Star Trek 215: Unification Part II

215. Unification Part II

FORMULA: The Undiscovered Country + Redemption II

WHY WE LIKE IT: Spock. Data as Junior Spock. The grand chess game.

WHY WE DON'T: Songs you wouldn't want on the official soundtrack.

REVIEW: Ok, so we waited an entire episode for Spock to finally make an appearance. Was it worth it? Definitely! Nimoy is excellent in a role he never really distanced himself from. He makes the 24th-century Spock more at peace with himself and his human heritage, but no less the "cowboy diplomat" than in The Undiscovered Country. In fact, Unification owes a lot to that film, as Spock continues the work begun there. Peace with the Romulans is the next logical step after peace with the Klingons is achieved.

His relationship with his father is central to his character here, as it has often been since Journey to Babel, from his hearing his father's words in Picard to the final, second-generation mindmeld with Sarek. Great restrained acting from both Nimoy and Stewart through all their scenes. Comparisons between TOS and TNG from Spock's perspective were perhaps expected, but I wasn't keen on them. Spock and Data pretty much lay out the dramatic differences between their two characters, stuff that should be left unsaid, in my opinion. Those aren't bad scenes, they just smack of "Anniversary Special Syndrome" (or ASS). At the end of the day, Data's nerve pinch is, merely, cute.

The Romulans are back in full force in what is certainly their best TNG episode yet, and maybe ever. Their plot is byzantine and well-conceived, truly worth the use of this duplicitous race. Sela returns (as spoiled in the opening credits) to give weight to the proceedings, but once again, it could have been anyone. This was her last appearance. Was she executed for her failure (or for leaving the Starfleet trio alone in a room with computers)? Sela or not, there are some excellent betrayals in Part II, and Spock remains non-plussed - an added bonus - playing the Romulans as much as they play him.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Neutral Zone, Riker gets to shine as captain of the Enterprise. Charming a dead smuggler's ex-wife using his musical talent? Making a Ferengi arms merchant wet himself? Yee-haw. And that ending where the Romulans destroy their own invasion army is at once shocking and in keeping with their characterization as far back as their first appearance in Balance of Terror.

LESSON: Beware of people who suddenly get invited to social functions.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Masterful in the way it makes the guest-star great without the regular cast suffering in any way. And will the Romulans ever be so devious again?


Anonymous said...

One thing I remember quite liking about this episode is the way it showed what a spin-off show featuring the adventures of Captain Riker would be like. I thought it would be great fun to have two shows: one with Picard thoughtfully diplomatting his way around and another with Riker's Kirk-esque adventures. I wonder if they ever seriously considered doing that.


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