Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, April 20, 2015

Season 3, Episode 75 "The Way To Eden"


"The Way To Eden"
Production Order: 75
Air Order: 75
Stardate: 5832.3
Original Air Date: February 21, 1969

"Hey, Lady Archon - what is this week's episode about?"
"Hippies."
"Sorry?"
"Hippies. They take over the Enterprise."
"Hippies... in space?"
"Yep, space hippies."
"You cannot be serious."
"I am. And sadly, so was Star Trek."

*******


This week's episode starts with some shots of another, smaller ship in space, and it was driving me nuts where I'd seen that ship before. It's a completely different ship in the remastered version, and I went looking to see if I could find a side-by-side shot (I couldn't). Fortunately, in the comments section of a review of the remastered shots, I found the answer to why that ship seemed so familiar: it's a Tholian ship with warp nacelles added. I'm kind of torn: is this a clever reuse of a model that was only used in one episode, or a quick, goofy retooling of a ship that eagle-eyed fans would notice anyway? Maybe both?
So back to the actual episode: this ship is the Aurora, and it's been stolen. The E has been chasing it down. Spock says there are six people aboard. They try to hail the hail the ship, but because Lt Palmer is sitting at communications instead of Uhura, they get no response. (I guess I don't hate Palmer, but I dislike when she replaces Uhura, because Uhura is the shit.) The ship is overheating, and Kirk barks over the comm line that the people on the Aurora best recognize that they're all gonna die. The ship blows up, but Scotty has managed to beam them off just in time.


Kirk's Log 5832.3: "So we were asked by the Catullan government to get back the son of their ambassador. We found him with some other people on a stolen ship, which has exploded in space, so we've taken them onboard with us. We have to go carefully, because negotiations with Catula are under way and kind of delicate."

The people from the Aurora get off the transporter pad and sit on the floor. When Kirk calls Scotty and asks him to take these people to the briefing room, they start chanting "No go! No go!" Kirk can hear them over the comm, on the bridge. Chekov thinks that he recognizes one of the voices.
"The hell?" asks Kirk, and he hauls his butt out of his chair and heads for the transporter room.
When he gets there, he asks to speak to Tongo Rad, the guy with the purple eyebrows and hair. He tells this guy that he isn't under arrest for causing an interstellar incident and stealing a starship, precisely because he's the son of an ambassador.
"Whatever," says Tongo Rad, and he sits back down.


Every now and again, I'm forced to take a less-than-stellar screencap in order to show something specific that has caught my eye. In this case, it's Tongo Rad's body paint. Now, I don't dislike body paint. It's pretty freaking awesome, actually. But here... all of the space hippies seem to have some body paint on them. On the girls, it tends to be on their legs. On the guys, they each have a design on their foreheads. The guy called Dr Sevrin has a vine and some flowers. That's fine, especially when we're talking about hippies. The guy called Adam is sporting a bluebird on his forehead. A little goofy, but okay. Still in keeping with the hippy theme. Tongo Rad... has a bunch of grapes painted on his forehead.
For serious.
Grapes. With a leaf.
It reminds me of a scene from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt": "I have a temporary tattoo that says You're Grape!"
Maybe Tongo Rad thinks he's pretty grape, too.

Kirk tells Spock to take the group to sick bay to checked for radiation poisoning from the ship exploding, but Spock wants to talk to them first. He addresses the group by holding his hands in a triangle form and intoning "One." They repeat it back, obviously willing to talk to him because he knows the secret password. He asks what their plan is, and after a bit of run-around, they tell him that they are trying to find a planet called Eden. Kirk breaks in to say that no such place exists. because of his orders concerning Tongo Rad, he's going to treat them like guests, give them medical check-ups, and issue them quarters, where they will wait until they can be taken to their nearest starbase, and then delivered back to their respective planets. 
"No, take us to Eden," says Dr Sevrin, who is getting angry with Kirk.
"Dude, fuck you guys," says Kirk. "This isn't some Princess Cruise! You're gonna hang out on the E, then you're going home!"
He exits the transporter room, followed by chants of "Herbert! Herbert! Herbert!"

I'm pretty sure that, other than Spock, this is the first time we've seen
ear prosthetics used on Star Trek to denote that someone is an alien.
In this case, Dr Sevrin is from the planet Tiburon.

