Star Trek The Next Generation: Unification I

There was a lot to unpack in this episode, even though there was no resolution to pay off the numerous plotlines. At least there were some absolutely lovely performances.

I'd like to start off with my one mild disappointment, which is that one of the only two episodes that guest starred Spock (perhaps the most beloved characters/actors in all of Trek canon) featured just one line from him. I mean, it wasn't as if it was a big reveal that Leonard Nimoy was going to show up; they used his image and the entire episode was about finding him. I guess from a storytelling perspective it works, but I don't really get why they didn't utilize him while they had him. Maybe it was scheduling.

With that minor quibble out of the way, I should clarify that I thought this episode was fairly terrific. From the character moments to the overall plot, all the parts were equally interesting and well done. The search for Spock (see what I did there) was a quest not only to find the man, but the reasons for his actions. Of course it wasn't as easy as "Spock went here" since he went to Romulus in secret without leaving any kind of report or note as to his reasons.

The Federation assumes that means he is defecting to the Romulan Empire, which makes no sense (even if we didn't know the character so well) to Picard, but he follows the investigation anyway. Which brings us to the best part of the episode, which was Picard's meeting with Sarek. It was a bitter pill that Sarek never got to reconcile with Spock, and sight of such a great man torn down to nothing was a bit hard to watch, but what a wonderful, powerful performance from Mark Lenard.

Afterwards, there was the fun stuff with the Klingons re-writing recent history to exclude the Federation's involvement, and pretty much every scene on the Klingon ship with the captain of that vessel trying to intimidate or insult Picard and Picard having none of it. Also, Data and Picard stuck in that room together with Picard trying to sleep and Data just being Data was probably the best bit of non-verbal acting I've seen on the show in a while.

The other plot wasn't quite as fun, but it was still intriguing. The Vulcan ship debris started as just a B-plot but ended in battle with a mysterious and overly armed alien ship. I particularly enjoyed Quartermaster Kim Dokachin, who was so droll and snippy that he felt like a real person. So often the crew encounters people who practically bend over backwards to help the crew, but this guy was just being obstinate because he could.

Bits:

Sarek's death was the first official death of a major original series character (not counting Spock).

T'Pau was the name of an incredibly important Vulcan who officiated at Spock's wedding in the original series episode "Amok Time."

Quotes:

K'Vada: "Be careful, android. Some Romulan beauty might take a liking to you. Lick that paint right off your ears."

Data: "These quarters were obviously intended for one crewman, sir. There is but a single sleeping space."
Picard: "I'm sure the Klingons found it amusing to put us in here together."
Data: "Since I do not require sleep, I propose you take the... shelf, sir. I am content to stand."

Ultimately this was an episode that's impossible to score because it is only the first half of the story, but if I had to look at it alone I'd give it...

4 out of 4 Uncomfortable silences.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

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