TOS 3.20: The Way to Eden

Subtitle: tbh Starfleet is also a cult

Notes

This episode was requested by my patron (and brother), JdB. It’s a wacky third season romp that is usually described, with derision, as “hippies steal the Enterprise”. It reminds me a lot of the TNG episode “Journey’s End”. There Wesley, like Irina, leaves Starfleet to join the Traveller, a charismatic scientist, and live without technology on a planet in Cardassian space.

But what’s really great about this episode is how much Spock respects the Edenites. He takes them and their beliefs seriously, admires their intelligence and talent, and helps them communicate with the Captain. And because Kirk trusts Spock, he listens, and he comes around.

Plague, Poison, and the Prime Directive

The novel virus subplot seems particularly timely. Especially the part where McCoy has to check the entire crew for infection because even though they should have gotten vaccinated, there’s no guarantee. And the part where Severin refuses to accept the virus is a real threat or that Eden is not the cure.

Technology as an enemy is a longstanding sci-fi trope that reoccurs in Star Trek all the time. Various computers and robots and drones are always trying to take over the ship. The Borg are of one of Trek’s greatest villains. Episodes have addressed the environmental dangers of warp speed and terraforming. Evil AI was the plot of the last two seasons on Trek on TV (Discovery‘s second season and Picard‘s first). The Prime Directive, Starfleet General Order One, is ‘protect primitives from big bad technology’.

The twist here is that nature is also the enemy. And Spock, along with the (adorable) romance between Pavel and Irina, provide the balm: coexistence, respect, balance. Harmony. That’s the way to Eden.

Bonus:

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