Final Frontier Friday

Welcome back to ‘Final Frontier Friday’! We’ve spent our past couple installments looking at the classic ‘Next Generation’ two-parter ‘The Best of Both Worlds‘, and all of that has kind of left yours truly with Borg on the brain. So having covered several of the early Borg shows in the past, I thought it only right to head for the other end of the spectrum for a look at their last appearance to date: the second season ‘Enterprise’ episode ‘Regeneration’.

Despite the series taking place long before the established first contact between Humanity and the Borg, the idea of bringing everyone’s favorite “bionic zombies” in for an episode of ‘Enterprise’ was something that had been kicked around for a while before ‘Regeneration’ finally got the greenlight. These pitches were resisted by co-creator and executive producer Brannon Braga, who deemed an appearance by the Borg “a cheap trick.” He was ultimately won over by the ‘Regeneration’ pitch, which he described as “a great idea” that he “couldn’t resist.” The crux of that pitch was the idea of the Borg in question not being some random advance guard but surviving drones from the time-traveling Sphere that was destroyed above twenty-first century Earth in ‘Star Trek: First Contact’, making the episode a sequel of sorts to that film.

But how did that work out? Was the “great idea” worth the “cheap trick”? Let’s find out.

On Earth, a research team arrives in the arctic. They’ been sent to investigate a debris field. As they begin to do so, they find what we recognize as a Borg drone, frozen in the ice.

As the researchers begin setting up a field lab to examine the dead drone, their sensors indicate the presence of even more wreckage below the surface. As they continue surveying the area, they uncover another dead drone and several unidentified pieces of technology. With their lab set up, the picture that emerges raises as many questions as it answers. A genetic analysis shows the cybernetic aliens to be from two completely different species. Their ship was a perfect sphere, destroyed in orbit roughly a century ago. An examination of a (detached) utility arm reveals an incredibly advanced cybernetic prosthesis, with manures repairing both biological and mechanical components. As two of the researchers continue to sift through the debris field, a third is left with the dead drones. Only they’re not so dead. One reactivates and attacks the team. Three days later, Starfleet has lost contact with the researchers. Admiral Forrest leads a team to investigate. Upon arriving, they find… nothing.

On board Enterprise, Captain Archer briefs his staff on the situation. Admiral Forrest believes the research team has been abducted, and their transport was detected leaving Earth at warp 3.9, several times its maximum speed. Enterprise has been tasked with intercepting the ship and rescuing the team. While en route, Enterprise picks up a distress call from a Tarkalean freighter and moves to intercept. They arrive to find the arctic transport heavily modified and attacking the Tarkalean ship. The transport quickly flees, and Enterprise retrieves a pair of Tarkalean survivors before resuming the pursuit.

In sickbay, Phlox reports that the Tarkaleans have apparently been modified into “some kind of cybernetic hybrid,” and based the erratic life signs she detected, T’Pol surmises that the human researchers have suffered the same fate. Later, Archer confides in T’Pol that he found something oddly familiar about all of this and has since realized that he was remembering a commencement speech Zefram Cochrane gave eighty years earlier. During that speech, made mention of “what really happened during First Contact,” including a mention of cybernetic creatures from the future who were prevented from interfering with his warp flight by a group of human time travelers. T’Pol is characteristically skeptical, and Archer concedes that Cochrane later recanted the account, though he finds the similarities uncanny. Back in sickbay, the Tarkaleans come to an attack, having succumbed to the influence of the small-scale hive mind the time-displaced Borg have established. The overpower the security team and escape sickbay, injecting Phlox with nanoprobes in the process.

As Phlox continues his efforts to counteract the nanoprobes (with renewed urgency), Reed leads the hunt for the Tarkaleans. Meanwhile, Archer and Tucker review their scans of the arctic transport and devise a plan to disable it. T’Pol finds the ship on long range sensors, now traveling even faster. Enterprise moves to intercept. Reed’s team finds one of the Tarkaleans in the midst of modifying Enterprise’s systems. When she ignores his warnings, the security team opens fire to no effect.

Twenty-second century weapons barely phase twenty-fourth century Borg technology. The team retreats. With the Borg modifications beginning to disrupt Enterprise’s warp field, Archer orders Reed to seal that section as soon as his team his clear. With the security team safe, Archer orders that section decompressed and the Borg are blown into space. Once the section is depressurized, Reed and Tucker examine the modified circuitry but can’t make any sense of it. Meanwhile, Archer is still intent on rescuing the human researchers, T’Pol points out that everyone aboard the transport has almost certainly been subject to the same “modifications” as the Tarkaleans, adding that it might be a better idea to simply destroy the transport. Their conversation is interrupted when Phlox calls Archer to sickbay. The doctor believes he has found a way to disable the nanoprobes in his system by bombarding them with omicron radiation. The only problem is that he has to be thorough, and even an excessive dose may not do the trick. To that end, he hands Archer a hypospray loaded with a “cure of sorts” – a neural toxin. In the armory, Reed believes he has found a way to penetrate the Borg’s personal shielding and sets about modifying as many phase pistols as possible. An hour later, Enterprise catches up to the transport. Abruptly, the transport drops out of warp and transmits a signal that triggers whatever modifications they made to Enterprise, disabling the vessel.