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The Immunity Syndrome (episode)

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"The Immunity Syndrome"
TOS, Episode 2x19
Production number: 60348
First aired: 19 January 1968
Remastered version aired: 7 April 2007
49th of 80 produced in TOS
47th of 80 released in TOS
25th of 80 released in TOS Remastered
47th of 728 released in all
USS Enterprise approaches space amoeba, remastered
Written By
Robert Sabaroff

Directed By
Joseph Pevney
4307.1 (2268)
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After Spock senses the destruction of the Vulcan-manned starship Intrepid, the Enterprise encounters an enormous single-celled organism that feeds on energy which threatens the galaxy as it prepares to reproduce.

Summary Edit


"Captain's log, stardate 4307.1. Approaching Starbase 6 for a much needed period of rest and recreation. The crew has performed excellently, but is exhausted. And I, too, am looking forward to a nice period of rest on some lovely ... planet."

Headed for much-needed shore leave, the USS Enterprise gets a call from Starbase 6. Through massive subspace static, Uhura can only hear "Intrepid" and a sector coordinate. As she tries to reconnect, Spock suddenly appears stricken and informs Kirk and McCoy that the Intrepid – an all-Vulcan starship – has just "died" with all hands aboard.

As Spock leaves for the sickbay with McCoy, Uhura gets through to Starbase 6. The Intrepid was investigating the Gamma 7A system in sector 39J when communication with the system and the ship both ceased. The Enterprise is commanded to divert to the area. As they change course, Pavel Chekov does a long-range scan and reports that the Gamma 7A system, with its billions of inhabitants, is dead.

Act OneEdit

Diverted to investigate, the Enterprise encounters a "zone of darkness," an area of space so black not even starlight penetrates through. Spock says its location is directly in the Intrepid's projected path. The zone also appears to have a strong attractive force about it. Passive means of gathering information, such as sensors and probes, are ineffective as no data comes back from the zone, just a loud noise, like feedback from a sound system. Finally, Kirk decides to penetrate the zone. Once inside, the attractive force appears to grow stronger, pulling the Enterprise towards the center. In addition, energy is being drained from both the ship and the crew; McCoy orders stimulants to keep everybody going.

Act TwoEdit

"Captain's log, stardate 4308.8. It is now 10 minutes since we entered the zone of darkness. We have stopped engines while we seek a defense against the energy drain which seems to pervade the zone."

The crew also finds that normal laws of physics seem to be reversed within the zone. Reverse thrust, for example, creates forward motion. Forward thrust is ordered, which slows (but does not stop) the forward motion. As the Enterprise penetrates deeper into the zone, the mystery is revealed at its center – an 11,000 mile long, single-celled creature, which apparently radiates the zone as a protective covering.

Act ThreeEdit

A quick analysis reveals the creature to feed on energy, explaining the drain on machines and lifeforms. The entity must be destroyed in order to save the ship and crew, but more information is needed.

A shuttlecraft is fitted with special instruments to take detailed readings from inside the creature itself. Both Spock and McCoy volunteer for the mission, despite the fact that it means almost certain death for the one selected. The confrontation between both men, each an expert in his own way, leaves Kirk with an agonizing choice.

"Captain's personal log, stardate 4309.2. We have established that the thing which destroyed the USS Intrepid and the Gamma 7A system is an incredibly huge but simple cellular being whose energies are totally destructive to all known life. Both Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy have volunteered to go in a specially equipped shuttlecraft to penetrate the cell, find a way to destroy it, and free the ship. Dr. McCoy has the medical, biological knowledge. Mr. Spock... is better-suited physically and emotionally to stand the stress. Both are right, both are capable... and which of my friends do I condemn to death?"

Finally, he decides: "I'm sorry Mr. Spock; you're best qualified to go." Once inside, Spock sends back telemetry, but his power systems rapidly fade, and what power the shields have will nevertheless only last 47 minutes. His last transmission informs the crew that the 40 chromosomes of the creature are lining up in an apparent first step toward dividing – the creature is preparing to reproduce and soon it will destroy the entire universe if not stopped. Spock radios back how to destroy the creature, but his transmissions are increasingly garbled and unintelligible.

Act FourEdit

"Captain's log, stardate 4309.4. We have determined we can destroy the creature, provided we can do it from inside the organism. Spock clearly knew how to destroy it, but was unable to transmit that information."

