Star Trek: The Original Series
"The Way to Eden"
Air date: 2/21/1969
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Michael Richards and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"The Way to Eden" is an example of trying to fit an elephant into a birdcage, and it comes off looking about as silly as a visualization of the said analogy. For starters, whoever came up with the idea of "23rd-century hippies in space" was stretching the idea of allegory beyond even Trek's abilities. (Does this strike only me as a Federation oxymoron?)
Maybe a new view of the Federation could've theoretically been revealed, but the episode is far too inept to come up with one. Instead, the "insanity" of Dr. Sevrin (Skip Homeier) becomes the driving force of the story's impenetrable plot involving the search for "Eden." And what about "Eden," anyway? Is it supposed to be a myth or a planet? The episode can't seem to decide. One wonders if the search becomes one for a charted planet that simply happens to be named "Eden."
Characterization is also way off: Chekov as a stolid, conservative, by-the-books Voice of Starfleet doesn't make any sense given his character, and Spock being absorbed by the hippie cause lacks dramatic payoff, instead seeming like an excuse to warrant his presence in several annoying musical numbers. Honestly, I'd rather watch "Spock's Brain" again, because at least it's dumb enough to laugh at. "Eden" is not particularly laughable. But it is rambling, unenlightening, misconceived, mischaracterized, pointless, and requires sheer endurance to sit through—comprised of yet another plot where a group attempts to commandeer the ship for its own purposes. It's like "And the Children Shall Lead" with older children; the meanings behind the hippiedom aren't considered for a moment, resulting in zero digestible substance.
Previous episode: Requiem for Methuselah
Next episode: The Cloud Minders
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85 comments on this post
Tue, May 12, 2009, 5:01am (UTC -5)
I'm going to disagree with Jammer here in that Chekov, though young, hip and brash relative to the other Enterprise officers would indeed come off as conservative compared to his anti-establishment, hippie ex-girlfriend. After all, he is still military. Also, Spock being somewhat sympathetic to their cause is also in character IMO. Besides, it allows him to walk in and jam albeit uninvited with the space hippies!
It's the message that irked me back when I saw it in its original run as a kid. Keep in my mind that one of the target demographics were middle aged, middle class people of the late 1960's. It's to these sensibilities that this (and many other) epsiodes were meant to appeal. Though it clung to a standard TOS theme echoed in so many episodes - humanity was not meant for paradise and if you find one, it's a false one - this one has an insidious edge to it.
The message to the youth was: Come back to us! Cut your hair, shave, change your clothes back to grey, put your bras back on and throw away your rock records! Your paradise (peace, love?) is a fallacy, and though it may appear beautiful it is dangerous and even deadly (drugs?) and your leaders or older mentors (Timothy Leary?) are actually insane and will only lead to you ruin! Hmm, exactly what parents of the late 60's wanted to hear.
Wed, Jul 1, 2009, 6:03am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 27, 2011, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
"And what about "Eden," anyway? Is it supposed to be a myth or a planet?" - Well that was the point of the story: if the myth is just a myth or if it also reality.
"Chekov as a stolid, conservative, by-the-books Voice of Starfleet" He wasn't portayed like this at all, kissing and making out during work time.. His anger towards his ex girlfriend was obviously out of frustration about their break up. I also found Spock's fascination with the space hippies' quest plausible.
The episode had very funny moments like the flowers being full of acid and Scotties look during the sit-in and also quite beautiful metaphors like the sickness of the doctor which was caused by technology and which also circumvented him from returning to a simpler life - or the databanks with all the knowledge of the world which Chekov had and he still missed something: love.
I also disagree with another poster's notion that this episode has a reactive message. The space hippies (exept the crazy doctor) where all extremely sympathetic and likeable. In the end Kirk says, they did what they had to do and Spock encourages them not to give up their way of life and their search and added that he believed that they will someday succeed.
Sat, May 19, 2012, 10:43am (UTC -5)
I wish DC Fontana's original script could have been made. It would have been great to see Joanna McCoy. It's a shame she couldn't be included later on in TAS or in one of the films, but oh well.
This is a definite 1 star episode. But there are aspects of interest here.
1) I love the extra focus it gives on Chekov. While the "former love interest" subplot isn't new at least it gets Chekov away from the navigation station for a time and opens up his character more. I've heard that Koenig wasn't happy that Chekov was written as being rigid, but to me it makes sense. I don't think Chekov comes across as rigid. But Starfleet is a para-military organization based on the US Navy and Chekov would know that going in. I also like how the character of Irina provides a window to a part of TREK society we rarely see: those people who not only aren't in Starfleet, but who DON'T want to be in Starfleet.
2) Through the character of Doc Sevrin we have a slightly sympathetic villain. Until he contracted his disease Sevrin was probably a pretty nice guy. He most likely never had any desire to visit or live in a more primitive environment, but from the moment he found out he never could I'm sure that's when his transformation began. The concept of this disease is fascinating to me and had it been presented in a better story I think it would make for a great sci-fi concept. His scene with Spock allows us to see past the silly costume and make up and see a person who now loathes the very type of 23rd century environment so many TREK fans (myself included ) wish was real.
3) Tongo Rad is interesting because he seems like the type of spoiled son of a famous father. Being the son of an ambassador probably gave Rad license to do a lot of bad things and get away with it and we see it here in the fact that none of them get arrested for stealing a shuttle. Also, Rad doesn't appear to be upset (unlike Irina) with the idea that Sevrin's manipulation of the Enterprise's acoustics will kill the crew. It's a hint of a dark streak behind the facade of love and peace. I wish it had been developed more.
4) Adam is the one tragic character in all this. Unlike Irina (who seems to allow herself to be convinced by Sevrin that he won't really kill the crew) Adam appears to believe heart and soul in the idea of Eden and Sevrin's message. He befriends (to a degree) Spock and then fails to listen to Spock when Spock tries to convince him of Sevrin's true intentions. He hides behind his music. Once Sevrin starts tampering with controls what does Adam do? Start singing a song about the beauty of Eden. For him to be only one of Sevrin's followers to die makes sense. While we don't see the landing of Sevrin and his followers I can picture Adam being the first one to leave the shuttle and go running onto the field and grabbing that piece of poisonous fruit.
5) It's not touched upon much but I like how Kirk is seen to at least attempt to give Sevrin and his group a chance. His initial conversations with them are rather heated, but once Spock explains to Kirk what a Herbert is Kirk says "I'll try to be a little less rigid." And we get to see a bit of follow up with that. Kirk allows the jam sessions to be broadcast across the ship (I can't imagine Picard ever allowing such a thing). And when Scotty complains about the followers Kirk recalls doing a few reckless things in his youth. So he's at least trying, until of course the crew and ship are threatened.
And the final line of the episode is Kirk saying "We reach" to Spock. And he's not saying it in a patronizing or mocking tone. He's learned a bit from this experience.
"The Way to Eden" is definitely one of the worst TOS episodes which is a shame. Had they stripped away the space hippie theme and the protest songs, it's possible that some of these other themes could have been explored more fully and with a more interesting story. Oh well...
Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
"Trek", mixing a moral play with sci-fi, making it experimental for the time, did clearly stretch things too far. I can handle a bunch of rogue malcontents being led by another, stealing a ship, et al, but the hippie allegory is way too direct.
Chekov is rewritten as a lapdog for Kirk, obeying every order like a good little tin soldier. This is at odds with his previous persona of being a loose cannon, campily championing Russia at every turn. Chekov as a serious character without the camp was great, but this episode altered his personality solely for the sake of the story. Stories are made for characters; not the other way around. Especially in a long-running show with established character types, even in the 1960s when each episode ending was its own 'reset button', meaning there was no real continuity to move forward with.
On the plus side, when the full TOS soundtrack comes out, the music from this story is the first I will be listening to. :)
I liked the inconsistency of Eden. It meant Spock had to do research and for Kirk to take a chance on such information. It sweetened the pot that the planet was, you guessed it, in the Neutral Zone, but given the pacing of the story there was no time to fill it with angry Romulan birds...
I also enjoyed Jeffrey's analysis above on the miscreants. While I disagree re: Chekov's newfound personality, I do like how he pointed out the side of people we don't see...
He nailed the point of Severin perfectly. The story itself is almost a scary precursor to AIDS in a way, and Severin himself is a proto-TNG villain (shades of gray; a villain having a sympathetic side is not easy to do, and TNG would often play with this sort of moralizing.) With Severin, as he said, there was potential for a good story, which failed to materialize.
I too wish the facade of love and peace was explored more; especially as that was one of the goals to this story and discussing the hippie movement. John Lennon was not identical to the songs he wrote for sure, and the counterculture participants were - arguably - too idealistic. Or, perhaps, high at the time. Real peace takes commitment and effort. Drugs are means to escape commitment and effort.
As such, Rad does make for an interesting - and dangerous character. Had this story, here we go, been a two-parter and given some gravitas, the creators could have really put out a strong story. Season 3 often put out very strong messages with strong contention-based concepts ("Battlefield", "Cloud Minders", "Plato's Stepchildren", etc), but "Eden" was a missed opportunity to really say something. Sadly, a certain affair at Kent State University a few years later would have - more loudly - end the counterculture and, perhaps, evolution as we know it...
Adam definitely comes across as a total acolyte, devoted to the cause. He hides behind his music and, man, does he have a good signing voice. But that's Charles Napier, a known character and voiceover actor. And even as a mixed bag of a story, the coherence of Adam being the total acolyte of this Severin cult figure and being the only one dying does pack a certain punch.
Picard, the one who fired a volley of photon torpedos over a planet just to inanely scare the entire inhabitants of the planet, wouldn't entertain any ideas.
While I adore the music, the ideas in this story could have been better if the story was not so strongly hippie-themed, without the padding of the music, some of these ideas could have been a little more effectively explored...
Still, it's not bad because it's mere rubbish, it's bad because the ideas could not be fully explored.
Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
"The Way to Eden" is a misfire, but there's some good stuff in here. I actually liked Spock's part. It was in character. And I thought Checkov was overcompensating, more than anything.
I actually liked some of the ideas here -- the rebellion against the "sterilized worlds and controlled atmospheres." You're right that Sevrin's insanity cheapened the drama, but it didn't ruin it.
It was annoying that the Romulans all seemed to be on vacation.
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Still, two of the hippies die horribly at the end and the rest suffer severe burns, so the ep isn't a total loss.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 26, 2013, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
I don't mind the music too much. While it does take up time that could have been used on the themes, it's funny as crap and fits in with the 60s. I bet if someone played this to someone of my parent's generation and said it was by the Mamas and the Papas, they would like it.
That being said, the hippies were annoying, the costumes were awkward, and it's entirely implausible to actually find Eden, as there are no characteristics given as to what Eden actually is. On the plus side, the most annoying hippie died, and I actually like the direction things took in the end. Though I find it highly implausible that a hippie would go so far as to steal a starship.
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
To each their own. I'd have given this ep 2 stars.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 3:46am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
* the way Chekov basically flat-out tells Irina that it's possible to take over the whole ship from auxiliary control even with having no prior knowledge because the computer banks are so good, as if in casual flirting conversation
* "yayyyyyyyy brother yayyyyyyyyyy"
* the repeated shots of Sevrin smiling evilly!
* bizarre editing glitches, including several shots of Kirk which are mirrored! (you can see his insignia on the wrong side)
* great little moment: after Spock starts to suffer from the acoustic attack, and then it hits Kirk, while Spock and Kirk are stumbling around the camera widens to reveal that Scotty is already unconscious. Something about that just kills me.
* that redshirt on the bridge who can't help but toe-tap along to the music!
* Spock saying "His name was Adam" with a serious voice after Adam has died eating fruit to shove home the Biblical allusion, which...doesn't make any sense? (Like, the problem with the Garden of Eden was not that the fruits were poisoned.)
* Sevrin running out to eat a fruit himself like a madman.
Anyway, buried under layers of ridiculousness the episode does have something to say: hippies have an understandable and even admirable desire for a better world. Their counterculture trappings are maybe weird and silly, but Spock's admiration for them drives home that there are things about the movement that are worth preserving: their emphasis on peace and art is something that I think does make sense as something Spock would appreciate, although it's pretty weird that Spock doesn't at least mention that their total lack of self-discipline seems like a bad idea, considering how much Vulcans emphasize discipline as absolutely central. But anyway, the problem is that by believing that Eden is a place they can actually get to, they can fall prey to charismatic (or "charismatic" as in this episode) leaders who are either charlatans out to exploit them, or simply madmen who have lost touch with reality. And once they get to that "Eden," it's poisonous because, uh...well, okay, it's poisonous because it's very possible that when they get to the kind of society that their counterculture leaders insist they should try to make, it may have problems they hadn't anticipated. This is the most in-your-face way of showing that.
Anyway, the episode is held back by the hippies' really unconvincing lingo, which really sounds like old guys trying to either match or satirize hippiedom, though it may be that some of the counterculture's excesses are parody-proof. Whatever. The songs just go on forever. The ship is ridiculously easy to take over. That acoustic weapon seems like it might in fact be a weird metaphor that the hippies can knock out the squares with their awful sounds? No explanation is ever given for what Eden is supposed to be, and Chekov's explanation that they check for planets based on the orbits, positions etc. of other planets (inferring what other gravitational forces must exist) consist of an explanation of how to find new objects/planets in space, not how to find the specific "planet"/place/whatever which is "Eden." It's lazy, grating, painful, frustrating, and incredibly the "crazy charismatic leader spreads his peace by taking over the ship to bring it to paradise" was repeated for Star Trek V.
Probably 1/2 star.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
I think Jammer's right on Chekov, I should also say. The whole subplot feels so out of place for Chekov's characterization, such as it is.
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
in fact I find this one of the best TOS episodes of them all.
I give it a solid 4.25 stars
*well the story is unique and plausible, and starts quite logical :
-group steals ship and runs away with it.
-normally that would involve space-police, not the pride of the army (what the enterprise is)
-however this is a political incident, so they might like to show force, to gain the upper hand in the negociations.
