Jun 29 2012 4:00pm

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

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatcn on 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

Keith R.A. DeCandido is thrilled to announce that V-Wars, the shared-world vampire anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and with his story “The Ballad of Big Charlie,” is now on sale. If you like vampires, you’ll love this book, and if you’re sick unto death of vampires, you’ll like this anthology even more. Seriously. Get this book. Ordering links at Keith’s web site, or check your local bookstore or comic book store.

1. Tesh
Sela has a significant part in the Star Trek Online game. She's still a bit of a middleweight foe, though she is "Empress" for a while.
Kristoff Bergenholm
2. Magentawolf
I still can't get over just how terrible that blonde hair looks on a Romulan, and especially in their style.
David Stumme
3. grenadier
This two-parter establishing Spock as an ambassador, and setting him up on Romulus also serves as the kick off point for JJ Abrams' movie, since Nimoy's "Spock Prime" in that movie is named as an ambassador, and still involved in Romulan affairs.
Keith DeCandido
4. krad
Tesh & grenadier: Thanks to both of you -- I meant to mention both those things and spaced. Thanks to the magical edit function, they're now both in the Trivial Matters section. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
5. don3comp
I don't share quite the contempt for Sela that others on this rewatch seem to have, BUT she did get bumped down to the status of Comic Villainess by this dialogue exchange, which I respectfully submit for I Believe I Said That:

SELA: If you don't (read the speech), you will die.

SPOCK: Since it is logical to assume that you will kill us in any event, I choose not to cooperate.

SELA: I hate Vulcans! I hate their logic, their arrogance! Very well!

That said, I remember enjoying the story. I enjoyed Picard not being fazed by the Klingon captain's presentation of the amenities on the Klingon ship, the beurocrat knowing what Troi's up to but letting it work, and oh, yeah: I LOVE the Klingon opera sequence, and the Ferengi's reaction! I'd go see "Aktuh and Mellota!" And the desire for Unification is very Roddenberry/Star Trek, and as such a fitting memorial to GR, even if it was, as has been noted, essentially an advertisement for "Star Trek VI." The plot is pretty good, even if Romulan military planning isn't what it was in the days of "Balance of Terror." Overall, the two parts taken together, with a bit of rewriting, would have made a better film than at least one of the TNG movies that actually made it to the big screen.
j p
6. sps49
Sela, gah.

Riker's investigation was realistic (which often is less exciting), it gave everyone else something to do, and it helped them with what to look out for at Gargledon Core.

And I remember liking the reveal of Pardek on first viewing. Now, it annoys me knowing while watching.

At least the Romulan Proconsul gets to wear a different outfit than everyone else on Romulus.
7. TBonz
I hate Sela. Wish they'd have killed her off onscreen.

As lame as these eps were, there were some delightful scenes but the mind meld between Spock and Picard almost made me cry. The emotion on Spock's face...
Alyssa Tuma
8. AlyssaT
This episode has one of my favorite TNG lines EVER, I can't believe it hasn't been brought up (and is my personal contender for "I Believe I Said That"):

"A fat Ferengi has just entered the establishment."

I love that whole bar scene, in fact. Riker flirting, Klingon opera... almost made me forget about all that, um, Spock stuff :)

Smell ya later, Crosby.
Chin Bawambi
9. bawambi
One of my main points on why I disagree with y'all on this one is because Crosby is such an awful actress the writers made Sela a comic book villain. Of course, her schemes are as transparent as tissue paper and as thin - it is keeping with the maximum ability of Crosby - kitsch. Like I said earlier YMMV. I feel the rest of the crew interaction as well as Picard/Spock and the Klingon ship more than make up for the Romulans as Keystone Kops plot holes.

