Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 20

The Way to Eden

Aired Unknown Feb 21, 1969 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
170 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise picks up a group of space "hippies" looking for Eden.

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  • The crew of the Enterprise goes headin' out to Eden. (Yay, brother).

    Who better to write about them young kids and their cute counterculture than a fifty year old man? Veteran writer Albert Heinneman ("Wink of an Eye") takes Dorothy Fontana's story idea about McCoy's daughter coming aboard the Enterprise with her young friends and - eliminating the daughter - comes up with a ridiculous, campy laugh out loud space-hippie story featuring invented slang, idealistic clichs and full length musical performances.

    A ship-based ensemble piece, the episode reinvents Chekov as a rigid rules man and Spock as a sympathetic hippie-friend while the young crewmembers play air guitar on the bridge and the older ones grouse about undisciplined minds. Meanwhile, future porn star Charles Napier guest stars as Adam, Skip Homeier wins the "worst prosthetic ears" award as Dr. Sevrin, and Mary-Linda Rapelye somehow comes up with a worse Russian accent than Walter Koenig as Irina. (None of these characters, of course, are as interesting as McCoy's mythical daughter, who never does appear on the show because producer Fred Freiberger felt that showing Enterprise crewmembers with adult children would make the crew seem too old).

    Is "The Way to Eden" bad? You betcha. (The actual plot itself is a paint-by-numbers alien takeover). Does it feature dated music and ridiculous costumes? Absolutely. But you know what? It's also a lot of fun. What man doesn't enjoy the sly smile of blonde Deborah Downy, the flower child who out-sings her costars and knows how to work the wagon wheel? (Meanwhile, the women get to enjoy Adam, so everyone's a winner!) And hey, at least the leader trying to take over the Enterprise and take it to Eden isn't Spock's brother. Cause that would just be silly.

    Truth be told, while Spock "speaking hippie" is a little over the top, he really is the perfect mediator for the Enterprise command team and the counterculture kids, being the product of two divergent worlds and a counterculture symbol in the popular culture. Leonard Nimoy seems to understand this, pouring his Vulcan heart into the episode's symbolism and its music. (He even gets to jam!)

    Sadly, the ending is confined to the fake looking planet set when it really should have been shot on location, but they have to save something for Star Trek V, right?

    In the end, the episode seems to say, "Hey, counter-culture kids! Your leaders are insane, and the paradise you're after will kill And that's probably Heinneman's sensible take on Timothy Leary and drugs. But there's really only one way to describe his episode:


    Remastered Version:

    The original hippie ship, which is just an old Tholian design with a couple of nacelles glued on, is replaced with a more impressive CGI ship similar to Harry Mudd's (which is a cute inside joke, since "Mudd's Woman" and this episode have the same beginning). After a better chase sequence with the new CGI Enterprise, the ship-based episode doesn't have much more of note until they reach "Eden" (yay, brother). Originally a reuse of the "Operation: Annihilate!" planet (which means Kirk has been to Eden about twenty times), the new version has a stunning Earth-like planet with two moons. And here's the cherry on top: when Kirk and company beam down, a new matte painting replaces a reuse of lake footage from "The Paradise Syndrome", helping sell planet stage set as bigger than it really is.

    Did you know? Charles Napier (Adam) went on to a diverse career, starring in the sexploitation film Supervixen (1975), guest starring on TV shows The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider, and landing parts in Rambo II (1985), Ernest Goes to Jail (1990), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). In 1995, he returned to the world of Star Trek, guest starring as General Denning in the fourth season DS9 episode, "Little Green Men".

  • You read it right! 9 for 'bottom of the barrel'

    This one shows off the best and worst of Trek in the 60s.

    Best because it wants to show opposing points in an issue without being preachy (hippies who want to get away from the technological society that eats away at them), and best because this one is as hokey as they come!

    Chekov is now a wind-up soldier than a half-rebel.

    For season 3, Spock is surprisingly well handled.

    And I dig the music...

    But given how astute they\'ve been in the past, where are the Romulans? Why do the hippies agree to Doctor Severin\'s goal to murder the crew of the Enterprise?! They seem concerned, but are so spineless they\'ll blindly obey that creep?! Doesn\'t make much for their purported morals... And best of all, Charles Napier with go-go boots on! Although the hair dye was atrocious...

    All in all, the only thing this episode tackles is the hippie crisis of the 1960s. It, much like the hippies, don\'t know what to go do with themselves but sure look and sound nice...

    It\'s so bad it\'s good. I can't deny it's mindless guilty pleasure fun, and the music is so cool I bought the Star Trek complete series soundtrack collection in part because of the music in this episode... not bad for a show that was already considered "garbage fodder" by the not knowing the show had reached their target market since day 1 (the Neilsen rating issue - makes a good webmoreless
  • Ughhh

    This is one of the weakest episodes. Space hippies, bad space hippie music and a guy with cauliflower for ears.. It's just awful and by the end of you are glad they all die.!
  • Explains the times to a "T"

    "Headin out to Eden......yyyyeaaaaaaaa bruthaaa" I actually sing that to my 3 year old and 10 month old sometimes in the morning. How life changes!

    As a child of the 70s and 80s somehow this was a key part of my hippie understanding. Although, growing up in the SF Bay area - a LOT of folks pretty much looked like these guys! In a way; this is a great reminder for me of what it was like to walk through Berkeley back then.

    The songs to me are somewhat profound and I think in 50 years this episode will be used to explain the times to a T. Remember; the hippie movement and indeed the punk rock movement (to which I'm a bit more related to due to my age) were not orchestrations with 60 piece symphonies but improvisational from-the-heart verses that skipped a lot of fakery.

