Botanicult Fiction: Star Trek’s The Infinite Vulcan
By Dr. David Galbraith, Head of Science, Royal Botanical Gardens
Many Star Trek stories have become interconnected since the original series ran in the late 1960s. Alien races or individuals introduced years ago are often encountered again years or even decades later. What, then, ever happed to a giant clone of Mr. Spock created as a galactic peacemaker in 1973’s animated story The Infinite Vulcan?
To know the origins of the gigantic “Spock 2” we need to catch up with the crew of the USS Enterprise during the Emmy-award-winning two-season “Star Trek: The Animated Series” that ran after the original live-action stories. “The Animated Series” was created by Gene Roddenberry and this episode was written by Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov in the first TV series.
In The Infinite Vulcan the Enterprise visited the planet Phylos where the crew were surprised to find that the highest life form were intelligent plants, the Phylosians. These peaceful (and yes, green) beings had once been more belligerent, but a war had reduced them to a fraction of their former selves. There were only five Phylosians left, all of them sterile. Also living on Phylos was “The Master,” Stavos Keniclius 5, the gigantic fifth-generation clone of Stavos Keniclius. He was a human who had escaped the Eugenics Wars on Earth with a mission to spread peace. These wars also gave star Trek one of its most enduring characters, Khan Noonien Singh. The original Keniclius was a geneticist convinced that the galaxy needed a Peace Maker. He had cloned himself to survive (his clones also becoming gigantic), and the fifth kidnapped Mr. Spock to clone him so that the giant Vulcan could become The Peacemaker for the whole galaxy. What Keniclius 5 didn’t know was that at least within the United Federation of Planets, peace had already been achieved. Although there were some testy moments, Spock 2 came to the rescue of his original self (both voiced by Leonard Nimoy), and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) convinced everyone to chill. Spock 2 and Keniclius 5 decided to stay with the Phylosians to try to cure them of their sterility.
While plants feature in many Star Trek stories, the Phylosians are the only ones in that universe that appear to have become sentient. And what of the gigantic clone, Spock 2? We don’t know. At the end of the episode the Enterprise (with the original Spock on board) warps away to new adventures, leaving Keniclius 5 and Spock 2 to attempt the reproductive rescue of the Phylosians. To date the 10-meter tall Spock 2 has not reappeared in any Star Trek stories, and neither have the Phylosians. One of the reasons may be that the status of the animated series is somewhat disputed. In the 1990s a contract negotiation limited subsequent writers from using any of the elements of “The Animated Series” stories, removing it from Star Trek “canon” (although some sources claim it has been restored). We may never know if, in some alternate Star Trek universe, the Phylosians are now phlourishing
Botanicult Fiction is an affectionate review of plants in pop culture viewed through the lens of plant nerds and curated for your reading or viewing pleasure during this challenging time of self isolation