The Alternative Factor

The Alternative Factor

__NOTOC__ST episode
name = The Alternative Factor

Kirk encounters Lazarus and the timeship
series = TOS
ep_num = 27
prod_num = 020
remas._num = 49
date = March 30 1967
writer = Don Ingalls
director = Gerd Oswald
guest = Robert Brown
Janet MacLachlen
Richard Derr
Christian Patrick
Arch Whiting
Tom Lupo
Ron Veto
Vince Calenti
Eddie Paskey
Gary Coombs
stardate = 3087.6
year = 2267
prev = Errand of Mercy
next = The City on the Edge of Forever

"The Alternative Factor" is a first season episode of "". It is episode #27, production #20, and was broadcast on March 30 1967. The episode was written by Don Ingalls, and directed by Gerd Oswald.

In this episode, the crew of the "Enterprise" encounters a reality jumping madman. This is the first Star Trek episode to deal with parallel universes.


On stardate 3087.6, the starship USS "Enterprise", under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, completes a mapping assignment of an uninhabited planet near Starbase 200. As the crew prepares to depart, the "Enterprise" is rocked by an unknown energy pulse. Mr. Spock informs Kirk that the gravity pull of the planet fluctuated to zero and describes that the surrounding space seemed to momentarily "wink" out of existence.

Sensors then locate a human presence down on the planet that wasn't there before. Spock and Kirk, along with a four-man security detail, beam down to the planet to investigate and find a small, one-man spacecraft. A disheveled, bearded man appears, the apparent victim of some violent struggle. He babbles on about having to stop someone before it's too late. He then staggers around as if sickened and accidentally slips off a cliff. The man survives the fall, but is injured, and Kirk has him beamed to the "Enterprise" for examination.

Back on the ship, the engine room operator, Lt. Masters, informs Captain Kirk, that whatever the disturbance was, it drained the dilithium crystals in the warp core, and the "Enterprise" has about 10 hours of main power left before the ship drops out of orbit. A message is received from Starfleet which reports every Federation sector has been subjected to the same winking effect and following electronic disruption as the "Enterprise". Starfleet fears the disruption of all their equipment may be a prelude to an invasion of some kind and has ordered all ships within 100 parsecs - except the "Enterprise" - to leave the area. Kirk is ordered to find the cause of the disturbance, alone.

Dr. McCoy notifies Kirk that the fallen man is now awake and Kirk goes to question him. Kirk learns that the man, who calls himself Lazarus, is on a fanatical crusade, chasing down the "monster" who destroyed his entire civilization. He describes his nemesis as a murdering beast, the anti-life, existing only to destroy. Periodically, Lazarus fades in and out of existence, encountering his adversary in a kind of dimensional corridor. Each time he does so, another energy wink occurs that ripples through the universe. It is obvious that Lazarus and the shock waves are related.

Dr. McCoy claims to notice that a wound on Lazarus's head had disappeared the last time he checked him out. Confronting him later, Kirk and McCoy find the wound has reappeared. Kirk however, thinks McCoy is imagining things.

Kirk takes Lazarus to the bridge when Spock reports an amazing discovery down on the planet: a "rip" in space and time has formed near where Lazarus was found. The rip appears as a bright twinkling of light on the planet's surface. Lazarus insists that his enemy is trying to destroy the universe and he is causing the phenomenon. He tries to enlist Kirk's help and demands that Kirk give him some dilithium crystals so that he may fix his ship and continue to fight his enemy. Kirk refuses, but Lazarus is undeterred and plots to steal some dilithium from the ship's engines.

When he does, Kirk takes Lazarus to the briefing room for interrogation. Lazarus denies doing it, saying his enemy must have stolen it. Tired of Lazarus's double-talk and lies, he has security escort him back to sickbay.

Spock concludes that Lazarus's enemy is himself, an "anti-Lazarus", possibly from a parallel "antimatter" dimension and there may in fact be two of them running around. If Lazarus and his anti-self manage to destroy each other, it could spell doom for both universes. Spock also explains an "anti-matter universe" is only theoretical and no one has ever found proof of it.

