Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, July 20, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Seven: The Infinite Vulcan

"The Infinite Vulcan"
Air Order: 7
Star Date: 5554.4
Original Air Date: October 20, 1973

Roomie found this short article the other day about how scientists are using 3D printing machines and techniques to make food (for the most part, it's chocolate, because chocolate is easy). She was kind of excited because, hooray! food replicators! Now, I hate cooking a lot, and anything that makes food prep easier than even the humble microwave sounds good to me. But remember, this is what TOS says "food" is in the replicator-fueled future:

Can we just skip straight to TNG-replicated food? Because that's food that isn't colored cubes and mutant celery. kthnx.


Kirk's Log 5554.4: "Kickin' it at the edge of explored space again, and Starfleet wants us to check out this new planet."

So our intrepid trio beams down to the surface with Sulu. They start scanning, and Sulu immediately comes across this thing that is essentially a plant-based tribble with root-legs. When he moves away, it gets up and follows him, re-rooting in a new place next to him.

Spock says that they are being scanned by one of the buildings nearby, and the trio moves off toward the building, leaving Sulu behind. He's left to ponder how Kirk, Spock and Bones are probably some kind of away-team clique, and he wasn't invited to go with the cool kids. Sulu foolishly decides to pick up the tribble plant, but promptly drops it, figuring it had thorns or something.
The boys are in the building checking out some computerized equipment when they hear Sulu yell outside. They find him unconscious on the grass.
A quick scan reveals that he's got some unknown toxin in his system. Bones gives him a hypo-spray of something, but it won't work quickly enough, if it works at all. Sulu has about a minute to live.
Well, that escalated quickly. Three and a half minutes in, and Sulu is dying.

And now, to the rescue, come a bunch of talking people-sized plants.
"Welcome to Phylos. I'm Agmar," says the head plant. "I can cure your friend." And he produces a drop of some liquid from the end of one of his finger-things.
Bones sort of loses his shit here. "No way you're injecting him with some kind of... of... dewdrop!"
I don't know what the hell Bones' problem is, because if my friend was dying in a very short period of time, and some stranger came upon the scene, announcing that he could save my friend, I'd let him take a stab at it. To fully grasp the oddness of Bones' anger here, you have to imagine him yelling the word dewdrop with all of the fervor and rage of Samuel L Jackson screaming motherfucker. What does he have against someone helping his friend? What does he have against dewdrops?
You're a weirdo, Bones. On a planet full of talking plants, you're the biggest weirdo here.

"Bones," says Kirk. "Don't be a douche. Let them help Sulu."
So he steps back and Agmar gives Sulu the dreaded dewdrop, and Sulu is groggily sitting up within moments. Suddenly, Bones is full of praise for these people who have better tech than he does.
"We've been watching you," says Agmar. "We're a peaceful people, but we're afraid of strangers. Your friend was bitten by the retlaw plant. We knew the antidote would work on him because we have had other humanoids here before."

Kirk asks where the rest of Agmar's people are, and the plant-dudes lead them back into the building, and into a hall where some giant Phylosian husks are lining the walls. Agmar says that this is the previous generation of people, but a humanoid showed up and brought some disease with him. It killed off a bunch of the people, but the human dude was determined to find a cure.

Once again escalating quickly, the air in the air is suddenly filled with like, dragons or something. Dragons with tentacles instead of legs. A quick scan reveals that these are also plant-based, then the dragon-things grab the away team. The Phylosians don't seem all that fussed. Then Kirk notices that once the dragons have grabbed Spock and flown away, they drop the rest of the away team and vacate the hall.
"The hell?" he demands. "Did you guys just kidnap my first officer?"

"So... yeah, sorry about that," says Agmar. "We've been searching all over for the perfect specimen for the Master's plan, and Spock fits the bill, sooooo..... yeah."
A door opens at the end of the hall, and a giant walks in. All of the plant guys genuflect and murmur about him being "the Master."
Just so you guys are keeping up, we're seven minutes in, and already, Sulu has almost died, we've met talking plants, the away team was attacked by dragons, Spock was kidnapped, and now the away team is being stared down by a giant called "the Master." Shit escalates every minute and a half or so.
"I'm Stavos Keniclius 5," says the giant. "I'm keeping Spock. Now get the fuck off my planet before I squish you between my toes."
And he tries to set the dragon things on the remaining away team again. Kirk opens his comm and reluctantly calls for a beam-up.

Kirk's Log 5554.8: "Recap for everyone who was in the bathroom for the last ten minutes."

Oh hey, look. It's Spock, sitting at the science station. Okay, never mind. Problem solved. We can all go home now.

