Stardate: 5554.4 (2269)
Original Air Date: October 20, 1973
Writer: Walter Koenig
Director: Hal Sutherland
“You talk about creating life with your clones, but you have to murder to do it!”
The Enterprise has been ordered to survey a new planet recently discovered at the periphery of the galaxy. On the planet’s surface, Spock locates a power source emanating from a building, and Sulu identifies strange mobile plants who can crawl along the ground. The plant poisons Sulu.
Inside the building, they encounter an odd botanical alien species –the leader of whom is Agmar (James Doohan). He welcomes the crewmen to this planet which is known as “Phylos.” They fear aliens but they offer to help cure Sulu of his poison. Agmar shows the crew a hall of his ancestors –giant plant-like species who used approximately 70% of their brains—however, a human once visited this planet and brought disease which has decimated the creatures on Phylos. Suddenly, Agmar and his fellow botanical Phylosians kidnap Spock.
Next, a giant human “master” appears, Dr. Stavos Keniclius V (James Doohan). He has apparently been conducting repeated self-cloning “master race” experiments –he is the remnant of the Eugenics Wars. Deep underground beneath the surface of Phylos, the crewmen discover a new giant clone of Spock. The crew make use of Dr. McCoy’s “great-grandaddy’s weed spray” to deter the plants while Kirk persuades giant Spock to revitalize the original Spock. Kirk discusses peace already existing in the galaxy thanks to the Federation, and Dr. Keniclius decides to remain on Phylos to help rebuild its civilization.
My Thoughts on “The Infinite Vulcan”
This episode gives more than a few flashes of “Spock’s Brain.” The idea of a rich botanical planet like Phylos is intriguing to me, however this episode simply drifts too far into Saturday morning cartoon territory for me, especially when the maniacal, trident-brandishing Dr. Stavos Keniclius V appears. Also, the newly introduced “Vulcan mind touch” to reinvigorate Spock by his giant clone is a bit of a stretch. What exactly is Dr. Keniclius V attempting to accomplish by cloning Spock? Does Spock need to be gigantic? How will this bring peace to the galaxy? For lovers of Star Trek, there are still plenty of opportunities to find redeeming qualities in the animated series, but “The Infinite Vulcan” is not top tier in my view.
Walter Koenig (1936-present), who typical played Pavel Chekov, said he was inspired by news reports of cloning when drafting this script, however, he has also expressed frustrations with Gene Roddenberry’s constant changes and revisions to the script. In the end, he had written ten different drafts of the script. Koenig was asked to return to write more episodes of TAS, he politely declined.
Star Trek Trivia:
- Dr. Keniclius was apparently made to look like Walter Koenig.
- This episode is the first time that the United Federation of Planets is affirmed as being founded in the 22nd century.
- In this episode, Giant Spock (or the clone “Spock 2”) repeats Spock’s well-known Vulcan maxim in this episode: “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.”
- The plant which attacks Sulu is called a retlaw, or Walter spelled backwards (a joke incorporated by Walter Koenig).
- At one point, Dr. Keniclius mentions the Kzinti, a warring race of cat-like humanoids. This is a tie-in to the future episode “The Slaver Weapon” and Larry Niven’s Known Space Universe.
- Once again, James Doohan voices a couple characters aside from Scotty, including Agmar and Dr. Keniclius V.
- “Beam us up, Scotty” is used again in this episode.
- Director Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) directed all episodes of the first season of TAS. He gained early career recognition working on large Disney animation movies before switching to Filmation where he worked on TAS, as well as Flash Gordon, Batman, and Superman animated shows. Notably, pink is a recurring color in TAS. This is because Sutherland was colorblind and thought he was actually selecting the color grey.
No disrespect intended to Walter Koenig, but this episode was always a little too bewildering for me too. Particularly why they had to make Spock 2 a giant. Thank you for your review and trivia.
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