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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S5E8 "Unification 2"

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Don't worry, this went better than both their last mind-melds.
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Original air date: November 11, 1991

The episode begins with Spock asking Picard why he is on Romulus. Picard asks Spock the same thing, noting that Spock's presence on Romulus has freaked out a lot of people in Starfleet. When Spock says that his mission is a personal one of peace, Picard hits back at what he considers to be "Cowboy Diplomacy", and that Spock could compromise Federation security should he be captured by the Romulans. Picard also informs Spock of Sarek's death. The news of Sarek's death shakes Spock clearly, and he divulges the reason for his presence on Romulus: through a contact that he met at the Khitomer Conference, he was made aware of a movement on Romulus that is wishing for reunification of the Vulcan and Romulan peoples. Spock also reveals that he did not tell the Federation because of how Captain Kirk was framed in the murder of Chancellor Gorkon; he refuses to allow the Federation to be set up in a similar manner. To this end, he reveals that his contact is a high-ranking member of the Romulan Senate, Pardek, and that Pardek has a connection to the new Romulan procounsul, Neral. Spock hopes to convert Neral to his reunification movement, while Pardek brings news that Neral is willing to meet with Spock.

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Back on the Enterprise, Riker's investigations into the smuggling ship that was destroyed at Qualor II have led him to a bar near the Depot itself. Turns out the pianist at this bar is the ex-wife of the captain of that ship. She informs Riker that the person that Riker should be talking to is Omag, a rather obese Ferengi who is a regular of the bar. When Omag does arrive, Riker harshly interrogates the Ferengi who divulges that he delivered the T'Pau to a Barolian freighter near Galorndon Core.

Spock meets up with Neral, and the conversation appears to be going along well, with Neral saying that he may push the Romulan Senate towards reunification. When Spock leaves, Neral is revealed to be working with Sela, meaning that there is something else at play that Spock is unaware of. Back with the Underground Movement, Picard expresses skepticism that a leading Romulan figure would swiftly agree with the idea of reunification of Vulcan and Romulus. Spock agrees with Picard's assessment, but has to play along to see what the Romulans are up to. Data and Picard return to the Klingon ship, where they discard their Romulan disguises. Data attempts to access the Romulan Communications network to contact the Enterprise, where Picard and Data learn about the incident at Qualor II and the lead to Galorndon Core, and inform Riker of Spock's plans for reunification. However, the transmission is being jammed by an unknown source, and Riker orders the Enterprise to Galorndon Core to investigate further. Data accesses the logs in the Communication Network and finds a transmission from Romulan Intelligence sent to Galorndon Core and received by a Barolian freighter consisting of 4 digits: 1 4 0 0.

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Picard and Data return to the Underground Movement where they relay the message to Spock. Spock immediately realizes that he has been betrayed: the numbers are actually the time in which Spock is supposed to make an announcement regarding reunification the following day. At this point, a number of Romulan Troops burst in, led by Sela. Spock immediately calls out Pardek as working with Sela, given that it was Pardek's idea to come to Romulus. Sela acknowledges Pardek's treachery and tells Spock that his idea of reunification will still happen, but in a different form: the invasion of Vulcan by the Imperial Romulan Fleet. Meanwhile, at Galorndon Core, the Enterprise receives a message ostensibly from Picard saying that Spock's initiative is successful and to await further instructions.

Picard, Data, and Spock are brought to Sela's office where it is revealed that there are actually three ships full of Romulan Troops that will be sent to Vulcan as the vanguard of the Romulan Invasion force. Sela threatens to kill Spock unless Spock makes the announcement about reunification but Spock outright refuses: he surmises that he will be dead anyway once he makes the announcement. This only seems to enrage Sela further, she then reveals that she has a backup plan to use a holographic recording of Spock to make the announcement. It's not perfect, as she would rather have Spock delivering the announcement to reduce suspicion, but then again, they only need to confuse the Federation long enough for the Romulan Troops to entrench themselves on Vulcan. Sela then leaves to begin the Operation, locking Picard, Data, and Spock in the room with the holographic projectors. Spock then notices that they still have access to her computer terminal and Data immediately gets to work. When Sela returns, she finds that the three prisoners are apparently not in the room. They are suddenly accosted by Riker and a security team, but when they fire on the intruders, they realize that the intruders are holographic projections. This distraction is enough for Spock and Picard to surprise Sela's security team and knock them out, with Sela now held by Spock holding one of the disrupters that he obtained from one of the fallen security members. It turns out that Data used the holographic projectors to create false walls to hide himself, Picard, and Spock, enabling them to surprise the Romulans. Data now uses this moment to alter the pre-recorded message of Spock to inform the public that the Vulcan ships are actually an invasion force and must be stopped. The transmission is sent out, but stopped when the Romulans realize the message has been compromised. With her plans now ruined, Sela tells Picard, Data, and Spock that they will never get out of the building alive, but Data has already planned out an escape route and knocks Sela out with a Vulcan Nerve Pinch, to the approval of Spock.

