I have problems with Skewed Continuity! I have problems when someone takes a continuing story and changes in mid stream that which we already know. Sure I love surprises, and I love twists, but surprises and twists are a far cry from the appearance that someone just doesn't care about what was previously written. For example, I take no issue with Yoda being a surprisingly great swordsman in Attack of the Clones, but I would be highly pissed off if in the prequels Lucas had decided that he didn't want Yoda to be a short guy, and instead made him seventeen feet tall! Now that would be some Corn Pudding there! I took no issue when Hamlet and Laertes forgave each other as they died and Fortenbras stormed in with his people unopposed to Seize control of Denmark! But I'd have been ever so angered if Claudius had stood up, and screamed "Not on my shift!" then ripped off a Scooby-Doo like rubber mask to reveal that the whole time he had been Polonius in disguise, and never mind the dead body you thought was Polonius... he and Ophelia (suddenly not dead) were both fine, and now that team Hamlet was dead he was going to rule the world!
Oh, I'm sorry was that a little intense? Well, that's the sort of crap that both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise have been getting away with. I wish I could tell you how many times I've wondered why the writers of these shows never bothered watching Star Trek prior to picking up their pens. Is Gregory Benford on their payroll as "Anti-Continuity, Revisionism Consultant?" Voyager certainly had some decent moments, and it was nice to see them bring back the Borg ("Scorpion" parts One and Two I liked). Unfortunately, not even the heat of Jeri Ryan could save the blatant and mind-blowing exceptions to continuity that the writers hawked up like a loogie and spat on the page! I don't want to get too far into this, but let's just say they never bothered reviewing their own shows or the predecessors before they wrote anything. So... Seven of Nine is the first ever Borg to be separated from the Collective, huh? The first one? And that makes her valuable, no? Neat. Well! What about Hugh? Oh... you didn't watch "I, Borg" from Star Trek the Next Generation? How about Crosis of Borg? Ah! Missed that one, did you? Okay, then, there was always Locutus... that was even in the movie! You mean Picard is still Borg? Wow! Oh... I forgot, you didn't watch that... Okay... on Voyager itself there was an entire episode dedicated to Borg De-assimilates living in harmony on a planet alone. They don't count? You will respond to my questions!
Okay, so it's not the Bible, but it is continuity, and there's a certain level of sloppiness and lack of care when someone does this sort of thing. I wish that was the only example, but that show was peppered with such only-this-episode-really-counts moments. And Enterprise is no different! From Vulcans that get emotional at the drop of a hat, to a lack of recognition in the difference between a War Bird and a Bird of Prey, Enterprise staff writers love to fix that which wasn't broken in the first place! So when I saw the previews to the new episode "Regeneration" I was sure this would be more of the same, and I was all ready to trounce this episode as a shovel full of vinarine! The Borg Ship looked like a "Descent" era cruiser, and Phlox's infection implies that there must have been one hell of a documentation failure by the time Q snapped his fingers and sent the NCC-1701-D into the Delta Quadrant!
Well, I'm scarcely happier to be wrong. "Regeneration" isn't a perfect episode, but it's pretty good, and they actually worked hard on the continuity here (for what seems like the first time). Those of you familiar with Star Trek: First Contact are aware of how the events of that film have had a huge influence on all of Star Trek continuity. That which happened after First Contact was almost necessarily influenced by First Contact. The issue is that Enterprise, due to First Contact's "Quantum Leap" is both prior to First Contact and subsequent to First Contact in the continuity! As any Star Trek fan knows that Earth made first contact with the Borg during the events of "Q Who?" (ST:TNG), this conceit must be accepted before any Trek fan can enjoy this episode.
The episode begins with an Arctic Expedition discovers Borg wreckage, including perfectly frozen Borg bodies. They point out that no such species had ever been seen before on Earth, and that this is the Scientific Find of the century! Through various hints like the fact that the wreckage suggests a perfectly spherical craft, we, the audience, realize that this must be the Borg escape craft that quantum leapt into the past to assimilate Earth. Picard and his crew blew it up during orbit, so why shouldn't some, if not all of the parts land in the arctic circle?