Back on the bridge, Kirk takes care of some communication business with Palmer (tell Starfleet they have the people who stole the Aurora, the Aurora then blew up, tell the Catulan ambassador that his son is safe), then swings by the helm. Chekov is pretty sure that one girl from the hippy group is Irina, a girl he attended Starfleet Academy with. Irina dropped out of the Academy, and Kirk is surprised that anyone from that group could have possibly been in Starfleet.
"Dude, go see if it's her."
Chekov thanks Kirk and exits quickly. This seems kind of weird to me. I mean, it's nice that Kirk is allowing Chekov to satisfy his curiosity that the group might contain someone he is familiar with, but it seems like a pretty loose way to run a ship. I feel like in most cases, your CO is gonna make you finish your shift before running off to see if your friend is on board. Also, navigation is now wide-open. Someone has to be found on the bridge to fill that spot while Chekov is gone, and someone has to be shifted in that other person's spot. And so on.
 Spock returns to the bridge after taking the group to sick bay. Spock tells him that the group is headed by Dr Sevrin (the guy with the ears), who is a brilliant man who worked with sound on his native homeworld, but was fired when he started the group. Kirk seems incredulous that Sevrin is smart.
"Tongo Rad is also fucking smart," says Spock, who seems mildly put-out that Kirk made such snap judgments. "They are rejecting the pre-planned society, and want to live simpler lives."
"But that's not smart! We lived simpler lives back when we were not smart!" Kirk protests.
"It's about balance," Spock replies. "You can live simply and still be smart."
"How come they like you so much?" Kirk asks.
"Because I'm not a condescending dillhole?" suggests Spock. "Maybe it's because their need to live simpler than the rest of society makes them feel like aliens at home, and I know what that feels like."



*low whistle* Somebody wrapped the Lesson Hammer in velvet there. What's more, they did it in a clever way. If you're going to have a logical guy like Spock get along with people who are part of a counter-culture, there needs to be another reason beyond "They were nice to me." In this case, "I respond to these people because we share the feeling of being different in a place where everyone is the same" is a good one because it plays on the fact that Spock shares genetics from two very different species, and must deal with it when either of those species looks at him sideways. Somebody bothered to turn this into a bit of character development for Spock.
What's more, the counter culture isn't portrayed as a horrible thing here. Spock gets along with these people because he can see their point of view. Now add to it that he lives within a military-based construct, on a show that aired in the late sixties, when military and counter-culture where viewed as polar opposites.
This is what makes this show good: even when you run across crappy episodes like this (no joke - I must have read half a dozen confessions online where people declared themselves to be embarrassed to be Trek fans when this episode came up), you're still getting little flashes of brilliance.

This scene actually comes to an end when Kirk, realizing that he has been a total dillhole, asks what a "Herbert" is.
"Herbert was some minor official who was an unyielding dick and insisted that his way of doing things was the only way," Spock explains. "They called you out for being a dick to them."
"Okay, so maybe I need to be less of a dick," admits Kirk.
Yes, boy. yes.

Down in sick, we are invited to a hippy jam. The guy called Adam plays this sort of harp-guitar thing that looks like a cosplay sword with strings. The others in the group enjoy the music, then Christine comes in to get Sevrin for his physical. (Her line this week is "You're next" and I'm so, so glad that they made better use of Majel Barrett on TNG, cuz this is crap.)
Irina is glad to see Chekov, and they take a walk so they can talk without the others staring them down. He's weirded out that she's become a member of this group. She thinks it's weird that he's in Starfleet. But when she asks if he's happy, and he replies that he is, she seems fine with it.

The other dark-haired hippy girl is the same actor who played
Yeoman Mears on "The Galileo Seven". Sadly, she doesn't get
a name this time around. She's just "Girl #2."

They kind of dance around the idea that there was a prior romantic relationship between these two, the basic gist of which is that Irina and Chekov probably met at the Academy and were involved, but then Irina left and stayed with some friends. Chekov says that she always seemed to be somewhere else in her mind, and was never fully engaged in the relationship. She tells Chekov that she feels that he has two sides to him: the side that wants to fall inline with everyone else, and the side that wants to break free of that. She encourages him to "break free," and he sighs and replies, "Go to your friends." But when she leaves, there's immediately a commotion in the corridor and Chekov rushes to see what's up.


