In one of the first real episodes that draws together the original Star Trek series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), a longtime Federation Ambassador, goes missing. Intelligence has located him on Romulus. Since the Romulans and the Federation have been at odds with each other for as long as they have known each other existed, the question becomes: what is he doing there?
Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) takes the Enterprise to the planet Vulcan to meet with Sarek (Mark Lenard), Spock’s father. In the episode Sarek, it was established that Sarek was very ill and dying of Bendii’s syndrome. At that time, the two of them mind-melded in an attempt to allow Sarek to control his emotions. By the time of Unification, his condition has rapidly deteriorated.
After the meeting with Sarek, Picard makes the decision to journey to Romulus and confront Spock along with his benefactor, Senator Pardek (portrayed by Malachi Throne), whom he has had a dialogue with since the Khitomer Accords portrayed in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.
Meanwhile, Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) takes the Enterprise to figure out the mystery of how the deflector array from a decommissioned Vulcan vessel, the T’Pau, managed to end up on a Ferengi vessel.
The writers managed to cover a lot of ground in this episode, and did so in a way that did not seem like too much was crammed into such a short time period. The pacing was near perfect for the story to unfold. They also managed to draw on history and bring in the Klingons during Picard’s search for a vessel capable of cloaking to bring him through The Neutral Zone – the area of space that serves as a border between the Federation and the Romulans.
Although much is made throughout the episode of the possibility that Spock has defected to the Romulans, fans of either series know that there is no chance that he has. If there’s one weakness to the script, that’s it. I can understand Starfleet being concerned over a possible security breach, however, it is impossible to believe that Spock, of all people, would ever defect.
Mark Lenard gives what will be his final performance as Spock’s father, and it is a terrific one. Portraying a character always very much in control of his mind and emotions in the past, he now portrays Sarek as the polar opposite as the Bendii’s Syndrome takes over. It is something akin to what Ronald Reagan’s family has gone through. Lenard carries it off so completely believable and with such great depth, I had to wonder why he never had a more notable career.
Likewise, Stewart does a tremendous job opposite Lenard. He conveys the bond they shared in Sarek very well, making me see that there was more between the men than the conversations on the surface.
It’s nice that one of the first episodes that airs following the death of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry draws together the cast from the original series and this one. In honor of the man and recognizing the meaning to fans, this episode opens with Gene Roddenberry 1921-1991. Very classy move on the part of the producers.
This episode is a great set-up for what will follow in Unification Part II. That is where most of the interaction between Spock and several of The Next Generation cast will take place. However, fans will not be disappointed that Spock appears only briefly at the very end of this episode. The build-up is handled very well, and waiting a week for the pay-off isn’t as bad as having to wait an entire summer.
Previous episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Game
Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Unification Part II