Synopsis: Enterprise forms an alliance of Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans and humans to pursue the Romulan marauder.
Review: “United” is a serviceable episode, though significantly weaker than “Babel One”, in no small part because the story of the alliance gets reduced to a feud between Shran and a Tellarite. This is unfortunate since it pushes away the greatest strengths of the storyline in favor of a rather familiar STAR TREK cliche and a pointless action scene.
Jeffrey Combs once again does his best as Shran but the material that he’s given teeters on the absurd and that does little to help matters. Meanwhile, the Romulan drone has proven to be a rather weak threat and quite unimpressive in comparison to its appearance in “Babel One” and only manages to survive by chance and lots of system redundancies.
The alliance, the early stirrings of the Federation, which was supposed to take center stage, instead occurs on the periphery. We never even see an actual Vulcan, aside from T’Pol, which would have been a nice touch, and we never get any of the sense of drama and momentum that, for example, hummed under the workings of the Xindi alliance with Enterprise. Instead it seems as if somewhere out there are ships, all hunting down a drone, which seems like overkill. Especially as the drone proves to be little match for even Enterprise, let alone Andorian or Vulcan ships which are supposed to be more powerful, and its only ability to cloak itself is quickly neutralized.
Still, “United”‘s strongest moments are its character interactions. Trip and Reed’s friendship is nicely renewed in scenes that echo “Two Days and Two Nights” and “Shuttlepod One.” Archer and Shran have some strong scenes together and even Hoshi and Ensign Mayweather have a scene that’s oddly more lively than a lot of the rest of the episode.
Overall, though, Shran’s romance and tragic lost love was a poor idea, poorly executed, and when it becomes the main preoccupation of “United” it really becomes an awful one. The actual duel looks silly, the weapons they fight with look silly and the conclusion, which is sillier still, only make things worse. Archer defeating Shran is simply not credible. Shran giving up after losing an antenna is not credible either. From everything we’ve seen he’s determined to the point of madness, he is hardly going to give up avenging the woman he loves because Archer briefly outmaneuvered him.
Finally, if the theme of this episode is unity, then there is a distinct shortage of it. If the theme is building the Federation, there’s a distinct shortage of that too. The alliance we have here seems no more enduring so far than the one Janeway formed in “The Void,” less so actually, since no one involved seems to be doing very much interacting.
“United” needed to show a lot more and tell less. It needed to sustain the momentum of “Babel One” but sadly it didn’t. It needed to be well-paced, insightful and funny. It wasn’t. ENTERPRISE needed to survive past this season but it didn’t. Sic transit and all the rest.
Next week: Andorians with really pale eyes.