Star Trek: The Next Generation


Part I: 3 stars
Air date: 11/4/1991
Teleplay by Jeri Taylor
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by Les Landau

Part II: 2.5 stars
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

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

121 comments on this post

Fri, Apr 1, 2011, 4:16am (UTC -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
"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 -6)
@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 -6)
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 -6)
@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 -6)

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 -6)
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 -6)
@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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)

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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
@ 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 -6)
@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 -6)
^ 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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
@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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
@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 -6)
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 -6)
@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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
TNG is my series (unlike Jammer and other people who post here) but I agree with almost everything here. Aside from all the plot weakness I do want to chime in to point out what a hideous episode this is to look at. The Klingon ships are ugly by design, but both Romulus (which have we seen before at this point?) in unbelievably boring. We're either in gray caves or beige boring restaurants and offices. Even the space bar isn't all that interesting. Not sure what happened on the production design on this one.
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 12:41am (UTC -6)
I have always been wondering why the Romulans won't just position their fleet around the most important military installations of Starfleet, and then all decloak at once and hit them with all their firepower (similar to how they tried to sneak into the Gamma Quadrant in DS9 and bombarded the planet on which the founders supposedly lived). They could potentially coordinate hundreds of warbirds in an assault.

I told myself that either (A) key planets like Earth or Vulcan might have some sort of detection grid that protects them from cloaked assaults, or (B) the Federation's resources are simply too scattered throughout the Alpha Quadrant to hit them all at once.

And then, this two-parter comes along, and manages to do three things:

It dismantles both theories "A" and "B", and finally makes an alternate suggestion on how to invade a planet - with three meagre ships. Yeah, sounds great. The technology for a detection grid doesn't seem to be in existance, because one single Bird of Prey can just sneak into the heart of the Romulan Empire and even beam down Picard and Data without being detected. And the concern that the Federation's resources might be too scattered to hit them all at once seems to be a non-issue, because it suddenly becomes a sound strategic move to conquer a single (!) planet in the midst of Federation territory.

The multiple contradictions that are exhibited here are just ridiculous. And since when can you conquer a highly populated planet with just 2000 soldiers? And what purpose would "being entrenched" serve? Wouldn't those soldiers just be cut off from the Romulan Empire, logistically? Where's the point?

The episode should never have gone into this territory. Frankly, it already bothered me that the cloaked Bird of Prey could beam down two people to Romulus; it seemed much too easy. The Klingons should have kept some distance to the planet and beamed Picard and Data onto a cargo vessel that was headed for Romulus, being sneaky. And the second episode should have given us something else than this ridiculous "conquest" plot.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this two-parter.
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 12:52am (UTC -6)
@ Steven,

My suspicion has been that the Romulans (a) don't have any many ships as they imply they do, and (b) don't have any capability of defending themselves from an all-out attack, both due to being spread thin with the fleet as well as having to spend considerable resources dealing with their own population. If they began moving large amounts of troops to other words and moving their fleet away from the homeworld they might risk insurrection. Sure, they might take down a few worlds in one sneak attack, but that alone would do diddly to powers like the Klingons or Federation, and the retaliation would decimate them (especially in lieu of the Klingon-Federation alliance). Their better strategy is to sit back and let other worlds destroy each other, and to take small advantages on the sly. I think Unification was an attempt to show their version of 'safe invasion' where they'd not have to deploy their fleet or many resources to do it.

That being said I agree that the plan, as scripted, is basically ridiculous. What, did they think they'd suffer no counter-attack or even a possible two-fronts war?
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 3:34am (UTC -6)
You probably hit the nail on its head that the invasion plot tried to show a sort of "safe invasion". With the two major problems, that 2000 people are not enough to conquer a planet like Vulcan, and that even if they were, the Romulans would have to fear a retaliatory strike. Those problems could be avoided if they went for something smaller - maybe a colony at the edge of Federation space, rather than directly for Vulcan.

I have to admit that there's a certain poetic appeal to the "Vulcan invasion" plot, because it is similar to the story of the wooden horse that was used to conquer Troy. Pretend that you're coming with good intentions, and secretly smuggle in soldiers. As I've said, might have worked for a border colony... but then we wouldn't have gotten the line "Unification will become a reality of life". I for once could have done without this line, as I could have done without Denise Crosby's performance altogether. Her silliness as a character came together with the silliness of the invasion plot and gave this episode a "low quality" feel, unfortunately.
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
Was it clear if the entire Romulan military was in on this particular plot, or was it perhaps just Sela and a few other kooks?

I guess my take on the Romulans and why they don't launch a plan to conquer the Federation is that they don't, in fact, want a war with Starfleet even if they might be able to win, nor do they particularly want to be responsible for all the Federation's citizens and territory. They'd like to be more powerful than the Federation, but they're only willing to go so far in pursuit of that goal. Kind of like the Cold War, minus the 24th-century equivalent of nuclear weapons - neither particularly trusts the other, and each would be happier if the other retreated from the world stage, but an all-out confrontation isn't in either side's interests.
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 1:01am (UTC -6)
@FlyingSquirrel - Yeah who knows; it's all very half-baked. In fact, half-baked is probably generous.

Still, I can't bring myself to hate these episodes. Especially watching it now that Mark Lenard and Leonard Nimoy have both passed away.

Every scene featuring Spock is just pure joy for this old trekkie.
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 11:23pm (UTC -6)
"I will not look in your direction", followed by such a long stare is one of the highlights of the episode, if not of the season.
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
Really interesting premise and I liked the buildup of the 2 stories: A) the "search for Spock" by Data/Picard and B) Riker and the Enterprise investigating the junkyard. Part I was pretty good but nothing exceptional.

