Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Immunity Syndrome

**** (4 stars out of 5)
In Soviet Russia, Virus catches You!

The starship Intrepid is crewed by 400 Vulcans... until today. Spock senses their deaths across space. The Gamma 7A system and the billions of inhabitants there also croak.

McCoy knew Spock was a telepath, but was surprised at his range. He's also counting himself lucky not to suffer the death of his neighbour, as Vulcans apparently do.
"It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody." Spock observes, a little too smugly.

Well, la-di-da! Have we conveniently forgotten all that mildly unpleasant brutal Romulan colonization? Suddenly Vulcan poop doesn't stink.

On approach to the zone of darkness where Intrepid died, everyone becomes nervous, weak and irritable. Spock's unable to help: unidentified energy, unidentified power drain, unidentified illness. McCoy's recommendation is retreat. Scotty reverses engines, but they go forward. Turns out forward thrust slows them down. Also toilets are flushing up and hairlines are moving nose-wards.

Spock says here that Vulcan has never been conquered, and that Vulcan collective memory cannot conceive of a conqueror. I'm dubious. First, because it contradicts something McCoy said in the first season about Vulcan having been conquered (although in fairness, he was making a joke about booze at the time). Second, more relevantly, because I find it difficult to accept that not being conquered means you can't understand the concept. I haven't ever eaten a turd-encrusted giraffe tail, nor did any of my ancestors, but it wouldn't destroy my cognitive model of the universe if I did so and it tasted bad.

Speaking of horrible, at the bottom of the zone of sickness is a germ 11,000 miles long. Spock embarks on a dangerous mission by shuttlecraft to study the single-celled creature from the inside. McCoy tries to get that Martyr Mission for himself, and fails. He's worried about Spock but he can't admit it. They just keep arguing. It's a perfect Spocoy moment.

"Grant me my own kind of dignity," says Spock, heading for his probable death.
"Vulcan dignity? How can I grant you what I don't understand?" McCoy barks.
"Then employ one of your own superstitions- wish me luck."

Kirk's idea to destroy this virus with an antimatter bomb seems to strike Scotty as exceedingly innovative. Despite this being the same means Kirk used to destroy both the Planet Killer and the Cloud Vampire earlier this year. Maybe Scotty's just good at sucking up.

'Och, brilliant new plan, sir! Anti-matter, eh? How DO you do it? I'll go make a magnetic bottle right now!' And then Scotty grabs one from the pile he pre-made last week.

Distracted by minutia, I forgot to be swept up in the story of our heroes facing death. I like Spock's recording of a final message of respect and fellowship for his shipmates. Which goes unheard when Enterprise swoops in for the win.

"Shut up, Spock, we're rescuing you!"
"Why thank you, Captain McCoy."

"The Immunity Syndrome" giant virus is a striking image, even or especially when it looked like the ship was zooming around inside a lava lamp. Kirk's back-up singers in blue get some good screen time. Not to be missed.

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