My thoughts on The Animated Series – “The Infinite Vulcan”
So here I am, nearly at the halfway point in the series and I’m still not sure if I like it or not. There have been a couple of good episodes but the majority, at least in my mind, have been real stinkers. Including this one, “The Infinite Vulcan”. I really expected this one to be better than it was, seeing as it was written by Trek veteran Walter Koenig. But this bomb of an episode proves that just because you’re an actor it doesn’t mean you know jack about writing for television.
We start off with, as we often do, Kirk making a log entry about being ordered to go survey a new planet at the edge of the galaxy. Sulu and Spock are getting life readings but they’re confused and they’re not sure what to make of them. There’s also a power reading that seems to be a little out of the ordinary, so Kirk orders a landing party to beam down to check it out. When they arrive on the planet, there are signs of some kind of past civilization which looks all futuristic-y and kinda neat. So they head off to explore, to see exactly what’s going on.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy go to investigate a building while Sulu stays behind to take readings on a small, fuzzy plant that resembles a Tribble on a stick. All of a sudden, Sulu starts yelling for the captain because that cute fuzzy plant suddenly grows legs and walks off, following Sulu like a love struck puppy. Kirk gives one of his signature goofy grins and reminds his officer that they are always encouraged to make friends with the natives. At very nearly the same time, Spock’s tricorder starts going crazy and he says that he’s detecting some kind of electronic probe. Better go check it out..it could be anything.
Kirk orders them to put their phasers on stun and Sulu needs to stay with his new fuzzy friend as they move off to investigate. The minute they do, Sulu bends down and scoops up the plant. Aww…it’s so fluffy! And cute! It’s like he just can’t help himself. The plant, who clearly is offended at being picked up, stabs him with a thorn which causes Sulu to yelp in pain and drop it. The plant scuttles off, knowing next time to avoid the humans completely because all they do is cause trouble.
Meanwhile, Spock, Bones and Kirk go inside the building and Spock states that the probe which was scanning them originates in one of the walls, which also seems to be putting out a very strong force field. Intriguing. Bones starts picking up a very large, very powerful humanoid on his medical tricorder and we all know that only means one thing…trouble.
Suddenly Sulu cries out and Bones rushes to his aid. The poor dude’s been poisoned and, horror of horrors, he’s gonna die in about a minute unless the good doctor can find an antidote. Unfortunately, he has no idea what that might be but fortunately for Sulu, a bunch of plant people show up and say they can save Sulu. Bones is outraged that they would inject him with some alien dew drop but the alien, Agmar, says there is no other way because waiting would be fatal. Spock informs Bones that the creatures of botanical origin and the doctor seems amazed that they are some kind of intelligent plant. Really, Bones? After all you’ve done and seen while on the Enterprise, sentient mobile plants freak you out? Please.
Agmar says that Sulu should be up and around momentarily after shooting him up with alien venom or antidote or whatever it is he shot him up with to counteract the poison. Kirk thanks him and Agmar welcomes him to the planet Phyllos (which I found amusing. When you classify a plant, you have to give it a phylum which is basically shoving it into one group or the other and it comes between class and kingdom as far as order goes. Biology 101–I never thought I’d need THAT information again.). Kirk introduces himself and the rest of the away party.
“Dude..you were like totally expecting us!” Kirk says to Agmar.
“Dude..we were. Only like, we were creeped out by you so we didn’t reveal ourselves right away.” replies the plant-man.
Apparently Sulu had been bitten by the Retlaw (Spell it backwards, see what you get kiddies. I’m betting he threw that in there as an inside joke) plant which is only fatal if not attended to immediately. Thank goodness Agmar and the plant people were there to save his butt. Bones admits to admiring their science since Federation science doesn’t have any cure that works as fast as the Phylloid’s does.
“Dude..how did you know that would like totally work on a human?” asks Bones.
“Dude…there were humanoids here before and they were totally bogus. But it’s cool.” replies Agmar.
Spock is puzzled by their method of communication and Agmar tells him the device around his neck is called a vo-der and it is MOST efficient. Kirk is getting annoyed at the riddles and demands to know where the rest of the plant people are. Agmar offers to show him and takes him to a strange room filled with what appears to be really BIG plant people..only they’re all dead and covered with cobwebs. Somehow, the dead plant people also manage to look really really depressed. I’d be depressed if I were dead too, come to think of it. Spock scans the dead people and comments that they must have used close to 70% of their brains, something he is clearly envious of. Kirks asks if those are Agmar’s ancestors and Agmar states (rather casually, like he’s talking about yesterday’s lunch) that they are only the generation before his.