Nice also to see Sarek again but he's clearly in the terminal stages of illness and then later he dies. Lenard is a good actor. Enjoyed watching the scene between him and Picard.

Not exactly sure how the Klingons got the memo of Sarek's death before passing it onto Picard but anyhow it seems information travels fast and secrets are not well kept. That younger Romulan Proconsul was also aware of the Picard/Data arrival, even in disguise.

Overall pretty slow paced at what seemed like several parts. The humor didn't seem to really fit in here (Data standing while Picard sleeps, the junkyard quartermaster).

3 stars for "Unification I" -- pretty interesting stuff. Clearly an attempt at making something grand beyond the standard 1-hour episode. Nice way to end the episode with Spock's appearance. I sort of feel that Part I was stretched out a bit much and didn't really touch on the real issues behind the episode. It played out in pretty standard fashion.
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 4:43pm (UTC -6)
As for "Unification II" -- there are some goofy parts but also some quality dialog parts like between Data and Spock about being human / being Vulcan and admiring the qualities of an android. Also the Spock/Sarek through Picard worked well as far as I'm concerned.

Sela is one of the weak links here. She comes off as galactically inept with her dumb plan with the Vulcan ships. Pretty funny where Data suggests she get another job because she says she doesn't get to write much and she really likes writing. This kind of stuff reminded me of the way the movies differ from the TV episodes. It's some kind of attempt at trying to appeal to a broader fan base.

The part about investigating the missing ships with RIker threatening the fat Ferengi / Worf singing Klingon opera -- this is more movie-like stuff. It's just entertainment and nothing overly special.

I'd give Part II 3 stars as well, just barely. The ending wrapped up awful quickly and going back to my comments on Part I where it seemed to waste time, I think more time should have been spent on the endgame and dealing with the threat of the Vulcan ships. I think there was a pretty good story here but for the balance being a bit off and the endgame not living up to the buildup.
Derek D
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 8:22pm (UTC -6)
Sun, May 27, 2012, 10:10am (UTC -6)
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.

My thoughts exactly

Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
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.

My thoughts exactly

Bright spot: when Data tells Sela she might consider a different job!
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 9:10pm (UTC -6)
The external of the Enterprise shows that it has gone completely dark, cut to a bridge scene with the lights fully turned on...
Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 3:56am (UTC -6)
Part one was decent but not spectacular. Part two was deadly dull for the first 30 minutes at least, and then got interesting and even exciting in the last 10 or 15 minutes.
Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -6)
I didn't know Michael Piller wrote parts of Unification; i've always attributed the decline in quality from TNG's season 5 onwards to Piller being replaced by Jeri Taylor as showrunner. Does anyone know how much influence Piller had on Unification's script?

Regardless, it's terribly dull and silly. The only redeeming scene, IMO, is that brilliant sequence in which Picard tries to take a nap whilst Data stands beside him processing data. So funny and creepy.
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 1:07am (UTC -6)
What always annoyed me about this two-parter is why in the hell would Picard and Data go the planet? Isn't this exactly what Star Fleet Intelligence is for? Why would they risk the life of a captain and Data?

It's TV, I know.
Mon, Apr 9, 2018, 12:40pm (UTC -6)

It does make sense for Picard to go to Romulus. He's got Sarek's memories which would aid him in handling Spock and finding out just what his intentions are. And Data? I mean besides the fact that an android is harder to conceal on a covert mission, I would feel 100% more confident on *any* mission if Data were around to help.
Tue, May 22, 2018, 10:53am (UTC -6)
I'll never understand why Star Trek shows give the Vulcans so much leeway to do their own thing. Are they a member of the Federation or are they their own culture? It reminds me of Scotland. They're part of the UK but view themselves as a totally separate entity with their own laws and, oh yes, a great deal of say over what happens in the other member nations. And yet in the grand scheme they're an extremely minor player who wouldn't achieve much of note compared to the UK as a whole; a bit like Vulcan in the Federation. (No offence to any Scottish readers but that's how it is.)

I'm just disappointed there was never any follow up on Unification and the Romulans remained the stock bad guys with nothing really distinctive or exciting about them. They were always so paranoid about the Federation, and no Feds ever turned round and said "Sorry but you're the untrustworthy, treacherous decievers who sneak around in invisible ships".
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 9:29am (UTC -6)
You can overthink any "Trek" episode to death.

Look folks, this one hour gave us trips to Vulcan, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan home planet in one episode! I'm tingly in my extra-long pinkie finger thinking about it.

We get Sarek and Perrin! We get Spock! Hell, we get a Zak-Dorn! We get good humor! We get drama! We get a clash of cultures! We get personal drama!

Really, they could have done a three-story arc with all this material.

(I have to agree that not a lot came from this in the end. And that is what -- for me -- keeps this from entering the realm of BOBWs)
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Yeah, I think people can nitpick this one to death but I remember when it first aired, and it was a huge deal. Another TOS crossover, amazing adventures, and overall the spirit of a feature film minus the obligatory annoying fist fight. Based on the viewing experience at the time this was clearly a 4 star episode. In hindsight it may not quite pack the punch of BOBW or Chain of Command, but I still feel it has that legendary quality to it which many more 'regular' episodes lack.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 10:22am (UTC -6)
As for the Romulan invasion of Vulcan, yeah it's a little farfetched. But not nearly as much as y'all are making it out to be.

Point One: You keep treating "Federation Space" like it's land on a planet and occupies a densely settled continent that would be hard for an army to cross.