This is a totally logical story, and one of the few ones like it.
I usually hate TOS because like 95% of all episodes are "yet oneother earth" "kirk falls in love with a woman" and
"kirk outsmarts the computer" non of that here.
Than there is the issue TOS is FAR to focussed on sex, with the ridiculous dress-uniforms, kirk frigging around and such.
That makes me dislike TOS a lot. So when this apeared to be a hippy-episdo, I feared the worste of it.
But I was totally pleasantly surprised, this is one of the few TOS series without sexism, just a sensible talk between two people who deeply love eachother,
but know their love is impossible, a nd logically make the right call and go their seperate way.
A nice fresh breeze
What looses it halve a point though is how a buch of space-hippies are able to take controll of the ship so easely.
That it only looses halve a point is because they actually have this explained in the little talk between chekov and his ex.
Also they pointed out how they are geniusses, and not average joes, and they planned this muteny in much detail ahead.
Still I find it hard to figure that there would not be needed any passwords to transfer bridge-control, or to even get controll at all.
A comment like -dang we should have installed security codes- or checkov giving away his code, by having his ex distracting him and looking down on his fingers..
would have prevent this star loss.
(perhaps he did, as he takes blame in the last shot, but than he would have done so off-screen, as all he did say on screen is :
the computer fills in the blanks if you ask it what you want it to do and is in full control and you can controll the ship from here too)
And than there is the moral-plot of the story (all TOS are moral-story's and I am ok with that) :
*don't follow leaders blindly
*don't trow away wise teachings because they are brought by the wrong teachers (catholic priests come to mind)
*hold on to your idealism and dreams.
*adapt a little bit to society in order to change it.
Still stands strong today, good message.
There are a few dated-events though.
Giving the leader space-typhus, was not neccecairy for the story, even though it helped he was insane and a treath against his own preaching.
only to have him commit suicide some time later, when he discovers he is wrong.
such insane leaders that refused medical treatment, and suicide commiting when prooved wrong, was however quite common in the 60's, so I let this get away with that.
Than there is the computer locating eden.
Nowever is explained what defines for them eden, do they really believe they can find the place God kicked us out from?
Or do they just look for a pristine planet that fits their idea of eden, and they can live their desired way of life on.
This is not explained enough, and looses it quarter of a point.
That spock later sais eden is still out there at least admits that what they found was not eden, and their search-algoritm was wrong,
this in some small way fills in this hole, but I'd liked a little more information.
FInally there is the whole acid-point of the planet, and them hiding in fear inside of the shuttle.
acid burns on touch, but adams body lies wit bare chest on those plants without the acid having damed his skin?
And why are they hiding in fear inside the shuttle (for the acid?) but run out without problem when the enterprise crew arives?
(if they were hiding FOR that crew, what would be logical, they left them for dead after all, punishment is to be expected, why would they come out?)
I am sorry but I will have to pushing with halve a point deduction for these clear contractions to this story
It would have had 5 stars would those last plotholes fixed and the space-typhus part cut out..
but those were minor plotholes and some attempt was done to closing them.
making this one of the best and well-written TOS stories of them all.
Finally What gains it a bonus +0.5 stars are the nice songs in this episode, I really love them, and the atmosphere it makes.
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
They (the establishment) though identifies the false prophet, they try to warn, but the followers does not listen. A theme valid also today.
In the end Kirk and Spock shows great understanding.
"let the sun shine in"
I believe this is a Episode I will re-watch soon.
Sun, Jul 10, 2016, 12:02am (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 4, 2016, 4:06am (UTC -5)
I thought it was an interesting look at the characters, and how they could well be viewed by outsiders who don't idolise our heroes. The look at counter-culture was respectful and I felt the views of the characters were on point. Chekov reminded me of Riker. Within the system he's a player, he's charming and loves the ladies - but to to those opposed to the ways of Starfleet he will defend the system, structure and ethos to the hilt.
It really helped that I dig on the music, man :-)
I enjoyed it far more than other Season 3 episodes that I found rather thin such as Troiyus, Children shall Lead, Zetar, Battlefield etc. I'd go so far as to say 3 stars.
I have to also say, I think Season 3 is a little undeserving of it's poor reputation - there are some really interesting ideas around here - Spectre, Enterprise Incident, Empath, World is Hollow, Wink, Gideon, this one, I've enjoyed them all. Only a couple more to go in this season. Looking forward to the last 4 :-)
Tue, Jun 6, 2017, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 12, 2017, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
I agree this is a bad episode - probably 1.0 star. However, at least it is not boring, unlike The Alternative Factor (which Jammer to my surprise gave me two stars). I also think it is better than That Which Survives and The Lights of Zetar.
My main problem with this episode is the implausibility, which James Doohan discussed in his book "Beam Me Up, Scotty". Doohan said you could respect bad guys like Khan and his crew (at least for their abilities, if not for their morals). But a bunch of space hippies taking over a starship? Also, as Doohan pointed out, how much patience would Kirk have with this bunch of fools? The 1st time they shouted "Herbert", he should have thrown them in the brig and been done with it. Doohan correctly stated that Kirk had no trouble telling ambassadors where to go, much the less the obnoxious son of an ambassador.
Doohan originally did not want to appear in this episode. However, the producers changed his mind. Doohan said he should have gone with his original instincts.
Mon, Jun 12, 2017, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
I guess that would make "Herbert" a fitting epithet coming from a group of anti-technologist hippies in the presence of a technocrat authority figure like a Starfleet Captain.
Tue, Jun 13, 2017, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 13, 2017, 8:21am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 14, 2017, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
The premise is poorly conceived, being blanketed in this hippie nonsense. But the idea of a renegade group trying to go out on their own is fine. Searching for an "Eden" is fine as well as a purpose, given that the leader is insane and has some kind of a hold on his followers. Kirk has to treat them with kid gloves because one of them is the son of some big shot and that creates an interesting dynamic.
The episode gets silly with too much time spent on the music and the crew being unprofessional -- how about the red shirt on the bridge snapping his fingers and grooving out while Scotty stands right beside him? I don't have an issue with Spock trying to understand them and even jamming with them -- actually made for some fun scenes that have some purpose as the takeover of the Enterprise gets underway. I like Chekov in this episode -- he falls for the ladies typically and it's nothing different here. He regrets his actions in the end.
Anyhow, I think "The Way to Eden" gets notoriety for the wrong reasons. There is an attempt at social commentary for the 60's and I wouldn't call it boring. It's definitely one of the turkeys in 60s Trek but not as bad as "And the Children Shall Lead" or "Spock's Brain". I give it 1 star out of 4.
Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Honestly it's not the worst episode of TOS or Season 3, so I think the zero stars is unwarranted in this case. This plays more like a 1.5 or 1 star episode to me, nothing substantial or particularly worthwhile, but not blatantly horrid. I commend the writers for *trying* to give Chekov some sort of history/storyline with that one girl. The supporting characters (Sulu, Chekov, Uhura) usually feel way underutilized in TOS, so I appreciate when they actually use them.
