Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 18

The Immunity Syndrome

Aired Unknown Jan 19, 1968 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
157 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise must destroy an enormous space amoeba before it reproduces and threatens known space.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • The Enterprise encounters a space amoeba cutting a destructive swath through the universe.

    This budget saving bridge-based bottle show is basically "The Corbomite Manuever" meets "The Doomsday Machine", but with a focus on the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship in place of the guest stars. Specifically, by highlighting Spock and McCoy's common scientific backgrounds and contrasting their specialties, writer Sabaroff brings out their competitiveness while maintaining undertow of hidden respect and friendship, laying the template for the relationship fans would want to see more of. Then there's the captain having to be the captain, forced to decide which of his friends' lives to risk to save the ship. It's all great drama in the short term, but there's also an enormous takeaway: an enriching of the big three's relationship that not only spills into all the future episodes and feature films, but also reverberates into past when old episodes are seen again.

    So why is "The Immunity Syndrome" a second tier episode, never showing up on top ten lists and rarely mentioned as a favorite? Well, the truth is it gets off to a slow start that features a lot of pain and suffering (including Spock feeling a great disturbance in the Force, as if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced), but little story. And while the episode gets by without any guest stars, it does lack the wild cards and outsider's perspective new characters can provide.

    All the same, while "Immunity" might be a poor man's "Doomsday Machine", it's still one of TOS's better second season episodes and worth a look.

    Remastered: The genius of the original episode is how it saved money while presenting dynamic new visuals, thanks to a simple colored liquid effect layered into the background. The end result has always been impressive, and the new version simply uses CGI to achieve the same idea. A "zone of darkness" gets a similar treatment, but there's a notable change in the timing of its first appearance. In the original episode, the intention is to have Mr. Spock hit a button to punch it up on the viewscreen. Just one problem: the show's sound editors forgot to take out the sound of Nimoy's finger thudding against the panel and substitute it with some kind of "boop" to sell the idea of a working button. So now CBS Digital comes along to do their upgraded versions, and you'd think the obvious fix here would be to simply add a "boop". (It wouldn't even have to be from the original sound effects library; no one would know the But the CBS team steadfastly refuses to change any audio, so they instead attack the problem a different way. The "zone of darkness" appears before Spock takes any action at all, rendering the button pushing moot and making it seem like he's just tapping the console for effect. This is all well and good, except for Uhura. In the new version, the effect is already up on the viewscreen when she asks Mr. Spock what he's looking for. When he says, "I would assume, that" and indicates the viewscreen, it looks like Uhura simply isn't paying attention.

    Meanwhile, there's also an oddity with the shuttle bay. The original version uses both a live set (for the actor's to use) and a miniature set (to show the shuttle rotating in preparation for launch), but the floor markings for the two don't match. The remastered version uses CGI to replace the miniature set and has different floor markings, but they don't match the live set either! The real issue here is that both versions steal their "shuttle about to launch" shots from other episodes ("The Galileo Seven" for the original and "Journey to Babel" for the remastered). In the end, it doesn't really matter too much, and these sort of discrepancies can be part of the show's charm. Besides, the added benefit of using stock footage is that it frees up the effects team to work on something else, with the CBS Digital team using the opportunity here to create a whole new look for the Enterprise for when there are no stars to light it. (Truth be told, lighting for space sequences is usually a cheat. But in this case there's such an extreme circumstance, it makes sense to drop the Less noticeable, but just as impressive, CBS Digital fixes a quick shuttle shot (where Spock falls down) which has dark windows in the original because the camera is shaking, making it impossible for a 1968 effects crew to composite anything into them. Using some fancy rotoscope work, the CBS team adds the proper view outside.

  • When Giant Amoebas Attack!

    Sorry guys I just can't agree on this one. Perhaps the worst of the star trek clunker episodes ever done. The story was hoaky. The effects terrible and the science non existent. If not for the great chemistry between DeForest Kelly and Leonard Nimoy this episode would be completely sunk.
  • Attack of the Giant Germ!

    Attack of the Giant Germ sounds like the title of a Powerpuff Girls short subject but it's the plot synopsis of Immunity Syndrome, an episode of the original Star Trek TV series. This slightly ludicrous premise actually turns out better than one might reasonably expect.

    The story: a protozoan of planetary size and capable of interstellar flight destroys wherever it goes, its negative energy field draining the power of both machines and things living. Kirk's orders from Starfleet Command: Destroy it!