“Dude..what happened? Why did they get made all dead and stuff?” asks Kirk, ever curious.
“Dude…you humans came and made us all sick with like the plague and shit.” is Agmar’s answer. But he also came up with the cure for the sickness he’d brought, so it was cool with Agmar and the plant people because now they wouldn’t have to die.
“Dude..there’s like bacteria and shit.” McCoy mutters and I was left smacking my forehead. No kidding, doc. He continues muttering about how it’s harmless to humans but the staphylococcus strains aren’t native to this planet (thank you Captain Obvious). Google tells me that the staph family of bacteria are no joke, since they’re responsible for at least a dozen different kinds of illness, from skin lesions to blood infections. No wonder Agmar and his crew were wary of humans if that’s the kind of thing they were spreading around! Agmar says he had no way of knowing what was going on, since he was just a little sproutling then.
All of a sudden, there is a mysterious flapping noise (rather like a sheet flapping on a clothesline on a windy day) and a screech. Kirk looks up to see the shadow of something flying overhead…it’s some kind of beast that looks like a cross between a dragon and a plant thing with large wings and twin tendrils that shoot out from its underside. And it doesn’t like Kirk, that’s for certain. Spock affirms that it is in fact another kind of plant life, primitive and very aggressive. Crap..doesn’t anything on this planet like them? I guess not.
Kirk ducks as the flapper comes hurtling towards his head (if you hit the pause button just right, it looks like the captain’s doing an odd dance which I have to admit I laughed at). He aims his phaser at it but it’s not working. Apparently there is a field surrounding them which deactivates any weapon so they are defenseless against the flappers. Bummer, dude. So Kirk does the next best thing and goes to call the Enterprise but the flapper grabs him with its tentacles. Bones jumps into help him escape and several more flappers come out of nowhere, headed straight for Bones, Spock and Sulu who also get entangled in the tentacles. Agmar, like the coward he is, just sort of raises his own tentacles like he’s trying to cover his head or his eye stalks, I’m not sure which.
“Dude..what are they going to do with us?” asks Sulu, as he struggles with the flapper. Kirk just kind of stares at him.
“Dude I don’t know but I think this was a diversion, man.” replies Kirk as he kicks about trying to free himself. He’s not far off because one of the flappers has Spock and is flying away with him.
Agmar apologizes..he says there was no other way. No other way to WHAT? They have Spock and Kirk wants him back..now. Apparently, Spock was the one that got picked to serve a far better cause..now isn’t that special? Some guy Agmar calls The Master has been looking a long time for somebody like Spock and now that he’s found him, he’s not likely to let him go. And that just won’t do.
Agmar waves his tentacle and the flapper release Kirk, Sulu and McCoy, taking off into the distance while Agmar starts preaching about how the whole galaxy will share in the beauty of their peace and harmony like a stoned hippie. Kirk, naturally angered by the disappearance of his first officer, goes to choke Agmar. You know, like you do. The other plant people starting muttering about this Master guy again which only infuriates Kirk more.
Suddenly, The Master appears and he looks like a giant of a man. He IS a giant of a man…and he doesn’t look happy. This does not bode well for the gang from the Enterprise I’m sure of it. Kirk asks Bones if it’s another plant and he’s told that no, this guy is definitely human alright. The giant informs them he is Dr. Stavos Keniclius 5 (did anybody else see that corny movie about the robot named named Number 5 who suddenly became sentient and named himself Johnny? yeah..why am I reminded of that right now?).
So, Dr. Keniclius 5 welcomes them to Phylos and Kirk’s first order of business is to find out where Spock went. Keniclius informs them that he now belongs to him, the essence of him belongs to Keniclius. That sounds..creepy. And a little dirty. Kirk, McCoy and Sulu are none too pleased about this. Keniclius 5 tells them to take their little toys and go home but of course, you know Kirk isn’t going to do that. Keniclius tells them that if they don’ t leave they’re going to be punished. He’s SO sorry, but dude..he totally owns Spock now. More flappers come darting out of nowhere to hover menacingly, their tentacles waving wildly at the away team. Regretfully, Kirk orders Scotty to beam them up. But don’t worry..they’ll be back. Muhahahahaha!
