Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Regeneration”

“Regeneration”
Written by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 23
Production episode 049
Original air date: May 7, 2003
Date: March 1, 2153

Captain’s star log. An expedition in the Arctic on Earth has found some technological remains and a couple of bodies that appear to have been in the ice for about a hundred years. They are unfamiliar to the scientists, but instantly recognizable to the viewer as Borg—likely left over from the sphere that went back in time to 2063 from 2373.

The Borg soon wake up and assimilate the trio of scientists, then they take the team’s transport and upgrade it so it can travel at much greater speeds than before and it heads out into space. By the time Starfleet investigates the lack of contact, they’re long gone.

The transport’s course puts it within six light-years of Enterprise’s position, so Forrest contacts Archer and sends them after the ship.

A Tarkalean freighter sends out a distress call, and Enterprise diverts to respond. The freighter is being attacked by the transport. Enterprise fires on the transport, and it buggers off, but Enterprise can’t give chase right away, as the freighter is dead in space, with significant damage, and two survivors. The latter are taken to sickbay, where Phlox discovers tons of nanoprobes in their bloodstream that are multiplying at a great rate. Phlox wrongly assumes that there’s no danger to the crew.

As Enterprise resumes its chase of the transport, Archer tells T’Pol about a speech Zefram Cochrane gave at Princeton once where he mentioned cybernetic creatures from the future who tried to stop the Phoenix warp flight. He later disavowed that speech—and, T’Pol reminds him, Cochrane had a reputation for exaggeration and for being a drunk—but given the timing, Archer is starting to wonder…

The two Tarkaelans Borg out, inject Phlox with nanoprobes, and subdue the guard Reed left on duty before escaping sickbay. Reed and his people start searching for the two Borg, finding altered computer terminals, and eventually the two altered Tarkaleans. Phase pistols have no effect on them; the best Reed can do is club one over the head with the butt of his pistol. Archer is forced to blow them out into space by opening an airlock.

Screenshot: CBS

The transport is now going at almost warp five—it was designed to originally go at warp 1.4 (why a transport used for a terrestrial expedition had faster-than-light capability is left as an exercise for the viewer). Enterprise gets into a firefight with it, and is losing. Archer and Reed risk using the transporter to beam over and plant explosives. That disables the ship long enough for Enterprise to target the ship’s warp core and blow it up.

Denobulan immune systems are more resistant to the nanoprobes than human or Tarkalean ones, and Phlox hypothesizes that omicron radiation might wipe out the nanoprobes, if it doesn’t kill him. If it fails and he’s assimilated, he gives Archer a neurotoxin to inject in him. But, since he’s in the opening credits, it works just fine.

Sato reports that a signal went out from the transport toward the Delta Quadrant before it was destroyed.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Omicron radiation can apparently neutralize Borg nanoprobes, something Phlox figured out in 2153 and which nobody in the twenty-fourth century ever cottoned to, apparently.

The gazelle speech. Archer is devastated at having to space the Tarkaleans, and right up until the end he tries to rescue the three scientists.

Florida Man. Florida Man Boggled By Unusually Fast Transport.

Optimism, Captain! Phlox takes a heartbreakingly clinical approach to his own treatment after being infected with the nanoprobes, refusing food for fear it will speed up his cellular metabolism and therefore help the nanoprobes spread further, and calmly providing Archer with a neurotoxin as a last resort.

Screenshot: CBS

More on this later. T’Pol informs Archer that the signal the transport sent will reach the Delta Quadrant in two hundred years—or, right when the Federation has its encounters with the Borg. What a coinky-dink!

Reed jokes about firing holographic bullets at the Borg drones; in First Contact, Picard killed several drones with a holodeck-created Tommy gun.

I’ve got faith…

“You seem a little jumpy.”

“Cybernetic corpses, digging through frozen remains in the middle of the night—why would I be jumpy?”

–Two of the researchers bantering.

Welcome aboard. The three researchers are played by Bonita Friedericy, John Short, and Chris Wynne. Friedericy—probably best known for her role as General Beckman on Chuck—is the wife of John Billingsley, who had been trying to get her cast on the show for two years, though his hope was that she would be cast as one of Phlox’s wives.

