(written from a Production point of view)
A species of intelligent plants, led by a clone of a Eugenics Wars-era scientist, clones Spock with the intentions of creating a master race to keep the peace.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5554.4. The Enterprise has been ordered to a new planet recently discovered at the periphery of the galaxy."
A landing party beams down and they discover an apparently abandoned city that gives off confused life and power readings. While the away team is exploring the city, Sulu picks up a mobile plant that is following him around and is poisoned. Spock discovers that they are being scanned. As Dr. McCoy tries to save Sulu without much hope, the alien inhabitants of the planet approach the landing party and save Sulu's life. The alien creatures, who are intelligent plantlike beings, welcome the USS Enterprise crew to the planet Phylos.
A Phylosian called Agmar tells Captain Kirk they did not wish to reveal themselves at first because they are a peaceful race and have a fear of aliens. McCoy asks, "How is it that you knew your antidote would work on a Human?" Agmar answers, "There have been humanoid aliens here before." He adds that a visitor came and the poison that affected Sulu was accidentally brought to the planet by this Human. It was like a plague, and they had no idea what was happening. The plague brought sickness and death to them but the Human subsequently worked to find a cure. They are a dying race; for the five surviving intelligent Phylosians are sterile.
The landing party is attacked by bat-like flying creatures, also plant-based. When Sulu tries to shoot them with his phaser and fails, Agmar tells them that there is a weapon deactivator in effect preventing their "destructive machines" from functioning. Spock is quickly abducted by the creatures and Agmar apologizes, claiming that there was no other way. He explains that Spock has been chosen to serve a greater cause: "The Master has searched many years to find a specimen like Spock, and now all the worlds of the galaxy will share in the beauty of peace and harmony!" As Kirk angrily demands to be taken to Spock, the Phylosians chant, "Praise to the Master, our Savior!"
The landing party eventually meets that visitor and discovers that he is a Terran scientist by the name of Dr. Stavos Keniclius 5. He claims Spock's essence belongs to him because he wishes to clone Spock to create a galactic peacemaker. Keniclius demands that Kirk return to his ship, but Kirk refuses to go without his first officer. Keniclius tells him to leave or suffer the consequences. Reluctantly, Kirk has himself and the landing party beams up.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5554.8. We have come upon one of the most fascinating discoveries we have ever seen--plant life of extraordinary intelligence and technology. However, they have captured Mr. Spock, apparently under the orders of a Human named Keniclius. Lt. Uhura is trying to locate any reference to such a man in order to unravel the mystery of this giant Human."
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Uhura finds a story about a modern Diogenes wandering the galaxy looking for someone special – a perfect specimen. Stavos Keniclius, it proves, originally lived during the Eugenics Wars, but left Earth after "losing" a bitter disagreement with Earth authorities over the need (his view), or lack thereof (the Earth authorities' view), for a genetically superior master race to keep the peace. Kirk realizes that the original Dr. Keniclius has died, but also that he has left behind a clone of himself, by the name of Keniclius 5, to take his place, and that this clone has, through the original Keniclius' scientific specialties, eugenics and manipulative endocrinology, been deliberately grown to gigantism over, to date, four consecutive generations after the original Keniclius' death as a normal-sized Human. Kirk beams down and orders Scott to take the ship out of orbit, hoping the Phylosians will think they have left. Kirk finds Agmar and tries to convince him that they need Spock back. Agmar refuses, but offers to show Kirk that he is in good hands.
Keniclius 5 has already cloned Spock, a process which leaves the Vulcan at the edge of death, and proudly unveils his perfect being Spock Two. The giant clone is confused and unresponsive at first, as his mind is still sorting itself out from all the information it has just been given. Kirk realizes that the only way to save Spock is to recite aspects of Vulcan philosophy on life and death, such as the concept of the IDIC. Kirk convinces the clone that the Federation is already peaceful, which happened through their own efforts, not by having peace forced on them. Vulcan philosophy would never allow Spock Two to impose his will on other beings. Spock Two saves the original Spock's life using a Vulcan mind touch. Spock Two decides to remain on the planet with Keniclius and find a way to revitalize the dying Phylosian civilization.
"They're all over the place. I think it likes me."
"We always encourage our officers to make friends with the natives."
- - Sulu and Kirk, after a retlaw plant takes a liking to Sulu on Phylos
"Now, just a minute! I can't let you, whatever you are, inject him with some – alien dewdrop!"
"To wait is to assure your friend's death. I must proceed."
- - McCoy and Agmar
"Captain, these beings are of botanical origin."
"So it would seem."
- - Spock and McCoy
"Readings indicate the beings used almost 70% of their brains – a very high ratio."
- - Spock
"I am Doctor Stavos Keniclius 5. Welcome to Phylos, Captain Kirk."
"Where is Mr. Spock?"
"He is mine. The essence of him is mine. Return to your ship. Here is your communicator. Go back to your ship."
"Not without my first officer!"
"I am sorry, Captain. You will leave now, or suffer the consequences."