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk goes about his usual stuff…making passes at the pretty girls and recording log entries. He’s upset (and rightly so) that this Keniclius dude has taken Spock prisoner. And he’s not going to stand for it. He orders Uhura to see if she can find any historical references to him so they can figure out who and what he is, where he came from, all that jazz. Sulu can’t seem to find either the good Dr. K or Spock on his scanners and he’s having trouble picking up the Phylosians too, on account of their freaky plant biology. Kirk mutters something about Agmar mentioning a weapons deactivator and tells Sulu to lock phasers on a particular building so they can take it out. But when Sulu fires on the building the phasers don’t seem to have any effect. Bummer. They don’t have any choice but to go back down there and rescue Spock with clubs or knives or something that the Phylosians can’t just ‘turn off’ with their magic beam. Scotty alludes to some ‘special equipment’ that his engineering team will have ready soon, so maybe they’ll be able to use a phaser-type weapon after all.
Over at the communications desk, Uhura’s managed to locate some historical data on Keniclius which she puts up on the main screen. Bones comes striding onto the bridge and says that his great great granddaddy had a fine garden and while he had to scramble around a bit for the ingredients, he’s got something cooking down in Sickbay that might just take care of the Phylosians. Sounds like he’s cooking up 24th century weed killer to me.
It turns out that the original Stavos Keniclius was a scientist from Earth during the time of the great Eugenics wars. Like Khan, he was obsessed with cloning and creating a master race of supermen. Unfortunately, he was kicked out of his community for being anti-humanistic. After that he disappeared from the record but it looks like he hopped aboard a ship and ended up somehow on Phylos. Bones mentions a legend he heard about some dude roaming the galaxy, looking for the perfect mate and Kirk theorizes that although he’d have to be over 200 years old, that might just be Keniclius. He must have figured out how to clone himself which is why the current version is Keniclius 5. Now things are starting to make sense.
Down in the transporter room, as the away team gets ready to head back to Phylos, Sulu expresses concern about the new weapons. Scotty says the equipment is guaranteed to work but he’s not so sure about the stuff inside which makes me think that Scotty has come up with some kind of plant sprayer that’s been filled with Dr. McCoy’s granddaddy’s weed killer. They beam to the surface and for the moment, seem to be undetected by the plant-like Phylosians.
They don’t remain undetected for long as the flappers come at them, screeching and waving their tentacles. Oh shit. Bones starts complaining and Sulu, tricorder in hand, states that the flappers are just reacting on instinct, nothing more. Once they are clear of the flappers, they head back towards the building where they last saw Keniclius 5. The Phylosians are ripping the cobwebs off their spaceships, as if they’re preparing for a trip. Kirk surmises they’re either getting ready for a mass migration…or an invasion. Which sounds like trouble. Even though Agmar said they were a peaceful people..that doesn’t mean they’ll always be peaceful. Bones says it looks like the ships never got off the ground, that the disease Keniclius accidentally brought with them wiped them out before they could complete whatever mission they had in mind.
Since Sulu still can’t seem to locate Spock or Keniclius, Kirk suggests asking the Phylosians to show them where he’s hiding and if they don’t show them the way , well..that’ll be dealt with when it comes up. Kirk sneaks up behind one of the Phylosians and grabs him by the neck,d ragging him down. It’s Agmar and Kirk insists that while he doesn’t want to hurt him, he does need Spock back. Now.
“Dude…I don’t think so. The Master says he’s *swoon* Perfect.” coos Agmar.
“Dude…give me back my officer. Like now.” replies Kirk, not impressed at all.
“We like, totally need him to carry on our work.” Agmar informs him and Kirk’s all “Dude..what the hell are you TALKING about?”.
It turns out that Agmar and the others are the last of a dying race. They used to have plans, goals, DREAMS..but disease (thanks to Keniclius, the Typhoid Mary of Phylos) wiped them almost all out. All their spores have been destroyed and aww…no more Phylosians.
“Dude..what about when there’s no more Master?” Bones asks, one eyebrow quirked in curiosity.
“Dude..there will ALWAYS be a Master. You’re worried about your compadre, homie. Let’s go see him.” Agmar replies weakly and they follow him as he scutters off. This seems too easy and Kirk’s not buying it, however.