But... definitely one that I would skip if I were to ever rewatch this season. Friggen space hippies.
Sun, Jul 23, 2017, 12:10am (UTC -5)
If played for laughs, they could have had a bikini-clad Goldie Hawn dancing in the background and a surprised Kirk ask, "Sock it to me?" Yeah, brother!
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
The counter-culture movements of the 1960s and 1970s accomplished much in terms of non-violent protest, but they also made many mistakes, seeking easy comfort in sexual license and recreational drug use that altered users' perceptions more than their realities -- and not always in a good direction. To be honest, the reality is that most 1960s hippies ended up cutting their hair, raising families, and quitting drugs to become productive members of society. And the rest -- those few who kept living the hippie life without "selling out" to society -- ended up sick, homeless, and addicted. Having lived in Berkeley CA, I can show you where they live in People's Park or on Shattuck Avenue any day you please. But preferably not at night, because they ARE violent and they ARE dangerous, just as this episode shows in Dr. Sevrin. Disease and drug use really *do* make people dangerous over time.
Perhaps that's putting things too harshly, because "The Way to Eden" actually treats the hippie movement with tremendous respect, as Spock even says at one point that Sevrin's madness does not alter his respect for the cause at all. I love how Spock, totally in character as a cultural outsider himself, is the simpatico one with the hippies here. It's great to see him jamming with the musicians led by Adam (the great character actor Charles Napier of "The Blues Brothers" and "Austin Powers" among many other films) on his Vulcan lute here. It's cool seeing Spock as the most hip and sympathetic to the hippie outsiders who have abandoned technological society.
I also love Chekov's back story here as he encounters the Russian hippie, a Starfleet Academy dropout and former romantic interest. Honestly, I'm not sure why Jammer finds Chekov's defense of Starfleet and anger that the girl he wanted turned her back on it out of character here, as his character on the show has been defined entirely by his DEEP pride to be in Starfleet and his STRONG love of technological knowledge. He's always been a know-it-all who loves all of humanity's technological accomplishments -- i.e. the grain in "Tribbles" -- which are precisely the things these hippies scorn. And he's angry that Irina turned her back on the things he loves. Of all the TOS shows, this one is the biggest "Chekov episode," as his thread actually runs through the whole show from start to finish, and he even gets a cute exchange of advice farewell scene with his crush. Too bad TOS was cancelled: It would have been great to see Uhura and Sulu get stories like Chekov got here. And Spock gets a nice line at the end, telling Chekov's girl to keep looking for Eden, which again defies the "reactionary" tag some people give this one.
Good touch of continuity here, too, with the reference to Sulu's love of botany and other skills. And I *love* the teaser where we watch the hippies (presumably stoned) fly their stolen spaceship into ruin, then promptly form a drum circle on the Transporter Room floor when the Enterprise beams them aboard. It's just a lot of goofy fun to see contemporary hippies on the ship, fitting for the age, and somewhat thoughtful as well when we consider that someone in the 23rd century might one day revive the old hippie movement for a new generation of space travelers.
In the end, the message of "Eden" is that we all have to grow up sometime, resisting the urge (which is dangerously infantile according to all modern psychologists) of returning to a womblike state of childlike innocence and freedom from responsibility. To be a healthy and mature adult is, ultimately, to take responsibility for our own actions and make hard choices in life. And folks, this message of "Way to Eden" is PROFOUNDLY in line with *everything* we've seen on TOS, even if the style makes it feel different from the rest of the series: Much like "The Apple" (where the "Eden" planet is likewise poisonous) and other episodes earlier in TOS, the Federation here encourages people to think for themselves rather than seek easy answers in messianic groupthink, and so "Eden" is perfectly consistent with Trekkian ideals. If "Way to Eden" is reactionary for saying we all have to leave the Garden of Eden to overcome infantile dependency, then so is pretty much every TOS episode where Kirk refuses to let alien races be the pawns of charismatic leaders seeking artificial utopias. (See also "Return of the Archons.")
Having said all of that, I was sorry the Romulans were teased without actually showing up, as I was totally game for the kitchen sink to drop in our laps. Yet the concept of paradise being a poisonous planet in Romulan space, so useless that even the Romulans don't patrol it, makes for a memorable ending where the hippie named "Adam" (as Spock reminds us with irony) dies from eating a poison apple in "Eden." Even the hippies here have to grow up, except of course for Dr. Sevrin who takes the Jim Jones-style exit.
The hippies turning evil through Sevrin's influence isn't a total loss, as the episode maintains respect for them and their cause despite their crazy leader. And it's not like Sevrin is trying to kill the crew, take over the ship, or conquer the universe: He just wants to go to this planet he's obsessed about and stay there with his people. So the hippies here are dangerous, but not necessarily murderous, and the episode raises good questions about well-meaning people who give up their best judgment to charismatic visionaries with mixed motives. Incidentally, it amuses me that some people get upset at TOS for too often making that charismatic leader a computer, but also get upset when TOS makes that leader a hippie or a Nazi. Is there someone else you had in mind to exemplify the excesses of groupthink? Perhaps Paris Hilton?
Anyway, "Eden" isn't a top tier episode for me, as it's a bit too weird/atonal to feel truly satisfying, and it kind of meanders in the shipboard scenes for a while without advancing the plot. But I like it. And like several commenters here, I don't understand why some people are okay with Trek criticizing religion or AI run amok in a society, but self-righteously hate on "Eden" because Trek dares to take the counter-culture to task for the same problems. The truth is that any big social movements, even a counter-cultural or justice-oriented one, is vulnerable to the unhealthy whims of a charismatic leader -- it's not just religion and computers. Hitler also started as a social reformer: We tend to forget that the National Socialists (like the German Communists and others who favored government ownership of property) were liberals/progressives in 1930s Germany, not conservatives like the German Republic group or reactionaries like the pro-Kaiser German monarchists. So let's not throw the word "reactionary" at Trek so easily.
Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 5, 2019, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 9, 2019, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 7, 2019, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
It's just one more silly episode, in a sea of them.
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
I think the idea is that the hippies (who Roddenberry must relate to on some level) have a pure and true vision about what paradise should be, but they’re taken in by Dr. Sevrin, the local preacher/cult leader/kool-aid drinker. The episode spends enough time emphasizing the strengths of the philosophy of the non-Sevrin hippies that we get a sense that the hippies might be onto something. At the very least, I agree with William B that Spock’s character was used well to help us try to understand the benefit of hippie beliefs.
At first I was a bit surprised at the rating by Jammer, but having read about all the technical glitches of the episode and mischaracterizations (Walter Koenig called this the low point of his career as Chekov) I can understand why we reach zero. Personally, I thought it was nice that Chekov got something else to besides be the naive kid, yet the episode still played that card as needed.
One thing that screamed at me, though. DS9 missed a golden opportunity for the Maquis to be people still searching for Eden. That would’ve given them a righteous enough cause in the same vein as the Native Americans, instead of just making them petulant children.
Peter G. wrote:
“I think I finally get what "Herbert" means, after all these years! I just realized it must be a reference to Frank Herbert, whose book "Dune" had come out just a few years prior.”
