This episode marks the third time that an Original Series character reprised their role in The Next Generation; the previous two being Encounter at Farpoint (DeForest Kelley), and Sarek (Mark Lenard). The last time this would occur was in the series was Relics (James Doohan). James T. Kirk (William Shatner) reprises in the first The Next Generation film: Star Trek: Generations.
Picard arranges to speak with Sarek's wife, Perrin, who, like Spock's mother, is human. Explaining to her the need to speak personally with Sarek, Perrin reiterates that while she is fiercely protective of her ailing husband, she will permit Picard a visit. "You are a part of him... and he of you..."
On the planet's surface, Picard enters the dimly-lit chamber of Ambassador Sarek. Although Picard knew of the ailing man's Bendii Syndrome, he is still taken aback at the condition of his friend. In between fever dreams, Sarek recounts a tale of Spock's willfulness and the pair's disagreements over the years. Picard learns of Spock's friendship with one Pardek, an ambitious Romulan Senator.
Picard and Sarek exchange the Vulcan Salute, the former helping the latter. As the scene ends, we witness Sarek succumbing to the ravages of his illness, hopelessly lost in a lifetime of repressed emotions.Act 2 Picard's mission has finally led to the conclusion that an incursion into Romulan space will be necessary for its successful completion. To this end, the Enterprise has arrived at Qo'noS — the Klingon homeworld.
The captain's efforts are initially frustrated. It appears that Gowron, Leader of the Klingon High Council, has been busy "re-writing Klingon history," and writing Picard out of it. The Enterprise's arrival has made an uncomfortable reminder of facts. Picard couldn't care less about what Gowron wishes to call "history" — he needs a ship. Irritated, but undaunted, he orders Worf to hail anyone else who may be able to help.
At the science station, Data has made some headway with respect to Pardek. He has located a visual of the senator, and has determined the location where he spends his time when the Romulan Senate is not in session. Pardek seems to be something of a progressive senator, relative to the established conventions of the Romulan Star Empire, which also explains Spock's interest. Amazed by Data's resourcefulness, Picard assigns Data to his away team on Romulus.
Meanwhile, Worf has succeeded in raising a Klingon Official on communications channels. Picard grimaces to learn that it is neither Gowron, nor any of the other Council Members. Instead, he is onscreen with B'Ijik, a lowly junior adjutant. B'Ijik informs the captain that Gowron is busy, and he would be happy to take a message. "Tell Gowron, Leader of the High Council of the Klingon Empire, that his Arbiter of Succession, Jean-Luc Picard, needs a favor." The Captain is after a cloaked vessel, and for it, he is willing to offer his "gratitude." Pressing the junior adjutant, he adds, "And please add that if he is unable to provide a ship, I am sure there are others in the Klingon Empire who would be willing to help me. And then they would have our gratitude."
Captain Picard and Data report to Sick Bay to be fitted for prosthetics. Data's qualms about successfully being able to impersonate a Romulan are set to ease by Beverly Crusher. Crusher also finds time to tease Picard about his "right eye [being] point-zero-zero-four higher than the left."
Later, in the Cargo Bay, Picard joins LaForge and Riker to ponder over their findings. LaForge's team has determined that they are in possession of a damaged navigational deflector from the Vulcan ship T'Pau. The trouble is, the ship was supposedly decommissioned and sent to a Federation surplus depot at Qualor Two. Worf interrupts their thoughts, informing them by comm of a decloaking Bird of Prey — courtesy of Gowron. Picard makes sure his tactical officer relays his "gratitude" before issuing orders: Picard and Data are to board the Klingon vessel, while the Enterprise investigates the mystery of the T'Pau.
Picard and Data receive a less than enthusiastic welcome. The Klingon captain, K'Vada, does not appreciate being kept in the dark about his missions. Captain Picard makes it clear that information is kept on a "need-to-know" basis; rebuffing any goading attempted by the Klingon warrior. "Your orders are to take us to a set of coordinates near Romulus... and to bring us back. That is all I am prepared to discuss."
