Star Trek: Discovery 3.07 Unification III
This is the episode that we had been waiting for, the one that delivers on the premise of a future Star Trek and the legacies the Enterprise, classic and TNG eras have left behind.
With an episode title like that, Unification III was always going to spark plenty of interest. The Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes Unification Parts 1 and 2, saw Captain Picard and Enterprise D become embroiled in Ambassador Spock's attempts to unite the Vulcan and Romulan people. With Michael Burnham so indistinctly tied to Spock by their half-sibling relationship and Spock tied to the Romulans through his attempts to unite them - and then save them - in the 2009 Star Trek sequel / prequel / reboot movie, this episode was a perfect opportunity to explore what Spock's legacy left behind centuries later.
As Booker jokingly noted, Michael comes from a family of high achievers, and his actions certainly succeeded in achieving the long sought after unification of the two races. There were plenty of revelations in Michael's search for the root cause of the Burn, discovering that the planet Vulcan was now Ni’Var as a result of unification, and that they had broken away from the Federation a hundred years earlier. The hologram from 'Admiral Picard's records, Spock's message of hope from Unification Part 2, was a wonderful bit of connectivity to the TNG era and a lovely emotional moment for both the audience and Michael.
In fact, this episode was an emotional rollercoaster in many ways. The mission to Vulcan to find the long hidden secrets of a Ni’Var network that might hold the key to learning about the Burn, also brought back an huge reunion with Michael's mother Sonja (Sonja Sohn), now a member of the female Romulan sect, the Qowat Milat, established in Star Trek: Picard's Absolute Candor earlier this year. It was certainly a bold twist, but any sense of contrivence was overidden by the terrific scenes between Sohn and Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael found herself supported and challenged by her advocate in the ancient Vulcan ritual for scientific truth.
The 'absolute candor' of Sonja, brought plenty of tension to the ritual as Michael fought on behalf of the Federation to gain access the Ni’Var network. The joys of reuniting were soon broken by Sonja's betrayal of Michael's confiential doubts about her position on Discovery and within the Federation. Coupled with the fierce debate between the three Ni'Var - a pure Vulcan V'Kir (Emmanuel Kabongo), pure Romulan N'Ra (Oliver Becker) and half Vuclan, half Romulan Shira (Stephanie Belding), the stakes seemed high. It was fascinating to see the fusion of Vulcan and Romulan cultures - and their continued differences - displayed through the three characters.
Tara Rosling's President T'Rina was another formidable presence; her connection with Captain Saru and her witnessing of Michael's actions in the ritual, was enough to sway her to release the information. There was also the hint that Saru and T'Rina's relationship might continue beyond the events of the episode; not necessarily in a romantic way, but as a manner by which Saru might be the one to rekindle the ties between the Ni'Var and the Federation.
"Did I miss the cool 'just say yes' moment?"
The scene between Tilly and Saru last week was the highlight of the episode and it was interesting to see that newfound maturity lead to Saru offering her the post of his number one this week. There might be those that question her experience and authority to be Discovery's second in command, but Tilly has proven herself again and again. Her maturity this season has grown tenfold and Mary Wiseman's Ensign is clearly meant for greatness.
The scene in the engine room might have felt a little trite and cheesy, but it was incredibly uplifting too. The 'just say yes' moment had plenty of heart and I felt every moment from every character in there. I don't think it will be an easy task for Tilly - I suspect a few rocky challenges ahead - but I welcome the progression of her story arc going into the rest of season three and beyond.
Unification III was the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery's third season yet. There was some fantastic world build with the Romulan narrative from Star Trek: Picard and a fitting testament to Spock's legacy and the events of that momentous Star Trek: The Next Generation Unification two-parter. Certainly there were moments where you were required to accept a suspension of disbelief - Michael's mother and the crew's acceptance of Tilly's promotion might stretch credibility a little - but it had plenty of emotional wallop to override these small concerns.