Star Trek 677: Regeneration

677. Regeneration

FORMULA: First Contact + John Carpenter's The Thing + Q Who?

WHY WE LIKE IT: The tension that always follows the Borg around.

WHY WE DON'T: Playing fast and loose with continuity.

REVIEW: In Regeneration, scientists discover the wreckage of First Contact's Borg Sphere in the Arctic Circle and a couple of frozen drones to boot. It's a logical way to get the Borg into an episode of Enterprise, though like Acquisition's Ferengi appearance, it's always a bit strange to think this would not have any impact on the Enterprise-D's actual first contact with the species. No outright blunders, and there's no way Picard would have been briefed on every one-shot encounter Starfleet's had in the previous 200 years, but it does keep your hardcore Trekkie distracted for the length of the episode, and that's not a good thing. I was especially edgy about the crew having the lingo down immediately (nanoprobes, tubules, etc.). At least use different words so that later crews wouldn't have thought of those old reports.

Enterprise doesn't appear until the second act, the first reserved for the inevitable assimilation of the Arctic science team. You know it's going to happen. You're just waiting for the poor shlubs to buy the farm. At least they don't linger on the entire assimilation process. Once someone is turned, they just cut to three days later, and Enterprise is put on the trail of an assimilated transport. Now, the episode is rather incoherent when it comes to Borg capabilities. Assimilation via nanoprobes is slower than normal (no doubt because the drones are low on resources), but they can transform a ship in no time at all. They come from the future, but take forever to adapt to phase pistols (and don't all do so at the same time). What does work, is the level of tension. The music is dark and moody, the fish eye lenses add to the anxiety, and you know, they're the bloody Borg!

Nothing heightens the tension as much as Phlox's assimilation though. Since we know not many have come out of the process intact, it's a scary bit even if we know he has to pull through. The poor guy has to work at a cure with a death sentence hanging on him. And contrary to popular belief, that cure does not actually contradict Star Trek continuity (nothing in Regeneration actually does). Crusher had to de-Locutize Picard, for example. We were just never privy to conversations where Enterprise's old files were uncovered after the first meetings with the Collective. And as the mention of Bynars here infers, there are other cyborgs in the galaxy. What might contradict continuity is the inclusion of a scene in which Archer worries about a message sent to the Delta Quadrant (how can you tell the distance it was sent?) that might bring the Borg to Earth in 200 years time. It is given so much importance, it's obvious the writers meant it to be the real reason for the Collective's interest. Then what was Q Who? about? I prefer to think that the message got there after Q Who? or not at all.

But before all that nonsense, there's some relatively competent action scenes and both sides being smart about the conflict. That's always nice. Archer, reticent to take lives, nevertheless blows two drones out an airlock in a cool, tense sequence. The Borg respond with a Trojan horse that blows all the fuses. Only Archer and Malcolm's raid aboard the Borg ship looks sluggish and poorly staged, though the resulting explosion is nice to look at.

LESSON: Waste not, want not. And there are all those costumes left over from Voyager in the storeroom...

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Despite its potential as a continuity nightmare, I think Regeneration actually passes that test (if barely). The plot isn't always sound, but the atmosphere is killer, the effects are great, Phlox is as good as ever, and Archer doesn't play it glibly.


De said...

First Contact left the door open for Enterprise to do a Borg story so I didn't have a problem with that aspect at all. The other reasons you cited for continuity are all apt, particularly the other cyborgs out there.

What I did have a problem with were all the overt winks to the audience like Phlox screaming, "Don't let them touch you!" and Reed mentioning how it was like "shooting holographic bullets."

However, the exchange between Archer and T'Pol about Zefram Cochrane was great. Known for being intoxicated indeed :-)

Jeffrey said...

I remember reading an interview with Rick Berman, and he suggested that since the Borg went back in time, the past had been changed. Not sure I ever bought that, but it did help explain some things about Enterprise. And how cool would it have been for Future Guy to be a future Borg? If only they had thought things through. . .

But Q Who? does present some interesting questionss. Guinan said that now the Borg know about Earth and they will be coming. But since it only took them two years to arrive, at the end of season three of TNG, did they already know and were on their way? And when exactly did they discover transwarp conduits?

Jeff R. said...

TNG Borg Continuity was already broken by First Contact itself (the effects of which allowed 7 of 9's parents to go researching the things almost a decade before that 'first contact' with them), so this doesn't do any further harm.

This episode, compared with later Voyager, is as perfect a demonstration of the Law of Conservation of Ninjitsu as one could ever ask for...

Siskoid said...

The holographic bullets line is indeed cringe-worthy.

And Guinan broke Borg continuity from the offing (she never discussed it with her captain?).

De said...

There's also the question of Guinan and the other El-Aurian refugees in Generations, 72 years before "Q Who?". That might explain where the Hansens might have heard of the Borg. The only explanation I can think of why Starfleet didn't have a file on them is that Guinan learned the race's name after her experience aboard the Enterprise-B.

