Kirk and his crew must help stop an event that threatens the entire galaxy. Originally broadcast on March 30, 1967, this is The Alternative Factor.
Captain’s Log Stardate 3087.6
After a strange sensor blink that indicates that the universe is about to cease existing, Kirk and his away team meet with a man who claims he is being pursued by a monster that has destroyed his people and will destroy this universe as well. Spock soon discovers a rip in the universe and the man, who goes by Lazarus, steals two dilithium crystals to stop this new threat. Soon captured by Kirk, Lazarus explains that he is in fact a time traveller who is there to stop a terrible event. It turns out that there are two Lazarus’ (Lazuri?) from two seperate universes one good and one evil. the Lazuri fight and are ultimately sealed in a pocket of time where they will battle forever keeping the universe safe from being destroyed. Kirk has Good Lazarus’ time ship destroyed so that no one can use it which also prevents them from ever escaping the pocket of time.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
To me, this is a nearly perfect science fiction story for Star Trek that, in a way, gives us a preview of things to come in later series. Not only do we get a great mystery but also a time traveling conundrum as well as a universe wide threat that brings Star Fleet to the very edge of war, However, we don’t spend episodes dealing with this and slowly revealing the events. The Alternative Factor is literally just a singular moment that of the continuing voyages of the Enterprise and it works. Sure, there are a few silly moments and questionable choices, but lets be honest, even on a good day a Federation crew makes some rather silly decisions.
In a way, this is a precursor to the classic Mirror Mirror with Lazarus fighting his evil mirror self for all eternity. Honestly this would have been a great setup for that episode showing a person who is being inhabited by both versions only to reveal that they are from different universes which is causing the conundrum. How? well, maybe a transporter accident that combined them somehow or tied them together? Anyhow, I really like how this essentially plants the seeds for the idea of other universes within Star Trek Canon giving us so many amazing adventures in the future.
Overall, this is probably one of my favorites, even though some people hate it. What I love about this episode is the story is an epic one that is done beautifully in just 60 mins that would now be used as the plot to an entire season. It’s amazing to me how it feels like we have lost the ability to tell singular stories within an episode that has far reaching implications yet can be cleared up by the end of the episode. Sure, I would have loved a followup to this story, but honestly, it works just as well without one.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Kirk is transported to the negative ‘antimatter’ universe but only blinks out, when he should have swapped places with his negative self.
- We never hear or see Lazarus again, maybe we will get some closure eventually?
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Tomorrow is Yesterday
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Late To The Game 1/14/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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