Back on Galorndon Core, the Enterprise detects the three Vulcan ships and moves to intercept. Dr. Crusher then informs Riker of a distress signal that she has received from a nearby Federation Colony, of which the Enterprise is the only vessel able to assist. Riker questions the timing of this distress call, but before he can take any further action, they receive the altered message of Spock warning of the invasion force. Riker immediately tells Crusher to verify the distress signal as he now suspects it is fake. The Enterprise rushes to intercept the three ships, but when they finally do, a Romulan Warbird decloaks alongside the three ships and promptly destroys them, then cloaks once again.

We conclude this episode on Romulus, as the Underground movement has set up shop in a different cave network that Pardek does not know about, ensuring some level of security for them. Picard implores Spock to return with him and Data, but Spock refuses noting that this is now his life mission and that he must work to change Romulan Society from within and prepare the Romulan people for a time in which reunification would be acceptable to both peoples. Picard offers Spock a parting gift: to share with him what Sarek shared with Picard during their mind-meld. Spock accepts and is truly moved by what he now knows is his father's true feelings for him.


Tropes featured in this episode include:

  • And Starring: Leonard Nimoy gets billed as “Special Guest Star” right after the opening credits.
  • Asshole Victim: The smuggler whose ship Riker destroyed, according to his ex-wife.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Sela leaves Picard, Data, and Spock unrestrained and unguarded in a room with a computer terminal and holographic projectors. And this is just after Spock explicitly refuses to do the one thing that Sela is keeping him alive to do.
  • Call-Back:
  • Deus Exit Machina: The Romulans attempt this on the Enterprise with a false Distress Call from a Federation colony, but Riker realizes what's happening when Spock transmits his warning on subspace.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Neral says he doesn't like using his title.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Spock's about as disappointed as a Vulcan can get, discovering that Pardek, a lifelong friend, has betrayed him.
  • Evil Gloating: As befits her death grip on the Villain Ball, Sela makes sure to outline her entire plan to her captives. It's slightly lampshaded by Spock's deduction that she plans to kill them whether or not he cooperates. He knows they know too much to leave alive.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Sela fails to ensure her workstation is secure when she leaves the room with the prisoners. Not only that, after she returns, she also fails to notice the walls have changed to hide Picard, Spock, and Data from their view. These failures prove costly to her plan.
  • False Flag Operation: The Romulans' plan to invade Vulcan involves using Vulcan ships that supposedly carry a peace envoy, but in reality contain thousands of Romulan soldiers. Until Spock ruins everything.
  • False Friend: Pardek has been Spock's friend for eighty years, and may have genuinely liked him, but betrayed him to the Tal Shiar nonetheless.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sela, to the surprise of precisely no one, hates Vulcans.
  • Fat Bastard: The Ferengi trader Omag.
  • Food Slap: Riker gets so irritated with Omag being so uncooperative with answering his questions that he dumps a plate of fish into the Ferengi's lap.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Omag really doesn't like Klingon opera.
    Omag: What is that dreadful noise?!! It sounds like a Bardakian pronghorn-moose!
  • Hidden Depths: Sela says she rather enjoys writing, and doesn't get to do much of it in her current job.
    Data: Perhaps you would be happier in another job. (cue Death Glare from Sela)
  • Hypocrite: Among the things Sela says she hates about Vulcans is the arrogance. Ignoring the general Romulan attitude to everyone everywhere, she's got several displays of it going on in this episode alone.
  • I Choose to Stay: Spock tells Picard that he will stay on Romulus to help the unification movement.
    Spock: An inexorable evolution toward a Vulcan philosophy has already begun. Like the first Vulcans, these people are struggling to a new enlightenment, and it may take decades or even centuries for them to reach it, but they will reach it… and I must help.
  • Idiot Ball: It cannot be stated enough how monumentally stupid Sela is leaving those three alone.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Spock realizes that both Pardek and Neral have betrayed him when he realizes that the transmission to the Barolian Freighter consists of the timestamp of when he would announce the reunification of Vulcan and Romulus.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This episode helps provide Spock Prime's backstory in the 2009 reboot.
  • Irony:
    • As Spock notes, Data was built with what most Vulcans spend all their lives seeking, and yet he wishes to become more human.
    • Data also remarks that it works the other way around too. Spock is half-human and has chosen to throw away what Data constantly aspires to be.
  • Jerkass: Omag is a very unpleasant fellow to put it mildly.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: How Omag enters.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: The Romulans lock Picard, Spock and Data in Sela's office, with full access to her computer.
