Director: Joseph Pevney
Writer: Robert Sabaroff
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, John Winston, and Majel Barrett
Composers: Sol Kaplan and Fred Steiner
Air Date: 1/19/1968
Production #: 60348
While investigating the destruction of the Vulcan-manned starship Intrepid, the Enterprise encounters a giant space amoeba that feeds on energy from machines and lifeforms alike. Both Spock and McCoy volunteer to take the shuttlecraft on a one-way mission to gather critical information on the entity, resulting in a harrowing dilemma for Kirk.
Though slowly paced at times, “The Immunity Syndrome” should appeal to science fiction fans for its effective use of a single-celled antagonist. Star Trek enthusiasts will likewise appreciate the tension between McCoy and Spock, whose interactions convey the conflicted essence of their relationship.
Modern-day viewers may be inclined to snicker at the concept of an enormous cell posing a serious threat to the entire galaxy. However, by requiring the characters to act as if their very lives are in danger at all times, writer Robert Sabaroff turned the aforementioned premise into a convincing Armageddon scenario on par with “The Doomsday Machine.”
Also worth mentioning is that Kirk and his crew have just completed an exhausting mission when the episode begins, thus allowing fans to view the characters as fallible human beings in spite of their many notable accomplishments. Even Spock appears distraught at various instances; however, this could also be a result of having telepathically sensed the loss of four hundred Vulcans aboard the Intrepid. In any event, the fact that the Enterprise crew members are required to operate with minimal energy, both before and after encountering the parasitic amoeba, makes them seem additionally vulnerable and thus more relatable in the eyes of the audience.
None, aside from any minor pacing issues in the early scenes.
As indicated previously, a compelling narrative lends credibility to the conflict involving Spock and McCoy, while a remarkable chemistry between Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley adds further realism to the personality clashes of their respective characters. On one hand, McCoy exhibits a human sense of pride that prevents him from acknowledging Spock’s superior ability to handle said mission. In contrast, Spock fails to empathize with McCoy and his desire to place his own life above those of his comrades (Spock refers to this trait as a “martyr complex”).
The stubbornness of both men makes it exceptionally difficult for Kirk to decide which one to choose for the assignment, especially knowing that whomever he sends will be unlikely to return. Of course, all three characters succeed in setting aside their differences when all is said and done, though many Star Trek fans will nonetheless enjoy the memorable exchanges shared by Spock and McCoy during their most confrontational moments.
By combining a classic science fiction device with excellent character motivations, “The Immunity Syndrome” makes for a perfect episode of Star Trek. Additionally intriguing is the possibility that a single organism could consume the whole galaxy by way of reproduction, which serves as yet another testament to Gene Roddenberry’s cleverness as a storyteller.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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