7/23/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Way to Eden"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E20
Air Date: February 21, 1969
Written by: Arthur Heinemann and Michael Richards
Directed by: David Alexander

Premise
Crazy space hippies take over the ship in their quest to find the planet Eden.

Review
The USS Aurora has been stolen and the Enterprise is on its way to capture it, but when the thieves try to escape, they overload their engines. Moments before the ship explodes, Scotty gets a transporter lock on the crew and beams them aboard. I can imagine off screen Scotty finds which one of the crazy space hippies they brought on board was responsible for engineering and scolds him for not being able to hold the engines together. In either case, one of the hippies is the son of an ambassador, so Kirk is under orders not to arrest them, but rather to retrieve them.

Another one of the members is Irina Galliulin, a former lover of one Pavel Andreievich Chekov, and a dropout of Starfleet Academy. Leading the group is Dr. Sevrin, a former professor with the worst case of cauliflower ear I've ever seen who rejects technological society and is on the quest to find the planet Eden, which Kirk asserts is a myth. The hippies pretty much just set up shop on the Enterprise and start chanting and singing as hippies do. They have stupid slang terms for everything including "Herbert" which is what they call people like Kirk who they deem too rigid.
Yeah... yeah, I know, Kirk, just... give it time.
All-in-all, their mind-numbing hippiness could be excused were it not for the musical interludes. It's like the Partridge Family in space with all the guitar driven sixties tunes going on. This is what they use to fill time until we get to the real meat of the story. Dr. Sevrin is a carrier of a disease. That's right, when Bones gives him a physical he finds that the good doctor is capable of getting his entire group sick, so even if they do find Eden, everyone will die within a year or so. Dr. Sevrin refuses to believe this and pretty much goes crazy when they quarantine him.

His ever-loyal followers, though, have a plan. Chekov's old flame walks in on him while he's working in the auxiliary control room. She pretends to to be interested in reigniting their relationship while in reality she's just gathering information. She reports back to the rest of the group that they can take over the ship from aux control and so that's what they do. They lock themselves in, take over and direct the ship toward Eden!
"Heading, sir?" "Far out, man!"
The hippies use their songs to lull the crew into a false sense of security somehow... and then knock out Dr. Sevrin's guards and free him before taking over aux control, so all the hippies are in one place. As it should be. When they get to the planet, acknowledging that their music wasn't enough to actually put anyone to sleep, they use a different kind of sound - high-pitched sound waves - to knock everyone out while they steal a shuttlecraft. Kirk and Spock, who were just outside the control room, are apparently the first to wake up from the blast, but the blast is still going on. Kirk wills himself up and acts his way into the auxiliary control room to turn off the sound pulse.

With everything back to normal, they beam down to the planet to find and recapture the hippies. What they find is idyllic paradise. Even more idyllic than all the previous paradises they had encountered in their voyages. When they look around, however, Chekov touches one of the beautiful flowers and is badly burned with acid. This is probably not a symbol for his relationship with Irina, but rather a device to move the story along... Because further examination reveals that one of the hippies has died from eating Eden's fruit.
Which probably is some kind of symbol.
All of the plant life on Eden is covered in a corrosive acid. Bones says their clothing should protect them, but don't touch anything. Meanwhile, they search further and find their shuttlecraft. Inside, they find the hippies, who, after wandering around for a while, retreated back into the shuttle when they discovered the acidic plants. Bones treats them and takes a good look at Dr. Sevrin's badly burned feet no doubt contracted from running around barefoot in the grass, as hippies do. Bones says they can't stay, but Sevrin refuses to believe it. He runs off, climbs a tree and eats a ripe fruit... and promptly dies.

Later, dropping the hippies off at a starbase, Spock tells them to continue their quest to find Eden. He says that he has no doubt they will either find it, or make it for themselves.

Overall Thoughts
Were it not for the musical interludes, this episode would be pretty great. The bad guys were unlikable and the good guys won - just how it should be. But in the meantime, it told a good story about finding your personal paradise, and not mistaking any substitute for it. Surely it wasn't the greatest episode of the series, after all, it's the only episode James Doohan didn't like. But... I mean, c'mon... crazy space hippies; am I right?