Agmar takes them to a lift that lowers into the ground and explains that since his people came from the soil, these underground tunnels were once part of their home. They zoom off down the tunnel on the same platform they’d been standing on, headed into the darkness presumably towards where Spock is being held. Sulu says that it’s no surprise they couldn’t find Spock because the walls are 600 % more dense than lead. That’s pretty dense, I’d say.
Suddenly the lights all go out and the flappers attack. Kirk tells them to run because they can’t do anything if they can’t see. Right..running off into the dark, when you might trip over something or run into a wall accidentally–that’s REALLY intelligent. Oi. So they run..there is a light in the distance, like a doorway. Naturally they head towards it because who wants to run around in the dark with flappers attacking you? Not me!
Finally they reach the light and it turns out it’s a door to some kind of lab where Spock is lying in stasis on a bio-bed of sorts. McCoy scans him and pronounces that he’s dying, that something funky is going on in the old brainpan.
“Haw haw. You’re too late, losers! In a couple minutes, he’ll be like, dead!” crows Keniclius and Kirk is furious. How dare he just kill his friend like that. This is SO not cool. It turns out that Keniclius has decided to clone Spock because he was the most perfect specimen of a humanoid he’d ever found. The camera pans over to show Spock 2, who is the same size as Keniclius 5..a giant. And he’s wearing a Starfleet uniform…I wonder where Keniclius found one that size. It’s not like Spock came out of the replicator WEARING it..or at least I’d think not. The landing party stare at Spock 2. Spock 2 stares at them. There’s dramatic music aaaaand…fade to black for commercial.
When we come back from the commercial break, we see flappers come hurtling at the away team. Kirk orders them to get ready to defend themselves. They put on what appear to be some kind of face mask (with McCoy strapping one on the half-dead Spock) and Sulu pulls out a three pronged spray gun. He and Kirk spray the flappers with a noxious green gas which knocks them to the ground. Keniclius and Spock 2, coughing, flee the room. Now that they’ve knocked out the flappers, they need to get Spock out of there before Keniclius and Spock 2 return. They try to call Scotty but since they’re underground, their communicators aren’t functioning. They’ll have to get above ground somehow. Not that it will matter..Spock’s mind is gone. He’s very nearly finished.
Keniclius returns and boasts that Spock’s mind has been transferred into the machine (ah..but what about his ka? Where did THAT go?), ha ha ha. While he can replicate the human body, he can’t replicate the human mind so he had to steal Spock’s right out of his body.
“Oh give me a break..you’re so not creating life. You’re taking it..from Spock. “Kirk pouts.
Keniclius isn’t too happy about that as Kirk scoops up his friend and orders the other two to scram. Unfortunately, Spock 2 is in the way and Kirk orders him to move his Vulcan butt so they can get by. Spock 2 just glares and McCoy surmises he doesn’t really understand because his mind is still reeling from all the accumulated knowledge that was fed into it from the machine.
Back on the Enterprise, Scotty and Uhura are frantically trying to make contact with the captain to no avail. Scotty says that he wants nearly the entire power load of the ship behind the communications system to punch through whatever the Phylosians are doing to block it. Uhura warns him that will totally drain the dilithium crystals and Scotty’s like ‘Screw it. Just do what I said woman! Naaaow!”
Down on the planet, Spock 2 is becoming more aware as his mind slowly integrates everything. Kirk decides to appeal to his logic, asking him what’s the point in letting one man be killed so his duplicate might survive? Like a child, Kirk demands an explanation. “EXPLAIN IT! EXPLAAAAIN!”
Uhura throws the switch on the tightened communication beam and you can tell she probably has her fingers crossed this won’t blow the board up, though it probably will with all the power being routed through it.
“Dude..you can’t like, just stand there and let this happen. It’s illogical.” Kirk argues.
“It’s not just a freaking duplicate. He is the beginning of a master race!” Keniclius shoots back.
Suddenly there is a beeping as Kirk’s communicator goes off. It looks like Scotty was able to get through after all. He says that Spock 2 should answer them and flings the communicator at him. The duplicate catches it and in his oversized paw, it looks like a toy. McCoy intones softly that Spock 1 is slipping away, almost gone now and they need to get him back to the Enterprise. Kirk stares at Keniclius and Spock 2. They stare back at him..who’s going to win this battle of wills?
