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Recap / Star Trek S3 E20 "The Way to Eden"

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Dr. Sevrin (the bald man in front) and his followers.
"I reach that, brother; I really do!"

Original air date: February 21, 1969

Kirk and the Enterprise are in hot pursuit of the stolen spaceship Aurora. The Aurora isn't giving up easily and leads them on a high speed chase. The cruiser's engines become strained from the chase and the whole thing goes ka-blooey! Fortunately (or not), Scotty manages to beam aboard the six miscreants before the cruiser explodes.

The six spaceship jackers are a group of young idealists in search of the mythical planet Eden and led by the brilliant but insane engineer Dr. Sevrin. Among them are Tongo Rad, the son of a Catullan ambassador (which prevents Kirk from simply throwing them all in the brig), Adam (Charles Napier), who mostly sings Protest Songs, and Irina Galliulin, a New Old Flame of Chekov's.

Kirk wants to bring this group to the nearest starbase, but of course they have other ideas. They've come up with a Zany Scheme involving pressure points, ultrasonic sound waves, the Galileo, and a musical hubcap.

The Fan Nickname for this episode is "The One with the Space Hippies".

The Way to Tropes:

  • Actual Pacifist: Tongo Rad and Irinia briefly balk at Sevrin's plan to use sound waves to knock out everyone but them, noting that ultrasonics have the potential to cause harm, but he assures them he'll be careful.
  • Alien Food Is Edible: It's really, really not. The "apples" are so acidic that a single bite can kill.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: A planet that was technically habitable (right sunlight and air quality), but all the flora secreted a deadly acid, and the fruit was lethal.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Flowers would not form on a planet unless they were meant to attract pollinators. Flowers require a fair amount of resources and water to develop and maintain. One might make a similar argument about the fruit, except that some fruits disperse seeds via exploding fleshy capsules.
  • Bald of Evil: Dr. Sevrin.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The hippies' belief that Planet Eden existed and that it was a perfect place leads to Adam and Sevrin's death by alien fruit and painful injuries for the others.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Sevrin and his followers go from being a nuisance singing nonsense music to knocking out everyone on the ship and taking control. Kirk should've really had a talk with security after this fiasco.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The space hippies are into the philosophy of "One", from which all is derived, and seek to return to the beginning. You reach?
  • Culture Clash: Starfleet may only be Mildly Military, but still military enough to seriously clash with the way of life and the attitudes of the space hippies. Ironically, Spock of all people is the crew member who has the least problems dealing with them. Adam, in particular really takes a liking to Spock.
  • Deconstruction: A rather anvilicious one, of idealistic societies framed outside accepted social norms. A blatant Take That! at hippies.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Picking the first vaguely Earthlike planet you stumble across to settle and going down with no supplies or equipment whatsoever, then going barefoot and eating random plants? Bad idea, it turns out.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The space hippies' dreams come crashing down as a result of too much acid. (Including grass laced with acid.) On top of the common theory that Dr. Sevrin is based on Timothy Leary, it starts to seem like the writer is trying to tell us something.
  • Dramatic Irony/Foreshadowing: One of Adam's songs, early in the episode, proclaims proudly that he is "gonna live, not die". In the one he sings just as the group prepare to land on "Eden", he declares that he will "eat all the fruit and throw away the rind". After arriving, he does indeed eat a fruit... and he dies, he doesn't live.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dr. Sevrin had to have known the fruit was poisonous, but he was so distraught that he indirectly caused one of his followers' death he just didn't care.
  • Evil Luddite: Dr. Sevrin. And wouldn't you know it? He's a carrier for a disease that makes it dangerous for him to visit any world that isn't sufficiently scientifically advanced.
  • False Utopia: Eden, as the plants turn out to be acidic, and the fruit is poisonous.
  • Flowers of Nature: You can't have hippies without them! Irina wears violets in her hair. Sevrin has a daisy painted on his bald head. Body artist George Barr did body painting for all the hippies.
  • Foreshadowing: Spock's sensors indicate a total lack of animal life on Eden. Turns out that all of the vegetation on the planet is toxic and acidic.
  • Future Slang: The word "reach" has replaced 20th-century "dig" as a synonym to "understand and empathize in an age-of-Aquarius way." I reach you, man!
    • And if you don't like it, you're a total Herbert!
    • That Vulcan instrument in Spock's quarters is real now!
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Sevrin believes this.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: Dr. Sevrin uses ultrasonics to stun the Enterprise crew. Even The Spock can't bear the pain and Kirk mimes turning his head into a Large Ham sandwich.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • The one Red Shirt assigned to watch Sevrin gets too caught up in listening to music to do his job. Meanwhile, nobody else is bothering to keep an eye on the other hippies.
    • "Eden" turns out to be located in Romulan space, which naturally worries the hell out of Kirk after Sevrin and company take over; before beaming down, he tells Scotty to try and explain the situation if they show up*. Somehow, though, the Romulans — who usually show up to surround the Enterprise the moment they stray into the Neutral Zone, and who would probably love to get their hands on Kirk after "The Enterprise Incident" — never show up. Presumably, everyone at the border monitoring stations was on break that day or something.
  • Hidden Depths: Spock's musical side appears again after the lytherette (lyrette, Vulcan harp, lyre, lute, or whatever they're calling it this week) in "Charlie X" or "Amok Time". He was supposed to play it in "Elaan of Troyius" but it got cut. Uhura snitches it to play "Beyond Antares" in "Conscience of the King".
