Friday, July 14, 2017

Why Your Opinion Is Probably Wrong & Good Trek/ Bad Trek #28 The Alternative Factor

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who's never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

The single season On Base Percentage (OBP) leader is Barry Bonds. In 2004 he had an OBP of .6094. Which would be insane at the time even if he wasn’t 39 at the time. Second place is also Bonds for the 2002 season. You have to go back to Ted Williams in 1941 for third place. His was .5528.

Ted Williams was the last person to hit above .400. That was in 1941. It’s been over seventy years since anyone has done that. Ted Williams wouldn’t read at night or chew gum because he worried that would damage his eyes. He wanted to be the best hitter so he did all that just on the off-chance that constant up and down of gum chewing would negatively affect his hand eye coordination.

Nobody has a career OBP over .5000. Not Bonds. Not Williams. It’s kind of nuts that even the greatest players of all time failed to get on base more often than they did. That’s crazy. Ted Williams was the best at getting hits and he didn’t six times out of ten. Barry Bonds was the best at getting on base and didn’t almost 40% of the time. 

What I’m trying to say is that your opinion is probably wrong. A thing about the internet that I hate is that everyone is so married to their stupid opinions. It’s easy to get your opinion out there. It’s also easy to shit on other people’s opinions. Both are fun. But every opinion people have seems to be ones that they’re willing to die on that hill for. I don’t get that. People are willing to end friendships over every shitty opinion they have, and chances are they wrong anyhow. Whenever you think anything you ask yourself if you honestly think you’re as smart as Barry Bonds was at getting on base. You probably aren’t, but I could be wrong. 

I change my opinions all the time. Something I haven’t changed my opinion on is this week's episode of Trek. It’s called The Alternative Factor and it sucked. 

Recap

The gang is doing a routine survey of a seemingly barren planet. All of a sudden the ship is rocked and the ship and also the rest of the galaxy is “blinked out of existence. The planet is not barren anymore. There' a crazy dude named Lazarus. He tells him he’s trying to find the devil. He’s nuts though. 
Solid looking opening shot. Goes down hill from here

Then a rift opens on the planet and the whole existence is in peril. He’s not a traveler but a time traveler he says. Then it turns out he’s not that but he’s able to go to negative space. I don’t really know. 
I guess this is supposed to be another dimension

He needs the Enterprise’s dilithium crystals to go back and fight the devil. He steals them and it turns out he’s actually two people unable to deal with the fact that he’s two people. And if he’s allowed to fight his other self in the normal universe the multiverse will be destroyed. It doesn’t. The two Lazaruses (Lazari) go to an alternate dimension and strangle each other for all time. Fin. 

Good Trek?

Good god, NO! I don’t know. Honestly, I watched this episode twice. I’ve been really digging these lately so I fully expected that I was over the TOS hump and was gonna like this one. But I just fucking hated it. It was so bad. Lazarus was a garbage villain/Deus ex machina. 

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill an hour watching TNG's Parallels instead

Also, Kirk is both a straight up dick and a really bad captain. I don’t know anything about the backstory of this one, but it has the feel of an episode written by, or at the behest of, William Shatner. He was a stupid smug jackass in this one. He's an asshole the whole time. He's practically the only one who gets any lines. The lines Spock does get don’t seem to jive with what we know about him so far. He sees Lazarus appear out of nowhere and then straight up accuses him of lying when he can’t explain where he’s coming from. That’s not Spock. 
Fuck you, Kirk
This is a very valid question that Kirk just answers with a dumb smirk. There's a lot going on. Yes, destroy the dimension hopping ship but also, what the hell is going on, Captain? Spock asks this, very appropriate question, given the circumstances. Instead of answering him Kirk just gives a stupid douchey smile and asks him the same question back. So Kirk is an ass, Spock is useless, but at least we get a solid Bones scene. He barely gets any screen time, but what he does what he can with what he gets. 

Bones treating this beefed up red shirt like a straight up bitch is the only reason to watch this episode


The ending was as dumb as it was kind of predicted. I’m not saying as soon as I saw Lazarus I knew he was going to be an interdimensional being who was going to be trapped forever fighting his duplicate in negative space, but at the same time when the ending happened, I just yawned. I don’t know. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but I don’t think there’s too much to say about this one. It stunk. 

Better Trek?

Any of them. You could watch almost any episode and come away with a better one. I’d point to a few that came to mind when I was watching this one. For starters, I’d say TNG’s Where No One Has Gone Before. Not my favorite episode. Not by a long shot. It’s among the better season one TNG, but that’s not saying all that much. Starfleet sends out a dude to tinker with the Enterprise’s engines. But turns out he’s not really doing anything and what’s causing them to perform better is a mysterious alien named The Traveler. Something goes wrong and they get lost in between space. I don’t know if they run into the Lazari while out there. The ending involves them all holding hands and believing. It’s not great, but it’s better than that description makes it sound. There’s too much Wesley. The Traveler sucks as a character. A lot of the effects look really dated. But you get to see a glimpse of the character Riker can become. Also, a really solid performance by Patric Stewart. It’s better than this episode, but just about anything would be. 

You want a Trek about parallel dimensions though you gotta go with the 7th season TNG episode, Parallels. One of my all-time favorite episodes. It’s just great. Worf is either going bonkers OR is he shifting through parallel dimensions? It’s, of course, the latter. Or else that would mean that not only did Starfleet let a bonkers Worf stay in, but repeatedly promoted him. Michael Dorn is such a great actor. TNG sometimes had trouble writing episodes good enough for him. It wasn’t really until he was DS9 that Trek writers were able to get their money’s worth out of Dorn’s Worf. It’s a cool episode both in terms of plot, acting, and the climaxes visuals when the inter dimensional rift really opens up. They hint at a relationship between Worf and Troi that they never fully develop, which is fine because it leaves him able to pursue and get pursued by Dax in DS9. If you want to watch a Trek and have a hankerin’ for some inter-dimensional shenanigans that don’t really suck, then Parallels is the episode for you. 


That’s it for this week. This episode really did suck, but next week’s is City on the Edge of Forever. Supposedly the best episode of TOS’s run. One I haven’ seen, but am looking forward to. 

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