Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Way to Eden”

“The Way to Eden”
Written by Michael Richards and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander
Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 60043-75
Original air date: February 21, 1969
Stardate: 5832.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is pursuing the Aurora, which was stolen and is heading for Romulan space. Sulu puts them in a tractor beam, but the ship resists the beam, overheating their engines. Scotty beams them out before the Aurora goes boom, and they’re all dressed in loose, exposed clothes, holding their hands up in a circle.


Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

One of the space hippies is Tongo Rad, the son of the Catullan ambassador. Kirk is under orders to treat Rad and his friends with kid gloves, so he doesn’t arrest them, instead treating them as guests. They respond by having a sit-in, refusing to go anywhere and referring to anyone who disagrees with them as “Herbert.” Spock actually able to speak the space hippie lingo and get through to them. Their leader, Dr. Sevrin, rejects Federation authority and demands to be taken to Eden, which Kirk dismisses as a myth.

Chekov recognizes the voice of one of the space hippies as his ex-girlfriend from Starfleet Academy, Irina Galliulin. He goes to see her in sickbay, where McCoy is giving all six of the space hippies a checkup. Adam, one of the space hippies, sings a song while they wait. Galliulin and Chekov have an awkward reunion. It’s obvious they both still care for each other, but also that they both live their lives differently.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

McCoy reveals that Sevrin is a carrier of synthococcus novae, a disease that was created in the sterile environments of space ships, starbases, and artificial atmospheres. Sevrin needs to be quarantined while McCoy checks to make sure everyone’s immunizations are up to date. Sevrin denies it, claiming it’s a conspiracy to lock him up, but McCoy calls bullshit, as Sevrin is a scientist who knew damn well what he had. Putting him on a starship with 400 people is dangerous enough; putting him on a primitive world like Eden would make him Typhoid Mary.

The space hippies have free rein of the ship thanks to Rad’s father’s influence, and they’re using it to incite disaffection. Spock tries to plead with Sevrin to get them to stop disrupting the ship, offering to help them find Eden and to petition the Federation on their behalf to allow colonization—but if they continue to disrupt the Enterprise, Kirk will be forced to bring criminal charges, and that would skotch any colonization plans.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Sevrin admits finally that he did know he had the disease, and he resents that he is restricted to artificial atmospheres to keep it from spreading, as it’s artificial atmospheres that bred his disease in the first place. He wishes to go to a primitive planet to cleanse himself. But he does agree to ask his people to not be such pains in the ass.

Spock goes to Kirk and declares that Sevrin is insane—but the movement isn’t, and he wishes to keep his promise to Sevrin to find Eden. Spock works in his quarters, assisted by Chekov in auxiliary control; the former is approached by Adam about having a concert, the latter joined by Galliulin, who wishes to apologize for teasing him earlier. She doesn’t want Chekov to disapprove of her, but he’s pretty much always going to. However, even as he explains how navigation works, they wind up smooching.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

How-some-ever, there’s a cunning plan at work. Galliulin was pumping Chekov for information, and Rad and Adam were working on getting Sulu and Spock on their side. They obviously plan to take over the ship.

Adam’s concert still happens, and it’s quite a hit—not just in the rec room where they play, but we see Sevrin’s security guard and both Sulu and one of Scotty’s engineers on the bridge bopping to the music. Spock jams with them on his Vulcan harp, also.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Rad knocks out Sevrin’s security guard and frees him, then they head to auxiliary control and take out the officer stationed there. They quickly take control of the ship, because that’s totally convincing, and takes the ship toward Eden—which also has them going into Romulan space. Kirk urges them to give the ship back, but Sevrin threatens to destroy the ship if they do anything to stop them.

Spock and Chekov’s work bears fruit, and the computer has calculated the likely location of Eden. Sevrin sets the ship’s circuits to let out a sonic pulse that will kill everyone on board (though he assures Galliulin that it will only stun them), and uses it when Scotty tries to break into auxiliary control. Sevrin and his people take a shuttlecraft down; Kirk manages to turn off the ultrasonics before everyone is killed.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Chekov beam down to Eden, which has no animal life (beyond the half-dozen space hippies), but is quite beautiful. However, the plant life turns out to be full of acid, even the grass. Spock finds Adam’s body next to a fruit with a bite taken out of it—the fruit is poisonous. Spock also takes the time out to remind us that this guy in a paradise called Eden who just ate a fruit that killed him is named Adam because we really don’t want you to miss the bog-obvious metaphor!!!!!!