Weird, yeah, Memory Alpha says that the slur is a dig at one of the original executive producers, Herbert Solow, who was replaced by the third season. I don’t know, your idea is probably better. But the episode itself leaves the audience in the dark about this and many other things.
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
No way does this episode deserve zero stars -- the music of the hippies alone is almost worth 0.5 star on its own. Seriously, Charles Napier is a good singer and I these are cool lyrics:
"No more trouble in my body or my mind
Going to live like a king on whatever I find
Eat all the fruit and throw away the rind
Yeah brother ... yeah"
Granted -- listening to "pop" music is not what Trek is supposed to be about but this episode deserves props for coming up with some good tunes that many people love to this day.
TOS music was just fantastic. The little sorrowful music at the end as they find Adam dead -- actually quite a touching moment.
And I actually liked Chekov's part here -- granted he was unprofessional and later regretted his actions, but his character got a bit of development in that we learn he's uber-dedicated to Star Fleet and could not understand why Irina would go off pursuing Eden.
But objectively and critically speaking, to me it's a 1* episode -- it has a ton of flaws and is a weak premise that is poorly executed. But I have a soft spot for it!
Sun, Jun 9, 2019, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
I thought the music was pretty catchy too. One thing that's fun about this one is it's sort of a period piece (a 1960s show based on a popular movement of the 1960s), so you feel like you're seeing a little slice of history here. It's also pertinent to Trek's history as Roddenberry is known to have affection for the philosophy of free love.
Sure, It's cheesy, but I think it engages counterculture and anti-authority on an intellectual level. What's more, there's a surprisingly large amount of meat to delve into with the planet Eden analogy, although it's all a very rough idea.
Still, compare this to say, TNG's "Up the Long Ladder" which included some of the most horribly stereotypical cliches of a "primitive" race with no redeeming value, and I think you'll find this one comes out way ahead.
Sun, Jun 9, 2019, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
That's one of the "virtues" of TOS is that you get these period pieces -- the sci-fi analogies of real world issues (counterculture, cold war, Vietnam, etc.), which became a hallmark of Trek. And some of them are different for TOS than for the later Treks.
And yes, this episode is plenty cheesy but I actually think it fails to really engage in a sensible discussion of the counterculture movement or the aspect of a group following an insane cult leader. It gets lost in plenty of goofiness and the takeover/regaining control of the ship is just a mechanical exercise -- not particularly riveting. And with the Eden planet popping up right at the very end, there isn't much chance to reflect on the deaths of Adam & Sevrin. But I suppose you could also argue that it's left for the viewer to come to his/her own conclusions.
Interesting comparison with "Up the Long Ladder" -- I also see that as a 1* episode but overall I rate that a tad higher due to the presentation of cloning and rights of the individual. It has a modicum of more intelligence to it. But the Irish group were worse than the space hippies!
Mon, Jun 10, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Yeah, unfortunately there’s too much dialogue given to the actually crazy guy about his motives so we aren’t given a lot to think about the hippie movement. There is something interesting about the protest in the med bay and the crew getting caught up the music that I think works well.
But to be clear, this is plenty silly. One funny thing was how they kept bringing up the Romulans and — they actually invaded Romulan space which, you know, should have some huge repercussions. But the episode kind of forgets about that in the ending and they’re just kinda hanging out speechifying.
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 2:44am (UTC -5)
My issues with it (because "favorite" doesn't mean "best"—by a longshot!) include:
For a crew on a ship traveling the galaxy, seeking out new civilizations and encountering a multitude of ways, mores, and cultures, it makes no sense for them to find this group so strange—certainly no stranger than most other groups. And with humans from earth already living on maybe tens or even hundreds of planets by then, certainly the already widely-varied cultural expressions found on earth over the millenia would have further splintered into more and more variation.
I agree with comments above about Tong (or is it Tongo?) Rad's darkness. He's just a spoiled privileged a$$.
Re: Irina and Chekhov, I found it kind of a chilling commentary on Federation society for him to express such horror at her ostensibly throwing her life away, just because she decided not to use her education/talents as part of the Federation's military industrial complex. Surely in their century, there are myriad streams of professional and personal opportunities. If only a military one is really respected as a "success"... ugh.
Dr. Sevrin is of course not the only time in TOS we see a well-respected genius type figure losing his or her mind. In his story, it's especially sad as he acts like a selfish and greedy colonizer.
As far as looking for the planet Eden...
I think the perfect planet for this group would have been Omicron Ceti III (from "This Side Of Paradise.) No Indigenous animal life forms to be hurt by synthecoccus novae disease. The plant sports would protect the hippies from any harm from the Berthold rays. And, the laid back vibe created by the spores' influence on human behavior is, frankly, no different from how Sevrin and his gang were already striving to live as, as a value system. In fact, they wouldn't even need the spores (though they'd probably find a way to smoke them, lol.) That planet truly was a paradise for anyone who desired that lifestyle.
Then, for the Romulan element... I did find the hippies dismissing of that threat highly... illogical. Even by their hippie logic. They were all citizens of the Federation (even if they reject its norms.) Surely all know that crossing the Neutral Zone is a BIG F*ing DEAL. Surely they would know, with 100% certainty, that the minunte Romulans discover Federation citizens colonizing one of their planets would bring swift attack and they'd all be killed. At most—even if the plants weren't filled with acid poison!—they'd get a few weeks or months, then they'd be killed. None of them seemed to understand their journey to Eden as comprising a suicide trip. Therefore, why do what they did? Kirk wasn't trying to keep them from that "Eden" to be a d*ck. He forbid them from going because (a) The Romulans would come and kill them all, and (b) it could spark a war with the Federation. There was no possibly scenario in which they would get to go to this Eden to actually make and live a life.
Despite all that, despite it being silly often enough, it's still an episode I always enjoy watching. For the singing (yes, the sining!), for Adam, and for Chekhov finally getting some action! Yay, yayeeee.... brother :)
Wed, Aug 28, 2019, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
This could never legitimately top a "best of" list, but worst of all 72? Nah, it ain't that bad.
And I thought some of the music was pretty cool.
Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
The high points of this episode really didn't save the episode very much. As ti a cimment made earlier ...
"The "way to eden" is perhaps the only really "reactionary" episode in the history of star trek. whatever the faults of the youth movements in the '60s these were the people who ended the war in vietnam"
Actually nope! Although the youth movement and the entire anti-war element put pressure on the government, in reality, after Tet, the communists had momentum, and that was sealed after the US removed their support for the South Vietnamese military.
" and fought for civil rights."
Not really. Martin Luther King was not part of the youth movement. The youth were more interested in sex, drugs, rock music, stepping off, and dropping out ... of society. More than a few adults in the room did what they could to push the US to get out of Vietnam, and it was adults in the room who pushed civil rights.
However, the anti-modern stance of the episode is kinda interesting. How many people nowdays remember when there was not an Internet? I was at Subway earlier, and I saw a couple, but rather than talking to each other, the guy was engrossed in his smart phone, rather than talking to the girl sitting across from him.
