‘THE ALTERNATIVE FACTOR’ (TOS)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
I don’t consider this ‘Star Trek’ episode to be a favourite of mine! I found this one a little confusing and it didn’t really excite me when I watched it, although I did find some interesting moments featured in it.
Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew find a man named Lazarus on an uninhabited planet. He claims to be attacked by a terrible monster. Could Lazarus be lying or is he from another parallel universe?!
This is where ‘Star Trek’ goes into deeper realms of science fiction in the series. The concept of two of the same man from a parallel universe is intriguing, but it doesn’t translate well into this episode.
The parallel universe featured in this episode is not like the one that will feature later in the episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’. It’s a universe that exists in the same spot as the current in the ‘Star Trek’ universe.
I can’t claim to understand everything that goes on in this episode, but it was intriguing how there seemed to be two versions of Lazarus. The concept gradually sunk in by the time the episode ended.
Robert Brown delivers an astonishing performance as Lazarus in this episode. He balances an interesting blend of being a mad man as well as being calm when he can be either a monster or not.
Lazarus tries to convince Kirk that he’s been hunted by some monster when he’s rescued aboard the Enterprise. Kirk seems unwilling to believe and trust Lazarus, as he keeps changing his story at times.
It was confusing when Lazarus keeps switching places with his other self in the parallel universe. The clue is when he’s wearing a plaster on his forehead. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not there.
I found it frustrating when Lazarus’ switching in parallel universes causes storms on the planet he’s on. It was tedious when the two Lazarus’, in negative, are fighting each other in the parallel universe.
In the episode, Lazarus is determined to have and steal crystals from engineering aboard the Enterprise. This is to power up his ship that’s on the surface of the uninhabited planet he came from.
Janet MacLachlan guest stars Lt. Charlene Masters, who seems to fill in Scotty’s absence whilst I assume he’s away on holiday. Sulu is also absent from this episode. Perhaps he’s on holiday as well.
It was interesting and refreshing to have a female crewmember in Lt. Masters in charge of engineering aboard the Enterprise in ‘The Original Series’. But shouldn’t she be wearing red and not blue?
It was tense when Lazarus sabotages the Enterprise’s engines, almost suffocating Masters and the engineering crew. This was a diversion for Lazarus to steal the dilithium crystals to power up his ship.
Eventually, Kirk follows Lazarus down onto the planet and enters the parallel universe by stepping into the portal through his ship. It was so intriguing when Kirk and the anti-Lazarus meet each other.
The anti-matter version of Lazarus explains what’s going on to Kirk. He seems to be the good one compared to the other in Kirk’s universe. Kirk has to return to his universe to stop the mad Lazarus.
‘The Alternative Factor’ is a pretty average ‘Star Trek’ episode for me. I don’t fully understand it and it was rather uninspiring to watch. But the concepts were interesting, despite not translating so well.
The DVD special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 7 of both the original and re-mastered DVDs of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1’, there is a preview trailer for this episode.
‘The Alternative Factor’ (TOS) rating – 5/10
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