TOS: S1E27: “The Alternative Factor”

In which some weird stuff happens, the evil one doesn’t always have a goatee, and Star Trek fundamentally misrepresents how antimatter works.

Planet of the Week is so established now that nobody bothers saying it, other than “Ho hum, another planet, just like the last one but with less cryptic bullshit aliens. Guess we’ll move on” until this happens:

"Captain! A thing is happening! This is totally unlike all the other things that have ever happened!"

“Captain! A thing is happening! This is totally unlike all the other things that have ever happened!”

Whatever it is the ship is shaking back and forth and everything in the universe momentarily ceased to exist, and now there’s a ‘life object’ on the planet Even Starfleet called. They want the universe back. So the best thing to do is beam down to find, apparently, George Jetson’s car. Some crazy guy with a beard starts shouting about there still being time, and you will of course recognize something familiar here.

Recognize anything?

Recognize anything?

I refer of course to the Vasquez Rocks. I’m sure Beardy over there will get plenty of screen time and plot and exposition, but who has time for that?

The Dilithium crystals were drained by the anomaly, which indicates that they’re not merely a catalyst for a reaction, they contain some energetic property that’s necessary for ships power. I believe this is contradicted later in the series. We’ll keep an eye out for this. Also, apparently Starfleet in the 23rd century can tell if a phenomenon affects the entire galaxy and intergalactic space. How? Even subspace communication has its own light cone, and it’s only been an hour.

Beardy (whose real name is Lazarus) is a manhunter from somewhere other bent on exterminating his current quarry, who is some horrible antagonist who wiped out Beardy’s whole civilization. He seems a little crazed, and is

Hell if I know, gentle reader. Your guess is as good as mine.

Hell if I know, gentle reader. Your guess is as good as mine.

about to go at Spock for calling him a liar when the thing happens again but worse this time. There’s shouting and some covered-in-glowing-paint-wrestling between Lazarus and presumably the evil monster he’s hunting down. What’s really fun is that if you look carefully you can see the soundstage they’re fighting on as the camera rotates. Lazarus is also demented. This feels like one of those times where we meet the bad guy first and Kirk has to figure out which one is telling the truth. Also, Lazarus got a cut on his forehead and it’s healed instantly. On the ship, he has another one of his reality-destroying episodes and when he comes out of it, the wound is back. So clearly there’s some doppleganger bullshit going on.

I’m going to give McCoy some credit here – he’s actually right this time, and Kirk isn’t respecting him. Hardly surprising given his track record literally until this episode, but Kirk has taken him more seriously when he’s been completely ’round the bend. Maybe he’s finally becoming competent – I know some people who actually like him, and am told by a reliable source that “Devil in the Dark” was a turning point for his character. Here’s hoping.

Also, there’s a tear in the universe. No big deal. Lazarus just needs the Dilithum crystals to get this whole thing sorted out and save the universe. It certainly shouldn’t worry anyone that Lazarus has another seizure, loses his wound, and drugs everyone in Engineering. They beam down to the planet to track down some radiation, Lazarus accidentally drops a rock on Kirk, but warns him. So he may be a good guy, but his back story is a lie.

Turns out Lazarus is from the planet below, and he’s a time-hopper instead of a spaceship. Or a dimension-hopper, or something. And Lazarus wrestling his doppleganger is causing some slow leak in the universe. There seems to be some confusion over the nature of antimatter, though. For the purposes of annihalation, Lazarus doesn’t have to meet anti-Lazarus to cause an explosion, he just has to come into contact with pretty much any quantity of antimatter at all. Kirk clearly skipped that day in his Academy classes about how the engines work, and Spock is too busy to correct him. Besides, anti-Lazarus appears to be the only antimatter around. Of course, that doesn’t explain how they don’t create… let’s see here, consult a Boom Table, do some math… 1.26*1019 joules of energy, or just about the order of energy released in an earthquate measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale ….an explosion 100 times the size of the biggest nuclear bomb ever built, just by touching each other. Or how anti-Lazarus doesn’t create that explosion just by being in ordinary air.

Lazarus stole some crystals and put them in his ship, and Kirk, chasing him for having sabotaged the Enterprise is the one caught in the weird chromatically-reversed limbo trap. I get the feeling this episode would make more sense if I smoked weed. I think Kirk is in the antimatter dimension – he’s greeted by the Lazarus who’s not wounded and who appears to be sane. It’s apparently called an Alternative Warp, a ‘negative magnetic corridor. BINGO! Apparently it’s fine for matter and antimatter to meet inside the magnetic corridor, but the entire universe will explode. Anti-Lazarus will sacrifice himself by trapping them both in there, to save both universes. Whatddya know, I was right.  He’s a pretty cool guy. He sacrifices himself to save the universe and doesn’t afraid of anything.




Did we miss something awesome?