Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek The Next Generation - Episode 108 (Unification I)

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.

In the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one episode featured an aging Ambassador Sarek.  Here was the father of Spock, going on one last diplomat mission for The Federation.  He was suffering a degenerative disease known as Bendii Syndrome.  Fast forward a few years and now he’s all but lost control of his mind.  Bendii Syndrome seems to present much like Alzheimer’s in humans, which can be humiliating for a logical Vulcan.  It’s with bad news that Captain Picard has to visit him; his son, Spock, has seemingly defected to Romulus.

For what reason, no one knows, but it’s Picard’s hope that Sarek might have some answers.  Alas, Sarek is too far gone to be of much help other than giving one name:  Pardek, a Romulan senator.  Picard will have to make do with what little information he has.  First, he has to get a cloaked (Klingon) ship to go into Romulan space.  It takes a little diplomacy and a not-so-subtle hit, but Picard gets his cloaked ship, taking Data with him to Romulas and leaving Commander Riker to deal with the mysterious wreckage of a Ferengi ship.

The episode does moderately well for setup.  We go through a brief bit of family issues with Spock and Sarek.  They didn’t seem to get along well in the original series and The Next Generation continues that with Spock leaving Vulcan without saying goodbye to Sarek.  We get the impression that Spock and Sarek still didn’t see eye to eye.  Before Picard and Data reach Vulcan, Sarek dies, ending any chance Spock to reconcile.

As you might expect, Spock doesn’t show up until the end of the episode.  A lot of time is spent getting to Romulus and looking around.  The name of the episode comes from the fact that Spock is looking to reunify Romulus and Vulcan; Romulans and Vulcans share a common ancestry.  When Vulcans became the logical lot that they are, Romulans left the planet and settles on Romulus to continue their warlike ways.

You will have to know a bit about the history of Star Trek to watch this episode.  Certain things will go over your head if you’re not familiar with the Trek universe. Also, the big draw here is going to be Spock and Sarek.  It’s also worth noting that these two episodes aired shortly before Star Trek VI was released.  There was the aspect of a small amount of promotion.

I did learn something from this episode.  Picard and Data had to wait for Pardek outside an intercessor’s office.  I’ve never seen the term used outside of this episode.  It refers to someone who intervenes on behalf of another.  From what I can tell, it has a religious connotation.  It’s usually meant to refer to someone who prays on behalf of another.  I’m not sure if it’s meant to have a nonreligious connotation here or if it’s meant to imply that Romulans are religious.  (I’ve always wondered what an intercessor was.  It wasn’t until a week or two ago that I looked it up.)

Many questions are answered in Part II.  What’s the deal with the wreckage?  What is Spock really up to?  A few more will be raised.  (Many along the lines of what were the writers thinking?)  I remember enjoying the episodes when they first aired, although there were certain things I missed.  I’ll save those for the next episode.

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