Finally, Spock 2 gives in and answers the beeping communicator. Uhura says she’s located more information on Keniclius and apparently, he wrote a lot about using a master race as a peace keeping force. Like an oversize security team. Too bad all his work has been a waste since the Federation has had peace for over a century. Oh damn. All that hard work for nothing.
“Dude! Whatever? Like, what about the Eugenics wars, the Galactic wars, the Romulans ,Klingons and Kzinti? What about them huh? They don’t believe in peace. ” Keniclius 5 reminds Kirk. He needs an army of Spocks to keep them under control.
“That’s like, old news, man. You’ve been out of touch for 200 years!” Kirk tells him and Agmar gripes that The Master is NEVER EVER wrong. Never. But the only reason they think Keniclius is The Master is because he saved them from dying. They also wanted to impose peace on the galaxy but Kirk insists they HAVE peace. They’re full up, don’t need anymore thanks. He pleads for them to reverse the effects of the machine and keep Spock from dying since they don’t need him anymore. Keniclius refuses. Bones states (for the 4th or 5th time in the last 5 minutes) that Spock is nearly dead. Kirk glares up at Spock 2.
“Dude..IDIC.” Kirk tells him.
“Like yeah. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. What of it?” asks Spock 2.
“But does your imposing Phylosian values on other cultures foster the idea of infinite diversity?” Kirk challenges. THAT sets the giant Vulcan back on his heels as he thinks about it. Nope…imposing Phylosian values on other people just for the sake of order in the galaxy doesn’t jive with his idea of logic. Kirk orders Keniclius to reverse the machine.
“NOooooooo!” bellows Agmar as he lunges at Kirk. Sulu throws him over his shoulder and Keniclius starts waving this big stick he’s been carrying all along, like he’s going to hit somebody. Instead, he smashes the bio bed (even though Spock wasn’t in it before..continuity error. He HAD been on the floor with McCoy and all of a sudden he’s back in the bio bed). Just as Keniclius smashes it, Spock turns to look at McCoy.
“They killed Kenn..er..Spock!” Kirk yells and races in a rage at Spock 2, who insists this is illogical behavior. He suggests something more constructive, like a Vulcan mind meld. So he lays his forefinger (which covers all of Spock’s forehead) and begins the mind meld, restoring Spock’s mind to him in that way.
“When you’re not being an asshole, you can be quite logical. “Spock comments. Spock 2 assures them there will be no militia, no master race. Well ain’t that a relief. Keniclius wonders aloud what’s going to become of him, then, if everything he worked for was a total waste? Spock says he should remain on Phylos with Spock 2 and maybe, just maybe, they can kickstart the Phylosian race back into something like prosperity again. Keniclius thinks this is a wicked idea.
“Dude, you read my mind.” says Spock 2.
“Like, of couse I did.” replies Spock and he gives him the Vulcan salute, which Spock 2 returns.
“Sulu, like could you teach me that body throw? Could come in handy.” asks Kirk and Sulu looks all shifty.
“It’s not just physical..you have to be…inscrutable. Like a ninja.” he replies somewhat cryptically.
“Sulu, you’re the most scrutable man I know. ” Kirk quips and Sulu winks broadly as the credits start to roll.
I think this episode had the potential to be really good and it all went right down the crapper when Keniclius 5 appeared. Because it’s hard to take a giant seriously, even in science fiction. They’re just comical no matter the setting. The flappers, with their bat wings and tentacles being flung here and there, didn’t help either. I wanted to laugh because they were so ridiculous looking. There is no way anything even remotely resembling those things could ever get off the ground. Then at the end, when they revealed Spock 2, I just wanted to groan and bang my head against something. I’m sorry..this was totally unbelievable even for Star Trek. I hope that the next episode, “The Magicks of Megus-tu” isn’t nearly as bad as this. I am beginning to understand now why there is such hate in the fandom for the animated series. If it had been halfway decent, then you could overlook the terrible animation. But the stories are just total crap, written strictly for the purpose of continuing on something that had been popular. And that never works out..it usually turns out bad for the fandom and people lose interest because it’s so terrible.
So..next time I’ll be reviewing the 9th episode, “The Magicks of Megus-tu”. Let’s cross our fingers, folks. It can’t possibly get any worse…or can it?