Star Trek: The Next Generation


Part I: ***
Air date: 11/4/1991
Teleplay by Jeri Taylor
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by Les Landau

Part II: **1/2
Air date: 11/11/1991
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Unification" tells a complicated, sprawling, ambitious story depicting much political intrigue as played out through multiple plot strands — putting on the table the possibility of major shifts among the Alpha Quadrant superpowers while in the background telling the personal stories of a few key characters. It is, in short, the sort of Trek storytelling that would become much more common on Deep Space Nine. If only I could abide how it resolves itself. This is an effort with a lot to recommend, but plenty holding it back, too.

Famed Federation Ambassador Spock has disappeared, rumored to have gone to Romulus to meet with a Romulan senator named Pardek (Malachi Throne); some whispers have even suggested Spock might have defected. Picard travels to Vulcan to talk to Sarek and gain insights into Spock's possible motives, but Sarek is in the advanced stages of a terminal mental illness. Their scene together plays like a the last discussion before the passing of a Star Trek giant — which in a way it is, as reports that Sarek has died come later in the episode.

From here, the story breaks into two strands — one in which the Enterprise under Riker's command attempts to track the origin of some debris found adrift in space that appears to be Vulcan in origin; the other in which Picard and Data take on Romulan identities and are escorted through Romulan space in a cloaked Klingon vessel. Both subplots find some low-key humor in their off-the-beaten-path environs. Riker must contend with the fussy administrator of a junkyard (Graham Jarvis), whose laconic demeanor is unsettled only by the realization that something nefarious has been going on in his junkyard — something involving several missing derelict Vulcan ships.

Meanwhile, Klingon Captain K'Vada (yes, Stephen Root) finds great amusement in sticking Picard and Data in the most uncomfortable quarters of all time. I love Picard's enthusiasm in the face of a Klingon taunt; he cheerfully refuses to give K'Vada any satisfaction for what the Klingons know are appalling accommodations. And then, of course, there's Data as a bunk mate, who has a hilarious tendency to stand in the middle of the room and stare endlessly in one direction while processing mission data — which can be unnerving if you're Picard trying to get some sleep on a metal shelf.

It's not until Picard and Data reach Romulus and we're nearly into the second part when Spock finally shows up and the political dialogue gets into full swing. Spock reveals his mission is to reunify the long-since-diverged Vulcan and Romulan worlds — something he thinks may be possible given the current political winds. Between Senator Pardek and the up-and-coming Proconsul Neral (Norman Large), Spock believes there may be an avenue to bring the conservative elements in line with a new way of thinking. But Picard is skeptical of this risky endeavor; Romulus is a place where a Federation representative is not welcome, and Spock's capture could compromise more than just his own lofty mission.

This plot unfolds amid a character-based storyline in which Spock must contend with his own past with Sarek, which appears to him now in the form of Picard, who has brought news of Sarek's death while at the same time providing a point of view that Sarek himself might have used to challenge Spock's current course of action. Sarek and Picard once shared a mind-meld — and Spock swears there's a piece of his father that now speaks through Picard — although Picard assures him his words are his own. The complexity of this relationship is intriguing, and the dialogue is especially good at capturing the voice and wisdom of Spock, who sees logic as an ally but not a constraint.

Also interesting is how "Unification" aired a mere month before Star Trek VI debuted in theaters. One of the fascinations with the Trek universe in the TNG era was how it ran concurrently with the TOS film franchise. So particularly with Star Trek VI (which shot on many of the same soundstages as TNG) you see how the Trekkian canvas unfolds simultaneously in two narratives separated by nearly 80 years of fictional time. "Unification" makes specific mention of the Khitomer accords that would be dramatized in Trek VI a month later. Spock provides a thematic link, where in both stories moving forward requires a faith that politics will somehow work out for the best.

So there's a lot of good stuff here. Somewhat less good is Riker and the Enterprise continuing to investigate the missing Vulcan ships, which leads to a Mos Eisley-like outpost that unfortunately feels like it was made on the cheap, with an alien lounge singer whose makeup design and backstory feel second-tier. Riker's run-in with a "fat Ferengi" arms dealer could've been better; Riker as the badass can be fun, but the fat Ferengi feels like too much of a pushover given his occupation.

For our heroes on Romulus, the other shoe is about to drop, because it turns out Procounsul Neral — who assures Spock he can get the senate to come along — is actually in league with our favorite paradox-child Sela to double-cross Spock and expose the underground Romulan reunification movement. It's here where "Unification," alas, steps wrong; the ending is far too disappointing for a storyline so ambitious.

Sela's plan is to turn Spock's reunification plan against the Vulcans, using the Vulcan ships she had arranged to be stolen as a convoy filled with Romulan troops that will invade Vulcan and force a reunification on her terms. All she needs is Spock to send a message that explains these ships as part of his diplomatic mission so they're granted passage. Uh-huh. When Spock refuses, she says she'll have a hologram deliver the message instead. Double uh-huh.

I must say, these plot mechanics are not at all worthy of this story — especially Sela's lengthy dialogue that essentially explains to us and the characters the entire plot. ("And I would've gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!") By explaining the plot she masterminds her own defeat. (To quote Trek VI: "Since you're all going to die anyway, why not tell you.") The ensuing trickery allowing Picard, Spock, and Data to escape is even more telling of Sela's incompetence; why aren't they locked in a cell? It's so unfortunate to see a story so ambitious implode so thoroughly and with such limited imagination.

