This episode has very strongly split fortunes.
The positives are all relative - most other episodes of Enterprise around this
time are so much duller than this one. We have to give "Regeneration" some points for being
interesting and suspenseful most of the way through, much more so than its neighbours in the
season two sequence.
The negatives all sprout from the concept from moving 200 years into Star Trek's past
permanently and then largely making up most episodes on the fly. As writers struggle
to come up with interesting and worthy story concepts week after week, inevitably they
are going to be tempted to do something involving characters and/or situations that had
previously proved successful on The Next Generation, DS9, or Voyager.... and then come up
with horrible forced-fit time travel conundrums to attempt to work out all the kinks.
In many ways, "Star Trek 8: First Contact"
had already taken a step into dangerous waters by shifting a Borg battle into
Star Trek's past. History had recorded that Lilly had made the first warp flight
along with Zephram Cochrane, but the events of the movie managed to spawn a new
version of history where Lilly did something else and Riker and Geordi took her place
on Cochrane's flight. Whether or not this linked back up to the rest of Star Trek's
established chronology or created a new one was an issue that the film never took time
to look at.
At any rate, this episode "Regeneration" starts off by declaring that the Enterprise E
did a very bad job of blowing up the attacking Borg sphere. From the visuals in the film,
there shouldn't have been any pieces left large enough to withstand burning up in the atmosphere,
yet "Regeneration" shows a ship that looks as if it only just broke up on impact in the arctic,
leaving several of its occupants nearly intact. Does "Regeneration" start off in a completely
new alternate universe?
The episode definitely seems to end up in a universe far different from one that connects
to the rest of Star Trek history established in The Next Generation and its spinoffs. After all
that Starfleet learns about the Borg here in this episode, it doesn't make sense that they
could then be discovering so many of the basics afresh again in
"Q Who". In fact, this episode blows out many of the
discoveries made by Voyager in the Delta Quadrant as well, and Dr. Phlox's method of irradiating
the nano-probes out of someone's system is more advanced treatment than anything the other shows
managed to come up with 200 years later.
It is obvious what the writers REALLY wanted to do. They wanted to do another Borg story
on Star Trek and ADVANCE the mythology. They do advance it, and it is one of the more exciting,
suspenseful shows of the year. It's the series time-period which is inappropriate for this
story. Additionally, they didn't have the courage and sophistication to acknowledge the alternate
universe that might explain what has been wrought in the tale. Instead, it seems they're making
an effort to try to squeeze this narrative back into the established history of Trek by saying
that 200 years from now the Borg in the Delta Quadrant will receive a message from these Borg,
and use that as the main reason to target Earth. A time conundrum looping through many different
episodes and movies of Trek, eh? Hmmm. Yeah, I'm not buying it. We'd lose the origin of this
plot and its characters' motivations in a chicken-and-egg kind of mess, plus it doesn't really
Some of the other holes and/or problems in this one include the entire strategy of the
Borg that we see. Back in the feature film, it was implied that they would gain a foothold on
Earth and multiply their numbers until they had taken over. The hook and first act of
"Regeneration" follow up with this idea.... which gives us not a single scene of any of
our regular crew from NX-01. Traditionally, this is a big no-no on Star Trek. Then for
no good reason of their own, the Borg abandon the Earth quite cleanly and take off in a ship.
It doesn't really help them so much as it seems to be contrived in order to allow the rest
of the episode to center on something that NX-01's crew can get involved in. Very weird.
Another big problem rearing its head here is that the core audience of Trek fans will
be so much further ahead than any of the protagonists in what they understand about the Borg.
It's a painfully slow process to watch Archer and crew, or worse some completely new
sacrificial unknown characters, plod along with these mundane discoveries. Yes, the episode
squeezes some tension from the fact that we the audience know that they're playing with fire,
and they don't yet. But the negatives outweigh the positives here I think. We doubt that
the characters will be allowed to learn anything new about these aliens and take us along
for the ride of exploration and discovery.... in fact anyone who wants this episode to strictly
fit the established chronology may be emotionally invested in making sure the protagonists
remain as ignorant as possible. All this introduces a divide between audiences and protagonists
that makes them unsuitable as proxies for our interest in discovering the unknown.
The Enterprise NX-01 crew already had enough trouble being low energy characters without
interesting relationships with each other. Introducing a temporal divide between them
and the substance of an episode didn't help.
Well, this episode is a bit of a mess if viewed "as is", as a piece trying to squeeze
itself into an established chronology and not really being worthy of that chronology.
Me, I'm going to treat this one much like the "Mirror, Mirror" universe episodes late in
season four, as though they start and end in an alternate line of history all their own.
On that basis, it's a pretty good episode, just not one that answers any questions of what really
took place on the voyage of the NX-01 captained by the Archer that historically preceded
our familiar Kirk and Picard from established Star Trek. And on that note, I've a bit of a bone
to pick with the sequencing of this episode in the Borg DVD box set. It should not come first.
It should come last. It's certainly welcome on the set though. The real crime is that
Voyager's season three episode
"Unity" was not included, but for that I'd sooner bump
"Drone" or "Descent" from the roster and keep "Regeneration".
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