Jayunderscorezero said...

I have to say that I happened to catch this episode recently, and it really was a lot better than I remembered, especially the well-done, high-tension sequenences. I still have somewhat of a problem with the whole idea of Phlox just being somewhat immune to Borg nanoprobes. How exactly does that work? I always get hung up on that detail.

LiamKav said...

From what I understand of Q Who, the Enterprise wasn't actually thrown into the Delta Quadrant. It was only 3 years or so away from Federation space, not 30-odd. So the Borg cube they met could concievably have already been on the way to Earth to check that 200 year old report (perhaps at a leasurly pace, since it was scooping up bits of planet on the way).

Q showed Picard that Borg ship both to frighten him, and to warn him. The cube still took another year and a half to reach the Federation, but we don't know if it headed straight there at full speed after Q Who or if it continued to generally head in that direction at a leisurely pace.

At least, that's how I reconsile both this episode AND Q Who. I do wonder if there was some librarian who spent the whole of 2265-2267 combining files and records together while going "Oh, the El-Aurians meant THAT Borg".

Siskoid said...

Liam, you're almost done rushing through the tv Trek reviews. What are you gonna do next?

JB said...

Regeneration is a fun episode it watch but it really does muck up continuity.
1. We are to believe that Picard left all that Borg debris on Earth? The whole reason he risked 1701-E and her crew was to prevent that very thing.Picard had a "time machine" so he should have been in no hurry to leave after Z and the Vulcans had their meeting. (I say he had a time machine because going back was a simple matter of giving an order to Data...He could have stayed hidden from the Vulcans and then left at any time even YEARS later if needed to clear the planet of all traces of Borg.)

2. The Borg debris field was ludicrous! Google "Columbia Debris field" and look at what happens when something breaks up in orbit. NO WAY all of that debris would have been in such a relatively small area.
2a. That debris had been there for 100 years and a scientist trips over a Borg foot? Maybe the debris was at the end of a glacier but usually things sink deeper in ice over time...Google "Glacier Girl" and read how an abandoned P-38 was dug out of 260 feet of ice after 50 years.

3. Phlox and his cure: Okay so Phlox manages to find ONE way to rid himself of Borg contagion and somehow this magic bullet doesn't make its way to Picard at system J-25 or the fleet at Wolf 359? And before you think- "They never said BORG" remember that as humans we "classify" things so with all the pictures and data NX-01 has, one could figure out that these creatures were either the same or related. Remember how Crusher references Kirk's mission in "The Naked Now?"
Then there is the fact that in order to cure himself, Phlox had to extract and isolate these nanites...So he had none left when he was done? (maybe he killed them all once he found his cure)

4. Trip Tucker and his engineering prowess. Tucker manages to disable all the Borg tech that was "grown" aboard NX-01...At some point this stuff had to be removed and studied..None of this detail was passed on?

Oh that information was "classified" doe not mean forgotten. Let us not forget that the episode put a timer on the situation so why would this information about these beings be locked away?

4b The "timer" Speaking of the 200year message...This also makes no sense. Here is why. The beings that sent the message were found ON EARTH. The science team determined that they had crashed 100years prior to their discovery...Since they were found on Earth, one assumption could be that wherever they are from, they are IN RANGE of Earth... Maybe a rescue ship was already en route? 200 Years? It could be any day!

Siskoid said...

The answer to all your queries is: Section 31.

Or: Temporal paradox.

Or: Oh you writers, you crazy!

JB said...

Section 31? Aside from the near impossibility for any group to contain these events (entire crew of NX-01 for starters) Why would they? The THREAT is clear. These aliens could be right back on Earth any day. If anything Section 31 would be working on a possible defense for these creatures...Phlox de-assimilated himself with Omicron Radiation, Perhaps an Omicron Radiation torpedo? Hiding all these events and DATA does not help.

In order to understand one must simply look at this situation from the perspective of the 22nd century humans, forget what we the viewer knows about the Hansen family, system J-25 and Q-Who. Some really powerful aliens crash landed on Earth, they wake up and do some incredible things and Earth's most powerful ship barely defeats them...Earth knows that these aliens were on Earth for 100 years so even if these aliens don't manage to get their 200 year message off they STILL could have a rescue mission en route...We know this is not the case because we know from whence these aliens came but THEY DON'T.

If anything in a situation like this, section 31 would be working overtime in investigating and doing research on this threat rather than trying to hide it.

And again in case anyone wants to get cute...The very fact that these aliens didn't say "BORG" means nothing. We humans classify everything we encounter...We don't wait for something to tell us what its name is. If a Martian knocks on your door he more than likely would not identify HIMSELF as a Martian and yet a Martian he would be...

Siskoid said...

I guess it wasn't clear I was joking.

JB said...

I'm sorry!!

Siskoid said...

Not your fault! S31 has come back in time to make these misinformation videos we call Star Trek!


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