They deserved a better treatment. And perhaps the "middle aged", "middle class" people were the demographic target (aren't they allways?) but they were not, in the end, the people who liked and supported star trek.
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 1:28am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 10:36am (UTC -5)
If only they'd made that one instead.
Another irony... The parallels between this episode and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where a madman leads his followers on a quest not for Eden, but for God's home planet.
What were they thinking?
Sun, May 24, 2020, 5:01am (UTC -5)
On the contrary the crew felt very much in line with the personalities we have gotten to know over the past 3 seasons.
It was indeed very nice with an episode focusing on Chekov and Spock.
I also really dig the music, which felt fresh and daring to include so much of in a Trek episode.
Would watch again.
II I/II of IV
Sun, May 31, 2020, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 22, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -5)
"I'm gonna snap my fingers and jump for joy, I got a clean bill of health of Dr. McCoy"
and Spock's jam session puts it in the 3 1/2 stars range.
Sun, Aug 16, 2020, 12:55am (UTC -5)
I just wish they all died.
Mon, Nov 9, 2020, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 9, 2020, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 5:33am (UTC -5)
It’s fascinating to see Spock here, considering the Final Frontier revelations about his brother. While I doubt Shatner spent a moment’s thought on this episode when writing that, it does compliment this well.
From this, it makes it look like Spock was far more than just aware of Sybok’s activities, and may have been strongly drawn to them or even participated to some degree.
Tue, Dec 22, 2020, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Anyway, there are interesting ideas with some flaws, as many here agree. Not the worst episode by a long shot.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Star Trek season 3 episode 20
"If a man tells another man: out of my way,
he piles up trouble for himself all day.
But all kinds of trouble come to an end,
when a man tells another man: be my friend.”
3 1/2 stars (out of 4)
[For the record, the review at the top of the this thread from 2009, is not me]
As we approach the final five episodes of The Original Series, it gladdens my heart to see one true classic Trek ere the end.
Here is a simple tale of a mad man with sane thoughts,
SEVRIN: This is poison to me. This stuff you breathe, this stuff you live in, the shields of artificial atmosphere that we have layered about every planet. The programs in those computers that run your ship and your lives for you, they bred what my body carries. That's what your science have done to me. You've infected me
and his outcast followers of high birth. But first I have to say how much of a pleasure it is to see both Shatner and Nimoy at absolutely peak performance. Scotty and Bones do good work too. And this is really a splendid Chekov outing as well. When things clicked on TOS, they really clicked!
Kirk is an incredible leader. There is a scene when he notices Chekov is uneasy, and he places his hand on Chekov’s arm, and asks just as gently as a Captain can be expected to be,
KIRK: Do you wish to see her? Permission to leave your post.
CHEKOV: Thank you, sir.
Kirk’s tenderness towards Chekov continues to be a highlight of the episode through its very end, when poor Chekov, obviously embarrassed that he let his guard down around an old flame, presents himself for a flogging,
CHEKOV: Captain, I wish first to apologize for my conduct during this time. I did not maintain myself under proper discipline. I endangered the ship and its personnel by my conduct. I respectfully submit myself for disciplinary action.
But Kirk again understands that youth is, after all, inexperienced,
KIRK: Thank you, Mister Chekov. You did what you had to do. As did we all. Even your friends. You may go.
CHEKOV: Thank you, sir.
Next vote of commendation for an exemplary performance goes to Nimoy. His connect with the kids, especially with Adam through music, was such a delight! When Spock tries to convince Adam to check the computer’s files on his mad, mad leader, it damn near broke my heart,
SPOCK: Adam. You know I reach you. I believe in what you seek. But there is a tragic difference between what you want and what he wants.
ADAM: You're making me cry.
Adam tries to blow it off, but these are good kids led astray by an insane adult. Irina is scared the ultrasound will do more than stun the crew ("Sound pitched that high doesn't stun, it destroys. I remember when we read in the text”). Rad, the ambassador’s son fears the same, but blows it off. But kids are stupid. Or not stupid per se, but naive. That’s why we protect them. Because otherwise they’re likely to be led astray and get themselves killed.
The episode piles on a needless biblical narrative, both with the “Eden” episode title, and and fruit, as foreshadowed by the key line from Adam’s song in the control room,
ADAM: Headin' out to Eden. No more trouble in my body or my mind. Gonna live like a king on whatever I find, Eat all the fruit and throw away the rind.
And for sure that’s what they do. And that’s what kills them.
Nimoy’s stunning line at seeing the dead boy rings all the more true given the real-life name Nimoy chose for his son, who at the time this episode aired, would have been almost 13, and probably going through a rebellious phase of his own,
SPOCK: His name was Adam.
There is no doubt Nimoy did Reach.
For the life of me I cannot fathom how @Jammer has scored this one so low. My only guess is that he was a Herbert when he wrote it ;) Maybe now that @Jammer's kids are older, he’ll give this episode another look see.
KIRK: I used to get into a little trouble when I was that age, Scotty. Didn't you?
This is the Star Trek I have loved all my life. One with a rich message (@Chrome) and good music (@Rahul).
Like Voyager’s “Living Witness,” TOS’ “Way to Eden” is an enduring tale that will continue to stand the test of time.
Sat, Jan 23, 2021, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
Be incorrect (occasionally).
Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
And the Space Antifa hippies? Throw in a set of Viking horns on Brother Adam, and he would be right at home in a 22nd century Federation Capital building riot. Nothing has changed. Some people are born to serve, others are going to be starving artists because there is no way they are doing nine to five.
And of course Chekov is conflicted. It takes a good 10 years for the military to stomp the Liberal out of you...
The sabotage during the Spock Jam is going to be a tough one for him to live down. Spock with his eye off the ball. Disappointing Mr. Spock.
Dr. Sevrin fooling his followers into believing in Utopia, just another dashing young Castro. The Left always ends up becoming the Right. Of course he was “diseased. “ The highly intelligent psychopath Pied Piper, leading his followers on the path to Totalitarianism...Thank goodness he got Kirk Blocked.
If only they could have got Spock to go full Snoop Dogg, they might have had a chance.
Maybe next time Galactic Flower Power...
Mon, Mar 22, 2021, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 18, 2021, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
Pros (from most important to least):
• Makes its message clear without hitting you over the head.
o A group of people looking for Eden continue to be flawed individuals. Severin in particular is focused on his own interests above others. Thus, Eden won’t let them in. The acidic plants are the same idea as posting an angel to keep Adam and Eve out of the original Eden.
o According to the Trek writers, you don’t get to live a perfect life by separating yourself from society; usually, you have to help improve everyone around you. So Spock encourages one of the characters to keep looking for Eden, but any Eden they find will likely still be within the larger society.
• Spock is able to look outside himself and relate to someone whose thoughts don’t conform to his rigid Vulcan logic.
• We are given more back story for someone in the Checkov-Sulu-Uhura group.
• In some season three episodes, I would have spent the entire episode wondering why the guest characters aren’t just thrown into the brig. The reasoning behind this was written into the episode satisfactorily.