"Federation Space" is basically little dots of life in a vast expanse of emptiness. ALL KINDS OF SHEET is happening in "Federation Space" all the time. The Breen got into "Federation Space" and effed up Betazed. And we have no idea if Vulcan is "in the heart" of Federation Space anymore than Betazed. We have no real idea where anything is. They never explain it.

What we can extrapolate:

They went from Vulcan to Klingon Space to the Romulan home world in what appeared to be pretty short order. And if the Romulans are offshoots of the Vulcans from way back, then they probably didn't go that many light years to find their new home world back then.

So between the general vastness of all space and a reasonable conclusion that the Romulan home world ain't a big haul from Vulcan, it's not such a silly idea that they could reach it.

Point Two: Holding the planet with 2,000 soldiers. Yeah, a bit farfetched again -- BUT:

Think about the few depictions of Vulcan onscreen. They seem to live in almost primitive conditions, sparsely settled around caves. You never see matte shots of a huge city like on Earth or the Klingon or Romulan or Cardassian home worlds.

Yes, they were warping while we were in the Iron Age, but since then, their technology seems almost stagnant. They don't seem to employ a lot of it in their planet.

And there's every reason to think the planet is actually sparsely populated. These are logical people on a hostile, dry planet. They probably keep the population very low to extended resources. Vulcan doesn't look like the kind of planet that would be hospitable to hosting billions of inhabitants.

Then given their extreme devotion to peace -- they're constantly chiding their human allies over their rash emotional warlike responses -- it's likely they actually don't have a lot in the way of planetary defenses.

Finally, there's something of an intellectual arrogance that runs through them. They probably never conceived anyone could pull this off or even want to invade them, so they don't prepare against it.

Overall, for all those factors, I'm not sure the invasion plan is nearly as far-fetched as many of you have made it out to be.

I see it a lot like the U.S. and Iraq in 2003. Easy to invade, hard to hold. It's the "entrenched" part that gets more far-fetched.

I think the Romulans could take the planet, BUT:

1. If they think the Federation would just sit back and accept it, that's a massive miscalculation. (And I think that's where Romulan arrogance comes into play).

2. They'd encounter the most effective passive resistance campaign on Vulcan in the history of the galaxy! I think the Vulcans would mind-phuck them pretty quickly. The invasion force could eventually be assimilated into Vulcan culture without the Vulcans even engaging in what we think of as traditional warfare tactics.
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 10:31am (UTC -6)
Just change a plot point to say that the Romulans were going to nuke Vulcan to oblivion and the apparent plot holes go away. It doesn't really matter what exactly they were going to do when they got there, as the relevant issue is that if the Romulans got ships full of troops to Vulcan bad things would happen.
William B
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 10:41am (UTC -6)
Although the reunification idea is good, I think -- that what Sela wants is a perversion of what Spock wants (she also wants Romulus and Vulcan reunited, but Vulcan entirely under Romulus' control) is cool. Not sure how best to fix the plot holes *and* maintain this element, though I agree in the end it's not that big a deal dramatically that it's implausible as presented.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 2:27pm (UTC -6)
Enjoyed both your insights, Peter G and William B.

And yes -- I like the reunification theme with two wildly different interpretations of what that would be.

And finally, Earth's own history is filled with implausible military ventures:

-- Why did the agricultural South, with almost no industry to speak of and 9 million people (many of them slaves), think it could take on the much more industrialized North with 22 million people of almost all free people?

-- Why did Napoleon think he could march across Russia in winter?

-- Why did Temüjin think he could build an empire stretching from to Korea to Eastern Europe on horseback? Oh, wait! It worked -- and he became Genghis Khan!
Sat, Aug 11, 2018, 12:40am (UTC -6)
Am I the only one who got teary-eyed when Picard allowed Spock to meld with him at the closing scene and thereby sense Sarek’s thoughts? Spock lets his emotions get the better of him and he grimaces in sad recognition of his father’s thoughts in Picard....It was a closure (of sorts) after decades since TOS where we first learned of the strained relationship between Sarek and Spock....Watching Spock wince with sadness during the meld with Picard really got to me. So it was a nice, poignant closing touch...
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -6)
"Commander Sela-sit down please and welcome to your end of year appraisal.
Please do not be distracted by the sounds of disruptor pistols and screams from down the corridor.
That is just Senator Pardek taking the honourable exit following the inevitable failure of your invasion-well can we really call it a 'plot'?"

Part One had such promise but Part two was so rubbish despite some gravitas laden performances by Nimoy and Stewart.
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 11:31pm (UTC -6)
3 stars for both parts

I thought it was an interesting and thoroughly entertaining two parter.

Sarek and Mark Lenard got a perfect send off

Forayed into TOS story territory with revisiting of Vulcan/Romulan history.

Got to see an honest to goodness starship junkyard

The Zakdorn were perfectly used as administrator of said junkyard

Cool moment when ent goes dark and takes up position as a junked ship

Nice scene between Data and Spock

The Klingon captain was perfectly done in his reactions and his putting it to Data and Picard— the sparse accommodations or telling Data as a Romulan that he looked sweet lol

Enjoyed the adventure component of Picard and Sata aboard a cloaked Klingon ship sneaking into enemy territory

Nice seeing Romulus

Episode did good job creating oppressive society
I enjoyed seeing Sela again. And her being more than a one time character

Totally caught off guard when the holographic Spock warned of Ships as part of an invasion force

Liked the allusion to Kirk in teaser

And it had that intangible trekky vibe throughout both parts.
Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!


Yes, yes I did. The first time, and every time.