After the commercial break, Christine gets another line ("I thought they kept all the animals in cages!") and Kirk goes into sick bay to see why there's a riot out in the corridor. It turns out that Sevrin is a carrier for some super bug that's come about because the current society is hella sterile. Sevrin is immune to it, but it's a Typhoid Mary thing: he can give it to others, which means that if they do actually ever establish a colony somewhere, he might inadvertently kill everyone. Sevrin is fuming, and declares that Bones is just passing judgment on him. Kirk asks if the crew is at risk, but Bones says no, because there's an inoculation for it and everyone onboard is up to date with their shots. Probably the hippies are as well, he thinks.
God, this isn't going to be a vaccine episode, is it? I'm getting really tired of that conversation.
Bones recommends isolation while he checks everyone to make sure they've had their boosters.
"You invented the crime, and now you're going to punish me for it!" Sevrin yells. "You're violating my rights by practicing your medicine on me!"
Yeah, Bones is not putting up with that shit: "Bitch, you knew you had this from the get-go! You're a scientist!"
Kirk orders isolation.


He strolls out of sick bay after ordering a guard put on Sevrin in isolation, and the hippies are calmly sitting on the floor in the corridor. They make the triangle sign at him. He sees Sulu down the corridor talking to Girl #2. Sulu seems to be enjoying the attention as Girl2 tries to talk him into joining their group.
"Hey, Sulu, WTF?" asks Kirk.
Yeah, seriously - WTF? How come every time there's something to distract Sulu from his duties, his head turns? Drugs? Sure, he'll do drugs. How about an illness that makes you seem drunk? Yeah, he's totally susceptible to that. Join a weird-ass cult? Absolutely, he'll take a flyer. My complaint here is that none of this seems to gel with what else we know about Sulu, which is mostly that he's a good officer, a great helmsman, and a decent role model to the headstrong Chekov.
"We're cool," Sulu tells Kirk.
Kirk announces to the group that Sevrin will be let out of isolation when Bones is certain that everyone is protected from the disease that he is carrying. This is actually a rational idea, but I guess they want us to think that the group is irrational, because Adam hops up with his guitar-sword and starts another hippy jam, "Stiff Man Putting My Mind in Jail." The others get up and chant "Herbert" at Kirk as he, Chekov and Sulu climb into the lift. 


Once back on the bridge, Scotty calls to let Kirk know that one of the girls had come down to engineering to recruit more guys to her group. He gave her the boot. Kirk asks Spock to "deal with them."

Kirk's Log 5832.5: "I hate these people. They suck."

Down in isolation, Spock appeals to Sevrin to keep his people in check while on the E.
"Here's the thing," he says. "Right now, you're not being charged with anything. But if you guys start some kind of revolution, you will be. Now, I can use the E's computers and stuff to try to suss out this mythological planet that you're looking for, but the Federation is not gonna let you guys settle it if you're charged with being revolutionaries."
Sevrin goes on a rant about how he knew full well about his carrying a crappy disease, and how he's restricted to only traveling in places of high technology because the people there are most likely to be innoculated against it, but he's pissed off about it. He doesn't have the freedom to move about as he'd like to. Also, he's blaming society for basically bringing about the disease in the first place. He wants to go to places where the people live simply. Spock points out that he may kill those people accidentally, but Sevrin is certain that being among those people will cure him. He ends his rant calmly, asking Spock if he is expected to be patient while medical technology finds a cure. Spock says yes. Then he asks if he should tell his peeps to be good because Spock will find them a place to live, and Spock agrees again. Sevrin says to send them in, and he will talk to them.

Oh, man. let's talk about that egg badge. All of the people in the
group wear those, and Girl2 tried to give one to Sulu. It's a little stuffed
hard boiled egg with an infinity symbol on the yolk. I'm not sure what it
means, but I swear that infinity symbol looks like glasses, officially
making it more hip-ster than hip-py looking. Ten bucks says that
Roomie will ask me to make one for her.

