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While the Enterprise investigates an alien world, reality suddenly blinks out. Just... all magnetic fields within range are disrupted, the gravitational pull of all planetary bodies momentarily reaches zero, for a split second, all of reality is unmade. I assume the Enterprise has really good sensors to even be able to interpret this. The report comes in from Starfleet Command that the entire galaxy plus everything detectable beyond was affected, and it all seems to be centered in the region of space that the Enterprise is now exploring. Kirk theorizes invasion of some sort.

Oh. Well, obviously.

There is something of a clue in the form of a life signature that appears on the planet the Enterprise is circling just as the realities blink - one moment it wasn't there, the next it was. The crew go to the planet to discover a man named Lazarus. The crew bring him on board, and over the course of the episode he spins story after story, explanation after explanation, often self-contradictory. He does rant about a beast, a monster capable of destroying civilizations, claims to be a time traveler, and so forth. He also switches suddenly and fequently from raving, aggitated, to calm and collected, and is prone to wild fits - that always accompany a blink in reality.

He declares that the ship's dilithium crystals are what is needed to save reality, and steals them. Then, when the ship generates more, he steals them again! Kirk follows him onto the planet, and to his own space ship (looks like a stereotypical little flying saucer). When he tries to jump in at the guy, Kirk himself suddenly vanishes from reality. And into reality! Where he meets... Lazarus. Calm Lazarus, not crazy Lazarus, who explains the whole thing.

Kirk is in the anti-matter universe, a universe that recently discovered a way into the matter universe. Now, of course, matter and anti-matter shouldn't be able to come into contact without destroying everything, but Star Trek deals with it by saying that the matter and anti-matter bits have to be identical. So Kirk in the anti-matter universe with anti-matter Lazarus is okay. However, Lazarus in the anti-matter universe with anti-matter Lazarus, or anti-matter Lazarus in the normal universe with normal universe Lazarus would mean the end of all existance. So far, they've been avoiding each other by always jumping at the same time, but with the dilithium crystals, Lazarus will have the ability to move into the other universe without causing a switch. Oh, and the whole, 'destroying two whole universes' thing? Lazarus doesn't even care, so long as he gets to destroy his anti-matter self in the process. He's a looney.

The solution? If Lazarus and anti-Lazarus are between realities when the doorways (the flying saucers) are destroyed, the two can slapfight for eternity and not endanger either reality. Destroying the doorway on one end destroys it on the other end, so all Kirk has to do is toss Lazarus's butt through the portal, then destroy the portal on his end. Which he does.

Granted, this also condemns the non-looney anti-matter Lazarus to an eternity of fighting against his nutcase positive-matter alternate, but the good of the many and all that.

Happy ending for everyone not named Lazarus!

SPOCK: What my instruments read is totally unbelievable, Captain. Twice, for a split second each time, everything within range of our instruments seemed on the verge of winking out.
KIRK: I want facts, not poetry.
SPOCK: I have given you the facts, Captain. The entire magnetic field in this solar system simply blinked. The planet below, the mass of which we're measuring, attained zero gravity.
KIRK: That's impossible. What you're describing
SPOCK: Is non-existence.

SPOCK: A living being. Body temperature 98.5 Fahrenheit. Mass, electrical impulses, movement. It is apparently human, Captain.
KIRK: And its appearance coincided with this cosmic winking-out?
SPOCK; Almost to the second.
KIRK: Explanation.
SPOCK: None.
KIRK: Speculation. Could this being present any danger to the ship?
SPOCK: Possible. Very possible.

I will note that Kirk demands speculation from Spock on a regular basis... and almost always Spock's response is that the whatever he's speculating on is a potential danger.

MASTERS: (A woman in a blue uniform) Report on the dilithium crystals, Captain.
KIRK: Yes.
MASTERS: Whatever that phenomenon was, it drained almost all of our crystals completely. It could mean trouble.
KIRK: You have a talent for understatement, Lieutenant. Without full crystal power, our orbit will begin to decay in ten hours. Re-amplify immediately.
MASTERS: Aye aye, sir.

I'm only including this point because, as one-time characters go, I rather like Masters. Black female lieutenant, apparently a scientist. At one point when a panel she's near catches on fire, she orders her male subordinate to clear the area while she tries to fight the fire, and she has to be dragged away. For a throw-away character with only a few lines, she's pretty likable pretty quickly.