    • Irina and Tongo Rad, both who used to be Star Fleet students, express concerns over Sevrin setting the speakers on a certain frequency, remembering their studies on high ultrasonic frequencies being fatal to humanoid life forms. They shrug off their concerns in favor of reaching “Eden”.
  • Ignored Expert: Spock tells the hippies (who've stolen a shuttlecraft) that Sevrin is both dangerously ill and insane, even telling to them to look up Starfleet's files on him. Unfortunately, by this point no one's listening.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Gene Roddenberry may have been a proud atheist (if not antitheist), but he was fond of alluding to themes from The Bible.
  • Make Some Noise: Sevrin uses an ultrasonic tone to knock out everyone on the Enterprise so the hippies can make their getaway.
  • Meaningful Name: The Space Hippie who ate the deadly fruit was named Adam. Also, the name "Irina" means "Peaceful". Good name for a hippie chick.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: It’s implied by Sevrin’s expression that he realized he led his group to a dangerous and uninhabitable planet that resulted in the death of one in their group.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Well, hippies weren't retro when the episode first aired!
  • New Old Flame: Irina, one of the hippies, is an old girlfriend of Chekov's, whom he's never mentioned before and will never mention again.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. Sevrin is probably an Expy of Timothy Leary.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Chekov's character (which in the original story, was meant to have been Kirk's character) is portrayed in this episode as a rigid, rule-quoting straight arrow, in contrast to the writers' initial concept of the character as a younger, less authoritarian character who might appeal to teenage viewers. Walter Koenig has called the episode "badly written" partly because of this. He also called this episode the low point of his character's tenure on the show.
  • Pressure Point: Spock isn't the only one who can neck pinch! Tongo Rad used his knowledge of human anatomy to knock out an Enterprise crewman by squeezing the nerve pressure point at the back of the jaw, just under the earlobe (Truth in Television, though it causes great pain and delayed unconsciousness rather than instant).
  • Protest Song: Adam's raison d'etre, and he plays a bunch of them on an odd-looking guitar-stick thingy.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Space Hippies see themselves as this. Spock sympathizes with their feeling of not being able to fit in, and is much more tolerant of them than Kirk is, which is why they take an immediate shine to Spock and immediately distrust and dislike Kirk.
    Spock: Miss Galliulin... it is my sincere wish that you do not give up your search for Eden. I have no doubt but that you will find it, or make it yourselves.
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
  • Rhymes on a Dime: That Adam's a real character.
    Adam: Gonna crack my knuckles and jump for joy; I got a clean bill of health from Dr. McCoy!
  • Secretly Selfish: Sevrin is the carrier for a deadly disease which endangers the lives of those around him unless he's in a controlled environment, which he refuses because he hates technology. He hasn't told his fellow hippies, with whom he travels in close quarters with and hangs out about this little problem. His search for Eden is also implied to be more motivated by his desire to get away from technology than the "return to the beginning" the others seek.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Protects the door to the isolation cell that holds Dr. Sevrin.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In an especially eerie moment, once Dr. Sevrin and the hippies have control of the ship and have knocked everyone else out, Adam plays one of his upbeat little folk songs... as we pan across all the unconscious crew members.
  • Stock Footage:
    • They re-use the footage of Nurse Chapel being knocked out from "Spock's Brain" at the beginning of the season. That's why the lights go out in that shot whereas they don't anywhere else in the scene.
    • A brief shot of the surface of Eden is reused footage of the lakeside from "Shore Leave". A shot of the surface of Gamma Trianguli VI from "The Apple" is also recycled and used in the same scene.
  • Strange Salute: The Space Hippies greet people by making an oval with their fingers; the future equivalent of the peace hand sign of the 60s. The oval is also seen in the ceramic egg-shaped pins they each wear. The egg represents their philosophy of "One," which Spock understands, as these people "seek the beginning".
  • Subculture of the Week: Hippies IN SPACE!
  • Take That!
    • Want to live in an ideal society outside the established norm, hippies? Too bad, it will turn out to be a dystopia all along.
    • The insult "Herbert" was apparently aimed at a real-life person, but it's still unknown exactly who. The most common theory is that the show's former production executive, Herbert F. Solow was the target, though others have suggested it was Herbert Hoover.
  • Temporary Substitute: Uhura doesn't appear in this episode, her duties assumed by Lt. Palmer, played by Elizabeth Rogers.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: We spend quite a lot of time with Adam singing his songs.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "Well, here I am on an unexplored planet! What will I do first? I know! I'll eat this fruit about which I know absolutely nothing!" Especially since the fruit tree is so far from the shuttlecraft that Adam must have been able to see and hear the others getting their feet burned by the grass.
  • Tractor Beam: The Enterprise tries to take the stolen ship in tow with a tractor beam.
  • Typhoid Mary: Dr. Sevrin, carrier of the Synthecoccus novae bacterium who was crazy more than he was malicious. While the episode had no reported infections, having to isolate him to ensure that did really tick off his followers.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Reaching Eden justifies killing everybody on the Enterprise.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dr. Sevrin and company see themselves as such.
  • You Fool!: Kirk shouts this as Sevrin takes a bite out of the poisoned fruit. (Incidentally, the image of him yelling this is obviously flipped. His insignia is on his right instead of his left.)
  • You're Insane!: A line that's blunt even for Spock.
    Spock (to Kirk): Dr. Sevrin is... insane.