Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3, Episode 7 Recap: “Unification III”

Dept. of Pointy-Eared Hobgoblins

Star Trek: Discovery Director | Jon Dudkowski
Season 3 | Episode 7 | 50 minutesWriters | Kirsten Beyer
Unification III
Discovery embarks on her first mission for 32nd century Starfleet heading to planet familiar to Burnham, that’s undergone some drastic changes in the intervening centuries.

In this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery, the crew get their first real mission from 32nd century Starfleet, that neatly dovetails with Burnhams’s research on The Burn, Tilly considers a career move and, most importantly, we get more Grudge for the second time in a week! Spoilers dead ahead!


Bahir Yeusuff: I guess we get *some* Grudge this week. I know I’m starting to sound like the crazy cat guy but I just wonder if she’ll become important to the story somehow. Or if she’ll just be the token pet this season.

Iain McNally: Well, Star Trek certainly has form when it comes to cats being far more than meets the eye. No one has said she’s an Earth cat, right?

BY: Nope. Alien cat! But onto more important things. First impressions, Iain, whatchu think? This episode went by FAST for me. At one point I had to pause, and it was only then did I realise that we were past the halfway point! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

IMN: I thought it was great! The table setting is all finally done with one final dangling thread from last season put to bed. But this was Disco’s first real mission this season and it felt like the show was firing on all cylinders. Even the fan service! This episode felt a little bit like The Mandalorian in that regard, balancing the old and the new (well, old to the audience, new to Disco’s crew). 


BY: Okay, obviously there was the Spock thing, which was nice. Also a great explanation of the Vulcan/Romulan history thing. And the Picard name drop was also cute.

IMN: Yes! The clip of Spock was from “Picard’s archives” i.e. episodes of The Next Generation 2 parter Unification, which saw Data and Picard go undercover on Romulus, the Romulan Homeworld, to seek out Spock. He was there engaging in some “cowboy diplomacy” to try and start process of reunifying the Vulcans and the Romulans. It was a nice touch that this episode was called “Unification III.”

Something I only learned today was that apparently Nimoy initially asked for one million dollars to appear in TNG, but changed his offer when he could use his appearance to promote Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which he directed. Star Trek was tying together TV shows and movies well before any Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Another nice nod was the name of one of the three ships whose black boxes Burnham was investigating in relation to The Burn: The USS Yelchin, obviously named for the late Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov in the “The Kelvin Timeline” Star Trek movies with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, etc. 

I also appreciated Burnham saying that Spock would have found the situation on Ni’var, formerly Vulcan: “fascinating”

BY: Oh okay, because I groaned a little at that comment. 

IMN: It was the cherry on top of all the other stuff for me. 

BY: So the reunification is a big deal then? 

Unified Vulcan Theory

IMN: Oh yeah. Romulans and Vulcans were pretty separate in TOS and I think their shared ancestry was only brought about in TNG, but they’re pretty different races in those series. I loved that the insignias worn by the inhabitants of Ni’Var were combination of the old Romulan Star Empire crest and the Vulcan IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) symbol.

BY: Again, I appreciated the little anecdote about that. As a newcomer to the universe it’s nice to know that there was a history there and that if I wanted to (Note: I don’t) I could go back and find out more.

IMN: It adds a nice lived-in feeling to the world as well. This is the first time Discovery has started to really mess with the setup of the universe, with any of the major Star Trek species this season, after dipping into it with the Andorians and Orions, relatively minor races in Trek lore, outside of Enterprise.

BY: Yeah, and they did so without the writers weighing down the episode with all that history.

IMN: They also manage to add something else new though. Someone finally called out the supposedly logical Vulcans for doing “whatever serves them best and insisting it is only logical.” They can be haughty asses sometimes. 

Green-Blooded Hobgoblins!

IMN: On to the A-plot this week! Between showing the transporter room set on-screen and dealing with Burnham’s misgivings about staying with Starfleet, it feels like the writers read our recap last week!

BY: I liked that Michael and Book are together, that Book is supportive of her and what she needs to do in order to find her place in this future. I wonder if that will come back and bite me in the ass though, when the low hanging dramatic fruit of Book getting all pissy because he isn’t able to do his thing comes around.

I hope they don’t do that. I mean, this is essentially Michael’s show and to do that kind of relationship drama would be so lame. I do like where they’re going with Michael. Having her lose her Number 1 status means that she is both freer to do as she pleases (not that rank ever stopped her), but it also gives her something to push back on. Thinking back to season 1, I remember enjoying how Michael was an underdog throughout, and how no one trusted her, or listened to her. Promoting Tilly also provides good potential for professional drama, this hotshot loose cannon having to go up against her best friend/roommate, who is now her superior officer. 

Was Ensign Tilly getting promoted serveral leaps up the rankings a strange thing for Star Trek?

IMN: I think so. I’m pretty sure behind the scenes many of the other officers would be chafing at Tilly holding the position of First Officer, but I think Saru was clear it’s an acting role, even if he really needs to get on top of the digital paper work that’s been building up. He needs to finish everyone’s annual reviews and hand out new ranks. 

Tilly On Deck

IMN: I’m not sure if I liked how the show simultaneously reaffirmed that it is Michael’s show, while also moving her to one side. The demotion seem to work out perfectly for her. As science officer she can devote all her time to researching The Burn, although I hope she moves into an, ironically, more Spock style role. Becoming part of a crew of characters like we’ve talked about these past few weeks. Give Lt. Bryce or Lt. Rhys, some actual character, instead of just implying it and build up the crew like the original series. Not Just Detmer. Have Michael working with them all instead of flying off on her own.

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Smile Like You Mean It

BY: Speaking of Detmer. She had one line in this episode. After building up her “issues” in the previous episodes, suddenly after speaking with the doctor, she’s all good now!