"Kirk to Enterprise. Beam us up, Scotty."
- - Stavos Keniclius 5 and Kirk
"It is too late, Captain Kirk! In a few minutes your friend will be gone. But as Keniclius 1 lives on in each of his clones, so will Mr. Spock. Behold, gentlemen, the dawning of a new era... the salvation of a galaxy... Spock Two!!"
- - Stavos Keniclius 5
"Well, how 'bout that. Great-granddaddy's weed spray still works."
- - McCoy
"You talk about creating life with your clones! But you have to murder to do it!"
- - Kirk, to Stavos Keniclius 5
"Spock, what is the logic in letting a man die for the sake of creating his duplicate? Explain it to me, sir – explain it to me!"
- - Kirk, to Spock Two
"All this has been a waste, Keniclius. There's been peace in the Federation for over one hundred years."
"That is a lie. What about the Eugenics Wars? The galactic wars? What of the depredations of the Romulans, the Klingons and the Kzinti? An army of Spock duplicates is necessary to subdue them."
"You're the fifth Keniclius. What make you so sure what you believe is truth isn't just old news? Your predecessors could have been out of touch with our advances for two centuries."
"The Master always speaks the truth."
- - Kirk, Stavos Keniclius 5, and Agmar
"Murderer! You've killed Spock!"
- - Kirk
"By the way, Mr. Sulu, any chance of teaching me that body throw? Could come in handy some time."
"I don't know, sir. It isn't just physical, you know. You have to be inscrutable."
"Inscrutable?!? Sulu, you're the most scrutable man I know."
- - Kirk and Sulu
Story, cast, and production
- Walter Koenig, whose character of Chekov was excluded from TAS, wrote this episode as his contribution to the series. "Before the decision was made as to who would be in the Star Trek animated show," Koenig explained, "they had already offered me a script to do." (The Best of Trek, p. 33) Koenig also recalled that the opportunity to write the installment "came around in a rather oblique manner."  He clarified that he was hired to write the episode on the basis of a screenplay he had been working on. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 81) When he had shown Susan Sackett (Gene Roddenberry's assistant) the screenplay (asking her if, for payment, she would type it up for him), both Sackett and Roddenberry had been so impressed with the work that Koenig had immediately been requested to write for the series. "Susan Sackett read it and told Gene about it, and told him that I could write quality material," Koenig reflected. "He read it and then asked me if I'd be interested in doing an animated episode of Star Trek." 
- Walter Koenig remembered the source of the episode's premise: "I took it from the newspapers. Cloning was something that was being speculated about a great deal in that period [....] There was a lot of discussion. I thought, 'What if?' And I took it from there."  Koenig contributed not only the idea of Spock being cloned but also the concept of interstellar peace-keepers. "The idea was that you could have this super race of people throughout the galaxy maintaining peace," he explained. (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 16.)
- The living plant which attacks Sulu is named retlaw – Walter spelled backwards. "That was [also] my idea," declared Koenig. "You know, back in the 1940s there was a comic book called Planet Comics, and the aliens talked backwards. I was trying to be cute, not clever, when I did that [....] Whenever I get a chance, it's my little signature thing, to have a character's name be someone else's name spelled backwards." 
- The idea for the Phylosians was suggested by Gene Roddenberry during the installment's rewrite process, which Koenig did not find pleasant. "Gene thought since this was animation, we should take advantage of it, and wanted me to bring in these talking vegetables. I wrote those characters, and there was actually a little tongue-in-cheek description of them, referring to them as pomegranates or asparagus (or whatever), but Gene kept asking me for rewrites." (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 16) He elaborated, "I did about ten drafts. I never thought I could get through ten drafts. It just was an unbearable process. Gene kept saying, 'Let's use talking vegetables. This is animation. Let's do this. Let's do that.' So I had to keep making adjustments to accommodate the medium in which we were working. So that wasn't very pleasant."  On another occasion, Koenig again remembered the rewrite process as having been a "hideous experience" and further recalled, "I must have done 11 or 12 [drafts]. When somebody asks you to do 12 rewrites, you begin to think that you can't write at all, but of course I found out later that Gene was always asking people to do rewrites and adding his ideas to the stories." (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, pp. 16-17) For his part, Roddenberry, expressing an interest in using the advantages of Saturday morning animation, stated, "If we want to go to a planet where there is an intelligent life form that is derived from plants we can do that. Well, you can't find any intelligent plants in the actor's guild when you make an evening show." 