Regards... RT
Peter H
Sat, Nov 24, 2018, 10:08am (UTC -6)
There's so much to like about this episode. Everything with Spock is a real treat, and really ties in nicely with the insights he has in the Undiscovered Country. The scene with Sarek was an absolute joy, but completely heartbreaking.

What I could never get over is the implausibility of the invasion plot. A few thousand troops could overpower a planet with millions? The Vulcans are hardly toothless; pacificts they may be but they're not so unwise as to not be able to defend themselves.

More troubling is the idea that Vulan could be taken over without major repercussions. Sela waves this away with a "we're prepared for that", but in fact this would immediately lead to all out war with the Federation.
Mon, Nov 26, 2018, 7:25pm (UTC -6)
The scene between Data and Spock is probably my favourite in all of Trek. Superbly done.
Circus Man
Mon, Nov 26, 2018, 9:27pm (UTC -6)
Funny enough, while I like the acting of the Spock/Data scene, I always find it disappointingly unimaginative. They say what you'd expect them to say. It's in character, yes, but it does little to reveal anything about either of them.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
The fact it exists at all is down to intelligent writing. You make it sound like it was easy to come up with. It wasn't.
Circus Man
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
I have no idea what your monumentally vague response means or how it has anything to do with the specifics of the post I made. But by all means, continue to go on declaiming about "intelligent writing."
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 5:27am (UTC -6)
They make such a big deal about reunification and yet all we see are a few dissidents in caves and that's somehow supposed to convince the audience that this is some monumental event in history. There needed to be a much more compelling back story to get invested in. Storytelling is always beat when we are shown how a situation develops not simply told it by random characters.

Spock wasn't established nearly enough. This episode should've been about an assassination attempt on Spock akin to Martin Luther King. This episode should've been focused exclusively on Vulcan or Romulus. The Enterprise wild goose chase with the Zakdorn should've been dropped entirely.

The ending was just plain stupid. Hologram trickery? Lol come on.

The whole two parter feels rushed and a gimmick to promote Spock without having a good story to tell.
Wed, Apr 17, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -6)

This one had a suspenseful story with the humourous depot boss. It's good to poke fun at the self important isn't it?

Actually , it is only the trip to Romulus and the inclusion of Spock and Sarek that bumps this up. I found my attention drifting while watching this which isn't great...
Wed, Apr 17, 2019, 3:24pm (UTC -6)

ironically a cluttered episode or dull in some aspects. Even Spock couldn't raise the bar on this one.

Riker was good in it though. He showed independent leadership and why he could be his own captain. And I don't even like Riker. By the way have you checked out the Twitter account "Riker Googles". It is very funny.
Ari Paul
Tue, Oct 1, 2019, 12:15am (UTC -6)
My favorite part of this episode is how abrupt and trite Picard's farewell is to all the Romulan kids.


Picard: "What will you do now"

Romulan chick: "What we have always done. Continue to teach. Pass on the ideals to a new generation. Work for the day when new thoughts--- [[PICARD THINKING TO HIMSELF: "Yeah yeah yeah, move on with it you dumb bitch I've got to get back to my ship already."] ---may be spoken aloud."

Picard (now in stiff diplomat mode): "The federation will welcome that day" [[PICARD THINKING TO HIMSELF: "Fat chance. Ugh I can't stand naive hippie chicks... god damn it, the federation's gotta stop sending me to these stupid, utterly naive 'movements'"]]

Data: (programmed to get Picard out of these situations): "Captain, we will need to reach our transport site in 14 minutes."

Picard: (relieved) [[THINKING TO HIMSELF: well, this is awkward, what should I say to these morons. gotta say]] "I wish you well." (moves away sheepishly).

Romulan kids: "Thank you. Thanks. Thank you captain." [[standing around all awkward and shit]]

---Moments later the Tal Shiar shock troops move in and torture or exterminate all the remaining dissidents. Their cries of pain reverberate up the caves and throughout the empire.---
Mon, Dec 30, 2019, 12:59am (UTC -6)
The gum chewing dude reflected in the green dildo looking ornament.

Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 3:15pm (UTC -6)
The Unification two parter, on the whole, was very disappointing. For all of the alleged intrigue, the plot just boiled down to Pardek cat fishing Spock for 80 years for some comic book level planetary invasion plot. It was really quite a simple story dragged out over two episodes to capitalize on the appearance of Nimoy. There were some decent scenes, but, as a whole, it just drags for me. One change that might have helped a little would be if they had brought back the Romulan commander from “The Enterprise Incident” in place of Pardek. After a fantastic season four, I feel like season five was really scuffling at this point with some really mediocre material.
Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 11:14pm (UTC -6)
As a preamble to my quick review: My 9 point rating scale is based on the principle that a good episode is one which you want to go on and on. If a viewer feels this way while watching, the episode rates at least a 7. A 7, 8 or 9 share this quality and things move to the 8 or 9 level based on special attributes such as snatches of dialogue that really hit the mark, or exceptional performances and the like.

Unification (both parts) misses a 7 by about 50 lightyears. Others in the thread noted its excessive padding and I fully agree. Good golly! The amount of filler in the episode was, I think, unrivaled in the preceding 4 seasons of TNG. The substance of the filler was made of some pretty old chestnuts too! Picard, captain of the flagship of the Federation gets no respect! He hails Gowron on intergalactic speaker phone and gets a load of crap, straight out of the "Wizard of Oz".

Chestnut no. 1:
Picard: "knock knock, pretty please can I have a ship."
Gowron's lacky: "Go away, Picard, the Wizard of Oz is too busy having his nails lacquered to speak to you.
Picard: " Just tell him that my house fell on the Wicked Witch of the east".
Gowron's lacky: (to himself : "I guess I better take this seriously").