Alan Courchene
10. Majicou
It's been said before, but I'll say it again: three "Vulcan horse" starships, a couple thousand Romulan troops, to invade and occupy an entire planet? Not on your life. If it were a pre-industrial society, maybe, but not a core world of the UFP. For poor scale, I think this may not have been matched until the claim that the clone army in Star Wars was 1 million strong and fighting a galaxy-wide war. World War II had far more combatants.
This two-parter seems to suffer from a problem of scope; the plot doesn't feel big enough to live up to its event-episode status. Still, Spock's mission, his dedication to it, and the interactions of the characters do elevate things.
alastair chadwin
11. a-j
I remember quite liking the easy escape sequence as I saw it as a nod back to all those TOS episodes where Kirk and Spock would escape a cell with the aid of a nerve pince and a right hook.
Bethany Pratt
12. LiC
I'm still confused about why the holographic Spock doesn't have any arms in his sleeves.
14. Jaquandor
This episode has my favorite production goof in the history of the series: when Picard, Data, and Spock are leaving Sela's office, the camera tracks with them, moving across Sela's desk. A glass desk ornament moves into view...with a TNG production crew guy reflected in it! You can see it here:
15. turtletrekker
Sela also appeared in both books of David R, George's recent DS9/Typhon Pact duology "Plagues of Night" and "Raise the Dawn", which I finished this morning.
16. Christopher L. Bennett
I wasn't crazy about the way this episode wrote Spock, because it had him back playing the old games, denying that he had emotion or that it was valuable -- something he'd outgrown decades earlier in TMP. Fortunately Nimoy played Spock the way he played him in the movies, as more serene and in touch with his emotions, so that ameliorated the writing somewhat.

@10: Crash just one of those ships into the planet at half the speed of light and you've got an extinction-level impact event. After that it would be relatively easy to bring the surviving population to its knees. Although then the occupiers would have the rest of the Federation to contend with, so it doesn't make a lot of sense on those grounds.

@12: Spock had his arms folded behind his back, but the way the loose, oversized sleeves fell gave it that "armless" effect.
17. Robby the Robot
Although it has it's faults, part II is one of my favorite episodes. If only Nimoy was asked to come back in another episode. He indicated in a Starlog interview that he would have if only he "was asked". I loved the dialogue between him and Data. The ending was very heart felt and I'll never forget the mind meld sequence. If only there could have been more of this. I don't understand how it could be such a ratings winner and it was never used again. Especially Spock! Without Spock I don't think Star Trek would be the franchise it is today. That character was a symbol of the new worlds and life that is out in space.
18. Robby the Robot
If Keith R. A. DeCandido is out there, I really miss those Klingon stories. I wish there were more entries in the Klingon saga.
Keith DeCandido
19. krad
turtletrekker: Oooh, thanks! I've added those two to the list....

Robby: thanks so much!

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
20. mkelm44
Sela has to be the most inept villain in the Star Trek universe, both on screen and in literature. Has she ever had an evil plot go right? How is it the ruthless Romulans not only keep giving her chances but that she keep rising in rank?

Seriously, why would you leave the android, the legendary scientist and the Captain of the Federation's Flagship in the high ranking person's office without so much as even a guard? "Hey, don't touch anything" doesn't work with a 7 year old, let alone those three. And the invasion plan is a little dumb. I presume Vulcan has some sort of planetary defense, and I imagine the Vulcan's would be sticklers for procedures, which probably involve scanning the three ships coming from the enemies home planet and noticing that the reunifying group seems to be very, very heavily armed and then promptly blasting them across the border. And what was the next step of Sela's plan? Land a few thousand troops and home that the Federation just gives up?

To me this episode suffers from the same problem that the Klingon Civil War and the previous evil Sela plot had... it's several episodes worth of storylines blown in the final hour of the two parter. Was getting to Rasmussen and his time egg that important? Why not have Picard/Data go to Romulus and meet spock, get caught, make an escape, go into hiding, do the mind meld as one episode. Then some point later the investigation started at Galornden Core is revisited when we reveal that several Vulcan ships have gone missing, not just the one. Then maybe another two parter that ends with the message from Spock saying this is a reunification fleet (which since the Captain isn't there we don't know is a hologram) followed by the reveal/destruction of the ships in the second half and a follow up as to what actually happened to Spock? Why did we have to do all of this in 42 minutes?
21. Christopher L. Bennett
@20: "Why did we have to do all of this in 42 minutes?"