It's also frustrating that a story of such political scope and significance ends up being, essentially, a Reset Button Plot. Picard and Data leave after Spock's failed political movement, but Spock decides to stay and toil away for when future generations might be capable of swaying more forward-thinking minds. It's an admirable notion (though, depressingly, by the time Star Trek XI rolls around, Spock will see just how well that has worked out), but I was hoping for something more status-quo-shaking in the here and now. Don't get me wrong: On balance, this is a good and worthwhile effort. But in the end, I can't escape a basic truth here, which is that I wanted to like "Unification" a lot more than I ultimately did.

Previous episode: The Game
Next episode: A Matter of Time

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58 comments on this review

Fri, Apr 1, 2011, 4:16am (UTC -5)
The thing that took me some years to realize is how silly the whole unification concept was. I mean, a rift develops in cultures all the time and there are parting of ways. It happens all the time. Why was it such a big deal to have these two societies merge?

And what measures are being taken on Vulcan to prepare them for this merger? Nothing. There's this under-current of not so much a coming together, but of trying to make the Romulans behave like Vulcans.

Even though the recent book "Rough Beasts of Empire" wasn't that great, at least there was finally someone in the Trek universe telling Spock that the whole idea was just flat out naive.
Sun, Apr 3, 2011, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
So the investigation of the B-plot turns out to be connected with the A-plot. With such an improbable coincidence, the crew would be justified asking if Q were behind it.

For that matter, why does Starfleet need the Enterprise crew to examine some mysterious debris? Aren't there other forensic specialists in the galaxy?
Eric Dugdale
Tue, Apr 5, 2011, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
There's another glaring plot hole here: If the Vulcan ships were being escorted by at least one cloaked warbird, then WHY WERE THEY NEEDED AT ALL? If they were going to land troops and conquer Vulcan, why didn't the Romulans just send them in their own warbirds - which have the advantage of being, you know, invisible. And the advantage of already being available. *sigh*
Fri, Apr 8, 2011, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
I thought the Romulans were effective villains in TNG, so I'm partial to these episodes.

However, I was distracted by the existence of "Vulcan" ships. The Vulcans are in the Federation, so I thought their only ships were the Starfleet ones. There aren't distinctive Human ships or Betazoid ships...why is there such a thing as a recognizable Vulcan ship? It seemed like a glaring piece of ret-con that was tacked on to facilitate Riker's subplot.
Eric Dugdale
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
Actually that part did kind of make sense, Kevin. Vulcans were a spacefaring species with their own ships long before they joined the Federation (indeed, before the Federation existed), and Starfleet ships aren't the only ones that operate within Federation space.
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for the interesting review Jammer!

I think "Unification" plays better now in hindsight than it did at the time. I recall - on first viewing - being rather disappointed at how talky and political the plot was when I had been expecting something more active and explosive to mark the signficance of having Spock arrive in TNG. But in retrospect it did score some home runs with its character moments. (Especially the Sarek - Picard - Spock dynamic, which quite touchingly tried to bring closure to a character arc begun way back in "Journey to Babel").

It's also a curiosity as a glimpse of a road-not-travelled. As the early seasons passed, TNG attepted to explore where the Federation and the Romulans had common ground they did not realise. (e.g. Facing a common enemy in "The Neutral Zone" and "Contagion", Geordi befriending the Centurion in "The Enemy", and the empathy built up for Admiral Jarok in "The Defector" in season 3). With "Unification", the writers latched onto using the Vulcan connection as a means to accelerate this thread -- and so we see a very human side to the Romulan populace through the members of Spock's secret organisation. The Romulan people are by this time essentially alien only in their repressive political system, and one can empathise with Spock's passion to try to bring change. This story - for really the first time - actually makes the idea of Romulus as a potential future Federation member seem feasible, if distant.

Sadly this arc did not really progress much further in the next few seasons, as most of the "political" storytelling seemed to migrate to DS9 and Bajoran/Cardassian themes. We saw a few more hints after season 5 though: there was a moment of connection between Picard and his Romulan counterpart in "The Chase" and another glimpse of the underground movement in "Face of the Enemy", but that was about it. One of the better things about "Nemesis" was that at least it returned to this thread and gave some hint that things were moving once more towards a happier future for the Romulans. (As an aside, a major reason I find "Star Trek XI" impossible to reconcile with the mythos is its flippant negation of all this earlier optimism, by killing off both the Romulans and Vulcans alike yet not expecting us to care).

So, despite flaws in the execution, I think in terms of concept I look back on "Unification" as actually being a better idea for a story than I thought at the time, and - with its themes of bridging seemingly-impossible gaps between peoples - a fittingly Star Trek kind of concept for such a milestone occasion.

Brandon Adams
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
I was glad to see Spock given a dignified storyline with both emotional heft and far-reaching political implications. The "holoroom" was a lame ending, but I could have imagined so many unfitting story vehicles for Spock to return in. (Of course, Nimoy probably would have turned them down.)
Mon, Apr 11, 2011, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
But wouldn't those pre-Federation ships be hundreds of years old at that point, and thus highly suspicious? And had Vulcans' pre-Federation history been established when the episode aired? I didn't think that was put into canon until ST:Enterprise.
Eric Dugdale
Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
It had been established since TOS that the Vulcans were a spacefaring species for thousands of years before the Federation was conceived; That is the only way that they could have split with the Romulans so long ago. That would mean that they had ships. And even if TOS hadn't established that Vulcans and Romulans had space travel for ages, this very episode did. As an integral part of its plot.