BARSTOW [on viewscreen]: You're aware of the effect an hour ago?
KIRK: Yes, sir.
BARSTOW [on viewscreen]: You may not be aware of its scope. It occurred in every quadrant of the galaxy and far beyond. Complete disruption of normal magnetic and gravimetric fields, timewarp distortion, possible radiation variations. And all of them centring on the general area which you are now patrolling. The question is, are these natural phenomena or are they mechanically created, and if they are, by whom? For what purpose? Your guess, Captain.
KIRK: Thank you, sir. I have considered all the alternatives. My best guess is it could be a prelude to invasion.
BARSTOW [on viewscreen]: Exactly our consensus. I'm giving you the job of finding out specifically.
KIRK; Aye, aye, sir. Can you assign me other starships as a reserve?
BARSTOW [on viewscreen]: Negative. I'm evacuating all Starfleet units and personnel within a hundred parsecs of your position. It's going to be tough on you and the Enterprise, but that's the job you've drawn. You're on your own.
KIRK: I see. You mean, we're the bait.
BARSTOW [on viewscreen]: Good luck.


KIRK: Before we picked you up, our ship sustained a number of incredible effects.
LAZARUS: That was he! He's death, anti-life, he lives to destroy.

Apparently Lazarus is afraid of Darkseid.

KIRK: Spock, find anything?
SPOCK: Negative, Captain. Anything from our guest?
KIRK: According to him, there's a creature of some sort down here, a humanoid.
SPOCK: Lieutenant Uhura communicated that information. I ordered re-confirmation on our sensors. They indicate no living creature on this planet. I suggest, Captain, that you've been lied to.
LAZARUS: Captain, you yourself said there were no other explanations. Why do you give credence to this man?
SPOCK: I fail to comprehend your indignation, sir. I've simply made the logical deduction that you are a liar.

Spock's phrasing here slays me.

LAZARUS: He'll kill us all if we don't kill him first! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!

Yeeeeeeeeah. Laz, honey, there's a reason the Enterprise crew aren't taking you at your word.

MCCOY: Well, as you know, we both brought Lazarus in here and I treated a deep abrasion on his forehead, right?
KIRK: Right.
MCCOY: Then I bandaged it, I stepped into this room for just a moment
KIRK: Bones, I've got a lot of things to do. Get to the point.
MCCOY: Well, say he's got the constitution of a dinosaur, recuperative powers ditto. As we both know, I'm a bright young medic with a miraculous touch. Why then, when I returned, there wasn't a trace of that wound on his forehead. Not even a bruise. It was like he had never been injured.
KIRK: Where is he?
MCCOY: I don't know, Jim. This is a big ship. I'm just a country doctor.

Kirk is not one for listening through stories when receiving information.

MCCOY: He's in a lot of pain.
KIRK: Sometimes pain can drive a man harder than pleasure. I'm sure you know that, Doctor.

KIRK: What have we got, Mister Spock? A magnetic effect which produces a winking-out phenomenon. A mysterious, unidentified source of radiation on the planet. Lazarus, a walking powder keg. Your rip in the universe. A so-called murdering humanoid.
SPOCK: True, Captain, but more significant to me is the fact that our ship's instruments are specifically designed to locate and identify any object in our universe, be it energy or matter.
KIRK: But by using those instruments you were unable to identify the source of the radiation on the planet.
SPOCK: Correct. Which would seem to be impossible.
KIRK: Are the instruments in order?
SPOCK: Perfect working condition.
KIRK: Then what you say leads obviously to one alternative. The source of radiation is not from our universe.
SPOCK: Nor in our universe, Captain. It came from outside.
KIRK: Outside? Yes, that would explain a lot. Another universe, perhaps in another dimension, occupying the same space at the same time.

The basis of so many DC comics. And, well, comics in general.

SPOCK: Precisely. Under certain conditions, when two identical particles of matter and antimatter meet
KIRK: Like Lazarus. Identical. Like both Lazarus', only one is matter and the other antimatter. If they meet.
SPOCK: Annihilation, Jim. Total, complete, absolute annihilation.
KIRK: Of everything that exists, everywhere.

KIRK: I understand. What do you want me to do?
LAZARUS: Find him. Force him through his threshold, while I'm waiting for him, into the corridor, and I'll hold him there.
KIRK: You can't hold him forever.
LAZARUS: Can't I, Captain? You destroy his ship.
KIRK: If I destroy his ship, won't yours also be destroyed?
LAZARUS: It will.
KIRK: And your door will be closed.
LAZARUS: Yes, and so will his.
KIRK: You'll be trapped inside that corridor with him forever. At each other's throats throughout time.
LAZARUS: Is it such a large price to pay for the safety of two universes?
KIRK: I'm ready.

KIRK: I must destroy that ship completely.
SPOCK: What of Lazarus?
KIRK: And what of Lazarus?

KIRK: Everything's all right, Mister Spock, for us.
SPOCK: There is, of course, no escape for them, sir.
KIRK: There is, of course, no escape. How would it be? Trapped forever with a raging madman at your throat until time itself came to a stop? For eternity. How would it be?
SPOCK: Captain, the universe is safe.
KIRK: For you and me. But what of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?

Full transcript.
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