This entry is about the film. For the entry about the similarly titled Next Generation episode, go to First Contact.

According to Memory Alpha's In Universe Timeline, the story sequence is:
Future's End Part 2 : Star Trek First Contact : Trials and Tribble-ations.
In the Borg and First Contact story arc, the story sequence is
Star Trek First Contact : Regeneration.

Summary

Captain Jean-Luc Picard wakes from a nightmare in which he relived his assimilation by the cybernetic Borg six years earlier.[N 1] Starfleet informs him of a new Borg attack against Earth, but orders the USS Enterprise-E to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone so as not to introduce an "unstable element" to the fight.

After initial scans only turn up a comet and the Enterprise receives word that the fleet have engaged the Borg, Picard decides to disobey his orders and join the battle against the Borg. After the Enterprise swoops in and saves the heavily damaged Defiant, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Worf, Picard takes command of the fleet, who is without leadership since Admiral Hayes's ship is destroyed, and tells them to fire at a specific point on the Borg Cube. The fleet complies and the cube is destroyed, but not before the cube is able to eject a sphere which then creates a temporal disturbance and time travels into the past.

The Enterprise follows them in but when they begin to enter they see Earth, now borgified. The Enterprise then emerges and destroys the sphere with four quantum torpedoes. The Borg's target was a missile complex in Montana. The date is April 2063, one day before first contact. The Borg wanted to stop first contact so they could easily assimilate Earth. Their plan, however, has been foiled, or has it? Meanwhile, Picard, Data, Crusher, and Troi beam down to assess the damage. The Phoenix, the first warp ship that will make first contact is slightly damaged, but easily fixed by the Enterprise crew.

Zefram Cochrane, the pilot of the Phoenix, who history remembers as a genius, turns out to be a stumbling drunk. He requires some coaxing, but he agrees to go on the warp flight. Back aboard the Enterprise the Borg had managed to beam over to the Enterprise before their sphere was destroyed, so now they want to assimilate the Enterprise and then Earth. The Borg manage to take over much of the Enterprise. After much hand-to-hand and phaser fighting, the Borg manage to capture Data. The Borg Queen (who is located in Main Engineering), tries to get Data to turn on the Enterprise and stop first contact.

The Borg then try to build a beacon to the Borg in the 21st century on the deflector dish, but Picard and Worf are able to destroy the beacon. Picard then decides to fight to the end to save the Enterprise, but then he changes his mind and decides that using the ships auto destruct is the best solution, so he orders all hands to abandon ship, but he stays behind to attempt to save Data. Meanwhile, Cochrane, Piker, and La Forge begin the warp flight. Back on the Enterprise, Picard goes to rescue Data. Then, Data terminates the auto destruct and fires a torpedo at the Phoenix. It appears that Data has betrayed Picard, but then, the torpedo misses the Phoenix and Data helps Picard kill the Borg Queen. The Phoenix's mission is successful and the timeline is restored.

