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July 23 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Unification, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at July 31, 2009 - 9:50 PM GMT

See Also: 'Unification, Part Two' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: No sooner have Picard and Data met Spock on Romulus than the Vulcan demands that they leave at once. However, Picard declares that he has an obligation to the Federation without a full explanation, and moreover discharges his sad duty to inform Spock of his father's death. Spock, who says that Picard reminds him of Sarek, confesses that his secret purpose is to aid in the reunification of the Romulans with the Vulcans. Picard is highly doubtful that the new Proconsul will be as open to this idea as Spock hopes, and sends Data back to the Klingon ship to see if Data can access the Romulan communications network. The Klingons agree to help on the condition that they be allowed to monitor everything Data discovers. Meanwhile, Riker meets with the ex-wife of a smuggler killed when the Enterprise destroyed the unmarked ship at Qualor II; she directs him to the Ferengi arms trader responsible for the thefts at the supply depot, who admits that he delivered the ship to Galorndon Core near the Neutral Zone. Suspecting Romulan involvement, Riker warns Picard that the Romulans may be using stolen Vulcan ships. Spock meets with Proconsul Neral, who offers enthusiastic support for reunification, but after Spock leaves his office, Sela enters and reveals that Neral is using Spock. Though Spock and Picard are both suspicious, neither can prove Romulan duplicity until Data intercepts a message from the Romulans intended for the stolen ship at Galorndon Core. Sela arrives to arrest Picard, Data, and Spock, revealing that Pardek has been working with her all along and explaining that Neral does support reunification - but he believes, as she does, that it should occur via the military conquest of Vulcan. While a hologram of Spock is broadcast on all Federation channels, announcing a great peace initiative, the stolen Vulcan ships will breach Vulcan security and deliver not a peace envoy but a Romulan invasion force. Locked up in Sela's office, Data creates his own holograms, so that when Sela and her guards return, he tricks her into believing that Riker and an away team have beamed down on a rescue mission. Meanwhile, the real Riker has arrived at Galorndon Core with the Enterprise, which follows the stolen Vulcan ships. Spock sends a message warning Starfleet that those ships carry an invasion force. Before the Enterprise can intercede, a Romulan warbird decloaks and destroys the entire invasion fleet rather than allow Starfleet to take prisoners. Having escaped Sela, Picard and Data prepare to beam back to the Enterprise, but Spock refuses to join them - now that he knows there is a real underground movement toward reunification, he believes he must stay and teach them Vulcan logic. Before departing, Picard offers to mind-meld with Spock to share the wisdom and devotion that Sarek showed him.

Analysis: "Unification, Part II" has a pair of difficult duties to fulfill: it must wrap up the two-part Romulan story with appropriate action and intrigue, and it must satisfy viewer expectations for what Spock would be doing in Picard's era. The episode does a better job with the former than the latter - Spock is recognizable, sure, but he makes some decisions that seem not only illogical but downright dangerous. The first time I saw "Unification," I was irritated enough with Spock that I didn't fully enjoy the rest of the story, but now that I know Spock will keep on returning for as long as whoever is running the Star Trek franchise can come up with some excuse to bring him back, I have less invested in what he's doing on Romulus at this particular moment and can pay more attention to things like how happy I am to see Sela again. Her plan has as many flaws as Spock's, but I expect that from a hot-headed Romulan-Human hybrid; I don't expect it from Spock, even when he's distressed about his father's fatal illness and their failure to reconcile.

Sela's problem is that she's always underestimating everyone. Last time we saw her, when she was interfering in the Klingon civil war, she assumed she could walk all over her mother's people - Humans - because they were weak. This time she assumes she can walk all over her distant cousins - Vulcans - because they're pacifists. Her plan seems pretty ludicrous; even if she'd been able to land her Romulan troops on Vulcan and take over the government, she'd have all of Starfleet to contend with very quickly. So what do she and the Proconsul hope to gain by invading Vulcan? They'll get war with the Federation and they may get civil uprisings, too, once it is learned that the Romulan authorities have attacked their long-lost Vulcan relations. They can't possibly believe that logical Vulcans will simply follow Romulan orders. And even species that are often wary of the Vulcans, like the Andorians, are certain to rush to their defense. There are all sorts of reasons a new Proconsul trying to consolidate power might choose such a war - from what we've seen of the Romulans, they'll rally around their leader against Starfleet retaliation - but Sela comes across as bitter and impulsive, not the calculating strategist she must surely be to have risen so far despite her human blood.

The Sela problem isn't as frustrating as the Spock problem, though. Spock has run off to Romulus by himself, though surely he could have guessed that Starfleet or the Vulcan Science Academy would send someone to look for him once his disappearance was noticed. He explains to Picard that he didn't want to involve anyone else because of the mistakes he made advising Kirk at Khitomer - an emotional explanation if ever there was one - but the logic seems flawed as well, since Spock is clever enough to understand that if anyone learned that he was on Romulus, the Federation would assume either defection or abduction, and in either case would send a high-ranking officer to discover the truth. His repeated irritation with Picard is explained as Picard reminding him of Sarek, and that, too, seems uncharacteristic of Spock as we knew him. Certainly he was more overtly emotional after his encounter with V'Ger, the era of the movies, than he had been on the original Enterprise, but he was also on much better terms with his father, and it's never quite clear why they fell out over the Cardassians and remained estranged through Sarek's illness.

On a soap opera, this might make for interesting drama, but here it seems like unnecessary baggage for a character who brings plenty of backstory and drama of his own. If Picard and Spock are going to quarrel, it should be about the mission, with enormous stakes. It's almost as if the writers don't want to acknowledge that Spock is still a figure of towering importance, though Starfleet and the Romulans can't deny it. Except for a few moments of admiration, Picard stays solidly in character, yet Spock is all over the place, He has no apparent feelings about the fact that Pardek, his long-time friend and presumed colleague in the effort to reunify their peoples, has betrayed himself and the movement both - now there is a moment when even the old Spock could plausibly have made a scathing speech! And the fact that Spock has been such a poor judge of character of the closest person to him on Romulus, which might have cost the lives of everyone in the movement, ought to send up a warning to Spock and Picard both. Is Spock fighting so hard for this cause because he truly believes he can make a difference, or because he still feels he has something to prove in the diplomatic arena, to emerge from his father's shadow? There isn't enough time to explore the deeper issues here, only the fairly obvious ones like the fact that the flawlessly logical Data has spent his life seeking the emotions that Spock has renounced.

Maybe I'm still being too critical...maybe it should be enough to have Spock, Picard and Data all together, as for many viewers I'm sure it is. Certainly for me the nostalgia factor is even stronger now than it was when the episode first aired, since it's highly unlikely that Nimoy and Stewart will ever share the screen again. And yet when Sela leaves Picard, Spock and Data alone to hack into the Romulan computer network, when Data performs the Vulcan neck pinch that doesn't ever become part of his repertoire, when the boy with the Vulcan dreidel tells Spock that although Pardek led their movement he never saw their secret caves, it all seems to me to be a bit too haphazard...just not quite brilliant enough to be worthy of Spock's return and Sarek's death.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.

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