  • Manly Tears: Spock as he mind-melds with Picard to learn Sarek's thoughts and realizes for the first time how proud his late father was of him.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Theft of Vulcan ship parts from a Federation scrapyard → Romulan plot to conquer Vulcan.
  • The Mole: Pardek.
  • Morton's Fork: Spock analyzes one to his advantage. Sela tells him to record a message to help the invasion or die. Spock responds that, given that she will most likely kill him anyway once he's done, he refuses to do it. Sela, however, foresaw this possibility, and activates a holographic Spock which would deliver the message.
  • Nothing Personal: Pardek shrugs and wishes Spock well after Sela reveals that he had been a spy.
  • Not So Different: Spock and Data find they're quite similar to one another.
  • Pressure Point: Spock uses the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on one of Sela's guards, and Data later uses it on Sela herself.
    Spock: [appreciatively] Not bad.
  • Production Foreshadowing: This episode references Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which had completed production but was still a month away from release.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The Romulan unification movement was inspired by the unification of East and West Germany only a couple years earlier.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Sela's grand plan to invade Vulcan is with a grand total of at most 6,000 troops (Geordi says "2,000" at one point and sounds like he's referring to the whole force but might mean that's how many each of the three ships carried). Even if that's only the start of a guerrilla war, one would think that wouldn't be nearly enough to even threaten an entire planet.
  • No Sense of Velocity: That invasion force is headed for Vulcan at... warp one. Shouldn't it take them a couple decades to get there at just the speed of light?
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After how badly negotiating peace with the Klingons almost went, Spock is unwilling to risk anyone's life but his own when it comes to the unification of Vulcans and Romulans.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Sela uses "lots of unnecessarily long words" in her speech for Spock to make it sound Vulcan.
  • So Proud of You: Spock learns from mind-melding with Picard how proud Sarek was of him.
  • Talk to the Fist: Picard decks one of Sela's Romulan guards.
  • Tranquil Fury: Riker as he faces Omag.
    Riker: Let me explain what's going to happen if you don't tell me about that Vulcan ship. Your passage rights through this sector will be revoked. But more than that, I'll be very unhappy.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Spock knows that the upcoming Peace Conference with Neral may be a ruse, but decides to go through with it so he can find out what's really going on.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe; Data didn't get the holographic Riker's hair quite right.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sela seems to lose it when Spock uses logic to dismiss her demand for him to announce the reunification plans on her terms. She further loses it when her plan is totally thwarted by Data.
  • We Have Reserves: After the invasion of Vulcan is exposed, the Romulans have no problem destroying the slow transports carrying two thousand of their soldiers.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Sela's plans on invading Vulcan hinges on this. With Vulcan (and by extension, the Federation) distracted with the notion of reunification, the Romulan Invasion force will begin the first steps to take control of the planet. Also, Sela has a mock distress signal sent to the Enterprise so that it will assist a Federation colony instead of intercepting the hidden invasion force. Data taking control of the holographic projectors ruins those plans in their entirety.
    • Also, when Data takes control of the holographic projectors, they use this to distract Sela and her guards with a holographic representation of Riker and his security team, then use the distraction to knock out Sela's security detail and hold Sela at gunpoint.
  • Wham Shot: After Spock leaves his meeting with Neral, Sela comes out of a nearby room, clearly in cahoots with Neral.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sela is not seen or even mentioned again after this episode, even though her introduction in "Redemption" was made out to be a big thing. Her story only continues in Star Trek Online.
  • While You Were in Diapers:
    Spock: [to Picard] I was involved with "cowboy diplomacy," as you describe it, long before you were born.
  • With Due Respect: Picard says this to Spock before condemning his "cowboy diplomacy."
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The Romulans have to modify their plans somewhat to deal with the Enterprise making better progress with their investigation than anticipated.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Spock considers Picard "remarkably analytical and dispassionate, especially for a human."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Spock predicts that Sela will kill him, Picard, and Data even if they cooperate.
    • Once the Romulan plan is exposed, they waste no time in destroying the transports filled with their own troops to prevent them from being captured.
  • You Remind Me of X:
    • Spock tells Picard that he reminds him of "another Captain of the Enterprise I once knew."
    • He unfavorably compares Picard to Sarek, fully aware of the mind-meld Picard shared with his father, and uses it as an excuse to ignore Picard's warnings about the Romulans. When Picard calls him on it, Spock realizes he's carrying over his familial arguments and clouding his judgment.

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