The rest of the space hippies are on the shuttlecraft, as their bare feet are all burned from the acid in the grass. Sevrin refuses to beam back to the Enterprise, instead deliberately eating a fruit and dying.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

They make it out of Romulan space without incident and take the four surviving space hippies to starbase. Chekov submits himself for disciplinary action, but Kirk lets him off the hook, and then Galliulin gives him a final smooch.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, the science of artificial environments has created a deadly virus. That kinda sucks.

Fascinating. For reasons having nothing to do with common sense and everything to do with Spock being the show’s breakout character, Spock totally understands and can communicate with the space hippies. The same character who has constantly decried the illogic and emotionalism of humans is perfectly comfortable hanging out with extremely illogical, hyper-emotional people. Sure. (Yes, he says he gets the notion of people who feel alien, but Jesus…)

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

I’m a doctor not an escalator. McCoy is the one who diagnoses Sevrin with synthococcus novae, and he’s particularly obnoxious about it, probably in response to Sevrin’s obdurate response to being examined. 

Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu is very receptive to the space hippies’ notion, accepting a flower from one and bopping to the concert. 

It’s a Russian invention. We learn Chekov’s middle name/patronymic: Andreivitch, which means his father’s name is Andrei. 

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty is disapproving of the space hippies from jump, bitching and moaning about these kids today with their music and their hair, and pretty much doing every stereotypical old-fart bit short of shaking his fist at them and telling them to get off his lawn. His plaintive query as to why being young means being irresponsible is met with an amused rejoinder by Kirk, reminding him that he did some crazy stuff when he was young, and didn’t Scotty, also? (We saw him do a drunken pub crawl in “Wolf in the Fold,” so we don’t even have to go back to his youth…)

Go put on a red shirt. The security guard on Sevrin is so captivated by the music that he doesn’t hear Rad coming up the ladder and coming up behind him. One assumes he got demoted—or drummed out of Starfleet. I mean, seriously, the guy had one job 

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Chekov and Galliulin have a fascinating relationship, as it’s obvious they’re totally crazy about each other, but just as obvious that they’d kill each other if they tried to make it into a real relationship. 

Channel open. “Be incorrect, occasionally.”

“And you be correct.”


Galliulin and Chekov each agreeing to give the other’s kink a try sometimes.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Welcome aboard. Several returning guests in this one: Skip Homeier, last seen as Melakon in “Patterns of Force,” returns as Sevrin. Victor Brandt, last seen as Watson in “Elaan of Troyius,” plays Rad. Phyllis Douglas, last seen as Mears in “The Galileo Seven,” is back as Second Hippie On The Right. Elizabeth Rogers makes her second appearance as Palmer, following “The Doomsday Machine.” And then we have Charles Napier as Adam, who will return on DS9 as General Denning in “Little Green Men,” a role a hundred and eighty degrees from this one.

Plus there’s Mary-Linda Rapelye as Galliulin, Deborah Downey as First Hippie On the Right, and recurring regulars George Takei, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and Majel Barrett.


Trivial matters: This story started out life as a script entitled “Joanna” by D.C. Fontana. The role that eventually became Galliulin was McCoy’s titular daughter and she was set up as a love interest for Kirk. However, Fred Freiberger rejected the script, and it was given to Arthur Heinemann to heavily rewrite. Fontana was sufficiently grumpy about the rewrite that she once again asked for the “Michael Richards” pseudonym as her credit, just as she did with “That Which Survives.”

Joanna McCoy was actually part of the season two writers bible for the series, after Fontana and DeForest Kelley discussed the notion of McCoy having a daughter by a previous marriage. The marriage wasn’t established onscreen until the 2009 Star Trek, and the closest Joanna was to being established was a brief reference to McCoy’s daughter in the animated episode “The Survivor.” Joanna does appear in the novels Crisis on Centaurus by Brad Ferguson, Crucible: Provenance of Shadows by David R. George III, Legacies: Best Defense by David Mack, and the novelization Encounter at Farpoint by David Gerrold, as well as the comic books Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment by D.C. Fontana, Derek Chester, & Gordon Purcell and Untold Voyages #3 by Glenn Greenberg & Mike Collins.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Much of the music in the episode was composed by Deborah Downey, who was rewarded with a role that included singing a duet with Charles Napier and faking a duet on alien instruments with Leonard Nimoy. She was assisted by scripter Arthur Heinemann, who wrote the lyrics, and Napier. Downey has made many convention appearances over the years, including a couple that I also attended as a guest, and she is an absolute sweetheart. Definitely worth talking to if you’re ever at a con she’s a guest at.