In terms of Vulcan lifetimes and history, the Federation hasn't even been around for very long by this point. There've been, what, 3 or 4 generations of Vulcans since the Federation began by this point in the timeline?

And why would they stop making their style of ships? They havn't been given up any *other* part of their culture since joining the Federation. And like I said, Starfleet ships aren't the only kind that operate within Federation space.
Sat, Apr 16, 2011, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
In addition to what you said in your review, I would add that I don't think Sela was a worthy opponent for Spock. Crosby comes off like an angst-ridden child during her "I hate vulcans" speech, and I wonder how much better the encounter could've been if it were Tomalak instead of Sela. It's disappointing that he didn't resurface during seasons 4-6.
Tue, Apr 19, 2011, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
I liked this two-parter, but it puts in motion one of the things that hurt TNG in seasons 6 and 7 AND hurt the move franchise: too much focus on Picard and Data.

The early seasons of TNG weren't perfect, but there wasn't the sort of secondary cast that TOS had. Picard was the captain, but the other cast members were pretty equally used, with Data getting slightly more attention.

But starting around season 5, Picard and Data got too much screen time together (think 'Genesis' and 'Masks'). It was a precursor to the movie franchise where Picard had to be more of a man of action.

Too much Picard/Data messed up the group dynamic in the movies (particularly in 'Nemesis'). And with episodes like 'Unification.'
Wed, Apr 20, 2011, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
ah Tomalak, Andreas Katsulas did a great job with him and he only got better when he played G'kar on B5... RIP
Daniel L
Thu, May 5, 2011, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
"And you have found him, Captain Picard...." Thus ends "Unification, Part I", which, to me, was far more successful than "Unification, Part II", the episode that actually featured Spock.

Michael Piller, may he rest in peace, seems to have shared the same antipathy for TOS as Rick Berman did (or maybe it wasn't so much anti-TOS bias as pro-TNG bias).

Throughout Unification Part II, the writers strain to remind us that "The Next Generation" is really where things are at. The closing mind-meld is essentially the writers' way of saying, "Look, we're [TNG] just as important in contributing to the original series as the original series itself was". Scarcel for a moment are we NOT reminded, in the latter episode, that the episode is featuring Spock as a plot tool in a TNG milieu, as opposed to giving Spock a more active role where his actions and the import of those actions are (gasp!) at least as important as those of Data and Picard.

Instead of our getting to hear why Spock really believes reunification is a possibility, or how he has been willing to, as Spock said at a later time, "put aside logic, and do what feels right", we get to hear Spock in the following ways: 1) in a prerecording message announcing that three Trojan Horse Vulcan ships are coming to reunite the Romulan and Vulcan people; 2) and in a subsequent message where he announces that those three ships carry an invasion force (apparently, three ships are sufficient to conquer all of Vulcan), and must be stopped.

Oh, and Spock tells Sela that he will not read the prerecorded message 1) noted above. Exciting, and as pedestrian as the so bad it's bad exchange between Sela and Data, wherein she complains she doesn't get to write much on the job, and Data tries to offer a helping hand by suggesting she might be happier in another profession.

And in the one Spock/Data scene that should leave us touched/stirred moved, the scene climaxes with the two characters observing how one has tried to become more human, and the other has spent much of his life trying to shake free of his human heritage. Data's quest to become human is, of course, given an additional two and one half years to play out, so the writers clearly are telling us that his arc is the one more worthy of our interest..... Perhaps a line by Spock suggesting to Data that Data may never become fully human might have at least thrown a bone to the TOS fans who had hoped Spock's return meant the return, and the paying heed to, his advice, but Berman and Piller, had they thrown such a bone, would have been remiss in their duty to constantly remind us that TNG is more important in the Star Trek mythos than TOS. Pity these writers never understood that using the TOS characters not as plot pawns but as people would not only make the TOS charaters more interesting, but would make the TNG universe a richer place.... Even a year later, with "Relics", the writers took pains to remind us that Scotty's place is really in the past and that his presence was essentially useless. A shame. Time can heal wounds, however, and the writers/producers of Star Trek XI, were evidently more concerned with telling a good story than anything else.
Fri, May 13, 2011, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
@Daniel L : Pretty much in agreement with you here, but when you mentioned you though ST XI was "a good story" I had to throw up my hands. That festering pile of hollywood garbage deserves to be excised from the memory of any decent human being.

I won't throw the baby out however; yes part II is a severe let-down from part I as all the promising (if somewhat middling) setup leads to essentially nothing. Nothing happens. No one changes. No one learns anything, least of all we, the audience. Spock's presence is gratuitous. I loved "Sarek" and appreciated the reference here, but that plot received no development for any characters and if anything "Unification" seems to back-pedal on a lot of the excellent points of that episode.

