Monday, December 5, 2016

Unseen Trek: "The Alternative Factor" (FINAL DRAFT)

Still from "The Alternative Factor" (1967)
Written by Don Ingalls
FINAL DRAFT, November 11, 1966
(Includes later page revisions dated November 14-18, 1966)
Report and Analysis by David Eversole
Originally posted at Orion Press

Those seeking to learn more about the genesis of this much disparaged episode will find nothing in this final draft script. Except for a few cut passages of dialogue it is what aired, as confusing and ill-defined. The much-rumored romance between Lazarus and Lieutenant Charlene Masters occurred in an earlier draft (the review of which can be found here).


The script calls for the character of Lieutenant Hansen to be at the Helmsman position; Mr. Leslie ultimately delivers his few lines of dialogue in the aired version.

In Ingalls' script, the teaser ends when Lazarus #2 falls from the Vasquez Rocks for the first of three record-holding times, and the Enterprise personnel rush to his aid. In the aired version, the teaser ended several minutes earlier when Kirk and Spock exit the bridge to beam down.

Ingalls describes Lazarus' ship as large and "conical-shaped," and suggests that the interior of it be a redress of the shuttlecraft Galileo set.


The first two pages of Ingalls' first act are dropped. In the aired version, the act begins with Kirk entering the bridge and receiving a report from Lieutenant Masters.

Ingalls' opening of the act:



As before.

                                                        KIRK'S VOICE
                                       Captain's log, Star Date 3087.6.
                                       Investigating an uncharted planet,
                                       and after encountering incredible
                                       magnetic effects which are beyond
                                       our understanding, we have encountered
                                       a badly injured human being...


McCoy and two MEDICS enter, carrying a stretcher and impelled by a sense of urgency.

                                                        KIRK'S VOICE
                                       He is unable to identify himself
                                       or give us any information. We are
                                       beaming back to the Enterprise,
                                       where medical personnel are standing
                                       by. Meanwhile, Mr. Spock remains
                                       below to continue his examination of
                                       the planet.

A technician is at the transporter console.

Beyond them, our materialization effect... as our entire party, with Kirk supporting the sagging Lazarus #2, materialize. McCoy hurries forward, and as soon as the materialization is completed, he and his medics take Lazarus and put him in the stretcher, McCoy immediately beginning to make readings with his medical recorder.

                                       He's in bad shape, Bones.

                                                  (reacting to Lazarus)
                                       You'll get no argument from me.
                                                  (to Medics)

The medics set Lazarus on the stretcher while:

                                                  (continuing; who has
                                                  been examining Lazarus,
                                                  looks up)
                                       It's going to be touch and go.
                                       Heartbeat practically non-existent.
                                                  (to Medics)
                                       Let's get him to Sickbay.

Medics carry Lazarus to door, McCoy and Kirk close behind.



The indicators are low, barely moving. Pulse light is very weak. CAMERA PULLS BACK to show Kirk with Bones, as McCoy works over Lazarus #2, in one of our beds.

                                       What happened down there, Jim?

                                       I don't know. He was standing there
                                       . . . said something about needing our
                                       help. . . and he just crumpled.

                                       No wonder. After the beating he's

                                       He was beaten?

                                       I don't know what else could have
                                       caused it.

                                       Bones, that is a dead, lifeless,
                                       arid planet down there. . . no sign
                                       of additional living beings. Who
                                       could have attacked him?

McCoy frowns, stares at the indicator.

                                       He's the only one that can answer
                                       that. . . if he lives.

                                                        UHURA'S VOICE
                                                  (on speaker)
                                       Captain. Just received a standby
                                       notice from Star Fleet Command.
                                       Red Two message about to come in.

                                       I'm on my way.
                                                  (to McCoy)
                                       Keep me posted, Bones.

McCoy grunts, returning to his work. Kirk exits.

The rest of the act is as aired.

After McCoy tells Kirk of the mysterious disappearing bandage on Lazarus' forehead, in the aired version we cut to Lazarus overhearing Lieutenant Masters discussing the dilithium crystals in the Recreation Room. Lazarus exits to the corridor and the dimensional shift hits him again, just before Kirk and McCoy confront him.

