Star Trek The Next Generation: Unification II

This looks like Picard is shooting
with a pink flower, doesn't it?
Spock: "I was involved in 'cowboy diplomacy', as you call it, long before you were born."

A satisfying conclusion to a big two-parter. In fact, it felt a lot like a Star Trek movie, and the story threads established in "Unification I" all paid off quite well.

I've been a Spock fan since I was a little girl; he's considered to be the best character in the Original Series for a reason. It was very in character for Spock to risk his life and reputation in order to take on a personal peace mission for an enemy of the Federation. The Romulan youth movement to connect with their Vulcan roots felt a bit like the U.S. in the sixties.

But as soon as young proconsul Neral attempted the Vulcan salute, I knew it wasn't going to end well. Spock's eighty years of friendship with Senator Pardek ended with betrayal, and the diabolical Sela tried to use Spock in an attempt to invade Vulcan. When the coup failed, the Romulans killed two thousand of their own soldiers, which was pretty darned cold. Methinks they're not ready for peace quite yet. It was very like Spock to decide in the end to stay and continue to aid the continuing Romulan struggle for enlightenment.

While the Romulan culture clash was interesting, my two favorite storylines were Spock's interactions with Picard and later, with Data. I thought Spock was wrong when he compared Picard to James Kirk. They were both dynamic, exceptional leaders, but they were also very different people with different command styles. In fact, in this episode, Picard was mostly using logic, making him more like Spock's father Sarek.

Spock spent his entire life rebelling against Sarek, their arguments were the only way in which they ever related. I really liked how Picard, who had mind-melded with Sarek, gave Spock the opportunity to make peace with his father. For the first, and sadly, last time, Spock was able to meld with Sarek through Picard. Lovely.


I also really enjoyed Spock's interactions with Data. If you're not familiar with the Original Series, Spock was constantly striving for Vulcan unemotional coolness while keeping his human half submerged. Data was clearly intended to be the Spock-like character in Next Gen only reversed, since what Data longs for more than anything is to be human. It was so enjoyable to have Spock and Data actually discuss these defining aspects of their characters while attacking Romulan encryption together. I also enjoyed their deception with holograms, and Data managing to carry off the famous Spock nerve pinch.

Meanwhile, Riker took on the comic relief, investigating one of the missing Vulcan ships that the Romulans had stolen and visiting a very Star Wars-ish cantina on Qualor II. Even though it was deliberately silly, I thought Amarie, the four-handed piano player with the nose, was a lot of fun. (Riker beating up the fat Ferengi, maybe not so much.)



Finally, I have to say that I've always loved the look Michael Dorn gets on his face when he's about to Klingon out, almost as if he were smelling something in the air (and immediately I'm thinking of Joey on Friends and his "smell the fart" acting). This time, it was because of Worf's love for opera. Was this the first time they mentioned the Klingon love of opera? It's a perfect cultural match; it makes sense for them as a people to love something so over the top.

Bits:

-- Stardate 45245.8. The action took place mostly on Romulus, a Klingon ship, Galorndon Core, and a bar on Qualor II.

-- Spock mentions Captain Kirk and the Klingons, an obvious reference to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That was an easter egg! This episode aired November 9, 1991; Star Trek VI was released December 6, 1991, and hadn't come out yet.

-- Character actor Malachi Throne (the traitorous Pardek) did the voice of a Keeper in the original unaired Star Trek pilot, "The Cage", and also played Commodore Mendez in "The Menagerie."

-- While Picard and Data in Romulan makeup and costume was really fun, I must admit that I always find the extreme Joan Crawford shoulder pads distracting and a touch ridiculous.

-- Sadly, both "Unification I" and "II" ran this card before the episode:


Quotes:

Picard: "Is it so important that you win one last argument with him?"
Spock: "No, it is not. But it is true that I will miss the arguments. They were, finally, all that we had."
Awwww.

Picard: "I think I'll take this opportunity to remove my ears."
How often does one get the chance to say something like that?

Data: (to Spock) "In effect, you have abandoned what I have sought my entire life."

Data: "As you examine your life, do you find you have missed your humanity?"
Spock: "I have no regrets."
Data: "No regrets. That is a human expression."
Spock: "Yes. Fascinating."

Spock: "In your own way, you are as stubborn as another captain of the Enterprise I once knew."
Picard: "Then I am in good company, sir."

While the Romulan stuff wasn't as wonderful as it could have been and Sela's return was pretty much wasted, the focus on Spock elevated this episode. Four out of four hands,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

No comments: