Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 20

The Way to Eden

Aired Unknown Feb 21, 1969 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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out of 10
173 votes
  • 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 web
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Enterprise picks up a group of futuristic hippies, one of whom Chekov has a past with. The group, led by a crazed doctor, are searching for a paradise planet, and will go to any lengths to find it. The infamously bad "space hippies" episode...

    Although not a complete classic, the previous broadcast episode, "Requiem for Methuselah", showed that even at this late stage the Original Series was capable of dishing up a semi-reasonable episode. Sadly, with "The Way to Eden", standards really plummet back down, and is a reminder of just how weak much of the third season sadly was. There were some true duds in the third season, and this one may even be worse than the terrible "Spock's Brain"!

    As with many episodes, the story tries to reflect something of the times of which it was made. But whereas others make for interesting analogies, this one just falls flat, and beyond anything else is just pain embarrassing.
    It is an intriguing twist to have Mr. Spock of all people have some empathy with the hippies, but beyond that, very little is interesting about this episode.

    One of the big problems is that the "space hippies" are just not an interesting bunch. The crazy doctor leader (whose ears are enough to make Spock's seem normal!) just doesn't have any of the character or 'oomph' needed for such a story, and his followers are just as dull.
    Charles Napier, a regular TV bad guy of in many guest spots of the 1970s and '80s, seems bizarrely cast here, and Chekov – who looks set to have a storyline devoted to him – has no spark with his ex-girlfriend, who again is a very weak character.

    Then there are the songs, most of which seem added in just to fill the running time, and which have some truly horrendous lip-syncing.
    The regular crew (bar Uhura, in one of just a couple of episodes where her position is filled by another crewmember) seem to just go through the motions here, practically acknowledging that this is a truly bad story from start to finish.

    All-in-all, I'd put this in the worst three episodes of the Original Series. The show is clearly on its last legs by this stage, and this episode feels like one of the final nails ion the once-great series' coffin.
  • Turn on, tune in, and drop out! The hippies are feelin' groovy. It's the Brady Bunch on acid meets the Manson Family, and they're sticking it to THE MAN, er, Captain Kirk. Spock can grok it, tho.

    Seriously, though. This is a really bad episode that almost deserves the "Jumping the Shark" rating. It's approaching the "Poochy" level of badness of adding some "hip" and "relevant" characters to try garnering falling ratings. It both capitalizes on the hippie movement and critiques the hippie movement at the same time. How's that for confusing?

    Chekhov's girlfriend has perhaps an even more hokey accent than he does and the two of them have even less chemistry than Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala in Episode II. Talk about painful to watch. They're wretchedly bad.

    Meanwhile the show manage to include a few musical numbers lip synced and played on prop swords with strings and bicycle wheels. Amazingly these instruments sound like guitars. Spock's Vulcan instrument sounds like a guitar with a little bit of organ in the background. Those are some hep space cats. The groovy spell their music casts on the crew is funny. The people dancing and grooving to the music look really awkward. Also the "Wilma Flinstone" girl in the band (you'll know who I mean when you watch) looks a little out of place and embarrassed.

    Meanwhile, any sense of why these kids might be doing what they're doing is completely missing. Though there was a reference to "Planet Tiburon," it's about as much context as we get. Tiburon is a rich, white enclave in the Bay Area across the bay from San Francisco. Presumably, many of the rich white parents of the 60s were confused as to why their promising and smart kids were hanging out in the Haight-Ashbury or Berkeley and rebelling against authority, dropping out of school (or life), smoking a lot of dope, having a lot of sex and "ruining" their upper-middle-class achievement potential.

    At least the hippies of the 60s had some legitimate reasons for rebellion, even if a good number of them were simply protesting so that they could smoke more weed and make more love. Certainly it can be argued that the Vietnam war, minority civil rights, womens rights, free speech, and environmental concerns were all issues that deserved to be addressed. Who can blame hippie kids for feeling they had to create their own culture in opposition to a culture that refused to address many real issues and pushed to maintain the status quo. That, plus they were feelin' groovy and indulging their hedonistic side.

