It’s incredibly difficult talking about all the exciting stuff that happens in ‘Unification III,’ the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season Three, while staying within in the largely-spoiler-free remit of these reviews. So what can we reveal without revealing too much?
It should come as no surprise that ‘Unification III’ follows a plot strand left over from two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, namely Unification I and II, which featured guest appearances from Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. In that two-parter, Spock is trying to bring together the Vulcans and Romulans. Though unexpected that it should happen so soon, or even that it would happen at all (given the time difference between shows, with Discovery attracting an audience which probably won’t have seen or won’t recall what happened in a storyline broadcast in 1991), Discovery picks this up and asks, “what happened next?”
Then again, maybe we should’ve seen this coming. The series is set farther in the future than ever before; Spock played a crucial role in Season Two; and Michael Burnham is Spock’s sister. Plus, Picard has proven popular too, meaning The Next Generation maintains a solid fanbase. And UK viewers can now watch all three (!) parts of Unification on Netflix.
But do you need to have seen The Next Generation for Discovery to make sense of ‘Unification III’? Fortunately not. Everything you need to know is covered in an infodump that doesn’t feel like an infodump. That term sounds like a chore (although we should note that all narratives do it, to some extent); instead, Discovery‘s infodump is heart-warming and encompassing. Don’t be nervous about Discovery carving a path through the past, potentially tainting what’s come before. ‘Unification III’ approaches everything sensitively and thoughtfully.
Of course, this episode isn’t solely about the Vulcans and Romulans. It’s about Michael Burnham. About her family. About her adopted family too – i.e. the crew of the USS Discovery, looking to Saru to decide who should be his new Number One.
With all that in mind, consider what you’d like to happen in this episode.
You know who your new Number One is?
You’ve figured out who could be Michael’s “advocate” with the Vulcans and Romulans? Perhaps someone who’s been conspicuous by their absence so far?
Great. Discovery delivers exactly what you hope for, and more.
Yet somehow, it remains surprising. It’s a really well considered story, seeped in Trek mythos but nonetheless freeing itself from those chains.
Considering how brightly Discovery Season 3 has shone so far, this is a fantastic feat: ‘Unification III’ is the best episode of Season Three so far. It’s what Star Trek needs to be right now, keeping the spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision, taking on some of the darker aspects of series like Deep Space Nine and Voyager, while also charting its own path through space.
NEXT: We forge the chains we wear in life.
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