The two ships peel apart in space, to different destinations, but to complementary fates.Act 3 Aboard the Klingon Bird of Prey, Captain K'Vada tries his best to make the Captain and Data as uncomfortable as possible. They are to share sparse quarters, and are given a shelf to sleep upon. Furthermore, there is no "Federation food" served. Picard coolly dismisses each chide, years of experience having taught him how to deal with the Klingons. The Klingon helmsman pages the trio, informing them that they are due to enter the Romulan Neutral Zone. K'Vada asks the Captain if he still intends to continue. Picard confirms, looking him dead in the eye.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is en route Qualor Two. The surplus depot is run by a smug and self-assured Zakdorn named Klim Dokachin. Riker hails the Zakdorn quartermaster, who initially rebuffs the First Officer's hails. Wondering who this Zakdorn thinks he is, Troi points out that he thinks that he is "the quartermaster of the surplus yard, Commander. With information you need." Riker re-establishes communication, initially tripping over his own tongue with regards to the Zakdorn's name. Coming up against a wall, Dokachin advises Riker to contact him when they reach orbit.
Riker isn't interested in this interstellar game of "Who's the biggest dog?," so he employs Troi to act as his liaison. "He probably figures we don't get to see a lot of handsome women out this way — and someone like you might get a little more cooperation from me," Dokachin muses. "He's probably right." Much to Dokachin's embarrassment, the T'Pau is, of course, not where it should be. The chagrined quartermaster assures the bridge staff that he has stripped the ship of all armaments, sensors, and anything else that may be of interest, and confirms that the navigational deflector was routed to a holding vessel called the Tripoli....and again we find only empty space where a ship should be. Dokachin is chagrined, as he emphatically states that there are transports scheduled to the Tripoli on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, a shipment of deuterium storage tanks would be underway within two hours. Riker orders the Enterprise be aligned to appear as dead as the other surrounding ships, cutting power levels to all systems except sensors and life support.Act 4 Back on the Bird of Prey, Data and Picard muse about their "quarters." It seems that the Klingons found humor in assigning the one-man room to the two Starfleet Officers. Data suggests that the Captain take the bed, since as an android, he does not require sleep. Picard makes do with what he has, getting as comfortable as the Klingon version of a bed will allow. A moment passes, and Picard shoots a look over at Data, who is apparently staring at nothing. In his innocent, android voice, Data replies, "I was processing the information we have accumulated on Romulan society. I am preparing for the task of impersonating a Romulan. Would you like me to discontinue?" Picard assures Data that he is quite alright, and advises him to continue. Picard turns round and settles again, only to stir after another moment. He shoots Data another look. Data seems to be staring right at him. Data assures the captain that he is continuing to organize his files, and offers to look in another direction. The captain again settles, but cannot sleep, so he arises to review the mission information with Data. The pair are interrupted by a comm message, requesting that they join K'Vada on the bridge. There they learn that Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan is dead.
From the outer edges of the ship graveyard at the surplus depot, the Enterprise detects a heavily armed ship arrive and take position at the coordinates assigned to the Tripoli. The Enterprise springs back to life. Riker hails the vessel, which answers by locking phasers. A powerful shot rocks the Galaxy-class ship, damaging its forward shields. The Enterprise responds with a warning shot of its own, but damages a critical system on the hostile vessel. Minutes later, the ship explodes in space, carrying any information it may have had into oblivion.Act 5 Picard and Data have completed their transformation into Romulans, amusing the Klingon crew to no end. For Picard however, the tone of the mission has changed — he must now inform Spock that his father has died.
On Planet Romulus, Senator Pardek is meeting with the Romulan Proconsul Neral. They are reviewing intelligence reports that Captain Picard has infiltrated the Romulan homeworld. Pardek denies any knowledge of Picard, or relations therewith. Neral nevertheless states that Picard's image will be circulated among internal security forces. The two Romulans regard each other with caution as Pardek exits.
Out on the street, Picard and Data, disguised as common Romulans, make their way to the location in the intelligence recording. Picard reminds Data not to behave as an android, to approximate the locals, and not to refer to him as "Captain." Data spots a legal intercessor's office inscribed with a family name similar to Pardek's, and it is here, he deduces, that Pardek will come after the median hour. Rather than loiter, Picard suggests they sample the local cuisine as they wait. The pair visit a food vendor, and order soup. The Romulan hostess, ever suspicious, lightly interrogates them. Picard and Data go through their cover story about who, what, where, when, and why, before she decides they are likely to be undercover security agents and gives them their soup for free.