On the other hand, I don't mind TNG being about the TNG characters and their Universe; it is their show after all. I think this review could stand separate ratings for part I (I'd say a solid 3/3.5) and part II (2 at very best).
Sat, May 14, 2011, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Daniel L, including his stance on Trek XI. I would add that Generations was far worse in its use of the TOS characters than this ep. Kirk does nothing in the 24th century that couldn't have been done by any number of other characters. In comparison, I think this episode is decent although hardly classic.
Tue, Jun 21, 2011, 2:48am (UTC -5)
@Eric & Weiss

Hear hear! I always loved Tomalak and wanted to see more of him as Picard's Romulan rival. What's especially annoying is that we only "really" see him in those two Season Three episodes. He's a hologram in "Future Imperfect" and only appears in an alternate timeline in "All Good Things".
Captain Tripps
Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 9:51am (UTC -5)

Where is it ever said that everyone uses Starfleet ships? Not everyone in the Federation is even in or contributes to StarFleet, and each member planet maintains a civilian fleet (and undoubtedly a military presence, since SF isn't a "military organization", more like the UN), not to mention what I imagine is their version of commercial airlines, to facilitate interstellar travel unrelated to starfleet activity.

Captain Tripps
Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Agree with other commentators, that this 2 parter failed to cash in on it's lofty premise. By the end almost nothing that has happened mattered, which while find for the normal run of the mill episode, stands out glaringly during a min-arc featuring one of the faces of the franchise. Missed opportunity.
Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
@Capt. Tripps

Well, it's clear in TOS and TNG that many Federation member planets contribute to Starfleet and depend upon it. I don't remember any reference to member planets also having their own independent navy, so it seems reasonable to infer that independent navies don't exist and Starfleet is the only government-sanctioned starship operation in the Federation.

Eric D. correctly pointed out that there are a few independent operators, e.g. Cyrano Jones and Kivas Fajo, operating in Federation space. However they are private individuals and not part of a government-sanctioned milatary-ish organization.

"Not everyone in the Federation is even in or contributes to StarFleet, and each member planet maintains a civilian fleet..."

Where is any of that established? Or are you inferring that?
Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
In the DS9 fifth season episode "Rapture" Bajor is about to join the Federation. Admiral Whatley makes a reference to how much work is to be done in the transition - including "absorbing the Bajoran militia into Starfleet".
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 8:43am (UTC -5)
These the episodes make for a very strange watching experience. It's almost like they have nothing in common, which seems to be a frequent problem with TNG two-parters.

The first part is a fine robust political episode similar in way to Klingon political episodes of Seasons 3 and 4. We have a welcome peak into Romulan society and even a slight but interesting acknowledgment of Klingon political landscape after the end of their civil war. But what really sells this episode is Picard - Sarek dynamic and their bond to Sarek's wayward son. It gives the episode a character grounding in the same way Worf's honor served that purpose in the Klingon Arc.

Then, unfortunately, episode 2 comes along and messes everything up. It makes exactly the same mistake as Redemption, Part II. Instead of focusing on the elements that made the first part interesting, writers opt for a mechanical plot resolution that shortchanges the characters. We should have gotten a symbiosis of charged-up character piece and tense political thriller. Picard acting as a "neutral zone" between Sarek and Spock with a unique insight could have led to a sort of emotional catharsis for Spock, finally leading to an understanding between him and his father.

At the same time, Romulan side of things was mishandled as well. Does anyone really think that we need to watch a story that amounts to an escape attempt with a ticking clock built in? We still don't know anything new about Roumulan politics, about the disidents or about the polital and philosophical background of this supposed "reunification". Wouldn't a series of dramatic negotiations that includes laying out concrete problems and proposed solutions argued with logic and passion between Romulan and Vulcan viewpoints be vastly more interesting than a boring Evil Plot About Conquest?

Squandered potential in a nutshell.
Sun, May 27, 2012, 10:10am (UTC -5)
It's just ridiculous that Romulus could ever "conquer" a planet that lies within the very heart of the could they ever hope to hold it?'s completely surrounded by vast swaths of Federation territory. Sela's "we'll be there, entrenched" with the likes of 2000 troops was laughable.
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
Watching part 2 of this, all I could think was what nonsense - shame

I also thought much the same as Eric above, it seems very easy to move around in each others space, transporting people etc without detaction..
Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Paul on the Part IIs of both Redemption and Unfiication...both of them seemed to slip into "ooooh look, it's Denise Crosby" mode" contrivances for the sake of the Sela character.
Nebula Nox
Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Not only are not all starships in Starfleet, it makes sense that ships would be designed and preferred by particular species. Food, climate, lighting, the length of days, medical supplies, everything...
Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
When I first saw this I was enthralled until Sela showed up. I don't know why but Crosby's acting always comes across shrill and fake, destroying any suspension of disbelief. I'm glad she left in the first season or the entire series would be unwatchable.
Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
There's one nifty little touch in "Unification I" that I never paid attention to, but it recently came to my attention. When in the first act, Picard is explaining to Riker about the rocky relationship between Spock and Sarek; Riker says something to the effect of "say no more"/"I understand".