    It's a weary crew aboard USS Enterprise and this motive seems to be projected a bit too effectively, exhausting the viewer as well. Just as well, then you won't worry how the ship and shuttlecraft manage to manoeuvre in a colloidal mass. Or why the ship doesn't turn about while on the retreat. A few maudlin scenes in Act II, culminating in the plan, daringly executed as always, to strike the nucleus with a ballistic missile with an anti-matter warhead. A fair conclusion, I suppose, but I would have enjoyed it more if Bones had quickly synthesized a super-antibiotic and Spock flew a shuttlecraft with a huge needle attached to the bow into the nucleus.

    No new sets, no guest stars, no new wardrobe, no new miniature shots, incidental music largely recycled from The Doomsday Machine are factors likely to have been critical in the selection of this script as it helped Desilu Studios recoup budget overages on certain previous episodes.

    Of the original 79 episodes, I would rank Immunity Syndrome around number 40.

  • The Starship Enterprise is threatened by an enormous, energy-draining space amoeba when it becomes trapped in a 'void of nothing'. A surprisingly good episode…

    I wasn't expecting much from this episode, but it turned out to be a very good instalment.

    In many respects, this story is rather like the first season's "The Corbomite Maneuver", and "The Doomsday Machine" earlier this season, in that instead of a new planet to beam down to, and / or a new space creature to tackle, instead the Enterprise is threatened by a giant space entity.

    The episode is captivating as the amoeba just seems too vast and too powerful for the Enterprise to escape. Of course, we all know they'll survive in the end, but HOW...?

    Kirk being forced to choose between McCoy or Spock going on the shuttlecraft mission into the amoeba is great, and one of the best sequences of the second season in my opinion. Both the writing and acting of it are of a very high quality.

    The moments when Spock is assumed to be dead as a result of his exploration are also of a high standard, and play out excellently.

    Then there is one of my favourite pieces of dialogue – McCoy "Shut up Spock! We're rescuing you!", to which Spock replies "Why thank you, CAPTAIN McCoy".

    On hindsight, this may actually be one of the best episodes of the second season. It's certainly amongst the best down the latter end of the season.moreless
  • Kirk gets hooked on uppers and can’t pronounce Lt. Kyle’s name

    Top ten episode, folks. Fantastic piece of writing. The intensity of this episode is one of the best in the whole series right up there with "The Doomsday Machine". The remarkable thing is that there is no planet to beam down to or special guest alien or crew member to bring a refreshing element to the script. It's all done with the regular crew. I get all choked up when Kirk agonizes over who to send into the giant amoeba via the shuttlecraft, McCoy or Spock.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

voice of Starfleet Command (uncredited)

Guest Star

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Eddie Paskey

Eddie Paskey

Lt. Leslie (uncredited)

Recurring Role

John Winston

John Winston

Lt. Kyle

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • During the teaser, Lt. Kyle is wearing a red tunic. After the credits, he's wearing a gold tunic.

    • When the telemetry probe is launched, the bridge crew cover their ears. Spock, however, does not. Spock is supposed to have more sensitive hearing than humans, so why doesn't he clutch his head in pain?

    • Spock refers to the organism's size in miles, but Kirk talks about "thousands of kilometers". Not only do they still mix the two types of measurements, but you'd think Spock would be the one that uses "kilometers."

    • The officer at the helm is the character who has been referred to as Lt. Kyle, and is named that way in the credits. But Kirk keeps calling him "Kowel."

    • Kirk's mirror in his cabin is still waist high with no chair or anything in front of it.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Kirk: Insufficient data is not sufficient, Mr. Spock. You're the science officer, you're supposed to have sufficient data all the time.

    • Kirk: Recommendations?
      McCoy: I have one. I recommend survival. Let's get out of here.

    • Kirk: It's a suicide mission.
      Spock: You have a martyr complex, Doctor. I submit that it disqualifies you.
      McCoy: You think that I intend to pass up the great living laboratory since…
      Spock: Vulcans saw it first… and died.
      McCoy: Just because the Vulcans failed…
      Spock: I am more capable.

    • Spock: This is not a competition, Doctor. Whether you understand it or not, grant me my own kind of dignity.
      McCoy: Vulcan dignity? How can I grant you what I don't understand?
      Spock: Then employ one of your own superstitions. Wish me luck.

    • Spock: Tell Dr. McCoy… he should have wished me luck.

    • Spock: 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.

    • Kirk: Spock, you're alive!
      Spock: Obviously, Captain. And I have some fascinating data on the organism.
      McCoy: Don't be so smart, Spock. You botched the acetylcholine test.
      Kirk: Later, later, later.

    • Spock: Captain, I recommend you abandon the attempt. Do not risk the ship further on my behalf.
      McCoy: Shut up Spock! We're rescuing you.
      Spock: Why thank you, Captain McCoy...

    • Spock: (Humans) 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: Suffer the death of thy neighbor, eh, Spock? Now you wouldn't wish that on us, would you?
      Spock: It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody.

  • NOTES (1)