Thursday, May 8, 2014

Trek Thursday: The Way to Eden

#67. The Way to Eden

Hippie cultists from hell.
In case you forgot: Space hippies hijack the Enterprise to search for Eden. Spoiler alert: Eden is really a poisonous death trap full of acid! (Not the kind that would interest space hippies.) The leader of the space hippie cult also carries a virus that might well destroy any available life on this theoretical Eden planet, but he really does not give a fuck.

It was tempting to judge this episode based on the merits of the idea, rather than its execution. Unlike the previous episodes we've seen, Way to Eden at least has somewhat compelling ideas behind it: the Enterprise has to manage a threat from within that ultimately turns out to need their help at the end. There was a lot of potential with Dr. Sevrin (leader of the space hippies) and his bacterial infection—science says if he even finds Eden, the disease he carries will destroy it; Sevrin is convinced that he'll be cured.

But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and good ideas poorly executed. A great character study could have been done with Sevrin—is he arrogant? desperate? delusional? the future equivalent of people who think vitamins will cure their cancer? We don't know and it's not because of some juicy, well-staged ambiguity, but because the script touches on his predicament for all of two minutes. Instead the episode gets padded out with some of the worst filler in all of Trek history: singing space hippies.

This one comes from my homegirl and HBIC D. C. Fontana, but she was so displeased with the results a pen name went on the final script. It's episodes like these where I'd love to see the original idea filmed, before executive meddling kicked in.

Edit, afterthought: JV and I sat down to watch Star Trek V: The Final Frontier a couple of days ago. There are some parallels between that movie (which I shouldn't like, according to the Even–Odd Rule, but I'm a rebel) and this episode. While The Final Frontier lacks a true analogue for Sevrin (Spock's half-brother is a cult leader, but he has no disease that might destroy his Space Eden), it tackles the "hijack the Enterprise to take it to Space Paradise" theme in a much more satisfying manner.

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