That's such a wonderfully subtle callback to "The Icarus Factor" with Riker and his father. It's so small, and yet it shows how wonderfully organic the details to the characters and their backstory flowed through the episodes to make them seem real.
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Loved it! I was just a little boy when the original Star Trek aired so I did not actually remember any stories, but I did remember Mr. Spock. It's fitting that he has played a part in most of all the series, including the reboot, because imo, he is the most interesting character in the ST universe.
I could pick holes in the Reunification storyline and plot , but that goes for pretty much any ST story. Frankly this was the Mr Spock episode for TNG and it delivered Spock in highly enjoyable and entertaining manner. His interactions with Data were predictable but still very well executed.
Of course, Denise Crosby haters will find reasons to hate her role in the episode, but I like her Romulan character and enjoyed her appearance here as well, considering that she had already been established as an integral part of the Romulan military. I see her as being ambitious and arrogant. And as before, her arrogance is her downfall.
Anyway, that's 5 stars from me.
William B
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
The big problem I have with part 2 is that Sela's plan is basically a distraction from what could have been a good story -- both the exploration of where Spock is at this point in his life (as well as his relationship with his father with Picard as proxy), and the question of whether Vulcans and Romulans really can learn something from each other, deserved a greater hearing than we are really given. Sela is representative of the other side of the Romulans, the treacherous conquering side, and so it makes sense to have *someone* do treacherous conquering-y things. Still, Sela is at best a camp character, who feels really far out of place in the Spock story. Moreover, almost no time is spent on the other Romulans' perspectives on this, nor for that matter on other Vulcans' perspectives, either. The Enterprise plot, while a good place for Riker to stretch out, also is mostly a distraction.
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
William B hits on the problems that arise with an ensemble cast. When do you concentrate on one character and give the rest of the crew the day off. My all time no.1 TNG episode was when Picard 'lived' an alternate life as a probe showed him the history of a dead planet. The rest of the crew where there at the beginning and in the end. There was no need for any sub plots, in fact they would have detracted from the experience.
It might have been nice for the 'Unification' episodes to focus more on the 'Spock' storyline and it's nuances but the 'Spock is on TNG!' event was rightfully bigger than the storyline. If Spock was going to become a recurring character than yes they could have sacrificed the sub plots, but since this was a one/two time only event, the entire cast had to be a part of it. And Sela, love her or hate her, her absence would have had to be explained.
Wed, Aug 7, 2013, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
This entire two-parter is just painfully tragic. So many good gamepieces to utilize, and they are wasted on a swiss cheese plot. I felt fremdscham for everyone involved in this episode, just because of how wonderful it COULD have been, and how hopelessly it falls on its face. Lets consider only the biggest problems:

1. The Romulans are clearly totally unprepared for war, which would have been the immediate consequence.

2. Moving thousands of troops in poorly defended Vulcan transports, because they are just so sneaky. It's as if they lack enormous, mighty, invisible space warships to do this...

3. They kill thousands of their own troops... Instead of beaming them aboard their warbird? That's their contingency plan? A sentient ham sandwich could come up with a better strategy.

4. Worst of all... WHY? The Romulans have nothing to gain from any of this! Nothing but war and occupation in the middle of enemy territory. All just to stick it to those mean old Vulcans.

The great irony of this episode is that... It's entirely illogical, captain!
Sat, Aug 17, 2013, 11:03am (UTC -5)

These things have all been established by the show. The Klingons have their own ships and are members of the Federation. So do the Vulcans. The Vulcan and other races of Starfleet are part of an exchange program. They all have their own cultures and local laws. They share information but don't necessarily develops the same way or have the same goals. They agree to interact with alien worlds by the Prime directive and to band together against threats that may effect their collective territory if their leadership for the race deems it in their self interest, but not for all threats. Its a lot like NATO. The style of ship has nothing to do with its age. It is a cultural motif that has nothing to do with its ability to operate in space.
William B
Sat, Aug 17, 2013, 11:12am (UTC -5)
The Klingons are not members of the Federation -- Vulcans are. However, especially in the early years of TNG, there are some inconsistencies -- "Heart of Glory" makes it seem as if Klingons are part of the UFP (the Klingon captain sent to retrieve Korris has both Klingon and Federation insignia in the background).
Jason Luthor
Thu, Aug 22, 2013, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
THIS is a five star episode for ONE reason:

The sleeping conversation between Picard and Data. It has to be one of the most hilarious scenes in all of Star Trek. The way Data says he won't continue looking at Picard when Picard's asleep is pure comedy gold because he just continues to linger with his look. It's completely out of character and a total kabosh, purely done by the writers to draw a laugh.
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
@ William B...

Yeah, there's a line in "Samaritan Snare" where Picard says something about Klingons and Wesley goes "was this before the Klingons joined the Federation?" and Picard replies in the affirmative.

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 11:49am (UTC -5)
@Jack: That's a good catch. But I'm guessing the creators would chalk this up to Wesley misspeaking. He probably should have said something like, "Before the Klingon Empire was allies with the Federation."

The Klingon Empire can't be part of the Federation given what we know of the Empire and what Federation membership requires. The Empire isn't a democratic body, it routinely annexes or conquers worlds ("The Mind's Eye" is a good example of the aftermath of that) and it doesn't seem to have a vote on the Federation Council.

