Star Trek: TOS – S01E27, The Alternative Factor

star-trek-the-alternative-factor-4The Alternative Factor, let’s face it, isn’t a very good episode. It’s too complicated, with a very intricate and dense plot, with a special effect repeated several times which is confusing more than anything else, and again security aboard the Enterprise looks ridiculous only for the sake of advancing the plot (through the theft of the dilithium crystals).

Yet, I can only admire the courage it took to write such a hard-core science-fiction episode: parallel universes, alternative dimensions, matter and antimatter, temporal ships, space-time ruptures… wow! The dialogues between Kirk and Spock are actually hard to follow! There’s no great message to convey, no metaphor, there are no extras dressed in medieval fashion… there’s only a lot of complicated science fiction that maybe doesn’t work very well, but that makes me praise the effort and the courage of writers (Don Ingalls, in this case) and producers.

Then, let’s face it, it’s a bit exaggerated. Why should the contact between the two Lazarus (Robert Brown), the one from our Universe and the other from the Anti-Universe, cause the destruction of everything we know? It’s a little too much, isn’t it? But it doesn’t matter, as I said the plot isn’t the strong point of The Alternative Factor. Its strong point is the attempt to go where no TV show had gone before, and I think he did! And of course this is another idea that has been re-used countless times afterwards, for instance see the episode Deadlock of the second season of Star Trek: Voyager!

Also… when McCoy gives his medical opinion about a patient (Lazarus, in this case), why is Kirk always so ready to mock him instead of listening to him seriously? All this sarcasm on board always costs a lot to our heroes! And why are guests always free to wander around the ship, even when suspected of lying to the captain and being responsible for serious problems that are endangering life in the whole Universe? Ciao!

PS: not only Uhura is on the bridge, but in this episode another African American girl (Janet MacLachlan) plays engineer Masters who seems to be in charge in engineering (was Scott on vacation?)! Star Trek has always been a pioneer in promoting diversity!

Previous episode: Errand Of Mercy

Next episode: The City On The Edge Of Forever


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