Back on the bridge, Spock reports to Kirk that he thinks Sevrin might be insane. I'm not sure what gave him that impression, beyond his belief that simplistic people will cure him, but whatever.
"Dude, I'm sorry," says Kirk. "I know you thought that guy was hella smart, but apparently he just cray-cray."
"Yeah, no," Spock responds. "Just cuz that dude is losing his marbles doesn't mean that their ideas don't have merit. Get over yourself."
Kirk rings Bones and asks him to run to psychological tests on Sevrin.

Kirk's Log 5283.6: "Bones is going through Sevrin's medical records, to see if he's actually nuts or not. He hates me, but he told Spock that he would try to get his followers to behave."

Spock is working at the computer console in his quarters when Adam comes in. Adam is stoked to Spock's Vulcan lyre on a shelf, and he asks if Spock can play. Spock sets his work aside to strum for a moment, and Adam excitedly asks if they can have a ship-wide hippy jam session. Spock agrees.

Chekov is down in auxiliary control when Irina comes in. She says she's been looking for him, and asks what room they are in. He explains that they control the ship from that room if some bad shit goes down on the bridge.
"Cool," she says nonchalantly. "So hey - sorry I gave you shit earlier about being in Starfleet. That was super-crappy of me. What are you working on?"
"I'm helping Spock look for your mythological planet," he replies.
They're kind of standing too close together, and Chekov is clearly losing his cool, as he starts rattling off scientific-sounding stuff that seems to make little sense.
They start making out, but then Spock cock-blocks them when he calls to say that he's no longer getting the info that Chekov is supposed to be sending.


So this is the part where the "we-just-want-to-start-our-own-colony-and-live-simply" hippies disappear and the weird-ass cult members show up. Girls 1 and 2 are kicking it with Adam in the rec room when Tongo Rad comes in and says that he's been talking to Sulu, who is a weapons specialist, and also a botanist. He goes on about how much he likes botany, but why the fuck did he mention the weapons specialty? Adam says he's been talking to Spock, and that he thinks he can get the Vulcan to join them. Irina rushes in to say that the computers onboard the E have all of the information that they need. 



"We should get a bunch of people to join us!" says Adam. "Be friendly, and they'll join."
The others agree. They look high as fuck. Then we get a creepy zoom-in on Dr Sevrin in isolation.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


When we come back, the crew is gathering in the rec room for the hippy jam session. So we listen to that for a few minutes. I'm not really sure what the song is about, like maybe togetherness or something? It's that typical rambling sixties hippy music. You know the kind. It's being broadcast over the PA for some reason, so you can see Sevrin in isolation smiling while the music plays. A dude on the bridge plays air drums. 



Spock and Chekov show up for the session. Spock has his lyre, and he and the blonde girl sit down to jam. She's playing a musical bike tire or something, and I can see on her arm that she has the grapes painted on as well. WTF is up with these grapes?


Sevrin's guard is rocking out to the jam session music, and Tongo Rad comes up behind him and does this sort of Vulcan nerve pinch, only he grabs him behind the ears or something. The guard goes down. Okay, there are grapes on the back of Sevrin's head. So we have grapes and eggs with glasses and flowers. What the hell kind of cult is this?
On the bridge, Scotty busts the guy playing air drums, and scowls at the back of Sulu's head while the helmsman rocks out. He complains to Kirk about young people. Scotty is one AARP commercial from yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Tongo Rad and Sevrin go into auxiliary control and do a similar pinch thing to the ears of the Red in that chair. Then they turn the ship around. The rest of the cult join them.
On the bridge, Sulu reports that he is no longer in control of the helm.
"Ha! I took your ship!" crows Sevrin over the PA. "I have control over everything, including life support, and I locked the doors to auxiliary control so you can't get in. We're taking this ship to Eden, and if you try to stop us, I'll blow us all up!"
"Holy fuck," says Sulu, "we're going into Romulan territory."
Kirk tries to warn the cult that the Romulans will attack them if they go much further into that space, but they just laugh. Then he tries to warn them that Sevrin is nuts, but again, they laugh it off. Spock attempts to tell Adam directly that he can access a file that says that Sevrin carries this disease, and another that says he's completely off his rocker.
"Oh, that's tragic," says Adam. "I'm crying a river."
Tongo Rad says that Spock and Chekov had actually located Eden, and they can make it in about three hours. Sevrin, deciding that Kirk & Co will try to convince them to turn around in the meantime, decides to screw with some wiring. Adam gets out his guitar-sword and sings a song about going to Eden, yay brother. This is like the fourth or fifth hippy jam song that we've heard in this episode. And like the flashing red alert from "Let That be Your Last Battlefield", I hope they never come up in another episode again.


