48 "The Immunity Syndrome"

(airdate: January 19, 1968)

Writer: Robert Sabaroff
Director: Joseph Pevney

Lt. Kyle: John Winston

Stardate: 4307.1

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is en route to Starbase 6 for rest and recreation when it's directed to Solar System Gamma 7A - all contact having been lost both with the system and the starship Intrepid (manned by Vulcans). The Enterprise encounters a zone of blackness which pulls them in. Inside is a massive single-celled organism, similar to an amoeba, which is absorbing all the surrounding energy: it was this that destroyed Gamma 7A and the Intrepid. Unable to escape, Kirk sends Spock in a shuttlecraft into the organism to determine its weak points in an effort to kill it. Spock tells the ship how to destroy the organism, so the Enterprise penetrates the creature, places an antimatter charge next to its nucleus, and detonates it, destroying the organism.

Whoops!: The crew seem surprised that the stars are gone from the viewer upon entering the zone of energy, despite not having been able to see any stars through it before they went in. The back of the video release boasts that "This episode has some of the best special effects of the entire series", which is a sort of damning with faint praise given that the effects are largely just a giant, bright, multi-colored amoeba with the Enterprise superimposed over it.

Classic Lines: Spock criticizing McCoy: "I've noticed that about your people. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million. You speak about the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours."
     McCoy: "Shut up, Spock, we're rescuing you!" Spock: "Why, thank you, Captain McCoy."

Cringe Lines: Not once, but twice comes the joke about Kirk looking forward to a nice period of rest "on some lovely...planet" while a female crewmember walks by.

Technobabble: A DNA code analyzer can determine the fundamental structure of the organism, while "readings on three light wavelengths" are needed from the enzyme recorder.

Library Computer: The Intrepid was a starship manned by 400 Vulcans. It was destroyed by a large organism inside a zone of energy whilst investigating Solar System Gamma 7A. When the Vulcans died, they didn't know what was killing them, and they were astonished by the fact that they were being killed ("Their logic would not have permitted them to believe they were being killed," Spock states). Vulcans are sensitive to the death of their kind - the more that die at once, the more easily they can sense it. Vulcan has not been conquered in its collective memory.
     A pitch black void [presumably generated by the organism, as it goes away when the creature dies] envelopes the organism. It's formed by some sort of energy unidentifiable by sensors, although the zone isn't liquid, gaseous, or solid. The zone of energy is incompatible with the living and mechanical processes of the Enterprise: thus, as the ship gets closer to the center of the zone, it loses more power, while people's life energy gets lower, slowly killing the crew. The zone creates energy turbulence and [communication] distortion. Upon penetration of the boundary layer of the zone, a high-pitched tone affecting the balance of half the crew can be heard (this sound can also be heard via telemetry probe). The zone is a negative energy field - thus power levels act backwards and forward thrust is applied to move backwards within the zone.
     At the center of the zone is a massive living single-celled organism, similar to an amoeba. It's 11,000 miles long and varies from 2000 to 3000 miles wide. Its exterior is studded with space debris and waste, while the interior is protoplasm, varying from a firmer gelatinous layer to a semifluid central mass. It has a nucleus with over forty chromosomes. It absorbs (eats) all forms of energy and can reproduce and breed. It can draw things (such as the Enterprise) to it. The organism has reflexes, but its "nervous energy...is maximal just within its outer protective membrane" - the interior is relatively insensitive. At the time of its encounter with the Enterprise, the organism had stored enough energy to begin a reproduction cycle. The organism was destroyed with a probe full of antimatter placed in its nucleus.
     Solar System Gamma 7A (located in sector 39J) had a fourth magnitude sun with billions of inhabitants. It was destroyed by the organism.
     The deflector shield comes on automatically when energy is detected.
     Stimulants can temporarily boost a person's energy, but taking too many is dangerous.
     Stars can be seen through an interstellar dust cloud.

Final Analysis: "It's a disease, like a virus invading the body of our galaxy." Remembered as the one with the giant amoeba, "The Immunity Syndrome" depends on this gimmick to carry the episode, as it doesn't actually have much else going for it. Fortunately the idea is strong enough to make the show work, and the fact that the script is competently written doesn't hurt. While not quite a classic in the way that "Amok Time" or "Mirror, Mirror" is, "The Immunity Syndrome" is still highly memorable.

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