Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Star Trek--"The Alternative Factor"

The streak of good episodes had to end at some point. With “The Alternative Factor,” it ends with the loudest thud imaginable. The episode is a absolute mess. The plot that the fate of two universes is at stake is too overreaching for for single, regular episode, particularly when we do know enough about the guest characters involved to care. Not that it matters, since the writers did notcare, either. No one can decide whether the episode is about parallel universes, temporal rifts, antimatter, or a dilithium induced drama. I am not even certain which lazarus had the wound on his head. Surely they could at least keep that point straight.

Lazarus was the worst part of the episode. Why even name him Lazarus? It foreshadows a twist that he was perhaps resurrected from the dead at some pint, but nothing like that is ever revealed. We never find out any motivation forwhy he wants to kill his antimatter counterpart other than he is insane--or is he? We never learn which Lazarus, if not both, are nuttier than squirrel poop. It would be lazy, but forgivable for Lazarus to just be a mad scientist with no rationale motivation if the plot could hold my attention, but no such luck here.

Conventional wisdom in the episode suffers because a romantic element was cut out of the episode between Lazarus and Charlene Masters. An African-American actress was cast for Masters and there was a reluctance to air an interracial relationship on television. Instead of that subplot, more scenes of Lazarus planet side were added, featuring him falling down. A lot. With the continual pursuit by the Anti-Matter Lazarus. The substitution was overkill on the idea the two Lazaruses hated each other.

I am not so certain if the romance had been kept in things would have been much improved. The story jumped all over the place with illogical twists. Even as geeky as I am, I could not keep track of, noe care about, the explanations why the two universes were even going to be destroyed if something was not done. This was also the third time this season the villain was a mad scientist. Surely there are villains out there who have rationalized a dastardly plot of conquest? If so, we have not seen one yet.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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