Maybe the Alternative Factor was a lot worse than I remember it being.
Back in November when I did my 10 Worst Star Trek TOS Episode list I included my list of bad ones. One of the episodes that slipped my grasp was the Alternative Factor. One reader commented and called me out on it. At the time I said I had a liking for Lazarus and anti-Lazarus fighting for eternity between universes. However, I have been rewatching the TOS episodes and last night got up to the Alternative Factor and have had to reconsider my position on this one.
Basically this episode is the first to have Season 3 sized plot holes but was barely into Season 1. The science was about as dumb as possible. If anti-Lazarus was made of antimatter wouldn’t he be annihilated as soon as he came into contact with matter from our world? The matter humans are comprised of changes every minute. If anti-Lazarus ate or drank something what happened when he went home? Wouldn’t his stomach contacts destroy the universe? Is it only the exact molecules that destroy each other? How does that make sense?
So Lazarus is a crazed madman who has already expressed a desire for critical components of the Enterprise’s warp drive. Why didn’t Kirk just throw him in the brig, or at least put a guard on him? Instead a complete stranger has free run of the ship, and gets to hang out in the rec room listening to crew members discuss dilithium crystals. Had Lazarus been under observation the crew might have noticed how he kept phasing in and out of reality every time the universe went on it’s freaky binge. Given that knowledge I think Kirk would have not been remiss dropping him into the nearest black hole.
Why, exactly, did anti-Lazarus have to fight Lazarus in the corridor between universes forever? You can’t tell me it’s because of the balance of atoms or something like that. One of them had a bandage that the other did not, so there is no way the atom count was accurate. Why couldn’t Kirk have just executed Lazarus (the crazy one) or rendered him unconscious, tied him up, and tossed him into the little ship? Anti-Lazarus could have just hung out on the other side and blown up his own ship, then went home to market his own line of facial hair products.
Speaking of just knocking Lazarus out, at one point Kirk and Lazarus struggle as Kirk tries to pitch Lazarus into the gateway. That’s all fine and well, but Mr. Spock and two red shirts just stand there fully armed watching. What if Lazarus had been secretly trained in martial arts and tossed Kirk in the door again, or just gotten lucky and gouged out one of Kirks eyes? Spock could have nerve pinched him out, cuffed him, and tossed him into the corridor. Also Kirk takes his sweet ass time nuking the ship from orbit. At any second Lazarus or anti-Lazarus (or both) could have come rolling out of the gate and destroyed the universe.
I don’t know. Is it worse than the Enemy Within, my number 10 worst episode? I guess not. The science is not as horrible, and at least they tried to address some interesting ideas beyond the duality of man. However, Kirk did not get to demonstrate his range of acting ability as he did in the Enemy, so from a cinematographic point of view maybe.
One thing is for sure. This episode would have to murder a bus full of orphans and nuns to be considered worse than Spock’s Brain, so as bad as it or any of the other ones are at least it has that going for it. (Spock’s Brain image courtesy of the Star Trek T-Shirt category)
Today is cheap movie night, so I will try to see Hit and Run tonight. It’s the new pretty boy Bradley Cooper movie, but apparently it was done semi-independently so I am curious to see what comes of it. Look for the review tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have any thoughts or comments on this post feel free to make them here, and if you have any off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!