Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – The Immunity Syndrome and A Private Little War

Captain’s log: stardate 4307.1

Like Balance of Terror, this episode encouraged a lot of daydreams as I navigated my school desk turned navigation console through the unexplored mass of the galaxy. The Immunity Syndrome is mostly confined to the bridge of the Enterprise and ts shuttlecraft as Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and the rest of the stalwart crew take on a giant energy draining space organism that looks a lot like an amoeba of incredible size.

Written by Robert Sabaroff, the episode premiered on 19 January, 1968. When the Enterprise, on it’s way to some much needed R&R, receives a distress signal from the Vulcan manned Intrepid and is abruptly destroyed the Federation starship races to investigate.

When they come across the creature, which has also drained the energy from an entire solar system, the crew come across the seemingly unstoppable creature.

Can they find a way? And what will it cost them to do so, as tempers flare up, and the crew begin to fall ill and collapse?

The ship, and the crew are being drained of their energy, they are in effect dying, as the creature pulls them closer and closer, feeding off of them. As time runs out, they come up with a dangerous plan, a last gamble to save themselves.

This is an episode that not only had lots of space stuff, always fun for me at a young age, it made me start thinking about things. I had recently learned about microscopic creatures like amoebas in class. Seeing one of that size fired my brain up – what if we are only tiny particles part of some larger being, or thing? What if our solar system, all the solar systems were merely atoms? It was a delightfully puzzling exercise when I was a child, and would constantly blow my mind as I thought about it late at night in my bunk bed.

It also made me think about the choice Kirk is forced to make regarding a plan of escape and what it means for either Spock or McCoy. This may have been the first time that I realised the burden of command, the decisions that the captain had to make.

All in all, this is an episode I rather enjoy. Sure there are no phasers or photon torpedoes being fired, but the Enterprise is front and centre as a major character in the story. I love seeing that beautiful ship on the screen, it lifts my heart every time.

Of course, our heroes win the day, saving the galaxy, and they venture off for their next venture.

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Captain’s log: stardate 4211.4

A Private Little War featured a teleplay by Gene Roddenberry based on a story by Don Ingalls. It originally aired 2 February, 1968.

The population of a peaceful planet, one Kirk spent some time on thirteen years ago, are being maneuvered by the superpowers of the Federation and the the Klingon Empire to fight one another.

As Kirk and the Enterprise return to the planet, they discover that the Klingons are arming their side with superior weapons, and with the peaceful souls caught in the middle, Kirk may be forced to up the ante on his side, violating the Prime Directive that dictates non-interference.

The Klingons have no such rules and are seeking only to make their war, and claim the planet for their own. If the crew of the Enterprise can prove the Klingons are in violation of the Organian treaty, they can drive them out. But that could take some serious work.

A witch woman, Nona (Nancy Kovak) who is married to Kirk’s old friend, Tyree (Michael Witney), the leader of his people, pushes for phasers, and proves to be almost as much of a threat as the Klingons, and the dangerous horned gorilla-beast known as the Mugato.

There are ideas at work in this episode, as it was written as a pointed commentary on the Vietnam war, but can no doubt be fitted to today’s society as well.

This features the first appearance of Dr. M’Benga (Booker Bradshaw) who has joined the Enterprise’s sickbay, and has a speciality in Vulcan medicine. It’s like McCoy recruited him just to look after Spock (which is good considering he’s injured in the epiosde) proving the Doctor truly does care.

Speaking of, since Spock is hurt and is recovering aboard ship, the episode features a lot of Kirk and McCoy, and it’s a lot of fun to see the two of them working together.

Next week, the Human Adventure continues…

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