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One of the five worst episodes in the original series

  • Oct 14, 2003
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This episode is clearly in the bottom five of the original Star Trek series. It starts with the basic idea of twins, one good and the other evil, almost identical in structure, but opposite in temperament. In this case, both are named Lazurus and each is from a different universe. This basic idea had already been used in episode 5, "The Enemy Within", where a transporter malfunction split Kirk into his good and evil personalities. However, that is only one reason why this episode is so weak.
Supposedly, because one is from a matter universe and the other from an antimatter universe, if they ever meet, it will cause the destruction of both universes. This is of course scientifically absurd, when any antimatter encounters any matter equal amounts of both are converted into energy. Therefore, the antimatter Lazurus would have been destroyed when he first encountered the matter of the Enterprise.
The two Lazuruses pop back and forth across their universes, making it difficult for you to determine which one is currently on the Enterprise. As they perform their universe hopping, the crew of the Enterprise is befuddled, although they eventually figure out that they are dealing with two distinct individuals. The solution is to wait until they both are in the process
of hopping from one universe to another and then destroy their ships, which is what created the path between the universes.
This traps them in the "corridor" between the universes, where the mad Lazurus will eternally be at the throat of the good one. The absurdity of this solution seems lost on all the participants. Obviously, if being in the corridor has rendered you immortal, then even the actions of a madman could not harm you. The simplest solution would have been to kill the mad
Lazarus, saving both universes. Nevertheless, there is a sensible reason why the creators did not choose this option, as that allowed them to pose the one interesting theme of the story,
that one can end up in purgatory by committing actions worthy of a saint.
I have trouble ranking what I consider to be the top and bottom five episodes of the original Star Trek series. Therefore, I cannot say that I rank this one last, but it is tied for 75th place.

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About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher ()
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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"The Alternative Factor" is a minor episode in which Kirk encounters two versions of a fellow named Lazarus (Robert Brown), one from our own dimension and the other from an antimatter cosmos. The latter Lazarus intends to create an opening between worlds, potentially causing an intergalactic Armageddon. Though directed by Gerd Oswald, an interesting feature filmmaker from Hollywood, "The Alternative Factor" has to work a little too hard to make its point. Still, it isn't boring, and the theme certainly fits that long-standingStar Trekobsession with dualities.--Tom Keogh
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Studio: CBS Paramount International Television

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