The Rewatch 181: Unification (Part 1 & 2)

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 5.7-8 Unification (11/04-11/11/1991)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1/35

Notable Guest Stars:
Leonard Nimoy (Spock) – Do I really need to explain Leonard Nimoy?

Mark Lenard (Sarek)-  Lenard has played Sarek for three television series now.

Joanna Miles (Perrin)- Miles reappears as Perrin, Sarek’s second wife.

Denise Crosby (Sela)- Crosby’s back, back again…

Malachi Throne (Pardek)- Throne was a popular guest star on television through out his carrer. He appeared on Star Trek, Man from UNCLE, and The Fugitive.  His first appearance in Star Trek was as Commodore Jose I. Mendez.  He originally had done a voice of the Keeper, but they altered the voice when they decided to use him as the Commodore.

Stephen Root (K’Vada)- While he appears as a Klingon captain in this episode, you may recognize him as Milton from the 1990s film Office Space.

Norman Large (Neral)- It took me awhile to figure out why Neral looks so familiar, but after looking him up on IMDB, I realized Large has also played on Veronica Mars, and appeared on Star Trek Voyager, and another episode of TNG and a few episodes of DS9.  He’ll be around again.

Review:

This episode is important for several reasons.  It’s a good story (although perhaps not the best follow through), with recalls from the past AND new insights for the future.  It also sets up several of the films, both the original universe, and the AOS universe created by 2009’s Star Trek.

But let’s go back to the episode.  It starts oddly.  Picard is ordered to a star base where an Admiral tells him that Ambassador Spock has gone rogue.  Those of us who have watched Trek thus far know that Spock would never betray the Federation, but he’ll go rogue if need calls for it.  Picard also has this opinion.  If Spock is not authorized, he has a pretty darn good reason to be there.

Picard, having mind melded with Sarek before, hopes to seek guidance from Spock’s father in what his son is up to.  Sarek is in the middle of advanced Bendii Syndrome and is prone to emotional outbursts and in ability to focus.  Much like I imagine someone with Alzheimer’s would be, which I believe was the initial inspiration for Bendii Syndrome.  He is also actively dying.

Mark Leonard does an excellent job of showing Sarek’s state, and his emotional bond with his son. It’s a side of Sarek we never got to see, but that Amanda (and later Perrin) have seen. Sarek loves his son but is often at odds because they see the world differently.  Picard doesn’t learn much, but he has enough to start a search for Spock, who is now believed to be trying to unify Romulus and Vulcan.

(Side note, as I was typing that I almost wrote Remus by habit.  I’m kind of curious if the Romulans have a Remus.  I vaguely remember something in Nemesis about it, but I’ll find out when we eventually get to that movie.  I’ve only seen it once many many years ago.)

Picard takes Data and the two use body prosthetics and make-up to appear as Romulans.  Picard probably has the most hair I’ve ever seen on Patrick Stewart. Data makes a surprisingly passible Romulan.  They are not, however, perfect, and make a few people suspicious.

They do however, at the end of the first episode of this mid-season 2 parter, find Spock.

Spock, as Picard thought, has a reason for being on Romulus.  He believes in one day unifiying the Romulan and Vulcan people as one community again.   He had been led to believe by his friend Pardek that this is starting to be possible.

But sadly, it seems, Pardek betrays his friend of decades to Sela.  Yep, Sela is back and still vastly annoyed.  She’s intrigued by Data (probably not in the same way her mother was) but still vastly annoyed (enough to use it twice) at Picard. 

However we have Spock, Picard and Data locked up in a room together.  How could anyeone else win.

Analytically, this episode introduces a couple new themes. 

  1. Romulans.

This episode develops the species outside of their military.  So far, we have only met with soldiers or officials who work with the military.  In this episode we see the people who are not soldiers.  We see different personalities and more range of types.  Its still a bit homogeneous, with everyone having the same color skin and hair colors.  But then Star Trek at this point was pretty homogeneous as well.  Exept Sela, who despite all the genetic theory that says she should have black hair is a blonde.

They do show that the Romulans are not all a war mongering people. 

  • The idea of unification

Spock in this episode seeks unification.  As we learned in TOS, The Romulans are a breakoff species from Vulcans that broke up several milenia ago because they did not want to accept the teaches of Surak.  They are more emotional and while logical don’t live a life focused on logic only. 

This idea becomes important in later series and in the ATOS universe.  Spock works hard to help the Romulans when their planet is unstable but is too late.  His actions and those of Nero basically alter the universe into creating a parallel one that is ATOS.

  • This film sets up Undiscovered Country

Not long after this episode airs, they released the final TOS era crew film.  While Generations also has the cast, this is the last movie that focuses on them and has the entire cast. This episode references the events in the film, acting as a form of tie in promotion of the film.

Overall this episode is good.  It is however not great. The first part of the episode showed a lot of promise, but I think the second episode perhaps tried too hard.  The plot ended a bit too neatly.  However it was not bad enough to warrant a downgrade in writing.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Jeri Taylor (Part 1) and Michael Piller (part II)
  • Directed by Les Landau (Part 1) Cliff Bole (Part II)
  • This episode was filmed out of order.  Part II was filmed first to work in accordance of Lenard Nimoy’s schedule.
  • Mark Lenard did not care for the fact that Sarek was killed off screen.
  • The Discovery Series did a third part of this episode, showing a future where Spock’s dream did come to fruition.
  • This episode was dedicated to Gene Roddenberry who had recently passed away.  It was the second/third episode to air after Roddenberry’s death.
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dennis McCarthy)
  •  

Pros

  • First look at Romulans outside of a Romulan ship and their military
  • We get to see Spock again, still up to his mission in life.
  • Sarek is seen again.  Honestly that scene with him and Picard was one of the best of the episode.
  • Interaction between Data and Spock,

Cons:

  • I think the way things ended up seemed a bit deus machina rather then actually thought out.
  •  

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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