Because Nimoy's schedule only allowed him to do a single episode (plus the tiny bit of the previous one). They actually had to shoot part 2 before part 1 in order to fit it into his schedule.
22. Randy McDonald
I wouldn't say that Sela's plots are necessarily ill-planned. Supplying the House of Duras during the Klingon Civil War was a smart decision, and trying to program LaForge to assassinate a Klingon governor was innovative.

But the invasion of Vulcan? The only way that might make sense would be if there was a substantial vein of pro-Romulan sentiment on Vulcan. It's not unimaginable: the Vulcan High Command of two centuries previously had been sockpuppeted by the RSE, and "Gambit" later in TNG would indicate the existence of a Vulcan separatist movement. Pro-Romulan sentiment wouldn't necessarily have to be _very_ broad or deep for a Romulan ploy to install a friendly government on Vulcan to wreak havoc on a core world of the Federation.
Keith DeCandido
23. krad
Folks, due to the celebration of what we here in the U.S. refer to as Independence Day and folks in the UK call Illegal Treason Day, but we all call the 4th of July, which raher rudely falls in midweek this year,* we'll be skipping the rewatch on 3 July, with "A Matter of Time" to be rewatched on Friday 6 July. Enjoy your holiday, and try not to blow yourselves up with sparklers.

* Only in America do we bitch about our holidays inconveniencing our work week...........

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
24. Lisamarie
My favorite part was definitely the Klingon opera. I'd definitely go see that :)

Enjoy your holiday!
Danis Brunet
25. Danis
Thanks for this KRAD!
26. mkelm44
@21 CLB

I know that Nimoy's schedule only allowed him to shoot one episode, but that essentially reduces the show from the bigger story to being a single guest star episode. By using the Romulan/Vulcan unification storyline solely as a vehicle for Spock to show up throws out a lot of potential. Spock can't have a protege who can carry the water until the next time Nimoy is available again? This could have been an opportunity to start a bigger story arc the way that "The Jem Hadar" episode at the end of season 3 of DS9 launched a story arc that was in place for the rest of the show. (I'm not counting the early hints about the Dominion starting in season 2). Instead the story line pretty much gets dropped until movies/novels revisits it.

@22 Randy McDonald... I agree that Sela's plots are entirely devoid of merit (compared to the plot from "the Game" she's an evil genius) they just never seem to work out for her. Considering she doesn't deliver any sort of gains for the Romulan Empire, I'm just suprised that she wasn't either canned or eliminated sooner. The lack of development of her plans could also be limited by the lack of screen time they get. Had the Unification storyline gone on longer you could have seen the Romulans be actually welcomed on Vulcan and only later revealed to be an invasion force after they've gotten a foothold on the planet, at which point the Federation has to find a way to get rid of them. But since all we actually know about the plot is "Spock sends a message, ships fly slowly to Vulcan and conquer it" it just seems a little simplistic.
Justin Devlin
27. EnsignJayburd
I can't believe anyone used Sela in tie-in fiction or video games. She bungled her mission here so badly that she should have been executed, but not before being tortured endlessly by the Tal-Shiar. Good riddance.

Still, I liked this 2-parter, warts and all. I also loved the oblique references to ST:VI which is a movie I absolutely adore.
Joseph Newton
28. crzydroid
@26 mkelm44: While an arc could've been interesting, there have been a few discussions on this board about TNG purposefully avoiding story arcs. The show seemed to have a mantra of being very episodic in nature. Part of this was, I think, for purposes of flexibility in airing the episodes. Another part might have been because they didn't want new viewers to get lost. This resulted in an episodic show where everything was wrapped up at the end of each episode, and often events were never referrenced or visited again. There were a few exceptions (Worf's discommendiation, the Locutus thing, the fact that Sela exists), but for the most part, most of the episodes stand alone.

