Friday, October 8, 2021

Star Trek: Unification I

Episode: "Unification I"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 7
Original Air Date: November 4, 1991


Ambassador Spock has traveled to Romulus and no one has heard from him since.  Worried he has defected, Starfleet sends Picard and Data on a covert mission to find out.  Spock's appearance in the very last camera shot of the episode is one of the great character entrances of the franchise.

Leonard Nimoy's appearance was a cross-promotion and as such he was paid barely over scale.  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was set to release in December 1991.  Nimoy had both acting and writing credits for the film.  In a complete coincidence, the episode was only the second to air after the death of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator.  The episode is dedicated to Roddenberry.  Interestingly, Papa Gene himself was the strongest advocate for maintaining the distinctions between the original series and NextGen.  Nonetheless, it's only fitting that his send-off story should feature Spock, whose Trek tenure goes all the way back to the original pilot.

Roddenberry's passing prompts an obvious question: who was Star Trek's primary shepherd by late 1991?  The truth is, Roddenberry hadn't truly been "the boss" for a long time.  Though still officially executive producer of NextGen, he hadn't been the primary creative force of the franchise since the mess that was the process of creating the initial motion picture.  By the early '90s, the head honcho was Rick Berman.

Berman was born December 25, 1945 in New York City.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin as an English and film double major.  Before Trek, he was the producer for PBS's children's show The Big Blue Marble.  He joined Paramount in 1984 as director of programming, overseeing Cheers and Family Ties among many others.  

In 1987, Roddenberry picked Berman and writer Maurice Hurley to help create The Next Generation.  By the third season, he was executive producer.  He lead Trek until 2005 when Enterprise was cancelled.


  1. I barely remember that episode. Did just watch the episode featuring Barkley, who makes use of the holodeck to let off steam regarding certain crew members. Kinda funny.

  2. I feel like I should remember this episode...
    One day I really need to re-watch, then finish, this series.

    1. I'm enjoying this run. It's my third time through and I see different things now.

  3. Nimoy deserved, at long last, to be memorialized as the defining actor of the franchise, as he should have been in the original series, their movies. So these episodes and his glorious final appearances in the Abrams movies, they fixed what Shatner sought so desperately to avoid.

    Interestingly, Discovery does a “third episode” of this, rounding out the narrative (in more ways than one). A lot of fans want to believe that modern Trek has lost the hopeful thread Roddenberry envisioned, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a lot more exploration of the dark things hope needs to overcome, maybe. It baffles me that there’s so much criticism of Picard specifically. That first season closed out a lot if needful reckoning from old plot lines, from the death of Data to what Starfleet does in an existential crisis.

    And back to “Unification,” it’s sad to see Sarek die, and it’s also perhaps the best use of Sela, and the real start of the Data/Picard friendship, which would truly blossom in the movies.

    1. Defining actor of the franchise: I couldn't agree more. As I've written before, I've grown to appreciate both Kirk and Bones more but Spock, more than anyone else, is Trek. Always will be. Picard's a competitive second at this point but Spock is still safely #1. And Nimoy deserves all the credit for that. I've said it before and I stand by it: greatest casting decision in the history of American television.