Thy're closing in on Eden, and Irina asks Sevrin what he did to the wiring. Sevrin tells her that he adjusted some stuff so that the ship's PA will broadcast a sound above ultrasonic, which will knock out the crew so the cult can escape to the surface in a shuttle.
"Um, I think a sound that high-pitched will actually kill them," says Irina. "I remember that from my days at the Academy."
"No, it's cool," says Sevrin. "I'm an expert, so I know better than you."
"Yeah... I also think it will kill them," says Tongo Rad.
"Y'all, could you please STFU?" Sevrin demands. "I got this."
Girl #1 looks uneasy, as do Tongo Rad and Irina, but Adam and Girl2 are still gung-ho. Sevrin manages to convince them that they are still peace-loving hippies, and not Kool-Aid-drinking, Jim-Jones-following creepy cultists.
Oops, it looks like the E crew is now phasering their way through the door. So Sevrin unleashes his new weapon. Someone (possibly Leonard Nimoy) recalls that Spock has hella-awesome hearing, and that this crazy high-pitched sound would affect him first. He crumples against the wall. After a moment, Kirk follows suit. Scotty is already on the floor. People all over the ship are shown passing out. Adam and the others continue singing the Yay, Brother song over the PA. They take a shuttlecraft to the surface.


Kirk struggles to his feet after the break, and Spock instructs him to shut off the ultrasonic noise in auxiliary control. He does so, and begins calling different parts of the ship. No one answers at first, but then Sulu replies back that power is still in auxiliary control, and the hangar calls to say that a shuttle is gone. Spock does a scan. No Romulans in sight, but he sees the shuttle on the surface. Except for the cult, there are no people or animals on this planet. Kirk has the transporter set so that they will beam down near the shuttle, but no within eyesight of the cult. Not sure how that's possible, but whatever.
Scotty is in charge. 
"If you encounter any Romulans, tell them we're just chasing down some AWOL hippies. Get them to understand," Kirk tells him.
*snort* Yeah, right. "Hippies, Praetor? They're like counter-culture? No? Okay."

So our boys in blue beam down with Chekov in tow and look around. They used some old footage from "Shore Leave", which matches oddly with the rest of their in-studio set.

Shore Leave

Studio set

And while I normally hate the remastering of scenes on this show, the shot they used to replace the one from "Shore Leave" is absolutely gorgeous:


They spread out to scan and look for the cult, but are pulled together again when Chekov touches a flower, and it fucking fries his hand.
"The hell?" asks Bones, scanning it. "All of the plant life here - even the grass - is hella acidic. Our clothes will protect us for a little while."
Spock stumbles upon the body of Adam, who had clearly bit into a piece of fruit from a tree.
"He's dead, Jim."
"His name was Adam, you dillhole," Spock reminds Kirk, because you know that he's pretty sure that Kirk has forgotten.


They spot the shuttle a little ways off and head for it. The rest of the cult members are inside, with feet burned all to hell. Recall, if you will, that all of the cult members, with the exception of Adam, were barefoot, and they were walking around on the grass. The away team helps the cult members out of the shuttle, and Kirk calls for a beam-up, because Bones can't heal that shit here.
"No way," says Sevrin. "Not leaving. This is Eden. We have arrived."
And he climbs a tree, picks one of those crazy-ass fruits and takes a big ol' honkin' bite out of it before crumpling up and falling out of the tree, dead.
Irina realizing that the flavor of Kool-Aid that she's been drinking is Berry Crazy, and she sobs on Chekov's shoulder.