Naturally as the Borg warm up the Nanites reactivate and begin to revive both the Cybernetic and the Organic parts of the patients who in turn begin to assimilate the scientists, along with the rescue crew and their craft! The newly Borg-ified ship leaves Earth, ostensibly to seek the remainder of the then-current hive-mind (and reinforcements).
Naturally Enterprise, which seems to be the only ship in Starfleet (like C-Span's only camera), has to run to save the day, rescuing ships from being assimilated by the Borg (I love the way that sounds... I wish my office mate would be assimilated by the Borg)! One thing the Borg have going for them is speed. Even without the Borg Queen, they still have 24th century Warp Technology, and can get away from Enterprise easier than Tweety evades Sylvester. But the Borg are less interested in fighting than they are getting to the Delta Quadrant, so they have only nominal weapons. This makes them as effective as Bob Dole's right arm in a fire fight!
Of course along the way Phlox has to be nanite-infected, Hoshi gets to show her soft side (does she have more than one side?), and Archer gets to show off several of his reserved the-world-is-going-to-hell looks every time the camera pans his way. The episode ends rather tidily, of course, and we're all relieved that Alice Krige isn't back to tell us that she was only mostly dead!
There are a few problems with this episode. First, why would the Borg leave Earth? Their goal was to Assimilate Earth when they were shot down. My only guess is that they must have either required the Hive Mind, or didn't think they were enough to take on the globe, with the more advanced technology. Next, Archer and Phlox review photographs of the Borg from the Arctic station. This shows that Starfleet had these in their databanks (at some point). Also Phlox becomes infected with the nanites, but finds a cure so that he can de-Borg himself. Great... so with these discoveries, why don't the crews of the future have not only the knowledge of the Borg, but the know-how on how to cure an assimilation-infection (I made that up... was it bad?)? Did the Gateway Computer Corp. design Starfleet's data systems? Rationale for that might be the concept that everything up until the events of First Contact was a snapshot of History (as it was), and all of History changed when Picard influenced time. If that's the rationale then there's one big fat huge paradox that cannot be escaped. If Picard changed the past, and thus the future so that Starfleet has knowledge of and defense against the Borg, then Picard wouldn't ever have become Locutus, Wolf 359 wouldn't have happened, the Borg would have lost, and never traveled back in time, so neither would Picard have. If Picard didn't, then there would be no Borg on Earth, so there would be no knowledge of, or defense against the Borg, so he would have had to travel back in time, and... See what I mean? Lastly, it bothered me that the writers had to throw the viewers a bone! Archer and Trip Tucker review past speeches which indicate that Zephrame Cochrane had encountered the Borg along with "Humans from the future!" Ah... Yeah, I remember that movie now! I expected Scott Bakula to turn to the camera and wink!
There was also a lot of good here though. I had no problem with the Borg not being found for that long. How often do people get to the Arctic Circle, especially when it's been made clear that technology went backward for a while there in our future past! Also, the Borg for the most part really acted like Borg and followed established Borg patterns. The writers apparently know a little about the Borg (but clearly not the Vulcans)! They also were careful to point out that the Borg were trying to contact the home-world with a sub space communication, but that they were unsuccessful. The Transport's relays are clearly not as advanced as the one the Borg attempted to implement on the Enterprise-E, and that it would take 200 years to reach the Delta Quadrant. (How did they know it was going to the Delta Quadrant again?)
I'm going to go out on a limb here and give "Regeneration" Four Stars! It was probably the best and most accurate episode so far. I may be grading this on a curve though considering the last few Borg outings, and Enterprise's Track Record with continuity, but I don't care... it's refreshing to find Star Trek writers giving a jolly eff-you-see-kay for a change! If you disagree, feel free to send me hate mail below! Bob Dole does!