Star Trek Discovery Review: “Unification III”

Discovery visits Star Trek‘s most famous alien world as they try to solve the mystery of the Burn.

Title: “Unification, Part 3”
Directed by Jon Dudkowski
Written by Kirsten Beyer

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Captain Saru
Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber
Sonja Sohn as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham
Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
David Ajala as Cleveland Booker
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Sara Mitch as Lt. Nilsson
Oyin Oladejoas Lt. Joann Owosekun
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Oded Fehr as Admiral Charles Vance
Tara Rosling as T’Rina
Oliver Becker as N’Raj
Stephanie Belding as Shira
Emmanuel Kabongo as V’Kir
Leonard Nimoy (archival footage) as Spock


Vulcan, now know as N’var1, has become the homeworld of the reunified Vulcan and Romulan peoples2. They’ve also left the Federation. Can Spock’s adoptive sister convince them to share critical information, which recent developments now show in a new light?

High Point:

Once we arrive at Ni’Var, we have an interesting, decidedly Star Trek episode that does justice to the conceit that we’re watching Part Three of a much-loved two-part NextGen episodes. It also connects itself to elements established in TOS and the recent Picard series.

Trek‘s alien have always served, at least in part, as metaphors for aspects of humanity, and this episode continues the exploration of what Vulcans and Romulans (and a certain famous half-Vulcan) have always represented.

Low Point:

I’ll sidestep the issue of just how far this ep pushes the Burnhamphasis. I do find it, however, amusing to imagine someone who was turned off by Discovery‘s first season, perhaps even fell into the “them dang SJWs have ruined mah Trek!” camp, deciding, after the more recent response online, to tune in this week and give it one more try. Then they see the first ten minutes of this episode.

But that really isn’t a weak point. Star Trek has always made its characters central to galaxy-affecting, history-making stories. I have a beef instead with the decision to make Ensign Tilly second-in-command. Seriously? Look, the character has grown on me, but there is no way that promotion makes any sense. In light of her recent contributions, I would have bumped her up a rank, sure. That is overdue. She’s absolutely not ready yet, however, to be XO. Furthermore, her response and her awkward discussion with Stamets underscores that she’s not ready to be XO. Like Burnham’s decision to go rogue last week rather than make a request that would likely have been approved, her premature promotion has more to do with creating drama around principal characters than having a Starfleet officer make sensible decisions.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6 The cast continues to give strong performances overall. Guest-star Tara Rosling (a veteran of, among other things, The Expanse) gives a studied performance as T’Rina.

Production: 6/6

Story: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 5/6 This episode nicely unifies several eras of Star Trek.

In total, “Unification III” receives 35/42

Lingering Questions

1. After sunset, does Ni’var turn into Wo’lf?
2. What happened to the Remans?

12 replies on “Star Trek Discovery Review: “Unification III””

    • It still strikes me as odd that, given how far-reaching the Romulan Empire appears to have been, that there aren’t more of them all over the galaxy. Maybe there are, and we don’t see it in Picard or the post-Federation future. But it strikes me that some Remans should remain. Enterprise showed them aboard Romulan ships as shock troops, and, if we believe Nemesis, their labor was integral to the Empire.

      Is there a sum that could be used to determine the total area of the former empire still inhabited by Remans?

      • I don’t think population levels is something that they’ve figured out well in most futuristic shows. Even on Earth, population levels aren’t what we expect them to be, as we frequently confuse landmass for population levels. If you expand off of one planet enough to fill other planets, much less multiple systems, you’d expect those the loss of a single world to not be nearly as dramatic as they make it seem.

  1. As much as I’m not a fan of the “Burnhamphasis”, I can’t complain about this week, as it actually makes sense that she was the one character in the crew who could do what needed to be done.

    Burnham’s mother showing up as she did at basically the right time in future history and being at a particular age and not being on the wrong side of time travel weirdness, is what gets to me this week. If she shows up she should either be young and pre-going back in time as the red angel, or really old, especially as having essentially completely changed up her career. It’s a career I would expect to take a looong time to learn. Especially as the character as I remember it wasn’t exactly full of candor when we first met her. Everything else was fine. That was a step too far.

    I felt the tie in to Picard and Unification I & II made a lot of sense considering what’s happening in the 24/25th centuries and going forward like this. That was pleasing, like the writers actually know what they are doing now.

  2. It is striking me weird what the actual capabilities of the Federation are right now. For the most part no one knows they are out there, they’ve lost communication with Earth, there are generations of people out there who haven’t had any word, yet they can communicate ahead to Vulcan easily before Discovery arrives?

    • But do the Vulcans know the Federation doesn’t really exist? Obviously, the Federation itself would know where the World Formerly Known as Vulcan would be.

      And yeah, your other point about the Gabrielle Burnhan is astute. I just think that all bets are off as soon as you allow for time-travel.

      • Knowing where it is isn’t the point. Why aren’t they easily communicating with Earth (which isn’t that far away from Vulcan)? Before this episode I’d say that the Burn affected subspace communications too.

        • or (just thought of this) the Federation has turned into the 32nd century version of Cardassia. They are now secretive and more relying on spies (note the Trill admiral who was on Earth but apparently no one knew he was there). The make themselves known to the Vulcans because they have something the Feds need, the Burn data and the new wiz bang technology. Other than that, it serves their needs better to be in the shadows.

          The theory doesn’t really track with those massive big white ships. But maybe they have massive, big cloaks too? It would be disappointing, but maybe the Federation itself turns out to be the big bad of the season. Next season Discovery goes rogue.

          • Or, Earth isn’t talking to the Federation because they built a Wall and went all xenophobic, so communication was lost, but Ni’Var, who still prize science and logic, is happy to have a chat with the Federation.

    • My hypothesis would be this: Ni’Var has been maintaining the subspace comms infrastructure in their vicinity for whatever reasons they have. Colonies, etc. And the Federation has been maintaining what comms infrastructure they can for their purposes. Perhaps the two comms networks reach close enough proximity that message exchange between them is possible. It seems likely that Ni’Var hasn’t cut itself off from the wider galaxy so they would have an interest in at least finding out what the Federation wanted which would lead to at least the ability to exchange messages.

      Earth, on the other hand, buttoned itself up and stopped engaging with the wider galaxy so they would have been unlikely to maintain the relevant comms infrastructure. And they certainly wouldn’t be interested in responding to inbound comms from the Federation. You can’t have a message exchange unless both parties participate, after all.

  3. Bumping Tilly up at least three ranks does seem excessive, but her mirror dimension counterpart was already a ships captain so the command potential could be there.

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