The Great Star Trek Rewatch: The Way to Eden

When the Enterprise intercepts a stolen spacecraft, Kirk discovers that the crew are a group of space hippies searching for the mythical planet Eden. Since one of the hippies is the son of an alien ambassador, Kirk is forced to take their group seriously, and whether the crew cooperates or not, they are determined to reach Eden, one way or another.

Yes, here it is, the infamous “space hippy” episode, which features slang, jamming, crazy clothes, but of course a commendable lack of mind-altering substances. I had braced myself against this episode, remembering it to be intensely annoying, but in actual fact, amidst all the singing and nonsense words, there are some reasonable character moments. Even if it’s just because season three has reset my expectations towards the lower end of the scale, I didn’t find this episode to be as bad as I feared.

Character moments

  • Whilst Kirk is the stiff ‘square’ of the episode, it may come as a surprise to find that Spock feels an affinity with the space hippies. He empathises with their feelings of otherness and admires their search for Eden – not to mention the opportunity for him to get his Vulcan lute out for the first time in ages. I wonder if the hippies remind him of his spore time with Leila Kalomi.
  • One of the hippies is a girl from Chekov’s past, who dropped out of Starfleet Academy in favour of being a free spirit.
  • It’s a shame that Uhura isn’t in this episode, as she would surely have loved to sing along with the hippies.
  • Sulu’s botany hobby is mentioned for the first time since season one.

How to run a starship

  • Not for the first or last time, I’ll say that letting civilians wander round the most sensitive areas of the ship is a bad idea.
  • Synthococcus novii is an infection which has developed in response to the sterile environments of the 23rd century. The leader of the hippies, Dr Sevrin, is a carrier of the infection, which explains some of his antipathy towards modern society. A vaccine exists, but regular booster shots must be administered, which is why Dr Sevrin is not allowed to travel to undeveloped planets – the infection would surely wipe out the natives.
  • Everyone who serves aboard the Enterprise has to have some sort of broad spectrum immunisation upon coming aboard.
  • One of the hippies, Tongo Rad (he’s so rad), has a disabling technique similar to the Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • Having a button that lets anyone unlock a prison cell right outside the door seems a little risky. Why not use some sort of key?
  • Enterprise security guards are largely inattentive, terrible at crowd control, and all round incompetent.
  • Chekov admits that even someone incompetent at navigation could rely on the Enterprise computer in order to do their job. I hope for Chekov’s sake that Kirk doesn’t know that, or he’ll be out of a job.
  • Some sort of password protection of auxiliary control, plus a backdoor override for senior officers, would prevent the ship from getting taken over quite so easily. In addition to locks on the doors, of course.

Summary – The Way to Eden: The planet Eden may have been deadly, but this episode wasn’t as terrible as I remembered.

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