offers to assist, and he and Data talk while they try to penetrate the net.

Back on Qualor II, Worf is waiting at the bar for Omag to show up. He requests a song from Aktuh and Melota, a Klingon opera. It’s interrupted by a fat Ferengi, who expresses a certain disdain for Klingon opera, and bellows, “You know what I want to hear!”

Worf calls the Enteprise, and announces the arrival of a fat Ferengi. “Is that ‘Melor Famagal‘ I hear?” Worf affirms that it is, and Riker beams down, intimidating the Ferengi into telling him that he gave the Vulcan parts to a Barolian freighter at Galorndon Core.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

Picard and Data are able to contact the Enterprise, and they fill each other in. The Romulans have nosed around Galorndon Core before, and Data has detected transmissions to a Barolian freighter from Romulan space—a communiqué that used the prefix of Romulan intelligence. The message was a simple four-number sequence: 1400.

After talking with D’Tan—who shows him some dice engraved with Vulcan syllables—Spock meets with Picard, Data, and Pardek in the caves. When Picard fills him in on what they’ve learned, Spock deduces that Neral’s intentions are less than pure. The subspace announcement for the reunification initiative was sent for 1400 hours.

And then the caves are invaded by Commander Sela and her troops. Pardek wonders how they knew of the caves, but Spock figures out that it was Pardek himself. He was the one who summoned Spock, he was the one who set up the meetings with Neral, and he was the one who knew that Picard and Data had beamed down and were meeting with Spock just then. (Plus, of course, he gets invited to state dinners now, which probably was his payment: becoming relevant again.)

Sela thanks Pardek for his service to the state, and then takes the three of them prisoner. Sela has written a speech for Spock to deliver alongside Neral, asking Vulcan to welcome the peace envoy from Romulus, which will come in the form of three Vulcan ships (turns out the Enterprise only knew about one-third of the plan). It will actually be an invasion force, and by the time anyone realizes what’s actually happening, the Romulans will be entrenched in one of the core worlds of the Federation.

Spock, of course, refuses to deliver the speech, but Sela has a backup plan: a holographic Spock that will deliver the speech, which she demonstrates.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

Sela then locks them in her office. Spock and Data immediately go to the computer station, since the Romulans are unaware that they have access to the information net.

The Enterprise goes to Galorndon Core, but they can’t find anything. However, Worf detects three Vulcan ships coming across the Neutral Zone on a course that would take them to Vulcan, albeit not all that fast: they’re travelling at warp one. They received a message, ostensibly from Picard but actually from Sela, to hold station at Galorndon Core until they hear from him again, but Riker doesn’t buy it, and sets course to intercept the three ships.

Sela returns to an empty room—and then Riker and two security guards appear, holding weapons on them. Sela and her troops fire, but they’re just holograms. Spock and Picard then walk through the wall to take out the troops, the former with a nerve pinch, the latter with a right hook to the jaw. The wall then disappears and is replaced with the same wall, but a meter or so back. Data was able to reprogram the holographic projector to create a false wall that the three of them hid behind.

Spock and Data are able to override the preprogrammed message from the holographic Spock with a warning from Spock that this is an invasion force. The message is cut off fairly quickly, but Data is sure that enough got out to skotch the plan. Data delivers a nerve pinch to Sela (“Not bad,” Spock says appreciatively), and the three are able to escape via a route Data has cut off from security scans.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

As soon as the Enterprise intercepts the three Vulcan ships, a warbird decloaks and destroys the ships—killing a couple thousand of their troops while also destroying the evidence—before decloaking and buggering back to Romulan space.

Picard and Data meet one last time with the underground—now meeting in a cave Pardek wasn’t aware of—and Spock declares that he will be staying behind. Reunification won’t occur through politics, but it will occur through people like the ones in the cave, who are struggling toward the same enlightenment that Vulcans struggled toward in Surak’s time. It may take decades or even centuries, but Spock feels he must help them.

Spock also laments that, thanks to their mind-meld, Picard actually knows Sarek better than his son, and as a parting gift, Picard offers to let Spock meld with Picard so he can know his late father better.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf sings along with Amarie’s rendition of Klingon opera—our first exposure to such—and he doesn’t have a bad baritone. Though it’s hard to argue with Omag’s characterization of the song as “noise” and sounding like a moose.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

If I Only Had a Brain…: Spock tells Data that Vulcans try all their lives to achieve what Data has been granted by design. Data counters that Spock, by embracing his Vulcan heritage at the expense of his human one, has abandoned what Data has sought all his life to achieve.

I Believe I Said That: “I rather enjoy writing. I don’t get to do it very often in this job.”

“Perhaps you would be happier in another job.”