    But since The Enterprise and The Federation is pretty much portrayed as a Utopia (aside from a few jerks in Star Fleet Command and women being mini-skirted and sexified), why are the kids starting a counter-culture? There is something vague about computers in there, but is there any reason they'd doing anything beside simply indulging themselves?

    It's a weak episode, though entertainingly bad at times.

    You've also got to love the one hippie dude's prosthetic elephant ears.
  • Awful episode, yikes.

    Under the dictionary heading short-sighted (if insulting and lazy were already taken), I expect to find a reference to this plot. I doubt there's a single worse example in all of trek, of contemporary sociopolitical entities shamelessly shoving aside any semblance of intelligent, thoughtful consideration of the trek universe or the future. This is the richness of trek, pimped out heartlessly to the cheapest, most temporary of all things, a brief few years of regional pop culture.

    Not that ST is in any way free this the rest of the time. The entire series explores the great galaxy of the unknown and diverse, and by that I mean the great galaxy of all things essentially familiar to 1960's America, with alien names. Every few episodes the enterprise 'against astronomical odds' runs into a culture, what do you know, again exactly like earth inhabited by attractive fair-skinned human look-alikes. Of course we can't crucify it for that, it definitely made new strides in a revolutionary direction and I'm sure every other show of the era was 100 times more culturo-centric than trek.

    But onto the matter at hand. Brutal, shameless selling out in this episode. Hippies? I can't tell whether the episode is trying to give a moral lesson in support of their worldview or just use them because it was a familiar cultural device. ST is no stranger to the classic 'establishment vs not-the-establishment' story, but in those cases the rebel/whatever groups at least had some conceivable point or plausible goal. This group of clowns appear to be culturally contrarian simply for its own sake. Their goal is getting to Eden, but not only is it a random, meaningless and unexplained goal disconnected from anything else in ST, it also has not the slightest analogy to the real life hippies of the time. I'm thinking the conversation went like this:

    Writer 1: Hey you know hippies are kind of a thing now hey?
    Writer 2: You're right. ok let's put them into an episode, we'll get the kids watchin!
    Writer 1: Good point, well what do hippies do?
    Writer 2: They sit around and wear flowers.
    Writer 1: Ya but I mean for the show - what is there actual goal?
    Writer 2: No idea, but we better give them something.
    Writer 1: To the writing room!
    Writer 2: You mean that room where you keep all the previous sci-fi scripts and your xerox machine?
    Writer 1: Quit bothering me, I'm working here.

    Or something along those lines. With no appreciation of what the hippie movement stood for, the hippies were given a random goal with no bearing on their real-life counterparts. Not that those guys did anything meaningful either, but still. That same goal could have (and has) been better used by Alien Of The Week and thereby had a reasonable chance of making sense or at least existing in some reasonable way within the trek universe. Spock playing with them was goofy, and when he actually starts grooving his head to the beat, you just feel sorry for the guys who wanted to, you know, actually keep a real show going instead of this pathetic dunce-fest.

    In reality I really enjoy trek and most of the episodes, and I'm comforted by the one transcendent and universal truth that trek conveyed beyond all others - that in a time of turmoil it reminded us that no matter what size, creed, color, form, home planet or value-system someone can hold, females will always have nice legs and wear 60's miniskirts.
  • The reason the show got cancelled

    This is one of those shows that dates when a show aired. Space Hippies??! Terrible lip synching!! I am watching all of the Star Trek episodes in a row with my girlfriend, and to be true, I had watch this piece of garbage. Hippie Spock? Please. There is so much emoting in this episode, it's like a Ham dinner. Plus, what was the whole point of this episodes. Hippies encroaching on Romulan space? C'mon, some writer was or there was someone he knew that was a hippie and wrote a social commentary on it. I'm surprised they didn't have those trippy psychedlic effects.
  • This is the worst episode of Star Trek by a long shot. This episode is so bad that it makes Spock's Brain look like a masterpiece.

