Star Trek “The Alternative Factor” (part 3 of 6)

This goes on for a while until one of them wins (I guess), and suddenly we spin back to reality (or live action, at least), as there are more flashes of light, and Lazarus is being knocked around on top of a hill. He staggers down and we see Kirk is…

Well, I’d like to think Shatner was just making fun of the ridiculous way Robert Brown moves in character, but the idea is that he’s recovering from the incident coming to an end.

Kirk notices Lazarus while he does maybe the most melodramatic fall I’ve ever seen, and rushes to his aid. Spock rushes up to report… Well, nothing of real importance, other than noting the spot they’re in is the focal point for the incidents… whatever the hell they are.

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In addition to this, I should note that Lazarus has the “homeless guy who doesn’t give a shit” look back. It’s only fair to mention that the twist is that his opponent is identical to him, and takes his place from time to time, thereby explaining the discrepancy. At least I think it does. It’s hard to say, really.

Still, we don’t learn about this until much later, and regardless of this fact, it still looks like the makeup artist just grabbed some carpet remnants and glued them to the actor’s face.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Don’t worry, I know healing words: Denny Crane!”

Lazarus begins to rant about the enemy once more, and Kirk suggests they get back to the ship. We go to commercial as Lazarus begins to shout that the enemy will kill them all, repeatedly shouting “Kill!” as the scene fades.

I hope after the director said cut, Shatner asked Robert Brown if he’d like some cheese to go with the ham.

Caption contributed by Ed


Back from the break, we get a log entry that basically tells us that there isn’t shit going on, while McCoy checks up on Lazarus in Sickbay.

Caption contributed by Ed

I get all the future stuff and everything, but I’ve never figured out the deal with the unicorn horn above the bed.

On the bridge, Spock still has no explanation for what the hell is going on. After a bit of back and forth with Kirk which just states what we already know, McCoy calls Kirk down to Sickbay.

Seems McCoy’s concerned because when he treated Lazarus, the man had an abrasion on his forehead. After leaving the room for a moment, said abrasion vanished upon his return. On top of that, Lazarus has vanished, and is somewhere on the ship.

Kirk takes this a little better than one would expect (I guess someone accidentally gave Shatner decaf instead of regular), and we cut to the lounge as Lazarus just sits there with a drink, sans head wound. Yep, nobody in here seems to wonder what the deal is with the homeless guy who looks like he hasn’t even thought of bathing recently, let alone done it.

I know in Gene Roddenberry’s vision, people are generally more trusting of one another, but come on! This is really only a few steps away from the future world in Demolition Man. Fellow greetings! Anyone up for Taco Bell?

Caption contributed by Ed

“Man, this beats the hell out of the soup kitchen on Altair VI. Those guys never clean their bathrooms!”

Either way, our unwashed friend overhears Lt. Masters (remember her from the opening? If not, it’s okay, really) chatting with a fellow crew member about the dilithium crystals. This gets his attention (in a hammy manner, naturally), and he follows her out as she leaves.

I should also note that he nods to one or two of the crew members on his way out, neither of whom think there’s anything weird about a total stranger moving around the ship. See what I meant earlier?

He steps out into the corridor, and suddenly lurches a little, before stumbling to a lattice-framed wall or something while having another episode. More struggling with his adversary with the spatial anomaly in the background ensues, and at this point I have to wonder if the ship is staffed by a bunch of blind and deaf imbeciles.

Caption contributed by Ed

Excedrin Headache #2,567,934: The Big Bang occurs right in the middle of your temporal lobe.

The episode ends (Lazarus’ mental episode, sadly, not the one we’re watching. Sorry), and the head wound is back, complete with bandage. Kirk and McCoy turn up in time to see him wobbling around and approach him with concern. You know, as opposed to slamming him up against the wall and asking, “What the hell is with you?” like any sane person would.

See what living in a utopian society will do to you? There’s a reason most sci-fi stories show this sort of setup as a bad thing.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Robert, we’re here because we care… And because you’re hurting your career with this shitty performance you’re giving. No, really, even Bill here thinks you’re overdoing it.”

Lazarus is a bit on edge, but if our heroes are concerned, they’re doing a damn fine job of hiding it. Kirk now thinks McCoy is messing around, thanks to the whole bandage thing, and a call comes in from the bridge for Kirk. Seems Spock has found something “extraordinary”.

I’ll be the judge of that, pal.

Kirk has Lazarus follow him to the bridge, and the “extraordinary” find is the radiation source that seems to be causing all this. Said source is… a flashing white light on the planet, which we see on the viewscreen.

I think someone needs to get Spock a thesaurus.

Caption contributed by Ed

Yeah… I’m gonna have to go with “not really that extraordinary at all”.

Kirk asks how they missed it, to which Spock replies it isn’t actually there.

While we’re at it, take away the man’s “sacred Vulcan herbs”, too.

Kirk asks for a little more detail, to which Spock can only give a vague, and by his own admission, inaccurate answer that there’s a rip in the universe.

I think we’re seeing why 13 episode seasons are becoming more and more popular: Less pressure on the writing team. By this point, the writer’s room stash must have been down to practically nothing!

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek "The Alternative Factor"

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