The Immunity Syndrome (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"The Immunity Syndrome"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 18
Directed byJoseph Pevney
Written byRobert Sabaroff
Featured musicSol Kaplan
Fred Steiner
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code048
Original air dateJanuary 19, 1968 (1968-01-19)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"A Piece of the Action"
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"A Private Little War"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 2)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Immunity Syndrome" is the eighteenth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast on January 19, 1968, and repeated June 7, 1968. It is episode #47, production #48, written by Robert Sabaroff and directed by Joseph Pevney.

In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise encounters an energy-draining space-dwelling organism.


The Federation starship USS Enterprise is en route to Starbase 6 for rest and relaxation. Communications Officer Lt. Uhura receives a garbled distress call, containing a sector coordinate and the name of the ship, the USS Intrepid, crewed entirely by Vulcans. In answer to a question about the Intrepid, First Officer Spock, replies with a shocked look that the Intrepid has "died".

Starfleet sends a priority message to Captain Kirk and orders him to investigate Sector 39J where contact has been lost with the Gamma 7A system, also the last known position of the Intrepid. Arriving there, Ensign Chekov reports that the sensors show no life readings in the system of a billion inhabitants.

Meanwhile, Spock is examined by Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy in sickbay, where he explains he felt the combined shock and terror in the minds of 400 of his fellow Vulcans aboard the Intrepid as they died. McCoy is amazed that Spock felt anything over the distance involved, but admits there is a lot about Vulcans he still doesn't understand.

Spock returns to the bridge just as Uhura announces she has lost contact with Starfleet. Kirk has Spock scan a dark zone that appears on the main view screen. Suddenly, half the crew are sickened or faint. Spock is unable to determine the nature of the zone, but suggests it is some kind of energy turbulence, and possibly responsible for the death of the system inhabitants and the Intrepid crew. Kirk has Chekov launch a sensor probe into the void. The probe transmits a piercing, high-pitched noise before contact with it is lost.

Kirk orders the ship into the zone, and as it enters, the piercing sound returns and all the stars disappear from the main view screen. Dr. McCoy then reports that the crew are getting worse, and Chief Engineer Scott reports a loss of power. Spock surmises that the ship has entered a sort of negative energy field that interferes with biological and mechanical processes.

The Enterprise appears to be accelerating of its own accord, and the ship's engines seem to be operating in reverse: forward thrust slows the ship down. Kirk suggests that all available power be channeled into a massive forward thrust, in the hope of breaking free of the zone, but the effort succeeds only in bringing the ship to a halt.

Their quarry is finally revealed to be a gigantic, multicolored object resembling an amoeba. Kirk launches a sensor probe into it, which reveals that the object is indeed made of protoplasm, and is alive. McCoy believes that a manned probe must be sent into the creature to gather the data needed to destroy it, and volunteers himself for the job. Spock insists that he is better qualified, and Kirk agrees. Spock pilots a shuttle through the creature's outer membrane and makes his way toward the nucleus. Eventually, he reports that the creature is ready to reproduce, and suggests a method of destroying it, but the key part of the message is lost. Kirk and McCoy meet to discuss the situation, and Kirk suddenly realizes that if the organism is like an invading virus, then "antibodies" are needed to destroy it.

Kirk takes the Enterprise into the cell's body, and orders Chief Engineer Scott to prepare an antimatter bomb with a timer set for a seven-minute delay. The bomb is fired into the cell's nucleus and the Enterprise backs out using what little power remains. With seconds remaining, Spock's shuttle is finally located and Kirk orders Scott to tow it with a tractor beam. With power levels nearly exhausted, the ship approaches the outer membrane just as the bomb explodes. Both the Enterprise and the shuttle are thrown clear of the organism and sustain only slight damage, and Spock requests permission to return to the ship.


In the absence of George Takei as Lt. Sulu, John Winston was granted more than his usual amount of screen time as Lt. Kyle. He occupied Sulu's helmsman's seat, wearing a gold command tunic instead of his usual red engineering tunic as the transporter chief. However, Kirk repeatedly mispronounced his name in this episode as "Cowl" (as established in Where No Man Has Gone Before and Space Seed, Kirk was known to frequently forget or mispronounce crew members' names).


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