5/15/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Immunity Syndrome"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S02E18
Air Date: January 19, 1968
Written by: Robert Sabaroff
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

Premise
The Enterprise and its crew starts losing energy. The culprit: A gigantic single celled amoeba.

Review
We start off with Kirk and the crew being ready for some shore leave. On their way to Starbase 6, Kirk logs that he is ready for some rest and relaxation on some lovely... planet. But we can't rest yet, can we? Oh, no, sir. Not when Spock suddenly shows emotion. After Uhura gets a message from Starbase 6 about the USS Intrepid, a ship entirely manned with Vulcans, Spock suddenly appears stricken and reports that he felt the entire crew of the Intrepid suddenly die. When they go to check it out at the Intrepid's last known coordinates, they find that not only the ship, but the entire system, with its billions of inhabitants, has been lost.

Investigating further, they run into a mysterious zone of darkness. An amorphous blob of black where the stars suddenly don't appear. It seems to be sucking things in, and they can't get any readings on it since all probes and sensors only return back noise. So Kirk decides to go in. Once they're inside, they find that everything... everything is being drained of energy. The ship and the crew. Everyone is slowing down and tiring, so Bones goes around giving everyone stimulants while Scotty works on doing the same for the ship. So much for resting.
"I've got a whole cabinet full of speed if we need it."
After a while, it's discovered that the zone reverses many of the laws of physics. Reverse thrust pulls the ship forward and so on. So Kirk orders Scotty to turn on the forward thrust and their pull toward the center is slowed, but not stopped. Once they get to the center of the zone of darkness, they find what's pulling them there: a huge amoeba. It seems to have created this zone of darkness as a form a protection while it does its own thing. But we can't let it do its own thing because it's totally destroying everyone in its wake.

We need to destroy it, but first we need to scan it to find out how to destroy it. A shuttle craft can be fitted with the instruments needed to destroy it, but it would be a suicide mission. Both Spock and Bones volunteer for the mission. Both Spock and Bones are uniquely qualified for the mission. Kirk is left to decide which of his friends he sends to die.
Think... think... think... oh, bother.
Finally, Kirk decides on Spock. Spock hurries to the shuttle, penetrates the amoeba and reports back his findings. Along the way he experiences heavy turbulence and is sure to report back to Bones that he wouldn't have survived. Meanwhile, his transmissions are becoming increasingly garbled. Which is unfortunate, because that's when he reports back how to kill the amoeba. He does get across, however, that the cell is getting ready to divide. And that will be a huge problem.

Spock's transmissions stop and Kirk is afraid that he's dead. But he must continue on for the good of the galaxy. He and Bones muse on the fact that if the cell divides, then the Enterprise would be acting like an antibody taking out an invading virus. And that gives Kirk the "Aha!" moment that Dr. House usually gets when he's talking to Wilson about something completely irrelevant. If they pump this thing full of antimatter, then, because of the way physics works in reverse, they'll be able to destroy the amoeba. With this in mind, they use the last of the energy they have left on the ship to enter the dividing cell. They now either succeed or die.
And then they fall knee deep in a vat of Jell-O.
Power levels quickly drop while ship drops off its payload and then backs out of the creature. As it does so, however, sensors pick up the shuttlecraft with Spock still alive. Despite the power drain, tractor beams are activated. Spock protests, but then Bones gives him a stern talking-to and Spock says "Yes, Captain," in his uniquely Vulcan sarcastic way. There's some rumbling and some shaking and then suddenly... The stars are visible once more! The shuttle craft survived and is brought on board and once again the Kirk looks forward to spending some time on some lovely... planet.

Overall Thoughts
The idea that a cell can grow to be that large is pretty difficult for me to wrap my head around. And I'm not sure that they actually took the best course of action. However, they were in imminent danger and the thing had killed several billion people already, so... I dunno. Congratulations on the fast thinking and character bonding though the episode, though!