I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.
“Unification Part I”
Ambassador Spock has gone to Romulus and the security risks are huge. Picard and Data are dispatched to investigate and recover Spock while the Enterprise is sent to track down some missing ships and suspicious activity surrounding them. Picard and Data have to co-opt a Klingon starship to get to Romulus, and they encounter a good deal of resistance. Meanwhile, Riker and crew discover there is something untoward happening with the disappearing ships. After Picard and Data arrive on Romulus, they are captured, only to discover they have found Spock! Oh, and Sarek dies.
This is a pretty solid set up for a two-part episode. The stakes feel pretty high as it is understandable that if Spock is capture, all kinds of important information might be extracted from him. Many of the scenes are high-impact as well, such as the pretty cool scene with the junkyard dog and Troi. Look! The episode can use irony to combat the objectification of women!
The initial scenes with Sarek and Picard trying to discern Spock’s intent reveal some real depth of character for both Sarek and Spock that wasn’t there before, and that alone makes this episode worthwhile. But there is much more, such as the interesting concept of political movement in Romulus towards reform, the need to compromise, and some really neat political intrigue.
I have to wonder, though, what’s going on with the Klingons. I suspect we’ll see some interesting flare-ups happen with them again, because they really seem anti-Starfleet all of a sudden.
Overall, Part I is a fun watch with some really great moments. Can’t wait to watch the next part!
Grade: A- “A great beginning that has me excited for the conclusion.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “An intriguing beginning, I look forward to seeing what happens next!”
“Unification Part II”
Spock is working to try to reform Romulus from within, but it seems that elements in the hierarchy are moving at a too-convenient pace. Meanwhile, Riker and crew work to trace the path the missing Vulcan ships took. As Spock and gang are captured and seemingly forced to watch while the Romulans destroy the Vulcans, Riker’s suspicious nature saves the day. Picard and Data manage a great escape while Spock stays behind to try to work further towards reform.
The range of sets and scenes in the episode was really impressive. I particularly enjoyed the alien bar with the four-handed piano player. It had just enough flare and fun to keep me smiling the whole time without ever seeming to overdo it. Romulus’ various sets were pretty awesome, too, and watching the Enterprise range all over the place was pretty neat. The production values across the board were great.
The plot is exciting, too. As betrayals are unveiled and the stakes are continually raised, it never feels like it is overly forced. The Romulans just seem cunning enough that they just might try to pull something like this off, and Spock and gang aren’t overly gullible about what’s happening. It was a great way to balance the buildup to betrayal with necessary skepticism of the good guys.
Seeing Spock talk about his father has the emotional impact it should and Picard giving him his father’s love is a touching scene. Spock’s decision to stay behind seems to exactly fit his character as well.
This is a two-part episode I’m genuinely shocked I didn’t remember. Maybe I only managed to watch it once before or something, but this thing has impact. Weirdly, I discovered from reading some comments online that it apparently doesn’t sit well with many hardcore Trekkies because they feel it was a desperate movie tie-in. But neither I nor my wife felt that way about what is, really, a great episode. Are some things too convenient? Sure, but that’s just par for the course in TNG.
Grade: A “A few flaws don’t mar what is otherwise a pretty awesome episode.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “The follow-through on the first episode’s beginning was very good, but it lacked a little something awesome.”
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