Fearing Spock to be dead, Kirk and McCoy reflect over what he was trying to say. Kirk makes the observation that when the creature divides, the Enterprise will be like an invading virus; McCoy is fascinated by the idea of being antibodies of their own galaxy. The analogy gives Kirk an idea – use a charge of antimatter in the chromosome body to destroy the entity. The ship goes into the creature itself, and a probe with the antimatter charge is implanted at point-blank range to prevent currents in the protoplasm from carrying it away from its target.

"Personal log, Commander Spock, USS Enterprise. I have noted the passage of the Enterprise... on its way to whatever awaits it. If this record should survive me, I wish it known that I bequeath my highest commendation and testimonial to the captain, officers, and crew of the Enterprise... the finest starship in the fleet."
(Log entry made by Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise) "We have arrived at the chromosome body... in the nucleus of the organism. If we should fail in our attempt to destroy it, or be unable to free ourselves, I wish to record my recommendations for the following personnel, that they receive special citation - Lieutenant Commander Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, Officers Chekov, Kyle, Uhura, and my highest commendation for Commander Spock, science officer, who gave his life in the performance of his duty."

Power levels are quickly dropping, however, and the ship backs out of the creature. As it does so, however, sensors pick up the shuttlecraft with Spock still alive. Despite the power drain (and Spock's protests), tractor beams are activated. Power levels read dead as the charge explodes, just before the Enterprise exits the creature. Both the ship and shuttlecraft are thrown clear, with power levels restored. As Spock and McCoy argue over which tests were performed satisfactorily, the shuttlecraft is brought back aboard and the Enterprise resumes its course for the crew's well-earned shore leave.

Memorable quotes Edit

"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."

- Spock to McCoy, on the deaths of the Intrepid crew

""Insufficient data" is not sufficient, Mr. Spock. You're the science officer. You're supposed to have sufficient data all the time!"
"I'm well aware of that, captain."

- Kirk and Spock

""Suffer the death of thy neighbor," eh, Spock? You wouldn't wish that on us, would you?"
"It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody."

- McCoy and Spock on feeling empathy for the dead Intrepid crew

"Are you trying to be funny, Mister Spock?"
"It would never occur to me, Captain."

- Kirk and Spock, after the Enterprise passes into another layer of the space amoeba

"Vulcan dignity? How can I grant you what I don't understand?"
"Then employ one of your own superstitions. Wish me luck."

- McCoy and Spock, outside the hangar deck door

"Good luck, Spock."

- McCoy, to himself, after Spock boards the shuttlecraft

"According to Spock's telemetry information, there are over forty chromosomes in the nucleus that are ready to come together, ready to reproduce.
"If the energy of that organism only doubles, we're dead, and everything within a light year will be defenseless.
"Well, all I know is, that soon there'll be two, four, eight, and more. The entire anti-life matter that that thing puts out could someday encompass the entire galaxy."

- McCoy and Kirk, worrying for the galaxy and the space amoeba's reproduction

"Here we are. Antibodies of our own galaxy, attacking an invading germ. It would be ironic indeed if that were our sole destiny, wouldn't it?"

- McCoy to Kirk, on destroying the space amoeba

"Shut up, Spock! We're rescuing you!"
"Why, thank you ... Captain McCoy."

- McCoy and Spock, as the Enterprise locks tractor beams onto the shuttlecraft

"The power levels are dead, sir."
"You may have just written our epitaph, Mister Scott."

- Scott and Kirk, before the warhead explodes

"Spock, you're alive!"
"Obviously, captain. And I have some fascinating data on the organism."
"Don't be so smart, Spock! You botched the acetylcholine test!"

- Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, before the shuttlecraft returns to the Enterprise

