Director: David Alexander
Writer: Arthur Heinemann
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Skip Homeier, Charles Napier, Mary-Linda Rapelye, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Majel Barrett, Victor Brandt, Elizabeth Rodgers, Deborah Downey, and Phyllis Douglas
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 2/21/1969
Production #: 60043-75
In order to preserve diplomatic relations with the Catulans, Captain Kirk accommodates a group of space hippies including the irrational Dr. Sevrin (Skip Homeier), the musically gifted Adam (Charles Napier), Starfleet Academy dropout Irina Galliulin (Mary-Linda Rapelye), and Tongo Rad (Victor Brandt)—son of a Catulan ambassador. Upon rendering the Enterprise crew unconscious, Sevrin and his followers proceed to the planet Eden; thus, Kirk is forced to cross the Romulan Neutral Zone while pursuing the hijacked Galileo shuttlecraft.
A dreadful episode, “The Way to Eden” should be avoided by all but the most enthusiastic of Star Trek fans. Though a series of poignant interactions between Chekov and Irina are worthwhile, this offering too strongly focuses upon the tantrums thrown by a raving lunatic and his misguided cult members.
Charles Napier was given the opportunity to showcase his haunting voice through a variety of jam sessions involving Spock and others. The enchanting quality of Napier’s singing does, in rare instances, counterbalance the infantile manner with which the space hippies conduct themselves, thereby producing a more tolerable experience for Star Trek fans of a sensitive inclination. (That being said, Adam’s musical numbers contain little relevance to the overall plot and tend to grow somewhat tedious as a result.)
While Spock should be commended for attempting to reason with Sevrin and his merry band of misfits, certain viewers may have difficulty accepting that a Vulcan would be moved by the emotional pleas of an overgrown child. If anything, Chekov’s conservative sentiments detailed in this episode might have been more realistic and compelling if conveyed by Spock.
Also problematic, the conception of Eden appears to vary depending on which half of Arthur Heinemann’s narrative one considers to be canonical. Specifically, the opening sequence has Kirk dismissing Eden as a myth; however, the captain’s statement is later contradicted by Tongo’s ability to “establish” the planet in question (Eden could not be identified as such unless it had already been catalogued in the Enterprise’s star charts).
The workings for an excellent commentary on hippie culture are present, with an assortment of youthful explorers rejecting a perceived bureaucracy (the Federation) in favor of an ostensible paradise. Aside from their collective desire to escape the constrictive nature of “modern” society, however, the space hippies never express motivations that parallel those of their real-life counterparts (e.g. various social movements of the 1960s, objection to the Vietnam War, free love, etc.); therefore, “The Way to Eden” fails to deliver the penetrating cultural insight for which Star Trek is known.
“The Way to Eden” earns its reputation as one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever made. The Enterprise crew members do provide a number of amusing reactions to their “guests,” though comic relief moments of a sporadic nature hardly redeem this puerile adventure from the inherently flawed premise on which it operates.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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