Back on the bridge, Kirk tells Palmer to tell Starfleet that they have the four remaining hippies, and that they are getting medical treatment.
"So, hey," Chekov tells Kirk. "I was kind of a dick during this mission. I'm sorry. I wasn't doing my job to the best of my abilities, and I'll totally take a hit on my permanent record for it."
"Naw, we're cool," says Kirk.
Irina enters the bridge from the lift, and she and Chekov say goodbye.
"Don't be a jerk, break some rules sometimes," she tells him.
"Yeah, well, you should follow some rules sometimes," he responds. 
They kiss. Spock cock-blocks them again when he comes up to say goodbye to Irina.
"I hope you continue your search for Eden," he says. "I think you'll either find it, or make it, and I think the goal is a good one."
She thanks him, and leaves.
Kirk approaches Spock.
"We reach," he says, attempting to use some of the hippy lingo. He only succeeds in sounding like a douchebag.


So I have some issues with this episode. I know they were going for "hippies in space," but they ended up more with "what happens when lovely, pacifistic people are lead astray by dicks," because frankly, that's going to happen when you have a group of people who yearning for some kind of utopia: you're gonna have some person who sees a chance to take advantage of that shit because a group of people like that who are looking for a leader are gonna be kind of vulnerable, and will sometimes slip into a space where they just do as they're told, thinking they'll get that ultimate reward.
 Also, who noticed the almost cliche hippy way that Adam and Sevrin died, and that the others were hurt? They were burned by acid. Get it? GET IT? It's a clunky way of mentioning that some members of the hippy revolution took acid. It's also supposed to tie back in with Timothy Leary, the guy on whom Sevrin was loosely based. Leary was also a very smart guy with a PhD, who was into acid during the counter-culture years. Ugh. What a weird-ass mish-mash of stuff in this episode. Hippies and cults, and that go-nowhere B plot about Sevrin being a carrier of some disease that everyone on board was already innoculated against - they really just needed a reason to keep him locked away, but it was wholly unnecessary to the story to keep him from his followers, anyway.
My other problem with this episode is mostly that it feels really, really dated. Do we still have hippies? Totally. Roomie is kind of a hippy. But there isn't the sort of head-butting now that there was then, making the Us vs Them approach taken here feel unnecessary. Spock's attitude of "let's just find them this place and leave them alone" actually seems more at home now than it probably did then. Some Star Trek episodes deal with issues that we still struggle with, and they remain relevant because of that. This episode just feels like a short, weird trip.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 6
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 7
Total crew deaths thus far: 49

Just Dr Sevrin and Adam. Gonna assume that those Reds they took out were just fine later. Ditto on the people who fainted during the ultrasonic.

*******

So my neighborhood grocer store was bought by another grocery company, and now that store has been replaced with another store. Same crummy-looking store, different signage, more expensive snacks. What it does have is a bigger tea selection, which is nice. This week I grabbed a box of the Full Circle+Project 7 Organic Pomegranate White Tea. I've only seen a few of these products, but they appear to be paired with the Feed the Hungry people, because they'll tell you how many boxes of tea you need to buy to provide a meal for a hungry person. (Although I couldn't find anywhere on the box that specifically says that they are directly donating money or supplies to feed hungry people. I maybe wouldn't buy this product based only on that unless you can find somewhere that says how their philanthropy works. I'm not saying they're lying about it or anything, I'm just saying that there are dicks out there who will say they're supporting some group or another, when really, they're just using that to sell stuff.)
Anyway, I tried this tea hot, cold, and as a tea-sicle. (That's right, muthafuckas, it's tea-sicle season!) It was great all three ways, though with tea-sicles, you need to make an extra-strong brew. It's light enough to be refreshing, but fruity enough that you can taste the pomegranate.

Not the flavor tea I drank, but they didn't have a photo of that flavor.





My pattern now. Get your own.


1 comment:

  1. I always thought Kirk's "We reach" (yes, it sounded really dumb) at the end was a sign that was trying to compromise with and understand the hippies, as well as his way of telling Spock that he was sympathetic and understanding of his feelings of alienation from both his species. Although really, a lot of that is Spock's own fault, as it's shown that pretty much everyone onboard actually loves him and his antics, and even find his racist remarks about humans hilarious for the most part, and it's his own actions and inabilities that keep him isolated from them. A corny line that is sort of touching, I guess, while showing how out of touch Kirk really was with those people.

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