In DS9, it's mentioned that once Bajor becomes a member of the Federation, the Bajoran Militia would be absorbed into Starfleet. The Klingon military -- which, at times, is called the "Klingon Defense Force" -- clearly isn't part of Starfleet.
Sun, Dec 8, 2013, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
^ yeah, some of the cultural thing seem to be showstoppers. When the other Emissary came back and tried to reinstate Bajoran djarras, Sisko indicated that that would be an impediment to Federation qualifications. I would think that the Vulcan arranged marriages would be a showstopper to Federation membership too (like the djarras, it takes away free will froma fundametal life aspect), but they were founding members, so maybe they got a grandfather clause. It's possible they cut that custom loose after the Enterpeise timeframe...since I rather doubt that Sarek's marriage to Amanda was arranged in childhood.
Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
That was Steven Root? I always knew he was a good actor but I never recognized him. Unfortunately most if not all Trek episodes regardless of which series have some logic gaps or leave some glaring questions unanswered, but seeing the Romulans willing to kill thier own soldiers to prevent them from being captured was chilling in its own way. It was also kind of sad to see Spock miss the chance to make peace with his old man.
Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
This two-parter builds up so much goodwill I was willing to forgive the writers most of their sins, although Sela leaving her prisoners on their own, with no guards in the room, made no sense at all.

BTW, when they escape that room (I believe right after the Data neck pinch), you can see a crew member reflected in the shot. The camera pans past a table and you can see his face reflected in the centerpiece; he appears to be chewing gum.

Overall there was still more good than bad here: Spock, the Sarek/Picard scene, the hilarious Data/Picard sleeping scene, etc. And as Pluto mentioned, it's amazing how Stephen Root is completely, absolutely unrecognizable in this role.
Mon, Oct 13, 2014, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
At the beginning, Sarek says Spock must have met Pardek at the Khitomer conference. Do we see Pardek at Khitomer in ST 6?
Mon, Dec 1, 2014, 7:18am (UTC -5)
This assessment feels fair to me. Unification is a lot weaker than I remember it being the first time I saw it, as a kid. There's a huge amount of padding in part 1 (Picard and Data's comic scenes on the bird of prey, the Enterprise's investigation in the junkyard) and part 2 doesn't come together either (the bar scenes with the piano player and the "fat Ferengi" are corny, and nothing that happens on Romulus convinces). The Sarek scene at the start of part 1 and the Picard/Spock scene at the end of part 2 are the raison d'etre for this episode, but it could have been done much better as a single episode without all the filler and the daft Romulan hijinks.
Fri, Apr 17, 2015, 9:30am (UTC -5)
I thought the script for Part II was able to symbolize and contrast the ideals and styles of the original series and TNG without presenting one as better while also acting as a tribute to Roddenberry (who did consider the latter better and partly created the series as a reaction to the original series and especially movies).
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 10:51am (UTC -5)
This two parter did very little for me (2 and 1-1/2 stars for me) It is obviously written around Spock, which is OK, but I guess I'm not hard core enough of a Trekkie to get thrilled by it (yes it is cool). The low point is Sela, and I'm not sure why I dislike her so much, but a lot of it is the underwhelming performance by Denise Crosby. I also didn't care for her as Yar. She is very one note with her performance just Yar with pointy ears and a Moe hair cut. I did like how she was smart and a good tactician in the earlier appearance, but even so it is a bit like eggs without salt, just missing something.
There are great moments, finding Spock was cool, Data and Picard sleeping in the same room, and my favorite is the multiple hand keyboardist and the Klingon Opera, with Worf chiming in.
I guess the question is, would the episode about an anonymous Vulcan going to Romulus to work on peace be a compelling story without Spock? I think you know the answer.
Sun, Aug 2, 2015, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Okay, I got to admit, "Unification" in its entirety, and when broken into its two component episodes, has always left me rather underwhelmed. I'm the guy who LOVES political intrigue and world-building, so I should adore these ones, right? Well, sorry to say, but I don't. There's a lot good stuff going on, but it's all ultimately dragged down by some major missteps.


The problem with this first part is that it feels like it's almost nothing but padding. I don't often say this, but this two parter could really have benefited from being collapsed into a single episode. Usually I'm the one who calls for stories to be spread out over even more episodes, but this one really feels bloated. Almost all of the good stuff is in Part II. The only legitimately good scenes in Part I are the ones with Sarek and Perrin.

Just ask yourself - "was there any point to the junkyard administrator sub-plot?" or "what was the point of the whole 'Gowron won't answer us' idea?" or "did we really need all the stuff on the Klingon ship?" All three of these sub-plots are only there to fill out time. We could have went straight from the briefing with the Fleet Admiral to the meetings with Perrin and Sarek to the arrival on Romulus with Klingon help and had a much more efficient and smoothly flowing story. Though, I will give the episode credit for showing life on a Klingon ship much more effectively than "A Matter of Honor" ever did - at least the Captain wasn't a complete moron.

In the end, the episode feels like nothing more than a massive set-up for the final reveal of Spock. And that's the episode's really fatal flaw - Spock not showing up until the closing five seconds. The number one draw for this episode was the chance to see Spock back in action on TNG. And we have to wait until literally the end of the episode to even lay eyes on him?! If any TOS fans who weren't fans of TNG were watching this back in 1991 hoping to see if TNG was worth their time, I wouldn't be surprised if they were rather pissed off about this. It almost ends up being a waste of time.

The only thing that keeps this one above-average is Mark Lenard's wonderful final performance as Sarek.



I'll disagree with Jammer and say that Part II is easily the better episode, but it still has massive problems.

