Star Trek: The Animated Series

“The Infinite Vulcan”

2 stars.

Air date: 10/20/1973
Written by Walter Koenig
Directed by Hal Sutherland

Review Text

The Enterprise landing party beams down to an unexplored planet and discovers a species called the Phylosians — sentient, humanoid plants who can talk (through a translation device, but still). They save Sulu from an accidental poisoning and gain Kirk's trust — before a bunch of plant-based pterodactyls swoop in and make off with Mr. Spock.

The Phylosians are led by a giant man named Keniclius, who was a genetically engineered superhuman exile from the Eugenics Wars era who somehow found himself here, where he has survived for centuries by cloning himself over and over so he can eventually carry out his nonsensical mission of, I don't know — creating a master race to "keep the peace"?

"The Infinite Vulcan" is a mess of an episode with so many confusing and bizarre turns of the plot and strange motivations that I gave up and just regarded the story as a series of random acts. The crew beams back to the ship without Spock, and then beams back down in secret to try to retrieve him, and makes an alliance with the Phylosians to retrieve Spock from Keniclius' clutches before Keniclius' grand plan can be enacted. They travel through some underground tunnels before being attacked by the pterodactyls, but are able to get themselves to Keniclius' cloning room.

Much like in "Spock's Brain," Spock is required for his unique mind, and nearly loses it as a result; Keniclius clones the original Spock into a giant Spock to carry on his "master race for peace" nonsense. This puts the real Spock's life in jeopardy, but Kirk is able to talk logic to Giant Spock, who mind melds with Original Spock to restore his mind. By the end, Giant Spock still seems to be alive, which is a rather strange loose end.

"The Infinite Vulcan" was written by Walter Koenig in his sole contribution to TAS (having not been hired to reprise his role), but it suffers from a severe lack of focus, and mistakes speechifying for genuine insight. I like that the problems here are solved with dialogue rather than fighting. I just wish the dialogue made sense. Keniclius' change of heart is something that requires a single conversation, making you wonder why he spent 300 years waiting to see it through in the first place. This episode is too absurd to take itself this seriously, or too serious to be this absurd.

Previous episode: The Survivor
Next episode: The Magicks of Megas-Tu

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6 comments on this post

    A loose end that was fittingly tied off in Lower Decks, where Giant Spock's bones were seen hanging in that second-season collector's starship.

    This one was so wacky that I could only chuckle and go along for the ride. The Phylosian Green Plant people were likable, and the purple flying, screeching dragon things with long tentacles were a hoot. Keniclius was a royal pain in the assinine--ridiculously slow to catch on to the fact that his Master Race to Bring Peace to the Galaxy idea was old news, and not needed. Giant Spock versus Normal Spock was so bizarre that I'm not sure what I just watched, but the mind-melding between the two was a cool idea I guess. The Plant People's Plant Space Ships were pretty. It's kind of fun that Walter Koenig wrote this. I can certainly see why he only wrote one Star Trek episode in his whole life. Jammer calls this episode "absurd", and I guess he is right. But I say that gently.

    Some very interesting sci-fi with highly intelligent plant life but also held back by a slightly ridiculous character Keniclius 5 who is pursuing a masterplan all founded on an erroneous belief. He also intends to create clones by having to kill the original being.

    It is a bit amusing that old fashioned weed spray is used where phasers are powerless. But ultimately, there's an imaginative and detailed story told here. The Trekkian values of peace and not imposing one's will on others comes through via the Vulcan IDIC, which Kirk sort of convinces Keniclius of. One also develops some compassion for the Phylosians who are a dying race due to humans, but yet are peaceful towards the landing party, albeit while serving Keniclius.

    Good use of the Big 3 and Uhura and Scotty who have important contributions to make. Given that it is a plant episode, Sulu has a key role to play as part of the landing party. The episode title doesn't seem all that appropriate.

    2.5*

    I agree with the review but I’d give this 2 1/2 stars because I like Walter Koenig and the dialogue between Spock and his giant double are amusing. I also liked the plant people. The story just doesn’t hang together very well.

    I wonder how many years the image of a giant Spock looming over him haunted Dr. McCoy's nightmares 🙂

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