The Way to Eden

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"The Way to Eden"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 20
Directed by David Alexander
Story by Arthur Heinemann
Michael Richards
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Featured music Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Al Francis
Production code 075
Original air date February 21, 1969 (1969-02-21)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Requiem for Methuselah"
Next →
"The Cloud Minders"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Way to Eden" is the twentieth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek was broadcast February 21, 1969. It was written by Arthur Heinemann, based on a story by Heinemann and D. C. Fontana (using the pen name "Michael Richards"), and directed by David Alexander.

In the episode, the Enterprise is hijacked by a madman-scientist and his fanatical, hippie-like followers who are blindly obsessed in finding a mythical planet of perpetual paradise.


On stardate 5832.3, the Federation starship USS Enterprise is in hot pursuit of the stolen space cruiser Aurora, which is heading into the dangerous Romulan Neutral Zone, with Tongo Rad (the son of the Catuallan ambassador) on board. The Enterprise locks onto the ship with a tractor beam, but the Aurora tries to flee, with the craft already straining with pushed engines, the vessel begins to break up.

Captain Kirk orders the transporter room to lock on the passengers and beam them aboard immediately. As the Aurora explodes, the six humanoid passengers are safely brought aboard the Enterprise. Kirk heads down to meet with them and is shocked by their wild appearance, the six beings are barefoot, dressed in lavish robes and colorful tunics. Despite their close brush with death, they appear completely calm and relaxed as if nothing has happened.

The group identifies themselves, starting with Tongo Rad (whose presence must be handled carefully, owing to the delicate relationship between the Federation and the people of Catualla), Irina Galliulin (a Starfleet Academy dropout and a former love interest of Ensign Chekov), Dr. Sevrin (a noted communications and electronics researcher from Tiburon, who specializes in the theories of sonic manipulation), Adam (a popular musician), and two other women.

The group shows a disrespect for authority and demands to be taken to a planet they call "Eden" (a reference to the Biblical Garden of Eden). Eden's existence is believed to be a myth, however, the group refuses to co-operate with Kirk, calling him "Herbert". However, the group is impressed by First Officer Spock, who understands their philosophy. Spock makes an oval "symbol of peace" hand gesture and simply says: "One", the group responds with the same gesture: "We are one." They ask Spock: "Are you One, Herbert?" Spock replies that he is not Herbert, and Adam declares: "He's not Herbert. We reach!" Having developed a respect for Spock's straightforwardness, the group agrees to go to Sickbay for a medical examination. Meanwhile, Spock explains to Kirk that "Herbert" is a derogatory term for a rigid, hidebound person, named from an unimaginative "minor official", notorious for his "limited patterns of thought".

Medical scans reveal the party to be in good health, except for Dr. Sevrin, who is a carrier of the Synthecoccus novae virus, which has been accidentally created by technological society, the disease is fatal to anyone who hasn't been vaccinated, but he nonetheless insists that the planet of Eden will somehow "cleanse" him, and that his group will build a new civilization, the likes of which the galaxy has never seen before. After interviewing him, Spock concludes that Sevrin is clinically insane.

Kirk orders Sevrin to be quarantined to prevent the virus's spread; however, his group loudly protests the decision, insulting Kirk further with a song. Spock attempts to reason with Sevrin and offers to help him find Eden in exchange for his cooperation, stating that he empathizes with the group: "There is no insanity in what they seek."

Sevrin is taken to a holding cell while his group is allowed to freely walk the Enterprise, the group, however, secretly plans to take over the ship. Adam distracts the crew with a music concert, where even Mr. Spock joins in. Meanwhile, Chekov is alone with Irina, and the two revive their old feelings for each other. While Chekov is distracted, Irina manages to gain access to the ship's navigation computer.

Tongo distracts Lt. Sulu with interest in Sulu's botany project, then slips away to free Sevrin. Tongo knocks out a guard and lets Sevrin out of his cell, the group heads down to auxiliary control and changes the Enterprise's course for Eden. Once the crew realize what is happening, Sevrin renders all Enterprise crew unconscious with an ultrasonic frequency broadcast through the intercom.

Once the Enterprise arrives at Eden, a planet inside Romulan territory, Sevrin and his followers steal the Galileo II shuttlecraft and head down to the planet.[1] Kirk manages to reach auxiliary control and deactivates Sevrin's sonic device, he then joins Spock, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and Chekov and beams down to Eden to fetch the group.

They materialize in the middle of a lush and beautiful garden; a real "Eden" by all outward appearance. Suddenly, Chekov severely burns his hand when he touches a flower and McCoy scans his wound, it is discovered that the plant life (even the grass) secretes a powerful acid and the fruit is poisonous. McCoy informs Kirk that their clothing will protect them from the acid for a while, the team soon finds Adam, the only one of the group not barefoot, lying dead on the ground – a half-eaten fruit in his hand.

Sevrin and the other survivors are then found in the shuttlecraft, all with severe acid burns on their feet. Kirk tries once again to convince them that this "paradise" is completely uninhabitable, but Sevrin refuses to listen and bites into one of the fruits, the poison kills him in a matter of seconds.

