Star Trek Discovery: Unification III

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As Burnham and Tilly continue to analyse the black box data, they learn that further information about The Burn might be available from the Ni’Var – the modern alliance of Vulcans and Romulans. Burnham decides to use her position as Spock’s sister to convince the Ni’Var to release their data to her, but even an unexpected ally might not be enough to help her convince them.

Mention the name Unification and pretty much any Star Trek fan will recall the TNG two-parter where Picard and crew helped Ambassador Spock work towards his goal of Vulcan/Romulan unification. Decades later, the story finally gets a ‘Part 3’, detailing just how things turned out.

In fact, by the 32nd century the Vulcans and Romulans have indeed reunited, forming a single power known as the Ni’Var. Burnham hopes that the Ni’Var might be able to help with her investigation into The Burn, but they are reluctant to hand over their data – for fear that the information might be used to cause another Burn.

Happily, not only is Burnham is famous (even 900 years later) as Spock’s sister, and her Vulcan upbringing also means that she knows to invoke the Shadow Proclamation one of those convenient rites sci-fi shows often invoke the advance the plot. Now, Burnham gets to present her case to the Vulcans, and she’s even given an advocate to help her in her task. Said advocate is a member of the Qowat Milat – the Bene Gesserit style nuns last seen in Star Trek Picard – but more than that, she just happens to be one Gabrielle Burnham.

Yes, not only is Michael’s mother here, but she has somehow managed to get herself accepted into an elite Romulan sect. But she’s not here to give Michael an easy ride, instead choosing to exhibit her advocacy by provoking Michael into an emotional rather than a logical response. This certainly felt a bit harsh and difficult to watch, but on second thought, it does make sense – after all, the Qowat Milat live by the rule of “absolute candour”. Raw honesty is their way, and that’s what Gabrielle has to extract from Michael.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite win over all the senior Ni’Var, but even so, their leader still slips Burnham the data. We continue to edge incrementally closer to unravelling the mystery of The Burn.

Character notes

  • A key theme of this episode is Burnham feeling like she no longer belongs on Discovery. The appeal of sexy times with Book (and hugs with Grudge) is strong, but as I predicted, she decides to remain on board after all.
  • What happens with Book now? Is he just going to hang out in Discovery’s cargo bay waiting for booty calls from Burnham? He definitely deserves some more character development.
  • What of Saru’s choice for first officer, I hear you ask. Faced with a bunch of bridge officers who completely lack personality, he has no choice but to choose Tilly. I really like Tilly, and I do look forward to seeing her struggle with the challenges of being a first officer, but it’s also difficult to accept an ensign (who was a cadet just two years ago) suddenly making such a big jump up the command chain. Also, it means we miss out on the conflict of having a Federation-appointed first officer.

Romulan warp drive

What happened to the Romulan quantum singularity warp drive? In an age where dilithium is scarce, it feels like this drive should have come into its own. Let’s explore reasons why it might still be languishing in obscurity.

  • The technology has been lost, perhaps as a side effect of the loss of Romulus and the collapse of the Empire.
  • Maybe dilithium is involved in this drive as well – after all, we don’t know much about the technological specifics.
  • Given how secretive the Romulans are, the details of the drive might not be in the public domain, even now.

Other notes

  • Thanks to a tweet by David Ajala, I now know that Grudge is actually played by two cats!

Summary – Unification III: Spock’s dream is finally realised.

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