'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 7 Review: Spock's last mission wraps up myths around an emotional center
Michael Burnham goes up against the united Vulcan-Romulan quorum, seeking to get at deeper truths about the Burn and herself
Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 7 'Unification III'
There is a tremendous amount of lore scattered through the various 'Star Trek' shows, novelizations, games and more, and every new series only builds upon that. Building upon concepts introduced in 'Star Trek: Picard', tying it in with Michael Burnham's (Sonequa Martin-Green) past, this episode makes great use of its lore, and in doing so, completes Spock's (Leonard Nimoy/Ethan Peck) greatest unfinished quest: the unification of the Romulans and the Vulcans.
The time skip has allowed us to skip right to the end, where the Romulans and Vulcans have been living together for centuries on Vulan, now known as Ni'Var. It's there that Michael Burnham finds another clue into the Burn's investigation, but the Ni'Var have grown distrustful of the Federation. In order for them to share their information, Michael calls upon her Vulcan heritage to invoke a T'Kal-in-ket – a trial that seeks the absolute truth of things. It's a desperate attempt that was not well thought out, because the truth is something that Michael is not quite sure of.
With all of its lore, its Easter Eggs, and its worldbuilding, at its heart, this episode is a Michael Burnham story, through and through. This becomes abundantly clear when her mother, Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn) appears out of nowhere – as a member of the Qowot Milat – to ensure that the T'Kal-in-ket proceeds with absolute candor and complete truth no matter how harsh it may sound. It's a transparent framing device to get to the heart of what Michael has been going through the past few episodes, but some powerful performances by both Martin-Green and Sohn makes it an effective one. Michael has been on the edge of leaving Starfleet behind permanently, but this episode manages to reaffirm her faith in her institution.
The show does have a lot of fun building on 'Star Trek' lore. Spock's final mission introduced all those years ago in 'Unification' on 'The Next Generation' was the last we heard from the character, and was what he was involved with before being blasted into the past that started the Kelvin timeline. It's heartening to see that that mission was eventually successful, and the clip of Leonard Nimoy from 'Unification' was an emotional rewatch.
Once again, however, the show is reflecting changes that would have made more sense if the USS Discovery had jumped a hundred years into the future, not nine hundred and thirty. Despite having shared a planet for over 900 years, the Vulcans and the Romulans still appear to have barely grown comfortable with each other. The Qowot Milat appear unchanged from their appearance in 'Picard' - altogether it feels like the universe progressed about a century or less after the events of 'Picard' and then froze up until the Burn happened.
With all of its lore updates and focus on the Burnhams, however, the rest of the Discovery once again gets the short end of the stick. Sylvia Tilly's (Mary Wiseman) promotion to Saru's (Doug Jones) new Number One was sweet but far too short. It's a change that deserved more examination, but the focus on Michael Burnham always comes at the cost of the rest of the crew's stories, a problem that 'Discovery' has consistently had.
It's not the strongest of episodes, but it is a fun one, and the heart of it beats strong. The episode's main focus made for some powerful performances, but sadly, that left all other aspects of the episode somewhat poorer in comparison.
The next episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' airs on December 3, on CBS All Access.