**** (4 stars out of 5)
Spock meets Data. There's your four stars right there, that's why!
Riker and Worf have a couple of jam sessions with a four armed salt-sucking piano player in a dive bar on Qualor II. Finally, Riker strong-arms the story of surplus Vulcan ships and weapons delivered to the Romulans out of Omag, a fat Ferengi weapons dealer. It's like something out of 'Star Wars', and I DO mean that in a good way, because this episode's better in the misty haze of my nostalgia than on screen. The stuff in the bar is kind of a highlight. And that's really saying something in a story with Spock, Sela, and a Romulan invasion.
The phrase 'Romulans are a passionate people' comes up again today, and unfortunately, I don't see much evidence of that. The streets are drab, the clothes are somber, the shopkeeper is cowed, Pardek and his rebels are as quiet as Church Vulcans on Surakday Morning. Only future Praetor Neral and testy time-warped Sela (the baddies) show much in the way of feelings. Where's the passion?
K'vada's taunt to Data that a Romulan beauty "might lick the paint right off your ears" is nowhere in evidence. I guess trying to convey a people with a repressive government means they can't show us what ordinary Romulans are really like. The rebels are Vulcan-o-philes, it's true. But our first look at the fabled Romulus has a disappointing lack of flair. Lovely establishing painting, sure, but the street-level stuff is dull like Corrugated Bran Puffs. What do I know? This got an Emmy nomination for art direction.
Of course, that's before the shocking, terrible, devastating betrayal of Spock by his beloved, decades-long friend and confidante, Senator Pardek. Had we ever met him before, I'm sure that would've had more of an impact. Well, ANY impact. Still, you can't fault Malachi Throne, a fine actor, with a fine voice. It's just such a bloodless, matter-of-fact betrayal that it barely registers.
Pardek's My Little Pony diary entry reads: Jolan Tru, Diary. Coffee with Neral. Soup with Spock and the human Picard. Betrayed Spock to Sela for the 5 credit reward. Watched 'Krocton Segment's Got Talent' & 'Real House-Consorts of Remus'. Big day tomorrow. 5 credits for a new Beatles wig!
It feels smaller than I remember. Much like the invasion of Vulcan itself. This is A PLANETARY INVASION meant to be carried off by three tiny junk ships? And is defeated from an office by two old dudes and Data?
Maybe this is why we never see Sela again. When he seizes the throne, Neral double checks her work.
'Hey, it says here you abandoned the Duras Initiative because you didn't fly AROUND the blockade?'... 'You spent years stealing bits of Vulcan ships from junkyards for an invasion, then blew up your own troops?... What the... YOU CAPTURED THE SOONG ANDROID! And YOU DIDN'T turn him over to Cybernetics?!? I DON'T CARE WHO YOUR FATHER WAS! OR HOW BLONDE YOU ARE! See how much revenge you get on humanity while you're picking up trash along the hover highway!'
"Unification II" was awesome, yet it's wearing out its welcome with me somewhat. It's still worthy. Leonard Nimoy is the best.