So, I don’t get the title of this episode. How does “The Immunity Syndrome” relate to a gigantic space amoeba? It’s there, it eats energy, and will wipe out the galaxy if no one stops it. Now, 1960s special effects are nothing to write home about. But these are the remastered episodes, so maybe the amoeba will look extra awesome like the Doomsday Machine did.
Wait, can the amoeba fight the Doomsday Machine? That would be awesome.
Actually, this episode isn’t really about the amoeba.
To be fair, the amoeba is very much central to the plot. The Enterprise crew need to defeat that thing before it germinates. The creature devours energy, having already eaten a heavily populated star system and another starship, the USS Intrepid. The Intrepid‘s entire crew is made up of Vulcans. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a ship full of Vulcans? Well, we don’t. Instead, Spock feels them all die from far away.
See, Vulcans are rather sensitive. And, as a people, they’ve never been conquered. The fact that they could all collectively lose to anything is such a horrifying surprise, even a half-Vulcan could feel it from a great distance. Spock’s near collapse leads him to Sickbay, and that perhaps leads to the real focus of the episode. See, that means McCoy can get an earful from Spock. Sort of. Spock remarks that humans have a hard time focusing on large scale death the way they do individuals. Vulcans see huge death tolls as a deeper tragedy than humans do according to Spock. Furthermore, that could mean human history could have been a lot less bloody by Spock’s reckoning.
And that may be the central conflict of the episode. As much as it should be about the Enterprise going against the amoeba, it’s also largely about Spock and McCoy coming to conflict. See, it doesn’t take too long for Spock’s Vulcan logic to somehow find a way around the weird ways inside the amoeba. The thing eats energy, and even basic navigation goes a bit haywire inside the thing. Nothing makes sense. Kirk needs answers, so what are his two top scientists doing? Fighting over who gets to take the shuttlecraft out for a closer look.
Knowing the creature is both a scientific discovery of the century, but also that the crew must somehow kill it, means McCoy and Spock both see opportunity. McCoy wants to go out for science. Spock, well, he knows the mission is probably one-way. He also knows he’s hardier and more able to accomplish the mission. Kirk would also go, but he’s too valuable. He needs to choose which of his two closest friends to send to his probable doom.
He chooses Spock. McCoy bitches, Spock replies the doctor should wish him luck. McCoy does, but only after Spock leaves. Spock will likewise wonder aloud why McCoy never wished him luck. There have been many episodes where we’ve seen how Kirk’s relationship with Spock and McCoy works, but this may be one of the first that shows what they mean to each other.
Yes, we’ve seen them bicker, but there’s a core of respect and concern Spock and McCoy have for each other. Spock may be able to survive the trip to the amoeba, but McCoy will still point out later he didn’t get the biological scanners working as well as he could. McCoy will butt in when Spock calls in at the end to reveal he’s OK, and Spock will (jokingly?) call McCoy “Captain McCoy”.
Really, as much as Kirk is at the center of the action, he doesn’t really do much in this episode. Kirk is always at the center, and he does figure out Spock’s cut-off message on how to kill the amoeba, but I don’t think he did much here. At least, not in terms of character. I really saw this as a Spock/McCoy episode. Kirk spends it running around on stimulants and then ends the episode leering at a female member of the crew. Maybe the leering wouldn’t be to noticeable if he didn’t remark about the pleasures of an upcoming shore leave.
Granted, most of the men seem to share that assessment.
Then again, if the amoeba ate most of the ship’s power, how did it fly away? I’ll buy that somehow the Enterprise and even Spock’s shuttlecraft can survive the antimatter explosion Kirk set off to destroy the amoeba. But if the ship’s power was almost entirely drained, how will they manage Warp Factor 5 back to the starbase?
Looks, questions like that and observations about Kirk’s general lasciviousness doesn’t change the fact that this is a fairly good episode highlighting Spock and McCoy’s friendly rivalry. And that, for me, always makes for good Star Trek.