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, broadcast on 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 pursuit of the stolen space cruiser Aurora. The Enterprise locks onto the ship with a tractor beam, but the Aurora continues to accelerate, straining its engines and threatening its destruction. The six humanoid passengers are safely beamed aboard the Enterprise just as the Aurora explodes. The group consists of Tongo Rad, son of the Catullan ambassador; Irina Galliulin, an acquaintance of Ensign Chekov; Dr. Sevrin, a noted electronics researcher; Adam, a musician; and two other women.

In responses to Kirk's questions, Dr. Sevrin says their destination is the planet "Eden", which Kirk responds is a myth. The group refuse to co-operate with Kirk, calling him "Herbert", but are impressed by First Officer Spock, who is familiar with their movement. They are persuaded to go to Sickbay for a medical examination, and Spock explains to Kirk that "Herbert" refers to an 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, a product of artificial environments. Sevrin is quarantined in the brig, and insists during an interview with Spock that the planet Eden will somehow "cleanse" him. Spock attempts to reason with Sevrin and offers to help him find Eden in exchange for his cooperation, but concludes that Sevrin is not sane.

The rest of the group hatch a plan to take over the ship. Chekov, assigned to locate Eden, reveals to Irina that the ship can be navigated from Auxiliary Control. After spending some time engaging with the crew, the group put on a music concert, during which Tongo Rad frees Sevrin. They then take over Auxiliary Control and put the Enterprise on course for Eden. On arrival at the planet, located in Romulan territory, Sevrin renders all Enterprise crew unconscious with an ultrasonic frequency broadcast through the intercom.

When the crew regain consciousness, they discover that Sevrin and his followers have stolen a shuttlecraft.[1] Kirk deactivates Sevrin's sonic device, and then joins Spock, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and Chekov in a search for the group.

The scene into which they materialize is lush and beautiful. However, all the plant life secretes a powerful acid, as Chekov discovers when he touches a flower. The team soon find Adam, lying dead from poisonous fruit. Sevrin and the other survivors are then found in the shuttlecraft, all with burns on their feet. Kirk says they must leave, but Sevrin runs from the shuttle, bites into one of the fruits, and dies.

Back on the Enterprise, Irina comes to the bridge to say goodbye to Chekov. Spock advises her and her friends 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 "Girl #1", 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]