The Great Star Trek Rewatch: The Alternative Factor

Whilst surveying a dead planet, the Enterprise encounters a phenomenon in which everything around them seems to ‘wink out’ of existence. Following the event, a humanoid life form named Lazarus suddenly appears on the planet. Lazarus claims to be chasing a monster who destroyed his entire race, but just how far can this mysterious man be trusted?

I have to admit, I simply don’t like this episode very much. It hangs on the premise that there are actually two copies of Lazarus – one from our universe, and the other from an antimatter universe – each determined to the stop the other, and each periodically swapping with one another. I can just about get on board with the idea of a corridor to a parallel universe, and that it drove one of the Lazarus’ insane to have to deal with the fact that he had a counterpart, but the rest is a bit much. If the alternate Lazarus is antimatter, then he wouldn’t just annihilate if he came into contact with original Lazarus – he should annihilate with any normal matter in our universe. Even if he could somehow survive, McCoy’s medical scanners should have picked something up.

Even if the story were slightly less stupid, there’s not much incentive to go along for the ride – both incarnations of Lazarus are largely uninteresting, and the twist that the one who claims to be the good guy is actually the insane one is hardly enough to save the story from mediocrity. There aren’t even any good character moments for the leads to get their teeth into.

Things I’m going to keep banging on about

  • Stop putting the Enterprise in an unstable orbit which is danger of decaying every time the ship runs out of power! Also, if (di)lithium crystals are so vital to the running of the ship, don’t make them so easy to steal.
  • Stop letting civilians roam freely around the Enterprise!

Most illogical, Captain

I’ve talked a little about the antimatter thing already, so I won’t repeat myself here. In fact, the whole corridor thing is just too silly to even start unpicking, and, considering that I already have a more detailed précis of the stupidity of Spock’s Brain lined up, that’s saying something.

  • Why did Spock and the security officers just stand and watch whilst Kirk fought with Lazarus? At the very least, Spock could have stepped in with a Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • Kirk was very quick to dismiss McCoy and Spock’s concerns as jokes – these are his best friends and most reliable officers! If they say something is wrong, Kirk really should listen.
  • Why are high voltage circuits that are critical to the Enterprise’s function easily accessible from a hatch in the corridor?
  • Fire in space is even more serious than fire on Earth. Why isn’t there at least a fire extinguisher in Engineering?
  • What exactly will eternity in the space corridor look like? Will the Lazarus’ experience hunger, thirst, fatigue? Does time pass normally, or at all?
  • How are messages from Starfleet Command able to arrive almost instantaneously?

Summary – The Alternative Factor: In case you couldn’t tell, not one of my favourites.

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