Errors and Explanations

Internet Movie Database

Character error

  1. After the destruction of the Borg sphere, Picard asks where the Borg were firing on, and Riker heads towards the Science station on his right to read the coordinates from the display. Just a moment after, he asks Lt. Hawk (who is at the helm) for the damage done on the surface. Hawk states that "long-range sensors are still off-line", but at that distance away from Earth, short-range sensors would have sufficed. Furthermore, Hawk shouldn't even be capable of reading long-range science sensors from the helm console, and even if he could, Riker is still next to the science station, with the science officer next to him, AND the information about the surface is still on the display, so there is no need to ask the helmsman for it. It is sometimes necessary for the helmsman to plot a course to intercept items detected on the science sensors.
  2. Picard misquotes Moby Dick when he says, "And he piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it." The actual quote by Herman Melville reads, "He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it." He most likely paraphrased the quote, to prevent Lily getting confused by the mention of Adam and use of the term mortar.
  3. When Picard walks around the ship with Lily and she asks how big the ship is, Picard says it has 24 decks. But about 6 minutes earlier in the movie, Lieutenant Daniels tells Worf that the Borg have control over "decks 26 up to 11". The film's text commentary suggests several possible explanations for this inconsistency, including the idea that decks 25 and 26 were top secret, so Picard had to mislead Lily in case the Borg assimilates her. It's also possible that decks aren't numbered in a sequence, so that a ship with 24 decks can actually have deck 26.
  4. When the Borg Queen asks Data how long it's been since he last utilised his experience in sexual techniques, he replies that it had been "8 years, 7 months, 16 days, 4 minutes, 22 seconds" (referring to when Tasha Yar takes Data to bed in The Naked Now). "Naked Now" takes place on Stardate 41209.2 (which translates to March 16, 2364 in current calendar format), while this movie takes place on Stardate 50893.5 (November 22, 2373), which would actually make it 9 years, 8 months, 6 days. Either Data had a secret liaison on 6 April 2365, he's attempting to lie to the Borg Queen, or there is an error in the dating system.[N 2]

Continuity

  1. When Picard destroys the Borg Queen's skull, his reflection can be seen to stand up, but in the next shot he is still kneeling.Perhaps he only appears to be standing up in the reflection.
  2. As the velocity meter on the Phoenix is increasing thru 20900 km/s, it flips over to 20000 km/s not 21000 km/s. This might be an inherent fault with the unit.
  3. When Picard smashes the display case, the Enterprise D is still up. However, when Lily comments that he broke the ships and picks up some pieces, they are of the Enterprise D. These pieces could have fallen apart while Lily walked over to the display case.

Factual errors

  1. In the deflector dish scene, Picard is seen shooting a section of the dish to blast one of the Borg with a jet of plasma or gas from that section to send that Borg off the ship into deep space. Later, he's seen making a wild, non-magnetized jump across the dish to the other side without any form of control except for the magnetic boots, across the same jet of plasma that blasted the Borg off, without it affecting his course. Even with the idea that the jet of plasma would be a lot weaker, it would still throw off his aim. When Picard passes over the plasmas jet, he actually passes through the edge of the cloud, which is not strong enough to deflect him.
  2. When the spaceship 'Phoenix' takes off the people are shown looking at the take-off. At this distance, the people would be all vaporised by the rocket exhaust, or at least be killed by the hot and toxic gases produced by the missile. Either Cochrane's people modified the exhaust system to avoid this, due to the settlement's proximity to the silo, or the rocket used Liquid hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen, which produces nothing but water vapour.
  3. With no heat shield and no landing gear on the Phoenix, how do Cochrane, Riker and LaForge get back to Montana? If they were beamed there by the Enterprise, how did Cochrane plan to get back to Montana before the Vulcan ship arrived? Where does it say that the Phoenix lacks heat shielding and landing gear? For all we know, the Phoenix could be designed to enter the atmosphere before floating back to Earth under a number of parachutes.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs

  1. At first glance, there is no reason for the Borg to travel to Earth in the 24th century. If their plan was to invade Earth in 21st century, the Borg could have done their time-travel from a safe faraway place, then travel to Earth, or just send the Earth's coordinates to the 21st century Borg so the latter invade the Earth instead. Even though there was no Federation in the 21st century, its future territory was occupied by several advanced space-bearing species, often at war with each other (Vulcans and Klingons in particular). Apparently the Borg figured that a small sphere has less chances of reaching Earth in the 21st century than a fully armed cube in the 24th. The point is that they made the right choice - the idea with the cube worked just fine and Starfleet failed to stop the sphere. It is also possible that after incorporating the time machine and weapons, there was no place left in the sphere for warp engines or long range communicator. In any case, we don't really know Borg's actual plan. The Queen said that they had many goals. Perhaps pulling the Enterprise into the past for safe assimilation was one of them, especially in light of the Borg modifying the deflector dish to act as an interplexing beacon.
  2. When Worf confronts Picard on the bridge and declares that if "he [Picard] was any other man, he would kill him," Worf does not have his sash on. In the bridge scene where Picard decides to destroy the Enterprise Worf has his sash on. Possibly, when Worf was ordered off the bridge he went and got it, and put it on before returning.
  3. Cmdr Riker unplugs the jukebox when he first meets Dr Cochrane. A few minutes later Dr Cochrane appears to simply hit the jukebox to turn it back on. In the background during the last few lines of Riker and Troi's conversation, you can see Cochrane bend down beside the jukebox, (presumably) to plug it in. He then hits it to restart it.
  4. How did Picard know about the weak point in the Borg cube? Before transmitting the coordinates for the point, Picard had a moment of "Borg voices in my head". Apparently he got the coordinates from this chatter. Perhaps the Borg were just reporting some dangerous power buildup in this spot, which just turned it into an Achilles heel, and Picard intercepted this message and acted upon it. Whatever that information was that Picard heard, either the Borg didn't know he still had access to their communication channels (so they didn't block him), or they knew, but ignored his (mental) presence, as they usually do, by the way, until being directly threatened.
  5. When Geordi is asking Cochrane to look at the intermix chamber blueprints, he is wearing sunglasses, even though his artificial eyes don't require protection from the sun. The sunglasses are probably needed in case a local comes looking around. Only Cochrane and Lily knew about time travelers, and Geordi's futuristic implants could blow their cover. Geordi used dark glasses for the same purpose in Time's Arrow Part 2 as well.
  6. While Picard, Worf and Hawke are trying to disable the "interplexing beacon" the Borg are building on top of the deflector dish, smoke or steam can be seen rising up in such a way it only can in an atmosphere. Steam/smoke would normally dissipate in a vacuum, zero gravity, in all directions, if it's not propelled, and if it is propelled "upward", then it will continue to "rise" and won't come back "down" as seen in the movie. All this is true if the electric charge is taken out of the equation. However, the steam is likely ionized (positively charged), if not for functional purposes (we know that plasma is often used in the deflector), then because of Picard's phaser fire. Picard also mentions that the dish is charged with anti-protons (negative charge), which perfectly explains why the positively charged steam is pulled back toward the dish. Plasma behavior in an unknown electromagnetic field can be complicated enough to explain all the apparent inconsistencies of its motion in space.
  7. When the away team beams down to the surface for the first time, a visible breath due to cold weather can be seen coming from Data. While it may seem strange that an android has to breathe, it's not an error - Data does have a functional respiratory system. This issue was addressed in Birthright Part 1.
  8. At one scene, Zefram Cochrane looks at the Enterprise through the telescope from Montana. Two minutes of movie time later, Picard shows the Earth to Lily Sloane, and the ship is over Australia on course to North America (Picard remarks that Montana is coming up soon). However, between those two scenes various incidents of crew fighting the Borg are shown, indicating that some time has passed by. A ship at the presented orbit can go from Montana to Australia in less than a couple of hours. Moreover, the stories on the ship and on the ground aren't connected at that point, so theoretically the second scene could have happened before the first. In any case, there is no obvious error in the ship not being over Montana in the second scene.
  9. When the Phoenix goes into warp, stars appear to be streaking past the ship. The interstellar distances are so huge that even at high warp (let alone Phoenix's low warp) the relative motion of stars would be imperceptibly small to the human eye. [N 3] An acceptable explanation is that all this streaking is just some weird optical effect created by the warp field. Since the whole concept of warp drive is well outside of the real physics, it would be pointless to speculate about the nature of this effect. As for the apparent shifting of the stars at sub-light speeds, it's perfectly explainable by the change in ship's trajectory.
  10. When the Phoenix drops out of warp and turns around, we see the Earth and the Moon as they would appear from a distance of just a few million kilometers away (based on a fact that even the Moon's disk is still discernible). It is claimed that a ship in warp should have traversed a much greater distance. Although we don't know how fast the Phoenix was going and for how long, it's safe to assume that it didn't go beyond warp 1 (which is equal to the speed of light). Also, the movie shows only 10 seconds of flight (two 5-second cuts), and there is no reason to suggest it took more time than that. This results in a total distance of 3 million kilometers, which is highly consistent with Earth's appearance. Moreover, it was generally assumed that the ship was moving away from Earth the whole time. But when we see Earth through the window, it appears to be growing, indicating that Phoenix is moving toward it. Either the warp flight was on a curved trajectory (we know from the series that it's possible), or that Riker's "throttle back" pushed the ship into reversed course. In both situations, the argument in favor of the goof is weakened even further.