- Being absent from the regular cast of The Animated Series (despite having played the main character of Chekov in the second and third seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series), Koenig actually auditioned to provide the voice of the character of Keniclius. "I felt I was kind of screwed around, because I asked if I could come in and read for the part of Keniclius and they said 'Yeah,' and it was really lip service," he recollected. "I came in and I read, and they had no intention of hiring. So that upset me."  However, in character design, Stavos Keniclius, in incarnations 1 and 5, was made a dead ringer for Koenig himself, as he then looked. (citation needed • edit)
- The details of the story constituted, for all the rewriting through which the script went, a not-entirely-conscious expression of Walter Koenig's long-standing frustrations with the original live-action series. This can be seen, for example, in first Sulu, whose cross-training included botany, and then Spock, who had nearly always been looking critically over Chekov's shoulder, falling victim to botanical sapients; the references to the Eugenics Wars that Koenig made in the script because of not having joined the cast until after "Space Seed" had been transmitted; and Keniclius 5's striking resemblance, due to character design, to Koenig's own appearance at the time. (citation needed • edit)
- George Takei was appreciative of the work that Walter Koenig did on this episode, describing his writing of the installment as him "sharing with us another of his many talents." (To the Stars, hardcover ed., p. 296)
- The Star Trek Concordance lists two Enterprise security officers, named "Morgan" and "Kolchek," who did not seem to have made an appearance in the final cut of the episode.
- As evidenced by storyboard art from the making of this episode, the installment's final confrontation between a landing party from the Enterprise and swoopers was at one time planned to additionally include other Phylosian lifeforms; a multi-limbed, plantlike being was both illustrated and described, and the artwork also makes mention of "groaners." Also, the landing party's chemical sprayers, as used in the same scene, were at first designed as being cylindrical and the Phylosians themselves had a very different look to their eventual one. (Episode storyboard gallery, TAS DVD)
- Both Gene Roddenberry and D.C. Fontana felt that the gigantic clone of Spock was an element of this episode that could only be realistically done with animation. Fontana offered, "We might have been able to pull that off [in live action], but probably not as well." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16, p. 65) Roddenberry commented, "If you want a Mr. Spock fifty feet tall, [...] it's [as] easy to draw him fifty feet tall as six feet tall." 
- This is the first time that the United Federation of Planets is affirmed as being founded in the 22nd century.
- This episode references the TOS first season episode "Space Seed", by featuring one of the scientists responsible for creating the Augments and by mentioning the Eugenics Wars.
- This episode mentions the Kzinti race, a tie-in to "The Slaver Weapon" and to Larry Niven's Known Space Universe.
Reception and aftermath
- Walter Koenig has mixed feelings about how successful this episode was. In a 1997 interview, he remarked, "It was kind of neat to ultimately see it and knowing that, rewrites notwithstanding, it was still my words and my story. I think it was a reasonably successful episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 17) In 2011, however, he admitted, "I thought it was OK. In the years that have followed, I have heard everything from that it was the worst episode of the show to that it was one of the best. So I have no idea, really, where it stands. I thought it was an interesting take and certainly a little different." 
- Lou Scheimer was pleased that Walter Koenig was able to contribute a script for the animated series. "I was very happy about that," Scheimer related. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 30)
- The editors of Trek magazine collectively scored this episode 1 out of 5 stars (a rating that they termed "poor"). (The Best of Trek #1, p. 110)
- In the unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (pp. 115 & 116), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 2 out of 4 stars (defined as "mediocre") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross ranks the episode 1 and a half out of 4 stars (defined as "poor").
- In Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" (Star Trek Magazine issue 163, p. 25), this episode scored 2 out of 5 Starfleet arrowhead insignia.
- Walter Koenig was requested for more work on the animated series but turned down the offer. "They asked me to write another one," he said, "but I wasn't interested since I was still upset over not being part of the series." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 80) Nevertheless, this episode proved to be the first of numerous productions that Koenig wrote, including two non-fiction books of memoirs related to his Star Trek experiences. D.C. Fontana noted, "[The script for 'The Infinite Vulcan'] was the beginning of his writing career. So, you know, it wasn't all that bad." ("Drawn to the Final Frontier - The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series," TAS DVD) Indeed, of the fact that this episode was one of Koenig's first sales as a writer, Fontana enthused, "I'm proud of that." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 30)
- This episode marks only the second and final time a variant of the infamous, never-actually-spoken line "Beam me up, Scotty" was used. The line "Beam us up, Scotty" is spoken by Kirk after Spock is abducted. (The first use of the line was in TAS: "The Lorelei Signal".)
- This episode was adapted into short story form by Alan Dean Foster in Ballantine Books' Star Trek Log 2. The prose version is chronologically set after "The Survivor" and "The Lorelei Signal", which are also novelized in the same volume, but before "Once Upon a Planet" (which is adapted in Star Trek Log 3), although this sequence does not match that of the actual episodes. In the adaptation of this installment, the dialogue of the gigantic Stavos Keniclius 5 and Spock Two is transcribed entirely in small capitals. Among the numerous changes and additions that the adaptation makes to the episode is the fact that it does not include mention of the Kzinti.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (CIC Video): Volume 1, catalog number VHR 2535, 6 December 1991
- As part of the The Animated Series DVD collection
- As part of the The Animated Series Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as
- James Doohan as
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- "The Infinite Vulcan" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Infinite Vulcan" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Infinite Vulcan" at Wikipedia
- "The Infinite Vulcan" & "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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"The Magicks of Megas-Tu"