Again, there's been discussion on this rewatch in the past in terms of some of the cons of this.
Alan Courchene
29. Majicou
@16 CLB: Fair point about the R-bomb potential, although I don't think anyone's ever brought up the possibility in onscreen Trek.

@27: Maybe other writers figured they could only improve upon Sela--the bar was set low. I suppose she's basically the Admiral Daala of Star Trek (yes, I know that Sela debuted first.) I'm now curious to see David R. George's take on Sela in the Typhon Pact era.
30. Randy McDonald
@ 26: Pretty much. All that I can imagine, really, is that Sela wasn't the person who initiated these plans, that she was just the person on the ground. (Proconsul Neral?)

@ 29: George does a brilliant job with Sela, arguably building upon her depiction in McIntee's _Indistinguishable from Magic_ as a capable person who has risen very high but still can't get past the fact that, at 4, she screamed when and so killed her mother. It's just a shame it took so long to do a good job by the character.
Robbie C
31. leandar
A couple things I thought of in this episode. Just how in the heck did those Vulcan defense ships get out to the Neutral Zone so bloody quick unless Vulcan just happens to be that close by, which I doubt. That seemed rather unrealistic.

Another thing is, krad and others, might remember, the trailer for Star Trek VI seemed to imply that Kirk was going to be phasered to death on Rura Penthe. Of course we know now that that was Martia disguised as Kirk, but the trailer didn't give that out so it really looked like Kirk was going to die in Star Trek VI. I'm thinking that if he had actually been killed in that movie, can you imagine, just for a moment, if that had happened and then think about Spock's line where he says "It was I who committed Captain Kirk to that peace mission and I who had to bear the responsibility for the consequences to him and his crew." Having not seen the film yet, but having seen the trailer, I was convinced this line indicated that Kirk was going to die in Star Trek VI and if he had, this line would have so much more weight on it than what it ended up happening. Yes, Kirk and McCoy went through hell in Klingon custody and on Rura Penthe, but they came out of it alright it seems. And I can understand Spock feeling guilty about it, but how much more guilt would he have had if Kirk had really died? In a way, since Kirk didn't die, it really doesn't make sense for me that eighty or so years later, Spock would still feel guilty about what happened on that final mission, surely his logical and reasoned mind would have dealt with it. He and Kirk talked about it in his quarters and Kirk absolved him of responsibility. It just doesn't carry the weight I think it should have had. :(
32. Scott M
I mostly agree. It seems to me like the concept began with the idea of getting Leonard Nimoy to guest star as Spock on the show. He's old now...what would his role be? Ambassador. But we've had several ambassador episodes, what would make this one special? He's an ambassador to the Romulans! Except the Romulans aren't interested in peace -- at least not officially, so Spock is working underground. Ooh, this is good! But how does the Enterprise fit in? Well, Spock is working covertly, so they go to see what he's up to. But they don't have a cloaking device; they would be detected. Okay, so we'll just send a couple of them on a Klingon ship. Then what do we do with the rest of the crew? Oh, I know! We'll give them some sort of mystery to solve! Maybe -- maybe a Romulan invasion...of Vulcan! Hey, yeah! And the Romulans can try to capture Spock and use him to get everyone to welcome the invasion fleet! Sweet! So the Enterprise crew is tracking down the invasion fleet, solving that mystery. What happens when they find it? They can't destroy it, and do we really want the Federation having thousands of Romulan prisoners? No...the Romulans will destroy the fleet! Those bastards! Okay, but then essentially the Enterprise crew is ultimately useless.

Oh, well. You can't have everything.

My biggest issue with the episode, though, is that it seems to become smaller in scale as the stakes increase. The Romulans are preparing an invasion, and our heroes are locked in an office. Then the invasion fleet is on its way, and our heroes stop it with a 20-second TV broadcast. Really? A 2-part episode featuring Spock ends with the Enterprise crew watching Romulan C-Span?