IMN: … and a smile ! Detmer smiled!

BY: It was kind of creepy.

IMN: LOL! Any creepyness was easily outweighed by my joy at seeing Stamet’s face as he tries to get his head around idea of Tilly as his superior. I swear Anthony Rapp went through about 15 different facial expressions, all denoting “shock,” that I’ve never seen before!

Talk About Range

IMN: Speaking of shock, I wasn’t expecting Gabrielle, Michael’s Mom to turn up, and as a reference to Picard (the TV show, not the man) to boot!

BY: That was a little strange. I’m not sure how I feel about that, or about how she’s only in one episode (well, so far). she facilitated some nice growth for Michael but I’m not entirely sure I like her being around. It just felt, strange.


IMN: I’m sure she’ll turn up again if it can be made thematically relevant, which might be the problem. The moment she turned up as a Qowat Milat, you just knew she was going to force Michael to face some absolute candor during the T’Kal-in-ket. It was a little too convenient, but the end result was… pleasing.

I liked the hints that that there may be more than a few reasons why, aside from The Burn, the Federation fell apart. That the other species might be completely justified in not trusting the Federation.

By putting Starfleet’s ideals above their own immediate needs, with Burnham giving up access to the, let’s be clear, STARGATE data, for the sake of peace on Ni’Var, is a nice way to rebuild that trust.

It does raise the question though, can Admiral Vance and the Federation be trusted? After all, there’s no smoke without fire, right? 

BY: I like how you just don’t trust the Admiral at all. You’ve just been burned so many times that anytime an Admiral shows up you just start to doubt them immediately!

IMN: It’s part of the lore, like Klingons on the starboard bow, “Engage,” and “Live Long, and Prosper.”

The Good Admiral?

BY: Would you be disappointed if at the end of all this the Admiral was just a guy trying to get through the day, the best way he can?

IMN: What, the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery opens with the theme to The Office and cuts to Vance and his “Starfleet’s Best Admiral” cup?

BY: I missed Georgiou in this episode of Star Trek: Discovery. I think some of that snipey, bitey snark would’ve been fun in such an emotional episode. Or Linus! I guess he’s worked out the site-to-site transport thing then?

IMN: Or he’s had his transporter privileges revoked! Considering how Georgiou reacts to anyone with any sense of pomposity, I’m sure her personnel file has a big note saying: “Prohibited from talking to Vulcans under any circumstances.” She would have provoked an interstellar war in seconds! I think it’s a good thing that Discovery has enough going on now, certain plot lines can take a break for a week. Although I’m sure they’ll get back to what’s going on with her (and Linus!) soon. 

OMG! How would you feel about an all-Linus episode?

BY: I think that could be fun. A nice little bottle episode of just the “other” guys on the ship.

IMN: Like the people who work on the “Lower Decks” perhaps?! 

BY: Well at this point you guys have made it perfectly clear that I should probably stay away from that!

Where to Next, Boss?

BY: Overall, how happy are you with where this is going? Do you have any inkling of where we’ll end up? I’m still wondering if this will be a multi-season story arc and if I’ll like that. “The Burn” sounds like a big problem at the moment, and Michael is slowly inching her way through that, but I saw some scenes from the next episode (I made the mistake of leaving the episode on), and I don’t know if it’ll be a “Burn” episode. 

IMN: With six episodes left there’s plenty of time to “feel the burn” while exploring this new universe and, again, build up the damn crew! I’m not hankering for a “mission of the week” style show but they have enough out there to “Discover!” Maybe we’ll meet the Ferengi! Maybe the Bajorans will make more of an appearance than just getting name dropped. Maybe we’ll see some Klingons?

Maybe, just maybe, The Burn was caused by the mirror universe and Burnham and Georgiou’s storylines will converge! 

BY: I wonder if what I’m hoping for is a more unified story. One big arc that everyone is focused on. This episode went by quick for me, and I enjoyed it, but I’m not feeling the buzz I got off of last week’s episode. I liked it, but I just felt like I was missing something.

IMN: Strangely I felt the opposite, a new buzz. Let’s split the difference and check back next week whether it be a “duty or a joy.” 

BY: Deal!

Subspace Report

  • As well as the USS Yelchin, the two other two starships Burnham was investigating were the Govnor(?) and the Giacchoni. We have no idea about the former, but the latter might be a subtle reference to Michael Giacchino, composer on the most recent Star Trek movies and director of the Star Trek: Short Treks episode, “Ephraim and Dot.”
  • Experiment SB-19 isn’t ringing any bells for us, any of you know if it might be a reference to anything?
  • Referring to clips from TNG as Picard’s Archives is cute.
  • At the end of Unification II, Picard and Spock shared a mind meld. As Picard had previously mind melded with Spock and Michael’s father Sarek, before he died, has Picard basically mind melded with Michael?
  • Weren’t there any Vulcans on board Discovery when she made the time jump? How do they feel about Romulan/Vulcan reunification?
  • T’rena’s name follows the Star Trek tradition of starting female Vulcans names with a “T.” See T’Pau and T’Pol.
  • Discovery arrived at “Lagrange 1” when they arrived at at Ni’var. A Lagrange point is a location in space between two large bodies (planets, moons, etc.) where the gravitational forces of the two bodies cancel each other out. Ships in orbit at the Lagrange point are in equilibrium between the gravity of the two planets.
  • The Qowat Milat first appeared in the fourth episode of Star Trek: Picard.
  • No mention of Remans?
  • The material “sash” across the front of the clothes worm by the Ni’Var forum felt like a call back to “chains” worn by Romulans in the TNG era.

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 3, is now streaming on CBS All Access in the U.S., as well as on Netflix internationally. You can check out all our other Star Trek content here.

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