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Retro Review: The Infinite Vulcan

Posted by Michelle - 27/05/11 at 07:05 pm


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Star Trek: The Animated Series

Season: 01 Episode: 07 (s01e07)

Original US airdate: 10/07/1973

A cloned giant from the Eugenics Wars wants to clone Spock in his own image as a galactic peacemaker.

Plot Summary: While exploring the planet Phylos, Sulu is poisoned by an unfamiliar flower and saved by what appears to be an intelligent, mobile plant who identifies himself as Agmar. He explains that most of his people died when a human arrived carrying bacterial lethal to the Phylosians. Inside a laboratory, the landing party is attacked by flying plants, but they reach the hiding place of a giant human who introduces himself as Keniclius 5, the fifth clone of a geneticist from Earth who brought disease to the Phylosians in his attempt to produce a perfect being. Believing that Spock’s Vulcan blood makes him an ideal being, Keniclius 5 captures him and orders Kirk to leave the planet. Uhura discovers that the original Keniclius disappeared shortly after the Eugenics Wars. Armed with an herbicide to use against the flying plants, Kirk and McCoy return to the planet to retrieve Spock, but he is dying because his mind has been transferred into a giant Spock clone. Keniclius plans to produce many more Spock clones to serve as a galactic peacekeeping force. Kirk explains that since Keniclius left Earth, the Federation has been able to maintain peace, and the Spock clone – which has absorbed Spock’s logic – refuses to interfere. He performs a mind meld to save Spock, and Keniclius 5 agrees to use his skills to helping to restore the Phylosians.

Analysis: You’d think that after appearing in a few dozen episodes of the original Star Trek, Walter Koenig would have some sense of what works in televised sci-fi and what doesn’t. Yet “The Infinite Vulcan” manages to be so silly that its major saving grace is that it has giggle-worthy bits. Okay, it’s more the fault of the animators than Koenig that the poisonous purple dandelions look like tribbles on stilts and the flying plants look like legless purple dragons with streamers attached, but couldn’t anyone tell from “Who Mourns For Adonais” that giant humanoids always look ridiculous and couldn’t anyone have guessed that any storyline that involves stealing Spock’s brain could never be taken seriously after “Spock’s Brain”?

And oh, the science! The Eugenics Wars used to be a logical if chilling follow-up to the genetic programs of the Nazis, trying to breed super-humans who then wanted to rule over or exterminate the normal humans. We learned about them in the unquestioned classic “Space Seed” – the precursor to The Wrath of Khan – which was so effective precisely because it was plausible. No one was trying to breed giant super-powerful clones who appeared in oversized replicas of their familiar clothes. Cartoon MegaSpock kick Khan’s butt in five seconds, and apparently Keniclius has the technology not only to clone cells but to speed up their development so that he can create a fully formed oversized replica in, like, a day. Plus he has a mumbojumbotron to fully transfer Spock’s consciousness, making the clone conscious while the real Spock’s autonomic nervous system is still functioning. Brain and brain, what is brain, it is Controller, is it not? Kirk should have confiscated that device for the good of the Federation!

As with other animated episodes, the dialogue, at least, is in character, if not as witty as one might hope. McCoy gets in a few zingers, complaining that an alien can’t cure Sulu by just injecting him with a dewdrop and bragging that his herbicide, aka great-granddaddy’s weed-killer, still works. Uhura is once again smarter than she usually got to be on the live-action series, doing the research that reveals Keniclius’s origins and warning Scotty that the ship will drain its dilithium crystals if they try to broadcast through Keniclius’s shields.

The resolution, too, is quite nice, with Kirk reminding the clone of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations and appealing to Vulcan reason both to save his friend and to protect the galaxy from an army of gigantic Spock peacekeepers. Even Spock, upon returning to his own body, congratulates Kirk on his deductive reasoning when he isn’t being bellicose. The final words, in which Sulu claims one has to be inscrutable to perform a body throw and Kirk calls Sulu the most scrutable man he knows to much laughter, sounds so naughty that I can’t help wondering whether there’s some sort of inside joke going on.

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