Picard and Data notice a trio of soldiers in their periphery, and the last thing they need is Romulan security. At the same moment, Pardek enters the establishment. As the pair move towards the senator, the soldiers block their way, disruptors drawn. Picard and Data are led to an underground chamber at gunpoint. Pardek joins them moments later, welcoming them to Romulus. Seeing his chance, Picard implores, "I have come on an urgent mission from the Federation. I am looking for Ambassador Spock." ...to which the undeniable figure emerges from the shadows, replying, "Indeed, you have found him, Captain Picard."
In private, Spock speaks to the Captain about his relationship with Sarek. Picard attempts to convey the feelings of Sarek for his son. Spock responds with typical, detached logic. Changing the subject, Spock reminds the Captain of his Ambassadorial role with the Klingons. He felt personally responsible for the predicament that Kirk and his crew encountered, and was determined not to risk anyone other than himself. Spock reveals that he is working toward a reunification of the Romulan and Vulcan peoples. Picard is taken aback, showing both enthusiasm and caution, yet points out the Ambassador's flaw in logic. Being aware of their mind meld, Spock observes that the Captain has said precisely what Sarek might have said. Picard counters that he is speaking as a concerned Starfleet Officer with a valid point, and will not leave Romulus until Spock has finalized his affairs.Act 1 On the Klingon Bird of Prey, Data has convinced K'Vada to grant him access to the Klingon's computer. Data is intent on accessing the Romulan information network. In fact he is so persuasive that K'Vada makes a Captain's Notation: "Recommend we study the potential for a Klingon artificial life entity."
Picard and Spock, having just received word of the Senate's adjourn, continue to debate the Romulan-Vulcan Reunification movement. Picard is wary of the notoriously oppressive government suddenly becoming embracive of a peace movement. Spock is presenting it more as a grassroots campaign which includes some powerful members. The two are interrupted by a young Romulan boy who shows Spock an ancient book about the separation of the progenitors of both the Romulans and the Vulcans. Pardek joins them soon after, and the group become aware that they are drawing looks. Pardek suggest they reconvene elsewhere. Citing progressive civil elements, it appears that Pardek has arranged a meeting among himself, Proconsul Neral, and Ambassador Spock. Act 2 With the one lead he had reduced to elementary particles in space, Commander Riker has decided to track down the widow of the deceased captain. She is a very portly, multi-armed alien who sings and plays keyboard in a dive bar. By sweet-talking her, and demonstrating some of his musical prowess, Riker learns of the dead captain's business partner — a fat Ferengi regular who always requests "Melor Famagal."
Back on Romulus, Pardek introduces Spock to Neral. Neral greets Spock in the traditional Vulcan salute, and Pardek withdraws. Neral puts a proposition to Spock, daring to "redraw the face of the quadrant." Though Spock is surprised to hear a Romulan Proconsul sounding like a member of the underground, Neral assures him that the times, the people, and the leaders have changed. They are ready to publicly embrace reunification. Spock cautions that the Vulcans would have to overcome generations of distrust. Their conversation is cut short, as Neral is called in for another session of Senate.
Later in the caves, Spock, Picard, Pardek, and the members of the underground discuss the ramifications of Spock's meeting with Neral. Despite their understandable hope and enthusiasm, Picard points out that "one [does not rise] to the position of Senate Proconsul without the support of the Romulan traditionalists. How can [Neral] endorse reunification when it is considered subversive?" Spock is forced to agree. Nevertheless, the Ambassador is intent to stay the course. Picard confronts him in private, accusing him of allowing the crowd's emotions to sway his judgement. Spock counters that he believes he is hearing Sarek's influence in the captain's words. Undaunted, the captain points out not only is this the second time that he been accused of speaking with Sarek's voice, but that, although Sarek's experience and spirit shall always be a part of him, Picard speaks with his own voice. Spock acquiesces, noting that perhaps he had brought his argument with Sarek to Picard. In the end, he admits, the arguments were finally all that they had. Spock relates that over the years, he has found instinctual reasoning to be a valuable augment to pure logic. He speculates that if the Romulans do have an ulterior motive, in order to discover their plot, it is best to play the role they would have him play.Act 3 Aboard the Bird of Prey, Spock is assisting Data in deciphering the Romulan network. As they work, they share an interesting discussion about logic and their varying desires to be, or not to be human.