Kirk's crew has not been able to find any info on the giant human Keniclius. Sulu also can't find him or Spock on the surface. They surmise that there are shields in place to keep that information away from the E crew. Sulu attempts to use phasers on the building with the computer, but it is shielded. They will have to go down and rescue Spock in person. Kirk calls Scotty, and they briefly discuss the progress being made on some super-secret weapon that Scotty is making. Bones enters the bridge to talk about his great-granddaddy's garden, and how he has "something cooking" in sick bay.
Uhura says she has found something on Keniclius in the history tapes and puts it on the viewscreen. Keniclius was a scientist during the Eugenics War. (Oh, yay. You remember the Eugenics War, right?)

So Keniclius proposed that humanity start a Master Race with clones of perfect specimens, which made him unpopular, and he disappeared. There is no record of his death or where he went. Bones says he's heard of a myth of a modern Diogenes who searches the galaxy for "someone special." Kirk says he's also heard of that.
"Um, can't be the same dude, cuz he'd be like, 250 years old," points out Bones.
"Yeah, but he was all into cloning," reasons Kirk. "And he did introduce himself as Keniculus 5. Maybe he's a clone."
So remember before when Kirk put very few puzzle pieces together without knowing what the picture looked like, and was correctly able to solve the mystery, and I bitched about it because Kirk should not be able to just randomly throw the solution together that quickly? This episode illustrates how to allow one's characters to arrive at a conclusion the natural way. The information was given (just enough but not all of it) so that Kirk, with the help of his friend Bones, could connect the dots. And none of this is taking place with five minutes left in the episode, so the revelation doesn't feel forced or hurried.
(Also, that last Kirk dialogue wasn't a typo. While the rest of the cast is pronouncing it correctly (Ken-ick-LEE-us), The Shat keeps saying Ken-ick-You-lus. Hey, Bill - say "nuclear" for me. Go on.)

The rest of the original away team gathers in the transporter room with Scotty. He gives them the super-secret weapon thing that he's been working on and prepares to beam then down. Kirk tells him to take the ship and get the hell out of Dodge. He agrees reluctantly.
"Sorry, but it's necessary," says Kirk. "If they think we left, they won't scan for us on the surface, and we can pull out some ninja rescue moves."

Our boys beam down again, and determine that they haven't been detected. More dragon things fly overhead. They decide to go into another building nearby, and find two long rows of space ships, covered in plant growth.
(Sooo, I'm curious. If the Phylosians are the higher life-form here, is moss like apes, or something?)
A few Phylosians are clearing ivy from the ships, and the boys try to determine if they were actually the peace-loving people they said they were.
"Maybe they had something planned, but were unable to complete it because of that disease that Keniculus brought to the planet," reasons Kirk.
They sneak outside and manage to kidnap Agmar, bringing him back into the hangar and demanding an explanation.
"Yeah, you guessed right," sighs Agmar. "Spock is the right blend of human and Vulcan qualities that the Master was looking for. And we did have some grand plans that came to a halt when the rest of us died out. But we're the last generation. We can't reproduce. I know you're worried about Spock, so I'll take you to him."
"That was kind of too easy," mutters Sulu.
"Yeah," Kirk says quietly. "Keep our secret weapon at the ready."

Agmar takes them to a lift platform, which drops them down into some tunnels. A quick scan from Sulu reveals that the tunnels are heavily fortified, which is why they weren't picking up life signs of Spock or Keniclius. They're gliding along on that same lift pad when the lights in the tunnel go out, and some unnecessary drama is added in the form of those plant-dragons. So our boys end up running through the dark, trying to avoid being dragged away, and heading for the light at the end. Of course, none of the dragons swoops for them.
In the room at the end of the tunnel, they find Spock lying on a bed-machine thing. A scan reveals that his brain activity is slowing down, and he'll be dead soon.

"You're too late!" bellows Keniclius. (Seriously, who wrote that contrived bit of dialogue?) "Soon, he will be gone, and in his place, Spock 2!"
And the giant gestures to another giant, who is indeed, Spock.

Okay, can somebody please tell me why clones are huge? Is Keniclius altering the genes of the original person to make the close that big? Is it some weird unintentional part of his cloning process? I'm really not getting why he's cloning giants. Also, given that he and Spock 2 are the same size, it is clearly not a case of "they just get bigger with each successive generation."

Anyway, our boys gasp because "ermagerd, giant Spock!" Then we get some dramatic music and a commercial break.

When we come back, the away team quickly slaps on some breathing masks (they put one on Spock.1 as well) and they get out some sprayers. Because of the shields, their weapons don't work on this planet. So they elected to spray the fuck out of everything with Round-Up. The dragons start dropping out of the sky, and the giants make a run for it.