Plot holes

  1. At the end of the film Riker says something to the effect of "The moon masked our warp signature" but in the very next shot Lily is looking up and clearly sees the Enterprise as it disappears into a warp "flash". The 'Flash' is from the recreation of the Borg time travel effect, which is only seen by Lily, as the Vulcans are in the bar with Cochrane and the other citizens of the settlement.

Revealing mistakes

  1. During the deflector dish sequence set on the outside of the ship, both the sparks that come from a shot Borg and the dust that comes from releasing the Borg transmitter clamps fall to the deflector dish "floor". Possibly a side effect of the deflection field.
  2. The pylons of Cochrane's warpship do not provide a free area of space above or below the ship to generate a warp field between the warp nacelles. Instead the pylon allow the ship's body to stand between the two warp nacelles. According to the pseudoscience of Star Trek, a warp field can not be generated under such conditions (in other words, Cochrane's ship shouldn't be able to go to warp because of its design). Not true - The main body of the Defiant is, at least partially, standing between the warp nacelles, and that ship can create a warp field without any problems.[1][2]

Ex Astris Scientia

  1. Why would the Borg send just one miserable ship to attack Earth? They already failed once, the main reason being that they underestimated their enemy when they came with just one cube. Would they really repeat that mistake? They obviously believe they will do better this time, especially given their back up plan of going back in time to prevent Cochrane’s warp flight.
  2. So Starfleet has no confidence in Picard because he was once assimilated by the Borg and he would be an "unstable element in a critical situation". But if Starfleet had only slight doubts about his loyalty or constancy, would they still let him command a starship at all? Moreover, on two occasions, in TNG: "I, Borg" and "Descent", Picard already proved that he was able to deal with the Borg, so it makes no sense to keep him out this time. Perhaps someone at Starfleet thought they had enough ships to stop the Borg without Picard's help, while wanting to make use of his diplomatic skills in the event of the Romulans crossing the Neutral Zone.
  3. Why is Worf the apparently only regular DS9 crew member on the Defiant? Whenever the Defiant was on any other mission, Dax, Kira, O'Brien and/or Bashir were routinely on the ship along with Sisko and/or Worf. Sisko may have been waived off for the same "unstable element" reason Picard was. Or, Worf just happened to be in command of a mission without the rest of the main crew when the Borg ship arrived.
  4. When Picard gives orders to beam over the survivors from the Defiant, the Enterprise would have to drop the shields first. But this doesn't seem to happen and would be anything but advisable as the ship is permanently under attack from the Borg cube. Maybe they only drop the section of the shields nearest the Defiant, on the opposite side of Enterprise from the Borg Ship.
  5. The most commonly mentioned error of the movie is that in "Metamorphosis" Kirk said "Cochrane, of Alpha Centauri", whereas in "First Contact" Cochrane is clearly a human who has never left Earth. Cochrane most likely moved to Alpha Centauri after developing warp drive.
  6. Even if the TOS Cochrane was rejuvenated by the Companion, he does not look remotely like the one in "First Contact". The Companion could have altered Cochrane’s face by reversing the radiation damage.
  7. It is hardly believable that a major technological breakthrough like the first warp flight is accomplished a couple of years after a devastating global war, in an isolated camp without a visible infrastructure and by a rag-tag staff. Actually, the warp flight takes place ten years after the World War, as stated in the dialogue.
  8. The weapons that the Borg fire at Cochrane's camp don't do more damage than present-day grenades. Don't they have anything with more yield? This sphere is likely an escape craft, and presumably has a relatively light armament.