Several tie-in novels mention later attempts by Chekov and Galliulin to rekindle their relationship, including regular rewatch commenter Christopher L. Bennett’s Ex Machina (which had Chekov taking a leave of absence from Starfleet to try to work things out with her, one of several theories put forth to explain Chekov’s absence from the animated series) and J.M. Dillard’s novelizations of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek Generations.

Rad later appeared as an adult during DC’s first monthly Star Trek comic, in issue #46 by Mike Carlin, Tom Sutton, & Ricardo Villagran.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

To boldly go. “Gonna crack my knuckles and jump for joy / I got a clean bill of health from Dr. McCoy!” SPACE HIPPIES!

Seriously, someone actually thought this was a good idea. Not that this is anything new. It’s always entertaining to watch writers try to take on a subculture they don’t actually know a damn thing about, and they’ve been doing it badly forever. (Ask someone who is actually part of the BDSM community about Fifty Shades of Gray some time, I dare you…) And Arthur Heinemann’s take on the hippie movement is laughably simplistic. We get the basic trappings—the clothing styles, the love of music, the nose-thumbing of authority—but the context is lost. Sevrin is the only one who has a real reason for it, thanks to the disease he’s contracted.

But the counterculture of the 1960s had its roots in the oppressiveness that permeated the 1950s, with the Kefauver hearings on juvenile delinquency and the McCarthy hearings on “un-American” activities and the unrest both before and after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, not to mention the U.S. getting involved in wars in Asia that had much less clear-cut motives than the previous World Wars.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

None of that context is present here, it’s just people in skimpy clothes and bare feet, with flowers painted on their skin, playing music and being all goofy for absolutely no good reason. Of course, the mainstream insisted that that was the case for the hippies, that they were just doing it to be stupid youths, but it was far more complicated than that. Yet by buying into that myth, the Trek producers reveal themselves to be a bunch of Herberts.

And Spock reaches! Because, why, exactly? Nothing in his personality over the previous three seasons gives any indication that he’d have anything but contempt for rabble-rousing emotionalism, yet here he is making a circle with his fingers and proving that he isn’t a Herbert.

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

Meanwhile we have Chekov, who was specifically cast to inject youthful enthusiasm into the show, who has a good sense of humor, whom we have seen flirting with women in the past, all of a sudden sledgehammered into the role of stick-in-the-mud. It would have made much more sense to have Chekov be the one who serves as the go-between, as the youngest person on the ship and one who knows them, and see him be tempted by the lifestyle, and maybe establish that he was also tempted back in the Academy, and maybe introduce a conflict, instead of just giving Leonard Nimoy more screen time.

As with “The Cloud Minders,” we have a story that had a much more interesting original pitch than it did a final product, and while this isn’t as irritating as last week’s, it’s still pretty disappointing that we don’t get to meet McCoy’s daughter and watch Kirk hit on her. Besides the ill-defined movement, we’ve got a Romulan threat that never goes anywhere except for some ho-hum artificial suspense, plus we’re supposed to believe that good music is enough to distract the entire crew enough to allow six people to take over the ship. Also it really shouldn’t be that easy to take over the ship from auxiliary control when you’re not even in Starfleet!

Star Trek, original series, season 3, The Way to Eden

The episode has its moments—Skip Homeier’s portrayal of Sevrin is actually pretty good (though his psychotic break at the end is poorly done), Charles Napier has a superb singing voice (and in general, the songs are fun, at least), and I like the very Twilight Zone-esque twist that Eden is actually deadly to human life.

But overall, this is the episode with the space hippies. Nothing more need be said.


Warp factor rating: 3

Next week:Requiem for Methuselah

Keith R.A. DeCandido is no Herbert. Do we reach?


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