Background information Edit

Filming the immunity syndrome

Director Joseph Pevney with the cast on the set of this episode

  • Robert Sabaroff's outline on 14 August 1967 described the creature as a giant virus living in a "cell" that consists of our universe, and the illness affecting everyone was attributed to a reversal of the Enterprise's polarity, which did happen in "That Which Survives".
  • Although the name was cut from the final draft, the captain of the USS Intrepid was named Satak.
  • The space amoeba optical effects were created by Frank Van der Veer of Van der Veer Photo Effects. The amoeba itself was a mixture of liquids pressed between two thin sheets of glass. As the sheets were moved, the liquid would flow, as if the amoeba were pulsating. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365)
  • This is the last time we see the interior of a shuttlecraft in the series. It is completely redesigned since its previous appearances, which can be explained by Kirk's line about sending in "a specially equipped shuttlecraft". The equipment included computer banks that were previously seen in the Starbase operations room "The Menagerie, Part I" and the Eminian war room in "A Taste of Armageddon".
  • John Winston wears a gold uniform for the only time in the series. This was done so that he would match the stock footage from the captain's chair viewpoint, showing Walter Koenig and William Blackburn's right shoulder. This was apparently arranged partway through filming, however, since in the teaser, John Winston can briefly be seen at the helm wearing his typical red uniform.
  • William Shatner consistently mispronounces Kyle's name as "Cowell".
  • This episode was the last time in which Kirk's green wrap-around tunic was used. The last time viewers would see the shirt would be in "Bread and Circuses", since "The Immunity Syndrome" aired first.
  • This is the last episode directed by Joseph Pevney who, - along with Marc Daniels - holds the record for helming the most number of episodes for the series.
  • The young crew woman whom Kirk admires as he records his log at the end of this show appears to be the same extra who portrayed the other female Klingon seen in "Day of the Dove".
  • The script ended simply with Kirk ordering the Enterprise to proceed to the Starbase 6. The 'tag bit' of Kirk looking at the aforementioned young woman and repeating his line from the teaser about hoping to "get some rest on a lovely planet" was improvised by Shatner and Pevney on the set. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two)
  • This is the first episode ending with a "Paramount Television" logo instead of the "Desilu" logo, after Desilu was sold to Paramount Pictures.
  • The end credits of this episode include a make-up test shot of William Blackburn as the android from "Return to Tomorrow" wearing a brown velour zippered top. He discusses his experience in an interview on the remastered second season DVD collection of the series issued by Paramount and CBS Home Video.
  • Spock explains in this episode that Vulcan was never conquered. However, in "The Conscience of the King" McCoy says "Now I know why they were conquered" in response to Spock's refusal to drink alcohol. This might be explained by Vulcan never having been conquered but one or more of their colonies having been annexed by another power at some point.

Production timeline Edit

Remastered information Edit

The remastered version of "The Immunity Syndrome" aired in many North American markets during the weekend of 7 April 2007. Some of the effects shots were virtual recreations of the original footage (corrected to factor in the absence of light), while others were more dynamic and showed angles of the Enterprise never before seen. The space amoeba retained its original shape and colorful design, but featured a more realistic and three-dimensional nucleus. Shuttlecraft shots were new, with interior windows rotoscoped to feature brand new shots of the amoeba. For much of the episode, the CG-Enterprise was depicted with impulse drive illuminated red, portraying the ship's struggle to remain in place. However, it must be pointed out that there is also a remastered mistake when Uhura asks Mr Spock - 'Exactly what are we looking for Mr Spock?', to which Spock replies with a console tap - 'I would assume, that.' In the original episode the dark nebulous mass on the view screen doesn't appear until Spock draws attention to it. But in the remastered version, the dark mass appears before Spock's statement.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starringEdit




Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunts Edit

References Edit

acetylcholine test; amoeba; antibody; anti-life matter; antimatter; asexual reproduction; balloon; biology; "Bones"; boundary layer; breathing; cell membrane; chromosome; class F shuttlecraft; Coalsack Nebula; conqueror; command pilot; commendation; damage control party; death; debris; deflector shields; dizziness; DNA code analyzer; dust cloud; eating; energy; enzyme recorder; epitaph; fainting; fuse; Galileo; Gamma 7A system; gas; germ; gravimetric force; hangar deck; impulse power; intercom; Intrepid, USS; kilometer; laboratory; library computer; life function indicator; life indicator; life monitor; life support system; light year; liquid; logic; magnetic bottle; magnetic storm; magnitude; martyr; martyr complex; mile; Milky Way Galaxy; nebula; nucleus; paralysis; phaser bank; protective shield; protoplasm; red alert; reproduce; Rest and Relaxation; scanner; science officer; science specialist; Sector 39J; solid; space amoeba; star; Starbase 6; sun; Starbase 6 planet; Starfleet; stimulant; superstition; telemetry probe; telepathy; timing detonator; tractor beam; virus; Vulcan (planet); Vulcans; wind tunnel; zone of darkness

External links Edit

Previous episode produced:
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2
Next episode produced:
"A Piece of the Action"
Previous episode aired:
"A Piece of the Action"
Next episode aired:
"A Private Little War"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"The Tholian Web"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"And the Children Shall Lead"

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