In the script, Lieutenant Masters is not present in the Rec Room. Instead, we have this long scene between Lazarus and a suspicious Spock:


He is standing, staring. CAMERA PULLS BACK, SWINGS to reveal Lazarus #2... with no bandage... sitting at a table, taking it all in, watching a few of the other crewmen relaxing. He seems to be quietly enjoying it. Spock moves over to him.

                                       May I sit down?

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Yes, of course.

Silence for a moment, Lazarus #2 staring at Spock.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Go ahead, Mr. Spock.

                                       Earlier I referred to you as
                                       a liar.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Do you still think I am?

                                       About some things, yes.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       You're very direct. I admire
                                       If it will help make up your
                                       mind about me - ask your questions.

                                       I am curious about this
                                       civilization of yours. . . the one
                                       that was destroyed.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       It was. . . much like that of
                                       Earth. Green, soft landscapes. . .
                                       blue seas. . . great cities. . .
                                       science. . . education. . .

                                       And the people?

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Like any of us. Good, bad,
                                       beautiful, ugly, magnificent. . .
                                       terrible. Human. Satisfied?

                                       The story you have told us is
                                       most peculiar and unlikely as                                      
                                       is your attitude. You are
                                       hardly the same man I spoke
                                       to earlier.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Don't blame me if I'm not
                                       consistent, Mr. Spock, after
                                       all, not even the universe
                                       is that.

                                       I prefer to think it is.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       Yes. Of course you would.

Uhura's voice comes in on the wall communicator.

                                       Mr. Spock.

Spock quickly crosses, hits the button.

                                       Yes, Lieutenant.

                                                        UHURA'S VOICE
                                       You told me to notify you when
                                       the impulse readings reached the
                                       critical stage. They've done so.

                                       Thank you, Lieutenant.

                                                  (turning to Lazarus)
                                       If you will excuse me, I have an
                                       experiment in progress. It may
                                       help me evaluate the facts.

                                                        LAZARUS #2
                                       When you are certain of the facts,
                                       will you believe me then?

                                       I always believe in facts.
                                                  (beat. . . a close
                                       I must congratulate you, sir, on
                                       your remarkable recuperative
                                       powers. If time permitted, I
                                       would like to discuss them with
                                       Thank you for your company.

Spock leaves.

The SHIMMER EFFECT then hits Lazarus again, he exits to the corridor, the dimensional shift happens, and Kirk and McCoy confront him (Lazarus #1) as they did in the aired version.

The rest of Act Two and Acts Three and Four were shot as written with no appreciable changes beyond a few deleted or restructured lines.

At its heart, "The Alternative Factor" is a fascinating science fiction idea, but its execution totally dilutes what literacy there may have been in the script. Despite what many fans say, it is possible to keep the two Lazaruses (Lazarii?) separate—possible, but hardly easy. So much concentration is spent trying to remember if it is the positive or negative character who sports the 23rd century Band-Aid that one loses sight of the story.

And that is too bad.

DON INGALLS (1918-2014): Like Gene Roddenberry, he was an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department in the early 1950s before writing for television from 1957 to 1986. Over the course of his career he served as a writer, story editor, producer, and even director. Series he wrote for include Have Gun — Will Travel (also story editor, associate producer, and finally producer), BonanzaThe Virginian (also a producer of select episodes), The Big ValleyAdam-12Fantasy Island (producer of seasons 4-7 and also a director of two episodes) and T. J. Hooker (also a producer). For Star Trek he wrote "The Alternative Factor" and the story for "A Private Little War" (teleplay by Gene Roddenberry). Ingalls retired to Washington state in 1987, where he completed one novel (The Watchers on the Mountain was published in 2005). He died in 2014 after a long illness. His scripts and production files are publicly accessible at Pepperdine University.

Editor's Note: Although Don Ingalls is the only credited writer of this draft, this is in fact a staff re-write of the episode. There is no indication in the UCLA files who on the staff did this re-write; it could have been Gene Coon, Gene Roddenberry, or Steven Carabatsos. Additionally, although this draft only contains the November 11, 1966 date on its cover, page revisions dated November 14, 15, 16, and 18, 1966 found in the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection at UCLA confirm that this draft includes many pages revised after the November 11, 1966 date.

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

This article was originally published by Orion Press and is reprinted by permission of publisher Randall Landers. All rights revert to the original authors.

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