When the spray clears, the giants are gone and the dragons aren't moving. Bones reveals that the spray was his great-granddaddy's weed killer. That's what he was cooking in sick bay: insecticide. Sounds safe, Bones. Good job mixing that up around the patients.
Kirk tries to call the E, to no avail. Why does he think that would work? Nothing else he has on him has worked so far.
The Keniclius giant comes back and says that Spock.1 is being sacrificed to bring about Spock.2. Basically, dude uploaded all of Spock's brain into the clone.
"That's such bullshit," says Kirk. 
They take Spock's body and try to leave, but giant cloned Spock is standing in their way. He kind of cocks his head at them in confusion when Kirk tries to order him to move.
"I don't think he's finished uploading," says Bones.

Upstairs, Uhura reports that none of her hails are getting through to the surface. Scotty orders that all power except environmentals should be routed to communications so they can reach the away team.
"Um, that'll drain our power," Uhura tells him.
"I know," he admits. "But we have to talk to them."

Back on the surface, Kirk is asking the giant Spock clone why he thinks it's logical for Spock.1 to die so that the clone might exist. He points out that Vulcans do not condone meaningless death, and it's pretty meaningless that Spock might die so that a giant version of himself could live. Keniclius laughs and says that Spock.2 is not just a giant clone, that he is the first in a long line of the Master race.
Kirk's comm chirps, and he decides that Spock.2 should answer. Now fully conscious, the clone answers the hail.
"I have more info on Keniclius," Uhura says through the comm. "His later papers talk about cloning a master race of people to be used as intergalactic peacekeepers."
Then she has to hang up, because the dilithium crystals are damn near depleted.

"Hey, wait," says Kirk. "We've had peace in this galaxy for more than one hundred years. Do you think we're still at war?"
"Of course we are!" says Keniclius. "A race of giant Spocks will bring about and enforce peace for everyone."
"Um, no," says Bones. "You've been out of touch, cloning yourself for two hundred years or more, passing down the same outdated information. We're at peace."
"And why are you guys going along with this?" Kirk asks Agmar. "You guys keep calling him Master."
"Well, yeah," replies Agmar. "Before we were mostly wiped out, that was our big plan: to use our space fleet to enforce peace in the galaxy. But then Keniclius came, and our people started dying, and we couldn't finish the project. Luckily, he had the same plan."
"Dude, nobody has to force peace on anyone," says Kirk. "We already have it, and it was agreed upon. Let's be done with this crap."
"Screw you," replies Keniclius.
Kirk appeals to Spock.2: "Dude, you have Spock's mind. You know about the Vulcan philosophy of the IDIC, right?"
"Yeah, infinite diversities in infinite combinations," the clone answers. "It symbolizes the elements that create truth and beauty."
"Can an army of giant Spock clones enforce peace on the galaxy that gels with the IDIC philosophy?" asks Kirk.
"Nope," says Spock.2.

"This is crap!" yells Agmar. "We have to be able to assert peace!"
He tries to attack Sulu and fails. Keniclius swings his giant pimp cane, destroying the bed-machine.
"You killed Spock!" Kirk howls.
"You bastards!" adds Bones.
"Chillax," says Spock.2, literally stopping Kirk's charge forward with his hand. "This is an easier fix than you think it is."
And he uses his big-ass fingers to mind-meld with Spock.1. This should really not be possible, as it's been demonstrated multiple times that one must place one's fingers in a specific configuration on the participant's face in order to achieve a lock between the minds. Giant clone Spock's fingers are just too big. This show just keeps messing with the mind-meld, attempting to have it fix things that it should not be able to fix. Like Spock melding with a freaking space cloud
So here's how this goes down: Keniclius set it in motion that he should make a giant clone of Spock, then somehow (it's never explained) uploads Spock's brain into the giant Spock. So Classic Spock is dying because his brain has essentially been transferred to New Spock. Like his brain is a glass of water that was poured into a different glass. Now New Spock is transferring the consciousness back into Classic Spock, only somehow, the full volume of the water is in both glasses.

Classic Spock gets up, right as rain.
"It's all good," clone Spock tells Kirk. "Nobody is starting an army of giant Spocks."
Keniclius objects, because he's been working very hard for the past two hundred years, and now he's out of the job. Has actually been out of the job for the last hundred or so.
"No, we're still good," says Spock.1. "I say we leave Spock.2 here to work with you, and together, you guys can figure out how to bring back the Phylosian race."
"Oh, that's good, actually," says Keniclius. "I like that."
Giant Spock agrees, and Kirk says he'll report back to the Federation that Keniclius is working to restore the plant race from certain space buffalo status.

"Hey," says Kirk to Sulu. "That move you used to deflect Agmar was pretty freaking awesome. Teach it to me?"
"I dunno if I can," says Sulu. "You have to be kind of inscrutable to do it."
"Inscrutable?" asks Kirk. "You're the most scrutable man I know!"
And Sulu winks to let us know that that crappy bit of dialogue was the closing joke.