• We are given more glimpses of Federation society outside of Starfleet.
• Kirk’s initial annoyance with the counter-cultural people and his move towards being understanding is an incremental enough change to be believable.
Cons (from most important to least):
• The guest characters realize that their supersonic attack may actually “destroy”, but we don’t see follow up to that. In my head cannon, I chose to help the episode out by assuming that most of the ship’s crew did suffer hearing impairments. Even the away team had to speak louder than usual to one another than we saw on camera. McCoy had technology on the ship to help most recover. But some had to go back to Earth to get proper treatment, remaining effectively deaf for months.
• Even though some guest characters have above-average intelligence and education, it’s still hard to accept that they could take over the ship.
• The mythology of “oneness” is not sufficiently explained. We never learn what attributes it predicted Eden would have, so what was the computer looking for?
• The music served its purpose of extending the illusion that the characters were counter-cultural people, but it failed to create the illusion that the music was from the future.
• The guest stars’ costumes weren’t great, but that’s pretty minor.
The most annoying episodes for me are the ones where I spend the entire episode thinking that this isn’t how the characters would act. That didn’t happen to me here.
Sun, Apr 18, 2021, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
It's interesting you see the ending as Eden not letting them in because they're unworthy. Admittedly this interpretation never occured to me. Knowing TOS and its extreme wariness about so-called paradise, I always assumed the ending meant that Eden wasn't what they thought it was. That is what a poisonous idea in the way they conceived it. The similarity to David Koresh's cult comes to mind, of trying to reach paradise by escaping the world. It's a death wish by another name.
Thu, May 20, 2021, 2:47am (UTC -5)
I always found the episode’s lampoon of hippie culture to be unintentionally hilarious. Take the lyrics of one song:
No more trouble in my body or mind
Be the king of all I find
Eat all the fruit and throw away the rind
It’s a confused episode, never quite sure of what message it’s trying to convey. Spock as krypto-hippie was inspired; Chekov’s love interest less so, though Koenig did his best. It was also interesting that the Typhoid Annie bug had been caused by the artificial way human society had constructed “ideal” environments; so far, so sympathetic to 60s hippie concerns. There was never an outright condemnation of 60s youth, and even a nod to some of its more “digestible” (qua middle-class values of the era) ideals.
It’s quite a hilarious episode though the ending is predictably tragic. In all though, it’s not a ‘no stars’ (unfair!) ... I’ll give it 1.5, perhaps a bit more for the musical interest and the occasional belly laugh.
Thu, May 20, 2021, 3:04am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 28, 2021, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Or maybe this planet is the true origin of the Xenomorphs?
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 6:46am (UTC -5)
The part that made zero sense was that Eden was not only in Romulan space but 3 hours inside Romulan Space!!! What, did Kirk have a “Get 3 hours into Romulan Space Free Card”? The Romulans have been quick on the scene every other time a federation ship enters their space. If this doesn’t scream that the show’s budget is toast, I don’t know what does. Why did they mention the Romulans at all if they were not going to even show them? Eden could have been anywhere.
This episode is the worst in my book, the only F I’ve ever given out.
Sun, Jul 4, 2021, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Would the episode have benefited had Nichelle Nichols shown up that week to sing a few songs with the hippies as Uhura?
Undoubtedly. But would that have saved it? No. I do find it funny that of all the episodes, THIS is one she's absent from, though.
Spock hanging out with the hippies reeks of a desperate attempt by the network to say "See, kids? Spock isn't a square. Spock is cool! He's a counter-cultural symbol! Watch us! Support us! Ratings. RATINGS!"
An ill-advised attempt to correct a perception issue with the character that was never there.
Chekov, on the other hand, is obviously defending his decisions here. His girlfriend left Starfleet Academy to do . . . well, this, I guess. He had the same opportunity to leave Starfleet with her and do something else with his life. He must have been tempted. He must not be all-the-way sure, on some level, that he's made the right choices in his life. So this is why he's so defensive of Starfleet and its worth--his lifestyle--even if it's otherwise somewhat out of character. I read this in the subtext just fine.
We could alternatively attribute his behavior to suits at the network wanting the young "cool" character to be seen conforming and behaving respectably, as an example to other young people of the time to model. But I don't credit this. I just don't think that much thought went into it, frankly.
Let's also not forget that Chekov will later become security chief/tactical officer. A more military-minded Starfleet man than most. It tracks.
Third worst TOS episode after The Alternative Factor and And The Children Shall Lead, followed on by Catspaw, Spock's Brain, The Omega Glory, and then The Lights of Zetar. For my money, anyway.
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 6:30am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Hippies annoy me, especially ones who lip sync, although John Rambo would eventually punish his bad singing in Rambo II. It was fitting that some of these cultists met an untimely end due to their foolish actions.
As in all Trek series, civilians can walk into sensitive areas of the ship (which are not locked, guarded, etc.), operate the controls without any training, and also lock out the crew. What are all the security red shirts doing when they are not getting killed on away missions? They can't spare two guys to watch the secondary control center? No login/password to access a console or a shuttle? And why does anyone goto Starfleet Academy if you can learn how to drive a starship on your first try? It makes you scratch your head as to how mankind can travel faster than light but hasn't figured out how to lock a door.
Thu, Nov 4, 2021, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Consequently, I diverge from Jammer's caustic judgment, which leads him to remark that: "the meanings behind the hippiedom aren't considered for a moment, resulting in zero digestible substance."
There is plenty here to digest. Spock tries to be, what he later becomes in Trek, an ambassador, here using music to somehow build a language of understanding with these rebels. It's about relying on trust and trying to subdue self-protective cynicism in dealing with unlikable people...obstinate people who reject your way of life. This is actually what many hippies were back then, an angrier variant of the nihilistic Beat generation critical of all the squares.
It is a far more coherent episode than, say, The Alternative Factor, which no matter how many times I see it still confuses me. At least in The Way to Eden, we see a realistic battle between generations being waged. I think that it gives a solid look at how the 'disingenuity of the few' (understand a small cabal of 'bad actors' at the leadership level) can doom a utopian project. I like it for that message.
Mon, Feb 7, 2022, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
But what I really want to know is, who the hell was that red shirt who stopped to horn in on the conversation in the passageway between Chekov and an old gal friend from Starfleet Academy days?
I would said, "Buzz off, away team meat, you weren't invited." Ha!
Mon, Feb 7, 2022, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
MCCOY: I don't know. They all had full spectrum immunizations before boarding. Now my guess is that his friends have had their shots too. But a regular program of shots is necessary. I'll have to check everyone on the ship. There could be some skips. In the meantime, he should be placed in total isolation.
SEVRIN: This is outrageous. You're not isolating me, you're imprisoning me. You invent a crime, find me guilty and sentence me!
MCCOY: Would you like to run the test, Doctor? You knew you were a carrier before you came aboard, didn't you?
MCCOY: Then why did you fight the examination?
SEVRIN: It was an infringement on my rights.
KIRK: Put him in isolation.
