Saturday, August 17, 2013

Well, That Was Predictable: Why I Hate “Regeneration”

The Good: General concept is not absolutely terrible, Good special effects
The Bad: No character development, Lackluster acting, Horrible continuity
The Basics: “Regeneration” follows up on the Borg from Star Trek: First Contact and makes such a mess it is virtually impossible to take the episode seriously.

Poor Brannon Braga. Brannon Braga was a writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation who wowed the show runners and took over as an executive producer late in the run on Star Trek: Voyager. While, as a writer, he might have proven quickly to be a one-trick pony, as a producer and co-creator of Enterprise he added to his reputation as a guy who didn’t really give a damn about Mealticket, er, Star Trek and he set out to remake the Star Trek universe in his image. It was a colossal failure and Star Trek has been limping as a franchise ever since. Given the lack of success Braga’s subsequent television projects have had, one is either tempted to blame the demise of the Trek franchise on Braga or be impressed that it lasted as long as it did when he held the reins.

Unfortunately, even as Brannon Braga said “fuck you!” to decades of Star Trek continuity and worked to remake Star Trek as he saw fit, he did a surprisingly good job of maintaining continuity within his own little Bragaverse. As one of the co-writers of Star Trek: First Contact (reviewed here!), there was some sense to “Regeneration,” which returned the Borg from Star Trek: First Contact to the forefront. “Regeneration” is built on a somewhat ridiculous premise, which is that the Enterprise-D did not scan Earth after the destruction of the Borg Queen’s sphere for debris. Picard, who was very concerned about polluting the timeline, apparently left a pretty extensive amount of debris in the Arctic before returning to the 24th Century. Unfortunately, “Regeneration” pretty much undermines all of the subsequent interactions between StarFleet and the Borg and is an episode whose analysis is largely a string of continuity issues in the larger Star Trek universe.

StarFleet sends a science expedition to the Arctic where they discover corpses and debris from the Borg ship that crashed there almost a hundred years before. In thawing out and studying the Borg Corpses, the scientists accidentally reanimate them. The reanimated Borg begin assimilating scientists and they hijack a cargo transport. From there, the Borg attack a Tarkalean cargo ship.

The Enterprise is sent to intercept the rapidly transforming Borg ship and in trying to rescue the Tarkaleans, Dr. Phlox discovers the Borg nanoprobes. When the Borgified Tarkalean attacks Phlox, they flee the Enterprise and start heading toward Borg space. As Phlox tries to resist the nanoprobes taking over his body, Reed begins modifying the phase pistols to shoot through the Borg personal shields.

Where to start with the ridiculousness? First, Archer recalls Zephram Cochrane talking about the Borg and time travel during a college commencement ceremony in his later years. This makes either Zephram Cochrane into either one of history’s greatest villains (by not more coherently detailing who and what the Borg were so future generations could be prepared) or every subsequent StarFleet person who claimed Cochrane was their hero a liar in that they missed one of Cochrane’s most important speeches (especially after the Borg were encountered in the 24th Century).

But, as far as high-minded time-travel concepts go, “Regeneration” hits a precarious new low. If the Borg survived the destruction of the Borg Queen’s Sphere and they sent a signal to the Delta Quadrant, the Federation had two hundred years to prepare for an invasion, not the year and a half they thought in “The Best Of Both Worlds” (reviewed here!). But equally important, if the events of “Regeneration” occurred, StarFleet officers and certainly StarFleet historians would be briefed on the mission. At this point, hundreds of StarFleet officers have (albeit ridiculously) been assimilated by the Borg. How is it none of them are students of history who know about the Borg’s mission in the 22nd Century? This is worth asking because by now it seems like one of the assimilated humans from the 24th Century would know how the Borg were defeated in the 22nd Century and before the Borg ever attacked Earth in Star Trek: First Contact all of the drones would have had the technical knowledge and strategy to avoid losing the same way.

Any way one cuts it, the Borg from the 24th Century should have no problem cutting through any race from the 22nd Century in the Alpha Quadrant. The inability of contemporary technology to defeat future Borg was already addressed in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Drone” (reviewed here!), but apparently neglected when “Regeneration” was pitched. The Borg in “Regeneration” should have easily been able to adapt 22nd Century technology into 24th Century technology and created a beacon that would arrive in Borg space in the Delta Quadrant significantly faster than two hundred years.

In fact, the only thing “Regeneration” does it reasonably create a premise for the Hansens (Seven Of Nine’s human parents) to have heard of the Borg and go out looking for them. As I mentioned; Braga has a way of looking out for his own interests.

Continuing on the laundry lists of serious continuity problems, the Borg nanoprobes should have been fast acting on all of the aliens encountered in the episode. The idea that Dr. Phlox found a cure for nanoprobe technology in the 22nd Century is utterly ridiculous in that the EMH on Voyager was programmed with the sum of all Federation medical knowledge; if Phlox had found a cure to Borg nanoprobes, the EMH would have known about it because what possible reason could Phlox have for not sharing his notes on stopping Borg technology?!

Unremarkable with the acting, devoid of character development, “Regeneration” is a virtual shitstorm of bad concepts that once again undermines the once terrifying menace that was the Borg.

The three biggest gaffes in “Regeneration:”
3. T’Pol characterizes Zephram Cochrane as a drunk, but all accounts from everyone in Star Trek: First Contact had him pegged as a hero. In fact, the Zephram Cochrane subplot of Star Trek: First Contact is, by and large, the story of a man who was turning a corner. Given his historic accomplishments, it makes far more sense that humans would have whitewashed his personal history fast, especially with the way they compete with Vulcans to get into space,
2. Phlox references the Bynars. The Bynars were a relatively recently discovered race in “11001001” (reviewed here!) which was the only episode they were featured in. They should be so far from the core of the Federation that even the Denobulans have not yet encountered them,
1. If the Federation encountered the 24th Century version of the Borg in the 22nd Century, there is simply no way they should have been able to hold them off with their limited technology.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophmore season here!


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© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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