Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek The Next Generation - Episode 107 (Unification II)

Note:  I’m following production order with the reviews of individual episodes.  Since Part II started production before Part I, it has a lower episode number.

Star Trek:  The Next Generation had a few cliffhangers.  Most of the seasons ended with some major plot twist, leaving the viewers to wait three months to see what happened.  Here, we only had to wait a week.  Captain Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data travel to Romulus to find out what happened to Ambassador Spock.  You see, Spock mysteriously left Vulcan and showed up on Romulus.  This has everyone worried because Spock was a Starfleet officer and Vulcan Ambassador, meaning he had his share of secrets.

At the end of Part I, Picard and Data find Spock.  Picard and Spock speak privately, where Picard tells Spock of the death of Sarek.  Spock claims to be on a mission of peace, which doesn’t really satisfy Picard.  There are more official ways of doing that.  Spock references the events of Star Trek VI, which would be released the following month.  (It comes across more as a name drop than anything else.)

The reason Spock did it his way was that he was afraid of a repeat of the events of Star Trek VI, in which Spock helped tear down the barrier between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  Because of a new proconsul, Spock feels that he can get Romulus to reunify with Vulcan.  While Romulans are still emotional and warlike, there is an element within the population that would like to know more.  There are elements within the senate, ostensibly like Pardek, that could work in Spock’s favor.  Yes, it’s possible that Spock is being played, but it’s worth the risk.  The payoff is too great.

Meanwhile, Riker, in charge of the Enterprise, discovers that an entire Vulcan ship has gone missing from a junkyard that doesn’t lose stuff.  What anyone would need with a Vulcan ship is anyone’s guess.  Riker is able to follow the trail, but it doesn’t turn up anything useful.  Things start to make sense when it’s revealed that Pardek is spying on Spock and the resistance.

It turns out that the Romulan government is sending not one but three Vulcan ships into Federation space, claiming to be a peace envoy from Romulus, compliments of Spock.  Things start to make sense.  Riker intercepts the Vulcan ships only to have a Romulan ship decloak and destroy all three ships.  The ships were actually an invasion force.   With the ruse busted, the Romulans cut their losses and go home.  Picard leaves Romulus with Spock staying behind, hoping to continue his work.  Yes, it’s idealistic, but it’s a worthwhile goal.

I remember wondering things when I first watched the episode.  I’ve seen it again recently and I have a few more.  First, how was Spock able to walk around Romulus?  Granted, he was being used for an invasion, but Vulcans and Romulans look dissimilar enough that someone would know that Spock isn’t a local.  Even if the government was telling security forces not to stop Spock, what would happen if someone didn’t get the memo?

The second issue is how the Romulans got three Vulcan ships into their space.  They were using intermediaries, but there’s a neutral zone between Federation and Romulan space.  No military vessel is supposed to enter the Neutral Zone.  I don’t know if this applies to civilian ships, but it seems odd that the Romulans wouldn’t complain about three ships entering there space.

For that matter, there’s no mention of Spock going to Romulas with anyone else.  No one thought to ask how Spock piloted three ships by himself?  Into enemy territory, no less.  All this to carry what was supposed to be a peace force back to Vulcan.  I would also think that one ship would have been enough to carry a small delegation of diplomats.  Why not keep the troops on the cloaked ship that the Romulans sent with the Vulcan ships?

I was wondering why the Romulans wanted to invade just Vulcan, but I guess it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.  I don’t know how they planned to hold the planet, as I’m not sure how deep Vulcan is in Federation space.  The entire thing seemed very flimsy to me.

Unification is a somewhat continuity-dependant story.  Those that haven’t seen the previous two seasons will probably be lost.  Those that haven’t seen the original series will probably know some of the major details, but will still be missing out on stuff.

This wasn’t one of my favorite episodes.  It was entertaining, but it raised too many questions for me.  Some episodes became less confusing with subsequent viewings.  These became more confusing.  If you’re watching on Netlflix, you might as well watch these episodes.  If your DVR misses them, it’s won’t really make subsequent episodes harder to watch.

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