    The episode is poorly written and contains little substance. Like many of the third season episodes, it follows the trend of reaching out to a new audience. However, beaming aboard a group of drugged up hippies was hardly a worthy plot. This episode lacks the charm that we Star Trek fans adore so much. Additionally Spock's sympathy does not seem natural for the situation. It comes across as being forced, as if to appeal to a teenage audience that just got home from Woodstock. I really don't have much else to say for this despicable episode. It should be viewed with extreme caution, because it has been known to suck the appreciation right out of Star Trek fans.
  • 50 minutes of my life I will never be able to get back.

    Normally I don't write reviews on this website, but I had to say something about this episode. First let me say that I love Star Trek. I own the entire Original Series on DVD and I enjoy nearly all of the episodes. Saying that, I must also say that there are three episodes that are painful to watch: Spock's Brain, And the Children Shall Lead, and The Way To Eden, all of which are in the third season.

    Of these three episodes, The Way to Eden is by far the worst. Spock's Brain was terrible, and And the Children Shall Lead was annoyingly terrible and probably even worse. The Way To Eden is a lesson in crapiness. The Enterprise picks up a group of Space Hippies who are trying to find the planet Eden. Kirk refuses to take the Hippies to Eden, which makes them angry. They decide to take over the ship by playing some annoying music and getting in to the Auxiliary control room. They get to the planet and guess what? Two of them die! At least we don't have to suffer them anymore!

    This episode is filled with terrible acting and annoying characters that you just cannot stand. I have nothing against hippies, but the ones in this episode are intolerable. This is by far the worst episode of Star Trek. If you are watching TV and this ever comes on, just turn it off. You will just wish you would have done something else.
  • The wrath towards this episode is illogical

    Another episode that unfairly earns the wrath of many Star Trek fans. Instead of defending the episode, I want to understand why it is hated in the Star Trek community. Is it because it seems to opportunistic...let's make an episode about hippees because...they are a current item! I don't think this is much of a reason to hate it. Star Trek tried to capitalize on issues about war and racism and those episodes are not hated to the degree as this one. Maybe one thinks that hippees existing in the far off future is silly. But, I disagree. You will always have people who revolt in the environment that they are living in by not assuming the appearance and customs of the establishment as well as searching for a better world. One could smile at that musical interludes and weird attire in this episode, but none of this reachs the "Row Row Row your Boat" silliness of the Star Trek V movie. Is it full of technical or dramatic goofs? The only two I had a hard time believing is that the ultra sonic sould could lay out flat Kirk, Spock, and Scotty only for them to get a second wind and get it up and shut it off. The other one is that the poison pear seems to be awfully chock full of poison for it to kill Dr. Severin when he didn't even get a chance to chew or swallow it. But none of the above seems to warrant the hatred towards this episode. To be honest, the episode is padded down due with love interests and musical interlude because the antagonists are not powerful entites who can take up a whole hour with visual effects. But there is still nothing about this episode that would prompt me to hate it. talk about the good stuff. Skip Homeier is one of the actors whose bold voice and facial features always gets your attention. Cauliflower ears only give him that much exoticness. Chekov's turbulent relationship with Irina is not much to go on other than the fact that he disaproves of her lifestyle, but their romance rekindling of sorts is nice to see. I do understand Spock "reaching" the space hippees through music that sounds "real now" but I'm not so sure that Spock being a half breed would make him interested in finding a "better world". Kirk being called a "Herbert" is fun to see. Watching everybody under the age of 30 on the bridge toe and finger tapping to the music is a little hard to believe (in fact, some even look older than that). But, it's inventive to see the antagonist use the "weapon" of friendliness instead of belligerence as so many of them have done in the pass. And the finale, with a planet that looks so much like a Garden of Eden but be a deadly poisonous planet in reality provides a zinger ending. So, the question is brought forth...why is this episode hated? I think it goes back to the silliness issue. Mostly, the outlandish costumes and hipster daddy-o language. But keep everything in perspective. One of my biggest pet peeve sci-fi shows is Lost in Space and had the story line of "The Way to Eden" made it to that show, they would have had Paul Revere and the Raiders as the hippees with Dr. Smith and the Robot doing the Watusi. No...The Way to Eden is not as bad as it seems.
  • Spock gets booed off the stage after sitting in as guest guitarist for a space traveling rock group.

    This is one of the worse ones. Not only do they find Eden so quickly but the Enterprise just happens to be fairly near the planet. I realize that sometimes unexplainable things have to happen in some of the writing, but Dr. Severin made it quite clear to Tongo Rad that the sound waves kill. After commercial break they just wake up and that is how they dodge that bullet? Come on! That’s even worse than the commercial break during “Arena” where Kirk is trapped under a rock with the Gorn over him with a knife. When we come back from commercial the Gorn moves the rock out of the way and Kirk simply gets up kinda quick.
  • Trek runs the voodoo down, man!

    This episode isn't actually as bad as it first seems, though it's by no means classic Trek. By the time it was aired, Woodstock was a few months away and the counter-culture had had three or four years of Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane-style cosmic rock. It was only a matter of time before the influence of this music (and the lifestyles associated with it) was reflected on the bridge of the Enterprise. The interesting story aspect for me was Spock's curious empathy with the hippies - a facet of his character that was later revisited in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. Lunatic hippidom would soon become reality with the Manson slayings, of course, and ten years later, Brit Nigel Kneale explored similar thematic territory in his scripts for the final Quatermass story (in which naive hippies chant to be transported "to the planet", away from the disastrous social and environmental problems of Earth). Despite this episode's short-comings, its to the show's credit that the writers foresaw the potential dark side of the counter-culture that was shortly to become front-page headline news.
  • Sorry but this episode was flat out garbage.

    Generally regarded as one of the worst episodes in trek history there is a reason for that. Spock on a harp, space hippies. What was Roddenberry smoking the week this episode came up. Oh well, since he has some other amazing shows, we will forgive him this one transgression. My other problem with this episode though is that the hippies don\'t die some horrible death. If we are forced to watch this drivle, shouldn\'t we at least get some hippies saying far out right before they hit the big spot in the sky where colorful bears dance together and they are forced to listen to horrible music from the Grateful Dead?
  • This is a program, bringing out at least one real scientific fact that has been forgotten. The Enterprise pickes up a group of space age hippies. When hippies take over the ship, they use sound. Upon arrival, they find themselves in desprate need of rescu

    This was an interesting episode. One that give you a good look into Checkov\\\'s past. It also reveals at least on sonic truth, in which sound kills as easily as stunns! It is a unique story line in which is not a repeat, nor has it been repeated!
    It gives the viewer the real view that hippies, weren\\\'t just limited to just the 20th century, but in the future as well. But I have a feeling they wouldn\\\'t be called hippies, such the use isn\\\'t used today.
    This show also clearly demonstrates what happens when you don\\\'t take the proper precautions when going into a situation or a location without proper research or protection!
  • High Times aboard USS Enterprise!

    Here's the story in a few words: Starship Enterprise is hijacked to the planet Eden by interstellar hippies! Far out, man! There's Dr. Sevrin, who's burned out after taking a few too many acid trips. There's Tongo Radd, the would-be psychedelic guitarist, then there's the chick who dumped Chekov years earlier. And there's Adam, who eats the apple on arrival on Eden and dies, presumably after gaining the knowledge of good and evil.

    One of the better scenes: The rec room jam session with the hippies and Mr. Spock, with his weird little Vulcan harp. Spock really wails!

    So flash back to one of the funnier Star Trek episodes. Caution: if you do a couple of bong hits before viewing, the stiff man will put your mind in jail! His judge will clap the gavel and say, No Bail!