Reviewers 'United' in Praise For CombsBy Michelle
February 11, 2005 - 9:38 PM
See Also: 'United' Episode Guide
Online reviews for "United" were mostly positive, though the story was not quite as highly regarded as that for prequel "Babel One." Jeffrey Combs once again received high praise for his portrayal of Shran in his most emotional appearance, though the "duel to the death" between Archer and Shran earned few kudos since no one expected either of them to be in any real danger. Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating were also praised for keeping scenes lively on the drone ship.
- At Tail Slate, Michael Sheridan coughed up three popcorns for "United", calling it "a slightly uneven but entertaining follow-up to 'Babel One'". Sheridan was pleased with the climactic fight scene and the Romulan storyline, but found Shran's attack on the Tellarite ambassador to be melodramatic and Archer cutting off one of Shran's antennae almost too goofy.
- Monkee of Monkee's Place called "United" a "terrific episode with one annoying flaw", rating it a 9/10 like its predecessor "Babel One." Finding the sudden escalation of Talas' injuries to be somewhat gimmicky to advance the plot, she enjoyed the fight-to-the-death-that-wasn't and the particularly the scene in which Shran looks at Archer's collection of drawings of ships named Enterprise. However, she thoroughly disliked Archer's "sickening sanctimonious speech" about how everyone should act more like humans: "Suffice it to say that I wouldn't have blamed Shran or Gral for kicking his little holier-than-thou Starfleet butt clear over to the next quadrant," she noted.
- Lower Decks' Diesel Micky Dolenz awarded the episode an 8/10 for a grade of B, agreeing that Talas' sudden death felt like a contrived reason for a split in the alliance but praising the story pacing. "There was enough action to keep things moving and enough character moments to keep if from feeling like a mindless joyride," he wrote. Archer's characterization seemed somewhat lackadaisical to him, as if the captain didn't take seriously the idea of being in a fight to the death.
- "One of Enterprise's strengths this season has been its ability to maintain a sense of balance within each episode," wrote The Star Trek LCARS Episode Database's John Patuto, who praised the way the two distinct storylines - Tucker and Reed on the drone ship, Archer, Shran and the Tellarites on Enterprise - worked together. He thought Combs gave his finest performance yet as Shran came apart over Talas' death and enjoyed the banter between Tucker and Reed in a genuinely tense situation. "Through some expert writing which finally compliments the talents of the cast, we have stories that end with twists and leave us wanting for more."
- Awarding a grade of A-, Erik Dardan Ymeraga of Section 31 felt that the script and performances were equally strong in "United", saying that even a duel which could have been cliched "was done in a clever and emotionally powerful way." He particularly appreciated Combs' subtle performance as a grieving Shran and the fleshing-out of the Andorian species, though the events of Enterprise would seem to contradict the speculation in Pocket Books series novels. In conclusion, he stated,
Watching the beginnings of the Federation unfold is a fascinating experience for any fan, and this idea was complemented by a brilliant script and first-rate acting.
- The Great Link's Michael Marek was no more impressed this week than he was by "Babel One", giving "United" a three out of five rating. He felt that Tucker and Reed were left on the Romulan ship largely as a plot device to keep it stationary and found the portrayal of radiation poisoning to be entirely unrealistic. He was also bothered by "the cliché of the fight to the death that doesn’t end in death" which he felt has been done to death, noting that there isn't much drama when the audience is certain that both characters are going to survive.
- Ian J. Slater, also of The Great Link, liked "United" somewhat better, grading it a four out of five. "Yes it had a few cheesy moments, and yes it shared plot elements with earlier Trek, but it met my requirements of entertaining science fiction: it was fun, it threw me a few surprises, it had a few nifty ideas, and it looked really good," he noted. He was unimpressed with the threatened deaths that did not come about, not only in the duel but when Tucker was threatened by the Romulans, but he enjoyed the theme of how spaceflight brought disparate beings together and how the astronauts and their personal relationships would influence the course of their people's futures.
- TrekWeb's O. Deus was one of the strongest critics of "United", rating it only a 7.5/10. "Jeffrey Combs once again does his best as Shran but the material that he's given teeters on the absurd," he wrote, saying that Shran's tragic romance "was a poor idea, poorly executed, and when it becomes the main preoccupation of 'United' it really becomes an awful one." Deus was also unimpressed by the threat offered by the Romulan marauder, calling it a rather weak threat. For him the only high points of the episode were character moments like the rare one between Sato and Mayweather.
- Entil of Entil'zha rated the episode an 8/10 like "Babel One", praising the character work despite what he felt was facile alliance-building. "Because Archer and Shran have been strange bedfellows for so long, the nuances of the conflict don’t seem forced," he wrote; "if anything, this friendship forces Archer to look beyond the obvious and take Andorian culture into consideration." He said he was sorry that the Federation-building hasn't been more like that on Deep Space Nine or Babylon 5, where cultures and conflicts were developed over the course of several years, "since it would have given this episode a rich historical context."
- Sci Fi Universe offered a toast of Andorian ale to the writers as reviewer David J. Nixon called the episode "Trek at its best since Deep Space Nine ended." He did not think it suffered from being a middle episode in a trilogy, but enjoyed the character interaction, particularly Archer's with Shran as they discussed the histories of their vessels. He was also delighted to see the history of the Romulan Wars, with villains "so mischievous and underhanded that you can’t help but respect their duplicity."
- Television Without Pity's Keckler recapped "United" and gave it a grade of B-, saying, "Trip and Reed make great strides in human-Romulan relations without even making eye contact, and Trip almost gets killed. So close!" She added, "Man, I hope next season we get a better theme song. Oh, wait. Snigger. I'm going to hell.".