Thursday, March 17, 2016

Episode Review - The Way to Eden (Original Series, Season 3)

Again, as requested, and on the heels of one of Star Trek's best original series episodes, I give you one of the worst (in my humble opinion, of course). Please know that such episodes in Star Trek are few and far between (off the top of my head there are only a precious handful of those that will earn this dubious ranking). Enjoy the read, and feel free to request any episode you would like! Oh, and the next episode review will feature a special guest writer/blogger/Trekker/old friend.

Episode Overview – The Enterprise rescues a group of intergalactic hippies, including the son of a prominent ambassador and an old girlfriend of Chekov's, who attempt to take control of the ship so that they may find the legendary planet of Eden. They succeed, and reach the mythical planet where they learn that their paradise is not what it appears to be.

Episode Score – 0/10. This is a painful episode for me to watch. Keeping in mind that the 1960s saw the height of the hippie movement in western culture, this attempt to recreate it seems forced and derivative. The music sung by the group is annoying, as are their colloquialisms and mannerisms (to this day, the name “Herbert” is uncomfortable for me to use). I also find it difficult to believe that a Federation starship could get so distracted by a concert of questionable music that it allows this band of misfits to take over the ship. There is also some poor editing (look for the scene on Eden where Kirk’s insignia appears on the wrong side of his shirt and some scenes of crew members collapsing that were taken from the episode “Spock’s Brain”). I tried to find something in this that I could use as a mercy or pity point, but sadly, I couldn't.

Relevance – 0 points. There was nothing that was relevant in this episode. No impact on future events or references to past events.

Continuity – 0 points. There was little, if anything, that contributed to the continuity of the Trek universe or story continuity. Some of the editing mistakes hurt the story continuity greatly. Universe continuity gets a hit as the Federation, an establishment of exploration and peaceful unity throughout the galaxy, is crammed into some sort of corrupt government agency by the space hippies that according to them it is a very different organization from what Star Trek has been promoting the last 3 seasons. And that is not mentioning the fact that they were able to turn a ship-wide concert broadcast into the most successful attempt to commandeer the Enterprise. I mean, genetically modified supermen under the leadership of Khan couldn't do it. Kang and his crew of Klingon warriors couldn't do it. How in the Milky Way did these space hippies do it? I'm not sure if that counts against the Universe continuity or the story continuity, so I will happily deduct both points for it. What greatly detracted from and even contradicts the continuity is in the characters. Walter Koenig has expressed that the episode was poorly written for Chekov’s character and that it was not how Chekov was originally seen.

Character Development – 1 point. I suppose that we can give this story a point for the development of Chekov as he has more to do, but it is a stretch. Walter Koenig himself has said that this episode was written in a way that was inconsistent with his character, so I can only give it the one point.

Social Commentary – 1 point. The hippie movement is no longer relevant to life today, although there will always be similar counter-culture movements (currently hipsters, I believe) that seek to rise against the establishment. The problem is that they are presented in a way that was foreign to the hippies of the 60s, and now are just plain goofy and annoying.

Cool Factor – 1 point. Honestly, I did not find much that was cool about this episode. I would say that Charles Napier, a veteran actor of many great TV series and films (including “Silence of the Lambs”, “Rambo”, “The Simpsons”, “Mission: Impossible”, and many others) would thankfully reappear in the Trek universe in an episode of DS9 called “Little Green Men”, more than 25 years later. That is a mercy for a talented actor to not be linked to only this episode, and could be seen as being cool (OK, here is the pity point I mentioned earlier).

Rank – Crewman (3 points) Not a good episode. I actually felt a bit embarrassed when I watched this with my wife for her first time. Feel free to watch it once to say you have seen Trek at its worst, but feel equally free to skip over it altogether.

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