Space Hippies

An insightful analysis of the infamous Star Trek episode [YouTube excerpts] by qadmos, resident of France (where American culture is explained to unreflective and/or amnesiac Americans):

"The way to Eden," one of the last episodes of the original series.

This peculiar episode is frequently referred to as the space hippie episode by fans hence the title of this video. I've picked what i deem to be the best and most significant parts of the episode, namely the singing with some excerpts that illustrate the ideological frame of the space hippies.

This episode is notable for various reasons:

On the negative side, it's often considered a very camp, borderline ridiculous episode by some with a very poor and badly written scenario. There is indeed an element of ridicule in the way that hippies are characterized, whether for their grotesque carnival attire, the openly goofy parts sung by Adam et al, or the slightly ridiculous vocabulary ("we reach!"). However it's gotta be said that it's more a "so bad it's fun" kind of bad than a genuinely "horrendously boring and missed the mark" kind of bad - let's be honest here: don't we all wanna say "i reach!" or shout "herbert herbert!!!"... Also the episode has aged rather badly in that it is quite dated, unlike other episodes which are quite timeless.

Another "negative"--to some at least--is that the episode can somewhat be construed as reactionary as an obviously anti-LSD anti-hippie effort. Indeed not only is Dr Severin depicted as an outlandish bigot who sadistically toys with a gang of naive young bohemians, but he and Adam eventually die once they reach their goal: eating the fruits of Eden. The fruits despite their luscious beauty are poisoned with "acid," in fact all the vegetation on Eden is acid laden and "burns." The anti LSD metaphor is here quite clear: acid burns, acid kills. Dr Severin as the crazy hippie doctor and his philosophy of youth and wisdom (exemplified by the brunette who tries to swing Sulu by telling him "you're young brother, think young !") is quite reminiscent of Timothy Leary and some of his loony theories on cellular wisdom (detailed in the Politics of Ecstasy). We are spared no anti LSD clich├ęs. In fact, the scenarists go as far as having Irina sobbing "it was so beautiful" therefore conjuring the image of a hippie girl having seen the beatific vision of Eden under acid (LSD) yet sobbing realizing that this vision was merely fleeting and elusive and possibly misleading. Eden was a deception, acid/LSD a real poison...

However a closer examination shows a certain sympathy on the scenarists' part regarding hippies and their ideals. Spock is the mediator here:

* He is somewhat familiar with their philosophies of One suggesting this is not as outlandish as one may think,
* He reminds Kirk that these people are quite intelligent,
* He goes on to say that "there is no insanity in what they seek" thereby giving some legitimacy to their goals,
* Confronting Kirk's disbelief on the existence of Eden, he reminds Kirk that "many myths are based on truth" eventually going as far as locating Eden thereby giving more than an aura of credibility to their beliefs.
* To a lesser extent he agrees to have a jam session with them, which at least shows that they have some good taste and heightened artistic skills.

The scenarists if they are clearly not sympathetic to some of the hippies' ways--acid burns, acid kills--are nonetheless sympathetic and benevolent to their ideals and some of their other ways (music and a certain exuberant joie de vivre).

On a more aesthetic point of view, one of the positive hallmarks of this episode, it's gotta be said, is the music. Yes the MUSIC!!! There are some pretty funky, hilarious, goofy yet beautifully edenic (in their state of mind that is) songs here. A special mention should be made here about Deborah Downey who plays the role of Mavig, the blond hippie girl jamming with Spock. A genuine singer--just listen to her melodious voice as she sings the duet with Adam (Charles Napier). She actually wrote all the music of the episode and has a reworked version of "Head Now to Eden" on her album Painting Pictures.