  9. Instead of allowing her to fire a full clip of ammo at him, why doesn't Data try to stun and disarm Lily from a distance? It would be too risky to use a phaser so close to the Phoenix.
  10. The crew knows in advance that after a few shots with particle weapons the Borg would adapt. When this point is reached the only crude defense left is to hit them with the phaser rifles. Why don't they replicate blade or projectile weapons, both of which prove to be quite efficient in the following? Maybe the drones would have likewise adapted to alternative weapons, but it would have given the crew some more time from the start. There may not have been enough time or power available to replicate non energy weapons, especially given the risk of the collective becoming aware of it via the computer systems in Engineering.
  11. Picard dismisses Lt. Hawk's idea to fire at the deflector dish because it is charged with antiprotons, so they might end up destroying half the ship. But when a Borg approaches him after they have adapted to the phasers, Picard fires at the dish himself (releasing a stream of gas that blows the Borg away). On the other hand, Lt. Hawk mentioned "full power", while Picard apparently fired with a lower setting. Picard actually fired at a small component set away from the dish.
  12. The escape pods probably begin their descent into the atmosphere just after their launch. It is safe to assume that they have already landed on Gravett Island or are about to land by the time when it is safe to return. Are they equipped to be launched into orbit again? Or are they left behind, and the crew is simply beamed up? The pods themselves are most likely beamed up and reinstated.
  13. Why did the Borg let Picard enter engineering without resistance? Weren't they aware of the danger that he could carry a phaser and shoot at the cooling tanks, without the risk of killing Data? And why didn't Picard try to do exactly this in the first place? The Borg knew Picard wouldn’t risk using a phaser so close to the warp core.
  14. After the Borg have been killed by the plasma coolant, Picard activates something that looks and sounds like a ventilation system. It then selectively removes the plasma coolant but not the smoke that is still rising straight up from the Borg corpses while the ventilation is still on. The extractors could have been set to only remove the plasma coolant by using some form of energy field, ignoring the thin smoke from the Borg corpses. In addition, the system could be designed to hold the extracted gas in some kind of holding system, rather than venting it into space - especially as such venting could be visible to the Vulcans.
  15. Picard must be quite confused when he walks around in Main Engineering, approaches the Borg Queen who is obviously as good as dead, only to break her neck. He notices Data at last when the android calls "Captain" from behind. Shouldn't Data's welfare have been his foremost concern? Picard wanted to make sure the remains of the Borg Queen had been deactivated first.
  16. The Borg used a previously unknown method of time travel. When it was time for the Enterprise-E to return to the 24th century, would it be really possible to reproduce this method with the technology available on the damaged ship, only based on some sensor readings? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier to take advantage of the good old slingshot effect? With a major component of the deflector system missing, namely the central part of the dish, it may not be possible to go to warp, which is necessary for the slingshot method.[3]

Notes

  1. Shown in The Best of Both Worlds
  2. Possibly linked to the non sequential stardates in Season 1 of The Next Generation
  3. Of course, this "error" appears in almost every Star Trek television show or movie.

Sources

  1. IMDB entry
  2. Explanations copyright: Roger William Francis Worsley 2011
  3. Ex Astris Scientia


The Movies
Original Series:
The Motion Picture I The Wrath of Khan I The Search for Spock I The Voyage Home I The Final Frontier I The Undiscovered Country
Next Generation:
Generations I First Contact I Insurrection I Nemesis
JJ Abrams Reality:
Star Trek I Star Trek Into Darkness I Star Trek Beyond
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.