Man, this episode is all over the place. It feels like multiple episodes squished into one. So we have our throwback to Khan and the Eugenics War with Keniclius, a guy who wants a master race of peacekeepers. This part is fine. But then they teamed him up with a race of talking plants, and that's where the story falls apart. Instead of matching Keniclius with the Phylosians, they should have put Keniclius on his own class M planet with a handful of giant clones, maybe harvested from other races across the galaxy. make him a sort of anti-Khan, in that he wants to use eugenics for good rather than evil. Then show how messing with eugenics always seems to go sideways either way, by pointing out that peace forced on people never works as well as peace that is agreed to.
The Phylosians need their own story, rather than one wrapped up with Keniclius. Keep their big plans, but make it not about enforcing peace. Maybe their planet is dying, and they needed to evacuate? Go ahead and keep them being mostly wiped out by disease. That works just fine. Now they have even more reason to leave, but maybe they need the E's help to do so?

Also, while I'm thinking about it, did anyone else notice the weird thing about the husks of the dead Phylosians? They're giants. Clones. It's never mentioned in the episode at all, which makes me think that part of the script included an explanation, which was then scrapped. My guess? The "disease" that Agmar talked about, which killed most of his people, was actually the cloning process. He attempted to clone the Phylosians, killing the originals in the process, and then the clones ended up dying. Maybe they weren't good cloning stock. Maybe the process works best on humans or part-humans. This was why he selected Spock. Agmar admitted that the disease killed most of his people when he was very young. It's possible that Keniclius tried his cloning process on the Phylosians, that something went wrong, that he claimed that it was a disease, and that he was working on a cure. This would paint him as the good guy in the eyes (or whatever they have) of the remaining Phylosians. Then they'd go along with his plans.
I dunno.
Just a fan theory, I guess.

Either way, this episode is weird. I'd rate it like a 6 out of 10. Not the worst thing ever, but you could easily make two eights out of the episode if you split it between the two ideas rather than attempt to mash them into one.

Some (sort of) fun facts about this episode:
"The Infinite Vulcan" was written by Walter Koenig. He was offered the chance to write more scripts for TAS, but was pissed off about not being included as a cast member, so he wrote this one episode and no other. What's more, it doesn't sound like it was fun at all. Walter had to do a bunch of re-writes because Gene Rod really, really wanted an episode that featured plant people, something that they couldn't do in the live-action show. Koenig wasn't feeling the plant-people, but went along with it anyway. The retlaw plat was named after Koenig. It's Walter spelled backward.


So Roomie and I have a picnic coming up, and I made my way to the grocery store buy ingredients for my famous brownies.
Roomie called. "Hey, are you near the store across town that sells that fancy sauce?"
"Not even a little."
"Okay, wait, I'm online. There's another store nearby that sells the fancy sauce. It's Hella Pricey Organic Store, ten minutes away from Moderately-Priced Store where you are now."
So I picked out a tea at Moderately-Priced, bought my brownie supplies, and headed over to Hella Pricey. 
You know how it's hot right now? Like hotter than the core of the sun? I'm pretty lazy when it comes to preparing food, and there was no way that I wanted to go home and brew a bunch of tea. If I had to trek to Hella Pricey for sauce, then I was gonna buy something that I could drink now.
I spotted a bottle of Hubert's Half&Half Lemonade Tea in Peach.
"These are all things that I enjoy," I thought, dragging my tea and sauce to the check-out.
So here's the thing I found out while driving home: Hubert's is known for making lemonade. It's pretty good lemonade, but their Half&Half (just another word for an Arnold Palmer) tastes like lemonade rather than half tea. I didn't actually taste any peach, either.
So, yeah. Tastes like good lemonade, tastes nothing like peach or tea.

Roomie and Rumor bought a lizard. Bratty and Uhura are fairly
certain that it's a snack.

1 comment:

  1. This is probably the first time in Spock's life that someone's considered his hybrid-ness an asset rather than a detriment. And that's just sad. Lol

    How'd they figure out which one was Agmar? They all look the same!

    IDIC sounds like the exact opposite of what Vulcans are all about. They sure weren't embracing diversity when they were shunning half-breeds and Vulcans who don't follow their no feels policy. Maybe it's just one of those ideals they pay lip service to but most of them are really bad at following.

    Sulu and Kirk's joke at the end almost came off as flirting. Sulu claiming to be mysterious and Kirk telling him "no, you're really not". Maybe I read too much into it. Either way, Kirk and Sulu are gonna be wrestling around later so Sulu can teach him his "inscrutable" moves. Spock's probably gonna go along too to watch and make some totally-not-on-purpose snarky innuendos about it.