Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spock Saves StarFleet, By Working Outside It In "Unification, Part II!"

The Good: Acting, Story, Character
The Bad: Rapid resolution, Ending
The Basics: When Picard finds Spock on Romulus, he works hard to convince Spock to return to the Federation as Romulan forces move in on them.

It's a strange thing that those who make the Star Trek The Next Generation videos went in production order as opposed to a sensible chronological order based on what occurs in each episode. As a result, "Unification, Part II" precedes "Unification, Part I" (reviewed here!) in the video order. It doesn't make sense, but for my part, I am steering readers of my reviews toward the episode that precedes this. If you haven't read that one, then this one will make less sense. Better yet, go read that review, get (or rent) both videos and watch "Unification, Part II" cold.

Or, apparently keep reading my review. Why don't you listen to me?

"Unification, Part II" picks up right where "Unification" left off, with Spock emerging in the Romulan cave and Picard forced to tell him about StarFleet's concerns that he has defected as well as bearing the bad news that Spock's father, Sarek, has died. Spock reveals that he is on a mission of peace, without the backing of the Federation because he is unwilling to risk lives other than his own on the mission. Commander Sela, who appeared in "Redemption, Part II," soon learns of Spock's presence on Romulus and captures the diplomat, believing she has the potential to change the balance of power in the Quadrant.

And, oh, the Enterprise finds out what the debris were from and it ties into Commander Sela's plans. Does that seem tacked on in my review? Well, it does in the episode, too. Go figure. It's not the most complicated story, but the Commander Riker and the Enterprise half of the piece feels, just as it did in the first, like a mystery added on in order to fill some time to break up the movement of the a-plot and make the episode the proper length.

Beyond that, the episode works wonderfully. It's great to see Spock again and in this role, he is fulfilling his potential from Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country. There, he reveals his more mature viewpoint that "logic is just the beginning." As a result, the Spock that appears in "Unification, Part II" has a more realistic sense of movement and body language that makes him more accessible and less alien to the audience.

A great deal of this must be put on Leonard Nimoy's shoulders. Nimoy plays Spock perfectly as a man who has had a great deal of experience between when last we saw him and now, in the Star Trek universe. That is to say that Nimoy must convince us that time has elapsed between Star Trek VI and "Unification" and do it in such a way that makes us believe that Spock has been doing things, growing as an individual. While the make-up department does their part, most of the credit must go to Nimoy himself, who gives us a fresh interpretation of the Spock character while still maintaining Spock's sense of irony, dignity and dispassion.

Nimoy is surrounded by talented actors for this outing with a very different dynamic than in any of his previous adventures. Patrick Stewart has a completely different energy to him than William Shatner does and Nimoy and Stewart explore that by utilizing their acting talents. For example, Stewart plays Picard as more dispassionate and cautious, emphasizing the detached qualities of his character as opposed to fully contrasting Picard and Spock. Nimoy adds to this by accenting Spock's sense of wry humor.

The main plot is rounded out by Brent Spiner and Denise Crosby. Spiner and Crosby play off each other with a wonderful chemistry and they never fail to convince us that their characters are adversaries, while still maintaining an energy in the banter between them. These are two actors who manage, despite having worked so closely in the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation to sell us on the idea that they are just meeting face to face for the first time. It works.

And the main cast was along, too, but their plot is entirely secondary and they simply fill their roles. There's nothing superlative there.

And while the end of the episode is touching, it has a quality to it that feels somewhat unresolved. It's difficult to describe without revealing the end, however, there's a rather large gap in where the episode ends and where the next one must begin. Despite that problem, it's still a fine episode and like the first part, this lends itself well to maintaining and enforcing the idea that all of these adventures happen in the same universe.

Not for people who did not see "Unification, Part I," "Unification, Part II" gives Spock one more adventure and it's a good time for anyone who likes a nice science fiction action story.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the fifth season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode or film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment