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.