Then they do the same routine with Riker and the Zackdorn trash guy.

Chestnut no. 2:

Riker: "knock knock, we have a question about some debris"
Zackdorn trash guy: "I'm having my nails lacquered and my eyelashes curled. You don't have an appointment. So if you don't mind come back tomorrow."
Riker: "What? I don't believe this. Deanna use your feminine charms on him."

What I couldn't believe was that the Zackdorn was actually wearing a green costume straight out of Emerald City!

After more shameless filler components which were even less descript, Picard and Data go through a series of adventures to penetrate the proverbial "witch's castle" to find Spock. They get captured (wow, big surprise) and then they escape (yay) after knocking out the Wicked Witch of the West (Sela). The only thing missing was Toto, and we needed him to cuddle after the gratuitous annihilation of 2000 Romulans in Vulcan spacecraft that for some reason were made by the special effects team to resemble ladybugs.

Given the rubbish heaps of moribund material brought to bear upon the hapless audience, even Worf singing 'Melotta' and some good performances by Lenard, Nimoy and Stewart couldn' t raise this much above a 4 out of 9.
Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
A few days have passed. I have to add to my previous remarks that diplomacy episodes are not my favorite fare. Part 2 is actually far better than Part 1.

However, I really have to quibble with some things here. Based on TOS canon Vulcans and Romulans stem from some common ancestral people. They never knew one another and actually knew next to nothing about one another's existence in the time of Kirk and Spock (23rd cent.).

So much of the premise of 'Unification' just wafts away because of this, and what really annoys me is the use of rubbery protheses on Romulans, but not on Spock and I think on other Vulcans. But who can say? The rubber freak department might put bony supraorbital ridges on one Vulcan, but not on another. Loud Sigh.

Next, I enjoyed seeing Malachi Throne back in the series in some way. But what a weak character this creature Pardek was... who hangs out with Spock for -did I hear this-right? 80 YEARS!! and then goes and turns Spock over to the suits!!!

So many missed opportunities here. How did Spock a Pardec meet? Why were so many young Romulans enamored of Vulcans? Please give us some real stiries with plausible, entertaining reasons. But I cry in vain, since the writers are off eating only applesauce by now. Louder Sigh! Goodbye.
Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
Re-draft: How did Spock and Pardek meet?....Please give us some real stories with plausible, entertaining reasons (i.e., well thought-out motivations underlying the characters' actions!).
James G
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Wonderful to see Spock in a TNG, but ..

The first episode is slow and laborious. There's some very nice dialogue between Sarek and Picard, showcasing the talents of two brilliant actors. But the plot doesn't seem that interesting, and by the time the second part concludes, I had myself concluded that it's a dreadful story. It actually feels a bit like fan-fic. Boatloads of mawkish sentimentality, really awful cliches and stupid jokes - Riker being the hard man in the bar, the preposterous piano player, Worf's passion for Klingon opera.

The evil alien Queen who tells her captives the whole plan, like a Bond villain.

And the whole premise of the story is the shallowest cliche of all - an alien invasion fleet. They should have had them turn up in flying saucers.

Some good scenes again between Picard and Spock. Nimoy plays the older, more thoughtful, philosophical Spock really nicely. But again it really feels self-indulgent.

Without all the sentimental dialogue, gravitas and nostalgia you've got a really unimaginative and thin story here that you'd struggle to stretch to one episode, let alone two.

It's surprising to me that Romulans and Vulcans are supposed to have diverged "centuries" earlier - Romulans are as physically different from Vulcans as Neanderthals are from Homo Sapiens. That sort of evolutionary divergence takes many scores of thousands of years, not a few centuries.

The breaking of the ciphers to access the Romulan systems is far too easy, but then again this was made in the early '90s, and even modern TV dramas are similarly naive. Chloe from '24' is a perfect case in point.

What a shame that Spock and Sarek were provided with such an inferior vehicle for their return to the Star Trek universe.
The Chronek
Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 1:35am (UTC -6)
Young me loved this episode because it brought together Spock and the TNG cast. Young me also loved anything Trek and was curious about what Spock meant when he said he had to deal with the consequences of Kirk's final mission and what that meant for The Undiscovered Country, which came out about a month after this two-parter.

Older me loves this episode for other reasons. By then, the main TNG cast was clicking on all cylinders acting with each other. I loved the scene in the beginning of part 1, when Picard and Riker are discussing Spock and Sarek and their difficulties. Then, to sum up the estrangement, Picard says, "fathers and sons," and Riker agrees with him. That's a great moment that touches on problems that both Picard and Riker had with their respective fathers and their empathy for what Spock must have experienced with Sarek. Berman Trek did a great job of providing small moments that referred to other Trek moments and trusting the audience to connect the dots without a lot of guidance. Another example of this occurs in DS9's fourth season, when a visibly concerned Worf, upon hearing that
Keiko is going to have another baby, asks, "Now?"

I also love the scene that Spock and Data share, with both of their observations on humanity. Did it say a lot? Maybe not, but it didn't have to. For me, it was enough to have both TOS and TNG's humanity observers share a scene together.

The scene between Picard and a dying Sarek is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Well done by both Sir Patrick and Mark Lenard. Equally beautiful and heartbreaking was the final scene in part 2, in which Picard and Spock shared a mindmeld so Spock could access Sarek's thoughts.

Plot holes? You betcha. Dated, cheap production in spots? Sure. Scooby Doo villainy on Sela's part? Yep.

But there are so many other great parts. Worf singing Klingon opera. Data doing the Vulcan nerve pinch on Sela. The Klingon ship captain busting Picard's and Data's balls over the mission difficulty.