Meanwhile, Worf has been scouting the dive bar. We cut to him speaking with the bar singer/keyboardist. "Do you know any Klingon Opera?" She plays a theme from "Aktuh and Maylota" which is so riveting that Worf bursts out in song. "MAAAY-LOT-A!!!!" Fortunately for us, he is cut off by a fat Ferengi, who requests "Melor Famagal." Worf quietly informs Riker, and an away team is dispatched immediately.
Riker approaches the Ferengi and deals with him, Captain Kirk-style. After a little man-handling, the Ferengi reveals that he had transported the T'Pau components to Galorndon Core, a sector near the Federation-Romulan Neutral Zone.Act 4 Riker and Picard discuss the developing details over a signal that Data and Spock have modified. It is apparent that a Vulcan ship has been stolen at approximately the same time as the Romulans developed a desire to reunify with their cousins. The signal begins to break up, however Picard manages to order the Enterprise to Galorndon Core before it completely dissipates. Data meanwhile, was able to detect a Romulan Intelligence signal which was transmitted from a position near Galorndon Core. It contained only four digits: "1-4-0-0."
In the caves on the surface, Picard and Data, now out of costume, fill Pardek and Spock in on the message they intercepted. 1400 hours was to be the time that the Proconsul would deliver the public announcement regarding reunification. Linking this with the knowledge of the stolen Vulcan ships, Spock deduces that he is being deceived by Neral. Without warning, Sela and an armed guard appear. Spock concludes that his old friend, Pardek had betrayed the group for political gain. Sela promises that reunification will continue...in the form of the Romulan conquest of Vulcan.Act 5 The Enterprise arrives at Galorndon Core to find...nothing. Riker is extremely wary after Worf receives a text message, apparently originating from Captain Picard, "Maintain position at Galorndon Core. Diplomatic initiative appears to be succeeding. Will advise soon."
In a sterile office on Romulus, Sela sits working on a pad. Guards escort in Spock, Picard, and Data. Sela informs the group that she is busy working on a speech for Spock to deliver, and laments that she does not get to do it much in her job. Data innocently observes, "Perhaps you would be happier in another job."
Sela reveals that the T'Pau was actually one of three ships that the Romulans had captured. With it, they plan to fly into Vulcan space under the banner of peace, and land an occupation force before anyone else had time to react. A diversion has also been arranged to keep the Enterprise busy.
Reading the speech, Spock flatly refuses to read the statement in public, to which Sela responds with threatening their lives. With typical Vulcan detachment, Spock concludes that since it is logical that they would be killed in any event, he chooses not to cooperate. Prepared for this contingency, Sela orders the computer to run a simulation of Ambassador Spock, who proceeds to deliver a speech informing the Federation of the Romulan "diplomatic team." Sela excuses herself, and exits to prepare for the mission.
At Galorndon core, the Enterprise begins to track the Vulcan ships, entering Federation space at warp factor 1, on a direct course to Vulcan. Despite the "captain's orders," Riker orders an intercept course.
Sela returns to the office to find a trap set by Spock, Data, and Picard using holograms. Data demonstrates the famous Vulcan nerve pinch on Sela. Their enemies subdued, the trio escape.
The Enterprise has just received the distraction mentioned by Sela; a false medical emergency. The great ship is just about to alter course, when a transmission from Romulus comes in on all channels. It is Spock, issuing a warning about the incoming invasion fleet.
The Vulcan ships attempts to withdraw, but the Vulcan Defense Forces and the Enterprise cut them off. As soon as it seems that they are caught, a Romulan Warbird decloaks and completely annihilates the small Vulcan ships.
On Romulus, Data and Picard bid farewell to Spock. The Ambassador is intent upon his goal, realizing that it cannot be achieved through diplomacy or politics. He will aid the willing toward a Vulcan-like philosophy, until the day when reunification may be achieved.
A final exchange between Picard and Spock reveals that Spock never chose to meld with Sarek. The Captain offers Spock a chance to touch what Sarek shared with him, and, as the scene comes to an end, the two mind-meld and Ambassador Spock softly cries.
This episode was aired in the weeks before the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Spock makes reference to the events of the movie when he asks Picard if he was aware of Spock's role in the first peace overtures to the Klingons. Picard is aware of the public history of Spock's role, but not the whole story. Spock says that he forced Captain Kirk to accept the mission, and that he felt responsible for what happened to Kirk and his crew. This time, Spock only wants to risk his own life, which is why he came to Romulus on his own.