Beyond stating that he is on “a personal mission of peace,” the AWOL Ambassador Spock is reluctant to explain his presence on the Romulan homeworld.
Referring to events depicted in the movie Star Trek 6 (which had not yet premiered when this episode first aired), Spock says he is reluctant to risk any one else’s life on yet another peace mission, but is personally committed to encouraging the underground Romulan movement for an eventual reunification with Vulcan.
Kindly Proconsul Pardek discusses with Picard and Spock a future in which old prejudices die out, and promises an audience with a reform-minded senator. We see Spock interacting with a young Romulan who is interested in Vulcan culture.
Meanwhile, Riker charms a four-armed saloon keyboardist, Worf sings some Klingon opera, and Riker strong-arms a Ferengi to produce another piece of the puzzle that connects a junked Vulcan ship to the Romulans.
Picard now has reasons other than his intuitions to question the sudden Romulan interest in reunifying with Vulcan. Spock makes the final connection, realizing that Pardek has been deceiving him. So far the plot twists are coming left and right, and we get plenty of down time for character moments, not just between Spock and Picard, but also Spock and Data.
The episode takes a campy twist when Sela shows up. I’d much rather her role in the story have been fulfilled by Tomalak, a Romulan we already respect as a worthy adversary; or that instead the script had developed the friendship between Spock and Pardek, so that the latter’s betrayal would be more meaningful.
Although it’s fair to note that the script took care to establish that Spock and Data managed to hack into the Romulan computer systems, their holo-ruse is so obvious that it makes Sela look foolish for falling for it — especially after she’s monologued and given away her complex plans (instead of just killing them all). Yes, the Romulans are supposed to be arrogant. We get it. (“And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling Vulcan and that android.”)
Having said that, I enjoyed Riker’s mystery-adventure sidequest; Data and Picard got plenty of time with Spock; and the final scene touchingly resolves the decades-long Spock-Sarek storyline.