Sun, Apr 24, 2022, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Over all score: 4/10
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
If the "space hippie" stuff had been dialed way back and Severin had been treated more sympathetically so that the tragedy of his situation was more obvious this would have been a much better episode.
Say what you will about TOS, but many of even the worst episodes had an interesting idea at the heart of the story. It's just that you sometimes couldn't see it because a mini-skirt wearing Charles Napier gets in the way.
Sat, Aug 13, 2022, 11:21am (UTC -5)
An underlying theme of TOS is the progress human civilization has made in the past 300 or 400 years
Then why are these proto hippies no different definitely not progressed from the hippies of the 1960s
Were our hippies Luddites?
Funny how Kirk appoints Spock to be the primary interface with the group
Spock’s dealings with them seems out of character for him
Kirk immediately starts out on the wrong foot with them after he’s called ‘Herbert’
Come on be a little tolerant and diplomatic
Thu, Nov 3, 2022, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
Joining cults led by charismatic leaders can often turn out badly; it's a reasonable message. I never got the impression in prior episodes that just because Chekov had an amusing shtick in his "Russia did it first and best" comments and was the youngest regular that he was supposed to be especially hip compared to, say, Sulu or Uhura, so I didn't feel he was acting in any way out of character.
It's not the most subtle episode, but it sure didn't bore me, and it is way ahead of something like Turnabout Intruder.
Thu, Nov 24, 2022, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 14, 2022, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 25, 2023, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
I checked out the story writers to see if I could understand what they were thinking, and on Heinemann I cannot glean anything useful on a quick search. But to my surprise I learned that "Michael Richards" (not Kramer) was in fact a pseudonym for D.C. Fontana. I really can't understand what kind of story Fontana thought she was authoring here. The episode, both through costume, music, and Spock's point of view, tells us again and again that these are anti-establishment peace-lovers who just want "the man" to leave them alone. Yet time and again in the episode they're portrayed as being knowingly criminal, using violence to get their way (and being good at it), and not caring at all how many get hurt or die for them to get what they want. And all of this surrounding the buffoonishly insane Dr. Sevrin. When I was a kid I wrote them all off as weirdos, but it becomes pretty clear to me now, for example through their violent attempt to get to their leader when he was being medically examined, that they are very reminiscent of the Charles Manson cult. And those people were neither hippies nor peace-loving. Yes, they may have had the trappings of 60's folk who used terms like "brother" but these were not the flower children who just wanted to smoke weed and protest war at Berkeley. That Sevrin's people are at heart a death cult is shown pretty clearly by Sevrin committing suicide at the end rather than be taken alive. The only thing it was missing was him getting the others to do the same first. The writing here is so mixed up I can only surmise that the writers either thought that hippies were all essentially murderous cultists, or that they lacked even the slightest nuance of the difference between anti-establishment students and manipulative sociopaths. The worst part is there is just literally no way we're going to accept someone's POV that Kirk is a narrow-minded fascist, so even if the writing was better there would be zero chance that we'd accept the proposition that trying to take over the Enterprise is some kind of liberation from tyranny.
The escape from technology angle is not new, but a curious McGuffin is present in the story in that Sevrin has a disease legally forcing him to stay in the technological society he hates, therefore requiring him to become a criminal just to get away. But this tidy formula is contrived to the extreme, even putting aside that it results in him wanting to be a mass murderer and therefore making him a loony even if he didn't act like such a maniac. In passing, the story also expects us to accept that somehow living in a technological society is the only reason he's infected with some disease. Naturally we might ask how many diseases he'd have without any technology. But never mind that, the episode isn't about such logic, it's about how he misled his well-intentioned followers... or something. Even though Irina knew full well the sonic attack would kill everyone and went along with it. But actually it didn't kill anyone, so was Dr. Sevrin meant to be telling the truth when he said he was "going beyond" the textbooks? Earlier we're told he studied acoustics, so I suppose this is plausible, but then why have Irina's friend also chime in saying it would kill, as if we're meant to understand Sevrin knows this? And if Sevrin really is an acoustics master, why have him deliver this plan as if he's playing Dr. Evil? None of this story writing makes any sense. Was Heinemann so drunk on delusion juice that he thought we'd connect everyone being alive with Sevrin really being able to produce a stun effect, and conclude that he never meant anyone any harm?
I can also fall back on a more simple analysis, which I also used in thinking about This Side of Paradise: if we're to accept even for a moment that these people believe in something legitimate and are misunderstood, why are they all complete assholes? Adam's beliefs don't inspire much more in me than a desire to punch him in the face every time he shows off his impudent smile. Dr. Sevrin is about as charming as a mushroom. Which leaves Irina, who honestly (and I hesitate to say this) just comes across as an airhead who was too dumb to make it through the Academy. Chekhov has text implying that she was too independent to ever listen to anyone, and maybe it's the casting and the direction, but she comes across as really the opposite of that; just a mindless follower without a thought in her head. I'm being a bit mean, and I'm not trying to be acerbic but rather trying to communicate the visceral feelings I get when these people are in scenes. They are really unsavory persons, and I would not want to be friends with them. They are really rather scary, even on an interpersonal level. It's almost shocking that Chekhov and Irina have a makeout scene at the end - on the bridge!! - after what she pulled. Can you imagine your ex trying to kill you and everyone on the ship, stealing the Enterprise, and on a personal level lying to you and using you to gain intelligence to undermine you? And you'd feel all nostalgic after that and wish you were still a couple? Wow.
These are different kinds of complaints than I had when I was 8. Back then I didn't like that Sevrin was so mean, I didn't like the music, and I didn't like that these people were so bad to people trying to be respectful toward them. Now I see other things, but still cling to this idea that they're just not nice people. You're going to stamp your feet and shout stuff when someone is trying to talk to you respectfully? What ideal is that suppose to exemplify, other than being a rotten brat? Interestingly, when they do think they've found Eden, they have this glee on their faces like the biggest orgy ever is about to happen. It doesn't feel peaceful, but more like gluttons about to satisfy the craziest lust for desserts ever. Is the writing supposed to suggest that 'Eden' is really a place where you just stuff your face and have all your desires satisfied all the time like a little emperor? Or is the writing condemning people who think of paradise as having the world bow to them and their whims? But this is a stupid question because the story just doesn't care.
On the positive side, I think this is the first truly Chekhov-focused episode, and he's really great in it. I don't think we see him play a dramatic part at any time prior to this, other than maybe Spectre of the Gun, but in that one the setting is rather too theatrical to give him a serious scenario to act. I can actually see Koenig's turn as B5's Bester having a precedent here, in the more introspective and brooding side of his talent. I don't know whether they knew he could do this when they originally cast him, but it's just one more reason for me to conclude that the talent level of this cast was by far the best of any Trek. Every person cast on this show is good enough to steal scenes and captivate my attention.
Fri, Feb 10, 2023, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 26, 2023, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 6, 2023, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 24, 2023, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Closest thing to a saving grace is watching a young Charles Napier going against his eventual type. You wouldn't hear Adam saying, "You're gonna look pretty funny tryin' to eat corn on the cob with no f***in' teeth!"
Deep in Romulan space, and no Romulans show up.
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