First the good. Obviously the biggest point in this episode's favor is Leonard Nimoy himself. I love the fact that Spock just up and decides to take matters into his own hands because he knows that he alone could do a better job than all of Starfleet's and the Federation's bureaucrats combined. Cowboy diplomacy at its finest! And, of course, Nimoy shines in the role, as he always does. And we're treated to much less padding this time. Even the storyline on the Enterprise doesn't feel unnecessary anymore. Maybe the bar scenes with the fat Ferengi were a little trite, but at least they added in some good humor and actually helped advance the story. And, finally, there's the world-building. I love that they took the time to develop Romulan society and the Romulan underground at the same time. We also get to meet the head of the Romulan government, which is always a plus in my book. Seriously, besides Gowron, how often do we see the leaders of the Alpha Quadrant superpowers? We almost never even see the President of the Federation for crying out loud!

So, what ultimately harms "Unification Part II"? Well, I hate to say it, but it's Sela. Again, I'll disagree with Jammer and say that I liked how the story was resolved. I just don't understand why Sela, of all characters, was brought into this story. What the hell were the powers-that-be thinking with this woman?! Sela is, too borrow Spock's favorite word, a fascinating character. She just needed to be used properly. In my opinion, Sela is one of Trek's greatest missed opportunities. She had the potential to be a wonderful recurring character/villain. But, instead of actually giving her the development she needed, they instead chose to throw her into stories haphazardly and then drop her like a bad potato. First, they injected her into what was essentially a Worf story. Then they injected her into what was essentially a Spock story. Why did they keep doing this? Why? Why?! GOD-DAMMIT, WHY?!! I mean, shit, her entire appearance here doesn't even revolve around her story in any way, shape or form. This role could have been filled by any random Romulan. In fact, it would have been infinitely better if it had been Tomalak. Then, the story wouldn't have been burdened by the viewers (especially me) wanting to spend time on her backstory instead of the Spock story we were watching.

And, just as a nitpick, exactly how old is Sela supposed to be? Denise Crosby was in her early-to-mid thirties when she played the role. However, the character Sela can't be any more than 22 (possibly 23) years old. How has she not only achieved the rank of Commander (making her Picard's equivalent in rank) but also managed to be placed in charge of toppling the Klingon government in a coup and then overseeing the invasion and conquest of a founding member planet of the Federation? Either she's an absolute military genius of the highest possible order or her Romulan general father was extraordinarily influential.

It is such a shame that this is Sela's final appearance. The character definitely deserved at least one episode devoted to her. Does anybody out there know if she appears in any novels (I don't have much knowledge of the Expanded Trek Universe) because if she does, I would definitely be interested in reading them!

So, in the final analysis, you know what the quintessentially defining feature of "Unification" is? It's the fact that here we have Spock on "The Next Generation" and I'm much more focused on Sela. That, I think, alone shows what's wrong with this episode.

Sun, Aug 2, 2015, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Oh, also, here's some general nitpicks I noticed....

Why the hell do Picard and Data change back into their Starfleet uniforms on the Klingon ship after they've met up with Spock. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't then transport back to the surface of Romulus (the capital city no less) while still wearing them! That's like a Russian spy, at the height of the Cold War, going on an undercover mission in Washington D.C. and still wearing his Soviet military uniform. Why to really blend in there, guys!

Two thousand troops on the Vulcan ships?! Only 2,000?! They were going to invade, occupy and conquer the entire planet Vulcan with only 2,000 troops?! Even with the Warbird accompanying them, I find that a little hard to believe. This had to be a misprint in the script or something. Damn, Revolutionary War armies were bigger than that!
Mon, Aug 3, 2015, 8:01am (UTC -5)
@Luke - I'm just going to throw out a REALLY emphatic agreement on everything you said about Sela. Couldn't really say it better.

Every time they should have used her, they didn't (how PERFECT would she have been instead of Donatra in ST:10). Every time they should have used Tomalak they used her. It made no sense. At all.

Nothing against the character, they just had no idea what to do with her.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Part 1

Obviously it's a problem inherent in all 2 parters, but for this first big in series (rather than season ender) 2 parter we see more than the average exposition and very little of the pay off. If you're going to trail me Spock, gimme Spock dammit - not just 5 seconds at the end.

And in some ways even the highlights of this episodes are disappointments. The Sarek-Picard meeting fails to convey the intensity and emotion of their first. The fish out of water of Picard and Data on the Klingon ship was done better with Riker previously. It's competent enough, but it doesn't excite beyond the thrill of hoping there'll be more Spock next time. 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
OK, the good things first. There is an unalloyed pleasure in seeing Spock again, and his conversations with Picard and Data are highlights. Who wouldn't cheer at seeing his delivery of "fascinating" again?

But really that's about it. Sela arrives, twirls her mustache and says "mwah-ha-ha", then gets outwitted by our heroes and as simply as that her plan falls to pieces. The entire B-story - which, let's face it, has been pretty tedious from the get-go, Klingon opera excepted - turns out to be without a point as the Romulans mop up their own invasion force. And then the reset button gets pushed, of course.

Some really big missed opportunities here, and certainly not the payoff we'd have hoped for. 2 stars.
Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

While watching this again, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen the Pardek actor somewhere... then I read the review again and had my 'Ah Ha!' moment. Malachi Throne was Pardek and also Commadore Mendez in The Original Series episode, The Menagerie I & II.

A thought of mine has been that, at least for a bit of the story, they used the old trick of having an ending they thought was neat (Romulans in old Vulcan ships invading Vulcan), then writing backwards until they got to the beginning... (How did they get the ships? Hmmm... a JUNKYARD! And what led them to the junkyard? Hmmm... DEBRIS!)