Also here are recurring regulars Vaughn Armstrong as Forrest and Jim Fitzpatrick as Williams.

Trivial matters: This is obviously a sequel to the movie First Contact, with the remains found in the Arctic from the Borg sphere that the Enterprise-E blew up in orbit of Earth in 2063. It’s also a prequel to pretty much every other Borg story…

Bonita Friedericy joked in the audio commentary on the season two Blu-Ray of Enterprise that she got cast in this episode by sleeping with Connor Trinneer. More seriously, she said she was unnerved by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga pretending not to know her when she came in to audition, but they didn’t want to be seen to be playing favorites.

Phlox mentions the Bynars, a species introduced in TNG’s “11001001” (and also seen regularly in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series of prose stories edited by your humble rewatcher).

This is the only onscreen appearance of the Tarkaleans, previously mentioned several times, mostly in relation to their tea…

This episode is the catalyst for the storyline in the Star Trek Legacy videogame, in which a Vulcan scientist examines the debris from the Borg ship.

This is the only appearance of the Borg on Enterprise. As of this writing, the Borg have appeared in seven of the eleven Trek TV series (multiple episodes of TNG, Voyager, and Picard, DS9’s “Emissary,” this episode of Enterprise, LD’s “I, Excretus,” and Prodigy’s “Let Sleeping Borg Lie”).

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “What sort of people would replace perfectly good body parts with cybernetic implants?” When this episode first was announced, my response—and the response of many Trek fans—was a rolling of the eyes. In much the same way “Acquisition” seemed an unnecessary foray into continuity landmines just for the sake of doing a Ferengi episode, so too here with the Borg.

However, this is both a better episode than “Acquisition,” and also less of a risk, for several reasons. For one thing, the Borg are way more popular than the Ferengi. For another, in this case, the continuity hit was already there. After all, even a big-ass explosion is going to leave some debris, and it makes perfect sense that some bits of the Borg sphere might land on Earth. And landing in the Arctic is a particular masterstroke, since the shifting ice floes up there are such that it’s easy enough for things to disappear from sight for long periods of time.

In addition, this episode is a much more compelling viewing experience, as they sensibly gave what is mostly an action-adventure story to David Livingston to direct. Livingston’s resumé includes several of Trek’s best action stories (TNG’s “Power Play,” DS9’s “The Die is Cast,” Voyager’s “Hunters”).

I especially like that they took the time to establish the research team, giving us a teaser that actually teased the episode and then spending the entire first act on their digging around in the Arctic. Some really nice Thing From Another World vibes in that opening, which was lotsa fun.

Having said all that—I got to the end of the episode with a big feeling of “so what?” I mean, it was a cute little continuity hit, but it wasn’t much of one, since—just as with “Accquisition”—Archer and the gang had to come away with very little information and not very badly affected by the Borg. In particular, I was annoyed with Phlox being infected with nanoprobes, as that created the only real continuity issue: a twenty-second-century Denobulan physician comes up with a way to neutralize Borg nanoprobes, which has somehow never been thought of by anyone else—including, to give one example, the Emergency Medical Hologram on Voyager that had all the medical knowledge of the Alpha Quadrant programmed into his brain—in the two-and-a-half centuries since.

And, ultimately, there isn’t really a plot here. Aside from a really nice scene between Sato and Phlox when the former brings the latter food for both his animals and himself, there’s no real character stuff here, and our heroes don’t really accomplish much, and it just feels incredibly inconsequential. Yes, it sets up the future Borg stories, but those stories were already set up just fine, thanks—in particular, it was Q’s actions in TNG’s “Q Who” that put the Federation on the Borg’s sensor screen, so it wasn’t really necessary to provide this extra bit.

Still, it’s a good action story, at least…

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido has a short story in the newly released anthology The Eye of Argon and the Further Adventures of Grignr the Barbarian, edited by Michael A. Ventrella. It includes the original (and annotated) text of the famously terrible fantasy novella, as well as several sequel stories, including Keith’s “The Rat’s Tail.” It’s available from Fantastic Books.

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