Irina, heartbroken at how things have turned out, goes to the bridge to say goodbye to Chekov. Luckily, no Romulans arrive, and everyone returns to the Enterprise and heads back to Federation space. Spock advises her not to give up their search for Eden as he believes they will either find it, or create one for themselves.



Originally, the teleplay was titled "Joanna", and was written by D. C. Fontana, the title character being Dr. McCoy's daughter, who would become romantically involved with Captain Kirk. Later, she was changed to Irina, and Chekov, instead, was made her foil.[2] Fontana's script was so heavily rewritten that she asked her name be removed from it and replaced with her pseudonym Michael Richards, a pen name Fontana also used for the episode "That Which Survives".[3]


In a 2009 interview with The A.V. Club, Charles Napier recalled auditioning for the part of Adam, which was his first guest starring role. He won the part by jumping onto a table and singing "The House Of The Rising Sun" in front of others trying for the part.[4]


The episode has generally been seen as one of the weakest in the show's history, but its portrayal of characters representing the counter-culture of the late 1960s has produced widespread comment. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'C-' rating, describing the "space hippie" characters as "too strange and irritating for me to view them sympathetically" and finding fault with the singing, which he described as "the worst kind of padding". Handlen noted as a positive aspect that the episode did allow for the voice of dissent against the "utopia" portrayed by Star Trek;[5] in their compendium of Star Trek reviews, Trek Navigator, Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross both viewed the episode negatively, describing it as having aged badly because of the hippie characters and also noting the poor musical parts of the episode.[6] Grace Lee Whitney, who had played Janice Rand in early episodes of the show, described the episode as a "clinker" on a par with another slated third season episode "Spock's Brain".[7]

Several writers have discussed the way the episode represents the "space hippies". Aniko Bodroghkozy touched on the topic in her book Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion. In it, Bodroghkozy noted a negative and positive portrayal; on one hand Sevrin's followers have been duped and must return to "civilization, apparently contrite, chastened children". On the other, they challenged the supposed benefits and superiority of the Federation, which Bodroghkozy described as a "reading of the counterculture."[8] Timothy Brown argues that Dr. Sevrin is "a clear stand in for Timothy Leary." Like the acolytes of Leary, Charles Manson, and other counter-culture leaders, Sevrin's followers are "under the spell of charismatic but dangerously unhinged leaders" and "stand for a sixties generation in the thrall of misled idealism."[9]


In Star Trek[edit]

The original script, as written by Fontana, would have provided much background on McCoy, including an unsuccessful marriage which led him into Starfleet (which was later incorporated into the alternate reality of the 2009 film Star Trek). McCoy's backstory was later incorporated into the novels Planet of Judgment and Shadows on the Sun. Joanna herself was mentioned in the animated Star Trek episode "The Survivor", as well as being featured in the novel Crisis on Centaurus by Brad Ferguson, and was also featured in the story of a 1980 issue of the Marvel Comics Star Trek book, married to a Vulcan and still hostile to her father.

In a 2009 interview with The A.V. Club, Charles Napier recalled being invited to star again on Star Trek, as part of an anniversary celebration. He agreed to appear only if he could play a military character and not "wear that silly shirt again",[4] his next Star Trek character would be General Denning in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men".

In music[edit]

Deborah Downey, who played the blonde singer Mavig, co-wrote the music with Charles Napier (Adam), she released a version of the song "Heading Into Eden" on her album Painting Pictures. Dialogue from the episode was sampled in the song "Starface" (1992) by American heavy-metal band White Zombie. McCoy's line "All this plant life is full of acid, even the grass" provided the title for the debut album by Alice's Orb: Even The Grass Is Full Of Acid (1992),[10] the song "Long time back when the galaxy was new", sung by Adam and Mavig during the concert, has been covered by Gaye Bykers on Acid on their 2001 album Everything's Groovy, under the title "Golf Trek".


  1. ^ Galileo II on "Eden"
  2. ^ Joanna the precursor to "The Way to Eden" report & analysis by Dave Eversole
  3. ^ D.C.Fontana on IMDB
  4. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (May 18, 2009). "Charles Napier". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ Handlen, Zack (February 19, 2010). ""Requiem For Methuselah"/"Way To Eden"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  6. ^ Mark A. Altman; Edward Gross (1998). Trek Navigator. 261: Boxtree. p. 286. ISBN 0-7522-2457-3. 
  7. ^ Grace Lee Whitney Leonard Nimoy Jim Denney (1998). The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy. 113: Quill Driver Books. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-884956-03-4. 
  8. ^ Bodroghkozy, Aniko (2001). Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion. 320: Duke University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8223-2645-8. 
  9. ^ Brown, Timothy, "United States of Amnesia: 1968 in the USA" Memories of 1968: International Perspectives, Ingo Cornils, Sarah Waters (eds), Peter Lang, 2010, p.142.
  10. ^ Joachim Gaertner, They could have been bigger than EMI: a discography of now defunct independent record labels that released vinyl, Gaertner, 2007, p.483

External links[edit]