I still love this episode. It's not the best of the series, or even of TNG season 5, but I still enjoy it.

3 stars for both parts.
Alex Boyd
Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Mark Lenard steals the whole story in one scene, though it still bugs me he doesn't have sheet. Too hot on Vulcan, I guess.

And he doesn't mention Michael Burnham! What's the deal with that? (kidding).
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
"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."

I couldn't agree more. Such a waste.
Jason R.
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 1:22pm (UTC -6)
Anything would have been better than Sela - she is just dreadful. Her master plan in this episode and the manner in which she's foiled is on the level of a Scooby Doo villain. I like to think that after the events in Redemption and Unification Sela got banished to the Romulan embassy on Breen or maybe to some bureaucrat's office stamping passports. It's all she's good for. That and failing at everything she does.
Mon, Mar 15, 2021, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
Sela was just a waste, really. Hell, Picard’s attitude toward her basically “ok, that’s weird, but whatever.”

I don’t get why they didn’t bring back her mother, Tasha from the alternate timeline. That could have been very interesting. She could have even told them what happened. Lots of possibilities.

Sela just came across as a stunt without any significance.
Fri, Mar 26, 2021, 8:43pm (UTC -6)
It’s better if you don’t think too much about the plot, unfortunately. Sela is just silly.

FWIW, Spock at least calls out “well, this is total bullshit” quite quickly. So the writing isn’t entirely terrible.

And while the hologram trick they use seems rather unlikely to work— “why is my room smaller?”— I think they were going for a TOS style ending there.

Sela’s plan is so ridiculous, one might wonder if she’s being set up to fail, considering Romulans’ love of intrigue.

The interactions are pretty good among Spock, Data, Picard, and even Sela, ignoring her ridiculous plot. Data telling her maybe she should try a different job is pretty funny.
Ben D.
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
Sela is to Unification as Lore is to Descent. Once you discover the villain is nothing more than a cheesy gimmick, you wish you could, in Roger Ebert's immortal review of The Village (, "rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore, and then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning." But of course, as Trek fans, you instead keep watching and subjecting yourself to the equivalent of a fingers-on-chalkboard experience anytime these "villains" are on-screen.

Both two-parters could have been far better by substituting these ridiculous contrivances for some standard-issue Borg/Romulan leader. Perhaps in the pre-internet age, the writers/producers misjudged the "wow" factor -- or lack thereof -- that Sela/Lore would trigger among the fan-boys and -girls they were obviously trying to please. Denise Crosby in particular is a middling actor at the best of times, and her swan song should have been Yesterday's Enterprise (as Tasha Yar). She's simply not villain material and does not bring any gravitas or subtlety to the role. It's especially glaring when she is surrounded by GREAT actors, particularly Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart.

I'm still mad at ST:TNG by allowing gimmicks and attempted fan service to ruin not one but two two-part episodes.
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 8, 2021, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
I'm watching this one again, and some things struck me right away watching Spock's first long scene with Picard. First of all, Nimoy does *not* behave the way other guest stars on TNG do, which is to say, making way for the plot points and instructing us on some exposition. Nimoy takes the scene completely in hand, even barely waiting for Stewart to finish his lines on appropriate occasion, and commands how the conversation goes. Stewart wisely follows his lead and waits his turn in this instance. This is how to captivate us with a fascinating character. True, Nimoy was a veteran already, and true, he knew the audience cared about Spock without having to convince us to care, but all the same, that kind of performance is why Spock is magnetic to watch and other guest stars are wallpaper next to Stewart.

Another interesting point is the writing, how subtly and ironically some of it plays compared to later Trek writing, in which I'll include VOY and ENT to an extent, and the new shows for sure. At one point Picard says of Sarek:

I know of your mind meld with my
father... that enabled him to
complete his last mission.

It was an honor. He was a great

He was a great representative of
the Vulcan people and of the

So we have Spock declining to agree that Sarek was a great 'man', even while admitting his objective achievements for the Federation. I assume Spock's remark isn't about the literal term "man" i.e. human, but rather I take him to mean that Sarek may have been an excellent ambassador, but was a terrible father, and possibly not even a particularly 'good person.' And he says all of this by merely stating was Sarek *was*, allowing the omission of the rest to speak for itself. Now that is subtle and compact writing, fitting for Spock's pithy wit. Contrast with VOY and ENT, where the exposition would have been put in our faces a little more bluntly, like having Picard say "I know the two of you didn't get along" in response, or even worse, "You're only saying that because you're his son." And fast forward to DISC or PIC, and the scene would degenerate into "he wasn't a great man! He was selfish, never listened to me or appreciated me, and wouldn't just let me be my own person!"

So let me just say how much of a relief it is to watch older scenes like this was in TNG and see how relaxing it is to watch consummate professionals delivering first-rate Trek dialogue. This is as good as anything Garak was given to work with in DS9, and executed just as beautifully. What a pity that poor Scotty got some random episode rather than a 25th anniversary special crossover event.
Wed, Sep 8, 2021, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

Your post made me think of something I've always thought was a characteristic of good/great acting and that Shatner exemplified the ability to pull off -- "less is more".

Just a facial expression or very few words can communicate so much.