This should have been a movie with a big budget and the time and resources for a couple of good rewrites. It could have been so much better than most of the TNG certainly would have been better than this episode.
33. therealarod
To me the dialouge between Data and Spock is gold, and worth the entire episode. Also enjoy the dialouge between Spock and Picard. Could have been better, but just those two things alone make the episode worth it for me.
34. RudiMentry
Late to the party. I love the way the writers stick with, to the end, the Roddenberry ideal that the people from Earth are above currency. Riker in the bar, says to the 4 handed pianist, when asked to drop a few coins, "I don't carry money". Not, I don't have any on me. Riker even takes a drink, off of a passing Waiter. Is it Starfleet night, drink for free? I suppose even if he had the forethought to replicate some, he has no pockets. The idea that Earthlings don't use money concept does not work. What if everyone wants a huge estate on Earth, like Picards family? Supply and demand would necessitate value and some sort of trading scheme. Anyway, episode was a Spock vehicle. Works well, mentioned groans, and all. A top 20, on my list.
35. Bluejay Young
I'm guessing "Melor Famagal" is the 24th Century's "Melancholy Baby".
36. SethC
The Enterprise subplot was the weak spot of the episode. It seemed very rushed and see-through. 2,000 troops on 3 transports are going to capture a planet of billions? The scale of the crews and the ships until the Dominion War always struck me odd. A single American aircraft carrier has a crew of 5,000-6,000 if you include the air wing. The Enterprise and other Galaxy-class starships carry 1,000 people and many of them are civilian scientists or families, not military personnel. Also is Earth the only planet in the U.F.P. that is actually protected by Starfleet and run by the Federation? Vulcan has their own ministers and defense forces. So did Betazed according to "Menagie a Troi". Very weird.
Keith DeCandido
37. krad
SethC: Individual planets of the Federation still have their own planet-based politicans and defense forces and whatnot. It's no different than the current European Union arrangements, or many aspects of the states that make up the United States.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
38. SethC
So the U.F.P. is not a republic but a coalition of planets like the UN? I always thought it was a unicamerial republic. It's listed as such in Memory Alpha (which I know is not strictly 'canon' but adheres closely to it).
Keith DeCandido
39. krad
Well, we're talking about planets here. Terrestrial models for government really aren't going to apply to a government that involves planets that are whole friggin star systems separated from each other.........

Just for reasons of distance and isolation, individual planets have to have a certain degree of autonomy, even in a republic.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
40. SethC
I would accept your premise Keith, but first that requires that there are individual planets that are part of an interstellar republic.
Michael Poteet
41. MikePoteet
I rewatched this episode recently, prompted by Mr. Nimoy's death. I found, to my chagrin, it didn't hold up nearly as well as I'd hoped it would. I remember it being a Big Deal in 1991, and being very excited by and pleased with it; but, almost 25 years later, I found it very slow and too much talk, talk, talk. Maybe some of this was the necessary constraints of a weekly TV show budget, but not much seemed to happen. Not that I wanted a big, Star Wars-style action show; but when the climax of the episode is a drawn-out conversation in an office... I dunno, it just felt too small.

Nimoy was great when he was on the screen, as always; but even the conversation with Data seemed to happen just for the sake of having it happen. For all that Data has a supposed epiphany about his and Spock's situations, nothing comes of it for either character.

Hope it's not heresy, but I just found "Unification" (both parts) really lacking. I did still appreciate Spock's comment about beginning to reshape the landscape with a single flower. That's a nice line, and very true to the Spock character, as is the whole idea of him working to reunify Vulcan and Romulus.

I kind of wish that, in-universe, Spock were still in the Prime Timeline, helping pick up the pieces from Romulus' destruction, rather than working solely (or at least primarily) with New Vulcan in the JJ-timeline. Although I suppose it's hard to argue with him working to rebuild and give hope in either situation.
MaGnUs von Tesla
42. lordmagnusen
Yes, Sela is a crappy villain, but I rather enjoyed this two-parter, both originally, and when I rewatched it recently.

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