You cannot dislike an episode that starts out with Borg-sicles.
“Regeneration” comes in a series of episodes that feels like it’s trying to recapture fans of the other Trek series by reinventing old storylines (e.g. “Judgment”), embracing allegory episodes (e.g. “Cogenitor”) and bringing in classic Trek villains…like the Borg.
Even though the Federation won’t meet the Borg for another 150-or-so years. EXCEPT, remember First Contact? Turns out the Borg-sicles the Federation scientists find in the Arctic at the beginning of this episode were part of the crew who tried to invade Earth by travelling back in time and preventing Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight, and thus first contact with the Vulcans….
Don’t worry, even if you haven’t seen the movie, the episode will explain it to you. If you have seen the movie, the episode might feel a bit mis-paced because of the exposition necessary to write the Borg into the past.
So anyway, we start out and spend a fair amount of time (more than 1/5 of the episode) with the three scientists who discover the Borg. They even develop distinct personalities and theories about their frozen buddies. Then, sadly but necessarily, they are assimilated.
The Borg-ified scientists commandeer and drastically improve the systems of a transport vessel, and it’s at that point that Enterprise is called in to find them.
Not long after, Enterprise responds to a distress call by a Tarkalean freighter. Accompanied by some really effective, suspenseful music, Enterprise intervenes and stop the transport attacking the freighter, but when they bring the Tarkaleans on board Enterprise, Phlox starts to get a sense of what’s going on with them.
Unfortunately he underestimates the nanoprobes and their hosts’ malicious intent, and he is attacked. The Borg-Tarkaleans then set about modifying Enterprise systems before Archer decides to blow them into space.
Props to the writers for drawing on Hoshi and Phlox’s established friendship in this episode. After the attack, Hoshi comes to visit with food for Phlox (and his slugs). He is brooding and doesn’t want to endanger her if the nanoprobes make him a threat, but she asks to at least feed his slugs before she goes.
And more props for having T’Pol raise a good point and having Archer actually consider on it (and eventually take her advice).
Archer: I want to take these people home, the humans and the Tarkaleans, no matter what state they’re in.
T’Pol: There are 29 lifeforms on that transport. It’s logical to assume they’ve all been infected. We could endanger Enterprise if they’re brought aboard. Perhaps you should reconsider.
Archer: Are you saying we shouldn’t go after that ship?
T’Pol: I’m saying, we destroy it.
Then Phlox (exhibiting super creepy and well-done Borg-y makeup), makes a fast discovery that he can essentially kill the nanoprobes with omicron radiation – an idea that will elude all the brightest minds of the 24th century, apparently.
Cue more suspenseful music as shit gets real. They find the Borg-ified transport but the Borg are able to send a transmission that triggers the modifications they made to Enterprise’s systems, messing stuff up on board.
Meanwhile, Phlox undergoes his painful treatment.
Unable to fight ship-to-ship with the Enterprise in its current state, Archer takes Reed over to the transport to set explosives on something important. There, he realizes the scientists “aren’t human anymore.”
Ultimately they succeed with a combination of Archer and Reed’s explosives, and Enterprise’s phase cannons once they’re safely back on board. Enterprise is also boarded by a bunch o’ drones during that time but they beam back after the first explosion.
And hey! Phlox is okay! But ominously, he tells Archer about being connected to the collective (note: they never find out the name “Borg” or call it “the collective” but we all know) and hearing a string of numbers being transmitted.
Archer They told their home world how to find Earth.
T’Pol: Did you learn where the message was sent?
Archer: Somewhere deep in the Delta Quadrant.
T’Pol: Then I doubt there’s any immediate danger. It would take at least two hundred years for a subspace message to reach the Delta Quadrant, assuming it’s received at all.
Archer: Sounds to me like we’ve only postponed the invasion until what, the 24th century?
Overall I’d give this episode a B. The makeup is amazing, the music is great, and the episode scares the pants off of you, like you should be, when being introduced to the Borg. Hoshi gets an okay scene, T’Pol’s opinion is respected, and there’s a bonus woman scientist in the team at the beginning, who we get to see as a super creepy drone later.
My minor quibbles are 1) The uneven pacing, which was largely due to the need for so much exposition to explain how the Borg ended up in the past, and 2) The lack of explanation for how Phlox’s genius cure was never duplicated in future – how everyone forgot about the Borg by the time TNG rolled around.
Bechdel Test: Pass. T’Pol orders Hoshi to evacuate a section of the ship, and Hoshi replies.