A couple of quick examples: In "The Conscience of the King" at the end when McCoy is asking Kirk about his feelings for Lenore and the captain just smiles. And in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" when Kirk is saying goodbye to Miranda -- he just says "Peace" (if memory serves). I thought this was so well done given how he had to confront her etc. so that she could save Spock. He may still have some resentful feelings towards her but it's now time to move on.
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 8, 2021, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

Totally, Shatner could do it all. Back then the standard seems to have been so high, that if you didn't totally captivate scenes you'd end up looking like a prop. There was no fancy pacing, editing, or FX to cover things up. And as you said, things were left more to the imagination - maybe the closer proximity to the radio age, where imagination had to do its own work to make the programs function. Now the writing is like spoonfeeding gruel.
Wed, Sep 8, 2021, 4:07pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

You hit on something there -- "imagination". And I take this in the sense that the viewer thinks about what they are seeing, reflects upon it and comes out far better for having done so.

Compare this to nu Trek (for example -- don't mean to pick on it specifically) where they put it all out there for you -- really dumbs the audience down. And actually today's writers must think the audience is a bunch of idiots, short attention spans, so that they have to spoonfeed it.
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 2:49am (UTC -6)
For some strange reason Jammer has conflated both half’s of the story into a single review, which is both weird and unprecedented. It means I must leave my review of Part 1 here, then return to the same page to leave my review of Part 2. Sigh.

So… this is a review of Unification 1. In my opinion it’s a 4 star episode containing so many riches: the poignant and beautifully acted scene between Picard and Sarek; good realistic politics involving Romulans, Klingons, and the Federation (with mentions of the Ferengi and Cardassians also); Picard and Data looking quite superb as Romulans; a junkyard in space! (why has that never featured before?); even some leavening humour - the officious junkyard owner, so redolent of real life characters, and the scene where Picard vainly tries to sleep with Data just standing nearby (though you would have thought Data had learned enough about human ways to remove himself around the corner of the cabin).

I think Jammer has been mean giving this only 3 stars but then I haven’t yet rewatched Part 2. Perhaps he thinks too much has been crammed into 45 minutes? Perhaps he’s right, but I never felt that while watching.

Oh well. To quote a different android, “I’ll be back…”
Mon, Sep 27, 2021, 8:37am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed Part II also, especially the Star Trek equivalent of the Binary Star Cantina, and the 'smuggler's woman' on keyboards. Good to see Nimoy (the 'dour Spock' as he's become!), and Picard and Data again as Romulans.

Just one flaw: why was Sela so determined to conquer Vulcan? It was not a major 'thing' as far as the average Romulan was concerned, so where was her motivation?

Anyway, 3.5 stars for me.
Jason R.
Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
Having rewatched this recently it occurs to me that Unification is a rare bird that simultaneously manages to be both more and less than the sum of its parts.

Many of the moments here are iconic - Sarek's death, Picard and Data's interactions with Spock. There is a gravitas to these events that makes the episode particularly memorable for all Trek fans, even if they are in service of a plot that ends up going nowhere.

Even the basic parts of the episode, from Picard's dealings with Klingon bureaucracy and his adventures with to Data as bunkmates on a Klingon Bird of Prey, to Riker and Worf's encounters in a seedy dive bar, are all quite entertaining and would have been good fun in most run of the mill episodes.

What struck me about all this is how damned entertaining this all was. Everything to do with the Klingons and their passive aggressive dealings with Picard was comedy gold not to mention introducing is to Klingon opera. Just hilarious and world building at the same time.

So why does Unification seem to fall flat on its face with so much going for it?

Let's face it, the plot just falls apart. What the hell is the Emterprise doing investigating a load of debris jettisoned by a Ferengi ship? How is this any kind of mystery meriting *any* investigation, let alone by the Federation flagship?

As for the events on Romulus, others have amply derided Sela's nonsensical harebrained scheme to conquer Vulcan with a few thousand Romulan troops and her ridiculous incompetence more commensurate with a Scooby Dooh villain.

But what about Spock's whole "unification" plan? What exactly does this mean? Romulus and Vulcan are separate planets with different people. How do you "unify" two planet? Does he mean Romulus should join the Federation? Should Vulcan and Romulus be under the same government? Why?

This is all such half baked nonsense.

It is so frustrating how almost everything about this episode works so beautifully, but just collapses due to a plot so idiotic that even Leonard Nemoy can't really sell it to the audience.
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 4, 2022, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

You know what, I'll defend this episode right down to the last moment, which even includes Sela's hairbrained scheme. What they seem to be trying to portray is that the Vulcan/Romulan rift was a sore point for both of them, with neither being able to say goodbye forever and be at peace with being morally and politically divided. I actually like that premise, even though it's not spelled out verbatim. I like the idea that the logic-driven Vulcans regret that an entire offshoot race left Vulcan centuries ago due to rejecting logic, and that these people are a sort of casualty of the old emotional conflicts. Not only was the unity of Vulcans under Surak's beliefs incomplete, but the Vulcans-now-Romulans show all the excesses of the Roman empire (by TOS design) including brutality, over-emotional zeal, and fear. It's the group of stragglers who, despite being an intergalactic menace, are in need of help to see the true way of things.

What's more, Spock tells us that some Romulans, maybe many of them, realize the futulity of living how they currently do. Mind you his students don't quite seem to say they reject emotion outright, but they do want to feel kinship with their heritage. We need to remember that the teachings of Surak are not actually a philosophy for humans, intended for a Trek audience. No one has ever suggested that Trek fans should cast off emotion. This is about a bone fide alien race whose passions are actually too strong for them to regulate properly, and we need to understand the Romulans in this context. My only gripe about the Romulans are portrayed starting in TNG S1 is that they should be as ferocious as Klingons when riled up, but instead come off as cold and condescending. This is a fun portrayal in any case, but distant from the notion that they are biologically Vulcan and have not adopted logic to manage themselves. Nevertheless we are to understand that the Romulan people as a whole are suffering. It's shown as being political oppression, but perhaps this is an indirect statement about how they did, actually, come up with a coping method to deal with their violent natures in the place of logic: a police state. Instead of each person controlling him/herself, the state uniformly squashes everyone's impulses. I guess that's one take on it.

