In this episode of Trekking Through Compliance, we consider the episode The Immunity Syndrome which aired on January 19, 1968, Star Date 4307.1.

Story Synopsis

On its way to a much-needed rest stop at Starbase 6, the Enterprise is diverted to investigate the mysterious cessation of communication with the Gamma 7A star system. While on its way, Spock telepathically senses the destruction of the Intrepid, a starship manned by Vulcans, and claims that all 400 Vulcans aboard have been killed. Starbase 6 then orders the Enterprise to Sector 39J to investigate the loss of communications with the Intrepid.

The Enterprise encounters a strange field which drains all energy, whether mechanical or biologically generated. Spock reports that he has never encountered a phenomenon like this before, and it shows up on the viewing screen as a dark hole in space. The Enterprise launches a probe into it, but it returns only a high-pitched whine which causes half the Enterprise’s crew to faint. When the Enterprise prepares to fire again, the whine returns, and the Enterprise experiences a 5% power drain. The stars vanish from the viewing screen, and Spock reports that they have entered a zone of darkness. This boundary layer proceeds to drain the ship and its crew of energy.

Spock finds that the zone of darkness is a negative energy field. Scott prepares to use full power to yank the Enterprise out of the zone, but the best he can do is slow the pull towards the center of the zone. As they approach, they see a giant one-celled organism which is 11,000 miles long and 2,000-3,000 miles wide. They send a probe which penetrates the organism and discovers it to be living and to be filled with protoplasm.

Kirk decides to send a shuttlecraft and must decide between sending Spock or McCoy. Spock sets out in the shuttlecraft Galileo II and heads for the nucleus. He also reduces life support systems to the bare minimum, causing Chekov and Kirk to become concerned. Spock establishes that the organism has stored enough energy to reproduce and that the 40 chromosomes in the nucleus are ready to come together. Kirk shuts off the Enterprise’s engines and switches all power to the shields, causing the Enterprise to be sucked into the organism.

Kirk then fills a probe full of antimatter and prepares to plant it in the nucleus. Chekov successfully lodges it in the nucleus.

Meanwhile, aboard the shuttlecraft, Spock makes a log tape in preparation for his own death. As the Enterprise backs out of the organism before it blows up, it detects Spock’s shuttlecraft and locks on a tractor beam. The Enterprise run out of energy near the edge of the organism, and the crew waits for the detonation and their own deaths.

The explosion rocks the ship, but it survives, and the stars appear in the viewing screen again. Somehow, the shuttlecraft survives as well, and Spock reports he has some fascinating data on the organism. However, McCoy is furious that he has botched the acetylcholine test.

 Fun Fact

Spock explains in this episode that Vulcan was never conquered. However, in “The Conscience of the King” McCoy says “Now I know why they were conquered” in response to Spock’s refusal to drink alcohol. This might be explained by Vulcan never having been conquered but one or more of their colonies having been annexed by another power at some point.

Compliance Takeaways:

  1. For export control compliance; screen, screen and then screen again.
  2. How do you choose your project team?
  3. What is your innovation strategy?


Excruciatingly Detailed Plot Summary by Eric W. Weisstein for The Immunity Syndrome Immunity Syndrome