In the twenty-third episode of the second season of Enterprise, the crew is ordered to intercept a ship containing kidnapped humans and EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.Â
You know, I’m sure that there must be continuity errors created by the introduction of this episode into Trek canon. Like, I don’t think there was a mention of this entire incident on The Next Generation when those characters encountered the Borg for the first time, right? This seems like a huge thing to overlook, but also… meh? I’m not the strictest person when it comes to canon timelines (at least I’d like to think I’m not) for entities like this, which are dealing with multiple threads and entities and series, so this isn’t a dealbreaker for me.
Instead, it’s a dread-filled nightmare that ends up being one of the most breathless episodes of Enterprise. See, this might be a canonical mess, and I’ll let more qualified folks analyze this episode through that lens. (I cannot possibly remember the canon of five shows in this universe, THERE IS SO MUCH CANON IN MY HEAD THAT I MIGHT EXPLODE.) For me, “Regeneration” was so much fun because of the way it engaged with one of the classic tropes of horror and the canon we were familiar with. Let’s start with that trope, because this episode certainly opens with a giant visual and emotional reference to The Thing. That’s not to suggest that The Thing was the first story to do the whole “aliens/monsters frozen in the ice” trope. But in the cultural world of genre fiction, it’s difficult to avoid the immense impact that film had on science fiction and horror. It’s still referenced to this very day!
So maybe this was unintentional, but it’s still something I saw within the construction of that opening sequence. In a more general sense, you could also argue that this is a prime example of the trope of humanity being punished for their hubris. There’s literally a scene where one of the scientists recommend that they keep those corpses frozen out of fear that the nanobots will regenerate these beings. HE WAS 100% RIGHT, WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO HIM!!!
RIP to that dude, y’all. But the horror doesn’t end there. Even if the audience is genre savvy, there’s a specificity to what unfolds that requires people to be aware of the events of at least The Next Generation, though Voyager helps as well. If you’d watched “Regeneration” without knowledge of the Borg, this is probably a vastly different experience. I imagine you would feel like you were on the same page as all the characters! This would be bewildering and confusing. It would be frightening for other reasons! Yet for me, it’s knowing who the Borg are and what they’re capable of that makes this so spooky. As the Enterprise crew stumbles around their own ship and the Borg-assimilated transport ship, part of the reason I was yelling so much was because these characters didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t understand Borg adaptation or assimilation, and they had no clue what they were up against.
It’s why Phlox’s “infection” is such a huge jolt of tension, though it’s also why I wanted a bit more from this subplot. In 2153, there was no developed method to deal with Borg nanobots because no one had ever seen the Borg before! (Well, the events of First Contact prove otherwise, but it’s not like the Next Generation crew could have left records behind.) So when Phlox got infected, I just started panicking. HOW THE FUCK WAS THIS SHOW GOING TO DEAL WITH THIS??? How could they escape a force that was so relentless, that they were so unprepared for, and rescue all those assimilated humans???
Turns out: they can’t do it all. The ending to “Regeneration” is bleak, but it doesn’t feel nearly as cruel as the end to “Cogenitor.” It’s a realistic conclusion to a relentless horror show. I guess that’s also precisely why it’s gotta be weird for some of you that this is now part of canon, but it isn’t referenced in Starfleet materials in later series. Like, wouldn’t this all have been documented? I dunno, it really doesn’t bother me that much. I thought this was a great little thriller, and it’s connection to other entities was fun. CAN SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN TO PEOPLE THOUGH. THANKS.
The video for “Regeneration” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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