Sela lamenting the inability to pursue a hobby and Data providing constructive career advice.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

Welcome Aboard: Malachi Throne (Pardek), Stephen Root (K’Vada), Daniel Roebuck (random Romulan dude), Norman Large (Neral), and, of course, Leonard Nimoy (Spock) all reprise their roles from Part 1. In addition, Denise Crosby returns once again as Sela, following “Redemption II.” William Bastiani is tiresomely overbearing as Omag, Vidal Peterson is earnest as D’Tan (he’ll return on Deep Space Nine as Rugal in the episode “Cardassians”), and Harriet Leider is delightful as Amarie.

Trivial Matters: As with Part 1, this ties into the about-to-be-released Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as Spock makes an oblique reference to his role in getting the events of that movie started, and its disastrous aftermath being his reason for going it alone on this mission. (The connection is actually kinda specious, but what the hey.)

Spock’s underground movement will appear again in “Face of the Enemy” in the sixth season. Spock’s next actual appearance will be in the 2009 Star Trek, where he is established as still being involved in Romulan politics a couple of decades after this episode.

Picard attends a memorial for Sarek in the short story “Last Words” by A.C. Crispin in The Amazing Stories, where he discovers that Spock used their mind-meld at the end of this episode to implant a eulogy into Picard’s mind, which he delivers.

Neral will next be mentioned on Deep Space Nine as being an advisor to Senator Vreenak in “In the Pale Moonlight,” and he’ll appear and be established as having been elevated to the position of praetor in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,” where he’s played by Hal Landon Jr. Star Trek Nemesis opened with a different man as praetor, Hiren, and the Vulcan’s Soul trilogy by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz depicted Neral’s fall from power and Hiren’s rise between those two storylines. Neral also appeared in the short stories “Requital” by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin and “Blood Sacrifice” by Sherman & Shwartz, both in Tales of the Dominion War (edited by your humble rewatcher), in Sherman & Shwartz’s novel Vulcan’s Heart as a young uhlan in the military (a position he mentions having served at in this episode), and in the Last Unicorn role-playing game module The Way of D’era: The Romulan Star Empire.

This is Sela’s last onscreen appearance (though Crosby will return as Yar in “All Good Things…”), but the character has been seen extensively in tie-in fiction: the comic book The Killing Shadows by Scott Ciencin & Andrew Currie, the videogames Armada and Star Trek Online, and the novels The Romulan Stratagem by Robert Greenberger, Triangle: Imzadi II and Double Helix: Double or Nothing by Peter David, Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman, Indistinguishable from Magic by David A. McIntee, and Rough Beasts of Empire, Plagues of Night, and Raise the Dawn all by David R. George III.

Amarie appears briefly in the Slings and Arrows miniseries, established as the bartender in Ten-Forward on the Enterprise-E.

Oddly, when the Enterprise scans Galorndon Core, there is no mention of the magnetic storms there that interfere with sensors that we saw in “The Enemy,” which would seem to be why the Romulans chose it as a meeting point.

Make it So: “Fascinating.” The first four acts continue the buildup from Part 1 nicely. We find out why Spock is on Romulus—which is actually a very Spocklike mission—we get to see Picard and Spock verbally jousting with each other, and it’s as much of a joy to see Sir Patrick Stewart and Leonard Nimoy together as it was Stewart and Mark Lenard. Just as Nimoy played the original series-era Spock as someone in conflict between his human and Vulcan heritages, and he played the movie-era Spock as someone who had integrated those heritages more smoothly (following the transcendent experience of The Motion Picture), he plays Spock here as a cantankerous old bastard, but still very much the Spock we’ve all come to know and love.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on Tor.com: Unification, Part II

Riker’s continued investigation of the stolen ship plays out nicely—the two scenes with Amarie are a delight—but it kind of fizzles out in the end.

As does the rest of the episode. Once we hit Act 5 and we find out what all the fuss has been about, it’s a giant “say what?” All this trouble just to set up an invasion of Vulcan? Yes, having a toe-hold in the midst of Federation space would be a great coup for the Romulans, but the implementation of the plan depends on so many unpredictable factors, and so many factors out of Sela’s control, to work that it’s no surprise that it failed.

Plus, the most frustrating element, Sela leaving a brilliant android and one of the finest scientific minds in the Federation locked in a room with a holographic projector, and absolutely no security. No cameras, no microphones, no security scans, and most absurdly, no guards left in the room. Seriously, did Sela not read the Evil Overlord Rules?

The episode’s worth watching for the Picard-Spock conversations and the Spock-Data ones, but ultimately this two-parter is a lot of buildup to a frustratingly inept ending with a villain who continues to be the lamest of adversaries.

 

Warp factor rating: 4


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