So once we observe Spock's need to do something about the Romulan problem, and Sela's obsession with conquering Vulcan, we begin to feel that these two peoples are drawn to each other somehow, hating being separate. After all, Sela could hardly being contemplating invading Vulcan purely as a strategic move. It's a non-violent world, probably without tactical operations of any significant degree (few weapons, etc). If she wanted a base of operations in Federation space, this would not be the choice. No, she wants it because the Romulans can't stand that there are Vulcans out there living in peace. That's what I think, anyhow. Why this plan needed to happen now, and seemingly so suddenly, I don't know. Maybe the political unrest on Romulus is much worse than we're shown, and the senate was cornered into doing a grand move to show that the way of logic is dead and useless. This is all head canon but the glimpses we are given of Romulan daily life do portray troubles going far deeper than a few dissidents. We get similar shades from Cardassian life shown later in DS9.

So not only do I agree, Jason R, that all the nuts and bolts of this two-parter is grand and entertaining, but I even think the scope of the story is worthy: the sutble feelings two major Trek races have for each other. It's sort of like a retrospective of everything going back to Balance of Terror, when we first learn there is some dark past shared by these two races. Dark enough, at any rate, that Spock is both aware of it and does not share it with the crew when they learn they're pursuing Romulans. He's forced to admit it when they establish visual contact, and that point is conspicuously left alone rather than dwelled on.

The fact of tricking Sela with such a pathetic trick as holograms seems to me to have been intended as being homage to what happens when two minds like Data's and Spock's get together. They can create all kinds of technical trouble. It's sort of like letting R2-D2 onto your ship; he'll start talking with your computer and messing things up for you. That it was done with holograms in particular is fine with me, it's cute enough, and at any rate is meant to lead up to the punchline, which is Data using the neck pinch. So the whole thing is intended as light entertainment at this stage of the game. We get a sense almost like we do in DS9's Take Me Out to the Holosuite, which is that it's Data + Spock (the logicians) against a bunch of emotional Romulans. While the latter should have the IQ capabilities of Vulcans, based on the various potrayals of them it appears that they never learned how to master their intellects, so they seem roughly on par with humans in terms of pure calculating power. So I do find it fun to have Sela both personally and tactically frustrated by Spock and Data. "Maybe you would be happier in another job" is not only the punchline of all punchlines, it also illustrates how simple it can be to use logic, whereas the Romulans routinely jump through all kinds of complicated hoops seemingly for little reason. Most illogical.
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
Since Data learned the Vulcan neck pinch, why did he never use it again?
Thu, Dec 29, 2022, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
Seemed to me Proconsuls 'office' was simply the Enterprises conference room, he even had Picards rotating screen thing from his ready room, just in a different color with some plastic bits stuck on to make it look different. Very strange.

Slow and plodding, we even got the plot explanation from Tasha whilst she twirled her moustache, before allowing the 'escape' at the end. I was willing her on to kill the lot of them just to see what would happen, but of course that would never be allowed.
Sat, Jan 14, 2023, 2:39am (UTC -6)
What I don't get is how an invasion force of 2,000 Romulan soldiers was somehow supposed to be a threat to Vulcan and the Federation. Sela's whole plot was that she would distract the Enterprise away from Vulcan, invade Vulcan, and then somehow become "entrenched" enough that the Federation couldn't get the Romulans off of Vulcan. Then Vulcan would fall under the Romulan banner.

It doesn't make much sense, does it? 2,000 Romulan soldiers vs. the entire Federation? Yeah okay.

The political plot was fascinating but the villainous plot but Sela was so subpar that it almost seemed satirical.

I did really enjoy the screen time with Spock and Picard though. Spock's character and his reactions to people and situations were endlessly fascinating.
Gilligan’s Starship
Thu, Feb 16, 2023, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
Any time I get to watch Mark Lenard as Sarek is reason enough for me to like an episode. He always delivers a powerful performance, and this one was no exception — his scene with Stewart is heart-wrenching & a show-stopper.
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 10, 2023, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
One severely underrated reason why this episode is great is Les Landau's great directing. Many of the scenes could have just been used to push the plot forward, but instead we are treated to all sorts of charming interactions between Riker and Troi, Riker/Worf and Amarie, and even the subtly entertaining Klim Dokachin scenes in part 1. Many episodes use scenes to tell us the next step in the story, but much of Unification is used to let the world feel lived in, with interesting people to meet and places to go. As an added bonus, we get our first taste of Klingon opera, and even the Ferengi Omag's favorite piece of music, Melor Famagal. I don't care what Amarie thinks, it sounded like some really cool music. I'd request it too, along with more napkins.

And I'm not even getting into the classic scenes with Sarek and Spock, which are IMO among the best in TNG just by themselves.
Fri, Jul 21, 2023, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
Yeah they really dropped the ball with Sela. She left the franchise because she felt she wasn't getting enough attention in season 1... but then she begs to come back after the show becomes hugely successful.

Further, her presence in these episodes over other villainous characters weakened these episodes a lot.
Thu, Sep 21, 2023, 6:30pm (UTC -6)
Riker blatantly physically intimidates a Ferengi in order to get information, if this were Voyager and Janeway was acting like that then everyone in the comments would be calling her InsaneWay and claiming her character was wrote inconsistently but TNG gets a free pass.

Over all score: 8/10

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.