    I've heard people who have commented that this episode as unqualified since it was written by a man in his 40's. Wow, I remember going to meetings as a 9 year old kid watching guys in their 40's telling kids in their 20's what to do and HOW to protest! And as far as it being unrealistic that the 'hippies would kill the enterprise and bail' to their Eden? How nave that thought is about the times and the hippie movement or any strong movement. Selfish people i.e. Jim Jones, Lenin, et al will do whatever it takes to take power and further their goals. If it means killing off an antiseptic flying aluminum space computer (Enterprise) or 3,000 people in South America with Kool-aid - then these are the choices they had to make. 1990's Heaven's Gate Cult was in the same boat. Hippies, Nazis, Zulus, whomever they'll do what's needed to get their long-smoked-over ideals implemented. Right?

    The third season is the truest reflection of the times of all the seasons (of course) and it seems sometimes they almost completely lose their space subtext and went metaphor all-the-way. Case in point one of my favorite episodes "The Savage Curtain" which explains all you need to know about the conflict back then. Are we rid of it? Don't kid yourselves.moreless
  • Every time you eat a steak, a space hippy's hackysack goes in the sewer.

    Yes, it's the "space hippy" episode. The main problem is that it's written by Arthur Heinemann. Heinemann is a competent dramatic writer but s.f. is never his strong point. "Wink of an Eye" was equally weak (although I have a soft spot for his third ST story, "The Savage Curtain."). He must have been at least 40 when he did this episode, and knowledgeable on the counter-culture, he ain't.

    As such, the hippies engage in stereotypical counter-culture behavior and do a few musical numbers, and they come across as being written by... well some guy in his 40s who watched a sit-in or two on the TV.

    The actor not withstanding, Dr. Sevrin never comes across as a charismatic leader. There's some potential to portray him as a Jim Jones-type cult type, but it never gels. The anti-tech message is interesting (particularly in technophile Roddenberry's "ain't science grand?" Trek universe), but again it never goes anywhere. Sevrin is declared insane, and that's it: nothing to see here, move along.

    Walter Koenig actually gets to do some emoting, and demonstrate some of the talent he'll show later in B5. Leonard Nimoy is oddly cast as sympathetic/curious to the hippies: an attempt to cash in on the character's heightened popularity in the third season.

    Charles Napier is just... weird. I imagine his friends pull out this episode and make him watch it when they want to give him a hard time.

    The Eden allegory is anvilicious and having Adam die from eating an apple crushes everything below the weight of irony. The idea of a planet with totally acidic plantlife (apparently an odorless acid) is mildly chilling, but you wonder how Adam made it to a tree and ate some fruit without noticing.

    Overall, you can give this one a pass unless you're looking for amusement value.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Phyllis Douglas

Phyllis Douglas

Girl Hippie

Guest Star

Deborah Downey

Deborah Downey


Guest Star

Victor Brandt

Victor Brandt

Tongo Rad

Guest Star

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Nurse Christine Chapel

Recurring Role

George Takei

George Takei

Lt. Hikaru Sulu

Recurring Role

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • When Irina comes to visit Chekov in Auxiliary Control, she tries to find out more about it. However, she acts as if she doesn't have a clue what it does, despite the fact that she attended Starfleet Academy for at least some period of time.

    • Sulu tells the captain that they're leaving the Neutral Zone and headed into Romulan space. But when did they get into the Neutral Zone? It's a violation to even be in the Neutral Zone, and Sulu would have warned them before they entered it.

    • Adam's songs are obviously dubbed. Not only is his singing voice much clearer than his speaking voice, with no echo or resonance from the set, it occasionally does not match his mouth. This is particularly obvious when he sings his duet with the hippie girl.

    • Not only is the "insane" Dr. Sevrin left with a single guard and no surveillance, but there are no guards and only one crewman in the room from which one can instantly and irrevocably take control of the entire ship! Previous takeovers have happened, but through Engineering after overcoming numerous crewman.

    • After the hippies take control of the Enterprise, they calculate three hours to Eden. Why does Kirk wait until they are actually in orbit around the planet before attempting to break into Auxiliary Control? Granted, Sevrin has threatened them if they attack -- but that would be just as true in orbit over Eden as it was when they were still in Federation space.

    • When the crew goes down the director used footage from "Spock's Brain" - you can tell because Chapel's hair-do changes to the style she had in that episode, rather then the one she wears the rest of this episode.

    • Shots of Kirk are also reversed when he walks out of sickbay after learning about Sevrin's disease.

    • When they find the dead hippie after they land, the actor is still moving his right hand repeatedly.

    • Kirk calls the bridge and asks if they have control of the ship - he gets the answer "No." Then a couple of seconds later he asks if they can break orbit and he's told "I think so." This seems contradictory.

    • For the first and only time in the series, Kirk just mentions "starbase" without qualifying it with a number. We never do find out what starbase they're close to in this episode.

    • When Kirk and company arrive on the planet Eden to investigate, in one scene the film is reversed and Kirk's insignia is on the wrong side of his uniform.

  • QUOTES (6)

  • NOTES (5)

    • Charles Napier's (Adam) acting debut.

    • The original draft of this episode was much different than what appeared on screen. The original script dealt with McCoy and his granddaughter, Joanna, with Kirk, not Chekov, falling in love with her. The script was heavily rewritten and the McCoy angle was dropped, but several novelists have used the initial idea for their books.

    • Actor Charles Napier would later play General Denning in 4th season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "Little Green Men".

    • D.C. Fontana co-wrote the story for this episode under the pseudonymn Michael Richards.

    • The planet Eden is also mentioned in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and although Sybok was obviously thinking about a different Eden when he and his followers took over the Enterprise for much the same purpose as Dr. Sevrin and company, Kirk, perhaps remembering this adventure, stated many times in The Final Frontier that Eden, as a planet, is a myth.