We had been dismayed when we saw part one, after the lead-up and the trailer from the previous episode, and Mr Spock was only there for a moment. We figured Sela would be the semi-regular bad guy, but she never came back. I did love her line (paraphrase): "I hate Vulcans... I hate their...". She actually sounded truly disgusted for a moment. :)

It just occurred to me that the Romulans put a huge amount of effort to lure Mr Spock to Romulus, just so they could use him to be in a video saying the ships were part of a peace envoy. They could not, initally, use a fake hologram of him until he was missing and presumed to be on Romulus. After he was there, they didn't really need him. I believe they'd have captured him right off the bat, and would not have bothered having him meet anyone. Or capture him when he did meet someone. Anything else would be superfluous.

Enjoy the day Everyone... RT
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 12:46am (UTC -5)
The people commenting as if they do not believe there are ships in the Federation other than Starfleet ships are being ridiculous.

Starfleet ships are military ships, their era's equivalent, though in space and not on the water, of the U.S. Navy, the British Royal Navy, etc., the professional military navies of nation-states.

The ships of nations' standing navies, however, are not, in 2016, the only ships in existence. There are privately owned cargo ships, cruise ships, yachts, speedboats, etc., hundreds of thousands or even millions of them, worldwide.

Suggesting that in the 23rd or 24th century in the Federation the only space vessels would be Starfleet ships is utterly ridiculous. Just like the U.S. Navy's ships are not the only ships plying the seas in and around America, Starfleet ships are not the only ships any worlds in the Federation have around. There are likely hundreds of millions of civilian space vessels of every possibly type and size in the Star Trek 23rd and 24th centuries throughout the Federation.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
One extra star for the character playing the piano in the junkyard bar. Loved the blues piano duet with Riker, and her rendition of the Klingon opera joined by Worf. She was an absolute hoot!
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 1:36am (UTC -5)
Really curious about what actually happens when undercover Picard speaks to some native Romulans. Since the scene draws attention to it (by discussing his accent), I wonder what is intended:

Option 1 is he's actually speaking Romulan. We've never been given any indication that Picard speaks Romulan, but, okay, maybe he does. Hard to believe he speaks it so well that he can pass as a native, though (albeit one with another city's accent). You'd think we'd see him spending a lot more time practicing and worrying about his language skills.

Option 2 is that he's using the universal translator. Presumably native Romulans do not do so in everyday interactions with each other, meaning that the tech is magical enough that its use is undetectable—you can speak English yet appear to be a native speaker (albeit one with another city's accent). Of course, this is what we always see when we watch—aliens who look like they're speaking English—but in most situations that can be explained away as dramatic license (in reality, their lips are forming different words and there's a slight delay, but we don't need to see that). Not so here, where the plot requires the technology to be invisible.

I suppose the same comment applies to some other "undercover" episodes, like First Contact and Who Watches the Watchers...
Latex Zebra
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 6:30am (UTC -5)
@Dan - I think the Universal Translator is best not thought about.
We have to allow that despite it being in constant operation that people can suddenly utter a word in Klingon, Romulan, Dominion or various other languages that the translator doesn't translate but the rest of the sentence is. Q'Plah being a constant one.
Next we have the fact that regardless of what language they are speaking their mouths always shape the words as if spoken in English. The Universal Lipmover doesn't get the credit it deserves.

Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 10:14am (UTC -5)
I like to assume that Q'Plah is an untranslatable word. Like Kamikaze. It just all makes the head hurt less badly that way.

What gets me though is how the Klingons seem to know when Jadzia is speaking Klingon, which she clearly does on occasion to "show off".

Maybe when people speak via the universal translator everybody sounds like Majel, so they can tell that Jadzia is speaking Klingon because she doesn't?
Latex Zebra
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 10:26am (UTC -5)
@Robert - There is a scene in Way of the Warrior when Jadzia meets Worf for the first time and says something in Klingon and when asked what it means by Kira (I think) she says "It loses something in the translation."

According to the script she says "Yeah, but I'm a lot better looking than he was."

Why the Universal Translator didn't pick that up I will never know.

Mon, Nov 7, 2016, 12:19am (UTC -5)
Picard owning the junior adjutant clerk when requesting a cloaked ship was hilarious. Classic Picard negotiation - ranks right up there with his owning of the Sheliak.
Sat, Jan 28, 2017, 3:11am (UTC -5)
One thing that is never made clear is what will happen if unification is successful. "Romulans and Vulcans will be one!" Okay, but how? What form will it take? Would Vulcan leave the Federation and become a superpower with the Romulans? Would they form a new faction? Is it supposed to bring peace between the Federation and Star Empire (which seems to not be a priority of Spocks)? Would Vulcan become a neutral system between the two powers, being friendly to both sides at the same time?

There simply is no telling what the end game is beyond "We'll be friends!"

Also, the resolution is really ridiculous. Sela (who I have always viewed as one of the better Romulan commanders, although she doesn't seem as bold as she is just cunning), leaves them alone in a room with access to a computer. A computer that apparently has no safeguards in place. A computer that she just showed could project holographic images and left them alone! Her failure is cringeworthy.
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 2:52am (UTC -5)
These episodes doesn't really make sense, but have a lot of really nice little moments. Data staring at Picard as he tries to sleep, Worf singing with the entertainer lady. I found those amusing.

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