Kirk beams back to the planet with Lazarus and a security team to search out this "hidden" enemy. Once again, Lazarus has another dimensional episode during which he slips and falls again. Lazarus is returned to sickbay where Kirk follows to demand the truth.

Reluctantly, Lazarus explains he is a time traveler, and the planet below was once his homeworld. His "spacecraft" is in fact a dimensional time ship. He claims his enemy counterpart destroyed his civilization in the past and he's chased him for centuries. He demands Kirk's help, but Kirk still refuses to get involved.

Lazarus however, is prepared to continue his mission. Slipping from sickbay, he creates a diversion in engineering to acquire the dilithium. With stolen crystals in hand, he beams down to the planet to repair his ship. Kirk follows, but Lazarus activates his time machine just as Kirk tries to stop him. Stepping into the portal, Kirk is accidentally teleported to the other anti-dimension where he encounters the anti-Lazarus.

This Lazarus however, seems sane, not the murdering monster the other Lazarus described. The anti-Lazarus explains what is going on. He admits to stealing the dilithium the first time, because he needed it to open the dimensional link. He informs Kirk that his people believed that two universes existed, and they tried to prove it, but failed causing their own destruction. Lazarus however, found a way, but he confirms Mr. Spock's hypothesis, that breaking the barriers between the matter and anti-matter universes may trigger doomsday.

He indicates that only one version of Lazarus can exist in a universe at a time and that the other one went mad with rage at the thought of having a double, so much so that he doesn't care if he destroyed himself and the entire universe in the process as long as he could destroy the other. If not stopped, their constant encounters will destroy both universes. The anti-Lazarus tells Kirk the "dimensional corridor" — Lazarus's ship — connecting them must be severed. Kirk must send the mad Lazarus back into the corridor and close off the portal for good.

Kirk returns to his universe and confronts the insane Lazarus, overpowering him and pushing him into his dimensional portal, whereupon he vanishes. Kirk heads back to the "Enterprise", quickly ordering the phasers to target the dimension ship. The two Lazaruses meet once more and begin to fight just as phaser beams vaporize the ship. The two Lazaruses are now trapped between universes, apparently doomed to fight each other for eternity.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired December 1, 2007 as part of the remastered "Original Series". It was preceded two weeks earlier by the remastered version of "The Deadly Years" and followed a week later by the remastered version of "The Return of the Archons". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS "Enterprise" that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

* The uncharted planet has been given a more realistic appearance. It now appears with a barren reddish surface, and small lakes dot the northern hemisphere.
* A new angle was made of the "Enterprise" firing the phaser to blast Lazarus's time ship. The beam, as it hits the ship, has been cleaned up and given a strobing effect.


*John Drew Barrymore was originally cast as Lazarus, but on the morning filming began he was nowhere to be found. The part had to be recast in a hurry with Robert Brown. The producers filed a grievance with the Screen Actors Guild (Charlton Heston, in his autobiography, "In The Arena", states that he was a member of the board who heard and unanimously ruled on the grievance), which suspended Barrymore from employment in its jurisdiction for six months as punishment. Barrymore's career suffered far worse, however; he was unable to find any acting work even for years after the suspension.

*The original script called for Lazarus to have a relationship with Lieutenant Charlene Masters, a member of the "Enterprise" crew. When an African-American actress was cast as Masters, NBC became leery of whether its affiliates in Southern states would broadcast the episode, and demanded rewrites which reduced the character to a walk-on in a few scenes.

*This episode was filmed in part on location at the Vasquez Rocks.

*When the two versions of Lazarus periodically switch places, the wound on his head can be used to tell which is which. The one with the wound is the "insane" Lazarus, and the one without it is his more rational counterpart (from the antimatter universe).

External links

* [ Review of the Remastered "The Alternative Factor" at]

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