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The Enterprise is in hot pursuit of the stolen space cruiser Aurora, which is heading into the dangerous Romulan Neutral Zone, with Tongo Rad (the son of the Catuallan ambassador) on board. The Enterprise locks onto the ship with a tractor beam, but the Aurora tries to flee. With the craft already straining with pushed engines, the vessel begins to break up.

Captain Kirk orders the transporter room to lock on the passengers and beam them aboard immediately. As the Aurora explodes, the six humanoid passengers are safely brought aboard the Enterprise. Kirk heads down to meet with them and is shocked by their wild appearance. The six beings are barefoot, dressed in lavish robes and colorful tunics. Despite their close brush with death, they appear completely calm and relaxed as if nothing has happened.

The group identifies themselves, starting with Tongo Rad (whose presence must be handled carefully, owing to the delicate relationship between the Federation and the people of Catualla), Irina Galliulin (a Starfleet Academy dropout and a former love interest of Ensign Chekov), Dr. Sevrin (a noted communications and electronics researcher from Tiburon, who specializes in the theories of sonic manipulation), Adam (a popular musician), and two other women.

The group shows a disrespect for authority and demands to be taken to a planet they call "Eden" [N 1]. Eden's existence is believed to be a myth, however. The group refuses to co-operate with Kirk, calling him "Herbert". However, the group is impressed by First Officer Spock, who understands their philosophy. Spock makes an oval "symbol of peace" hand gesture and simply says: "One". The group responds with the same gesture: "We are one." They ask Spock: "Are you One, Herbert?" Spock replies that he is not Herbert, and Adam declares: "He's not Herbert. We reach!" Having developed a respect for Spock's straightforwardness, the group agrees to go to Sickbay for a medical examination. Meanwhile, Spock explains to Kirk that "Herbert" is a derogatory term for a rigid, hidebound person, named from an unimaginative "minor official", notorious for his "limited patterns of thought".

Medical scans reveal the party to be in good health, except for Dr. Sevrin, who is a carrier of the Synthecoccus novae virus, which has been accidentally created by technological society. The disease is fatal to anyone who hasn't been vaccinated, but he nonetheless insists that the planet of Eden will somehow "cleanse" him, and that his group will build a new civilization, the likes of which the galaxy has never seen before. After interviewing him, Spock concludes that Sevrin is clinically insane.

Kirk orders Sevrin to be quarantined to prevent the virus's spread; however, his group loudly protests the decision, insulting Kirk further with a song. Spock attempts to reason with Sevrin and offers to help him find Eden in exchange for his cooperation, stating that he empathizes with the group: "There is no insanity in what they seek."

Sevrin is taken to a holding cell while his group is allowed to freely walk the Enterprise. The group, however, secretly plans to take over the ship. Adam distracts the crew with a music concert, where even Mr. Spock joins in. Meanwhile, Chekov is alone with Irina, and the two revive their old feelings for each other. While Chekov is distracted, Irina manages to gain access to the ship's navigation computer.

Tongo distracts Lt. Sulu with interest in Sulu's botany project, then slips away to free Sevrin. Tongo knocks out a guard and lets Sevrin out of his cell. The group heads down to auxiliary control and changes the Enterprise '​s course for Eden. Once the crew realize what is happening, Sevrin renders all Enterprise crew unconscious with an ultrasonic frequency broadcast through the intercom.

Once the Enterprise arrives at Eden, a planet inside Romulan territory, Sevrin and his followers steal the Galileo II shuttlecraft and head down to the planet. Kirk manages to reach auxiliary control and deactivates Sevrin's sonic device. He then joins Spock, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and Chekov and beams down to Eden to fetch the group.

They materialize in the middle of a lush and beautiful garden; a real "Eden" by all outward appearance. Suddenly, Chekov severely burns his hand when he touches a flower and McCoy scans his wound. It is discovered the plant life (even the grass) secretes a powerful acid and the fruit is poisonous. McCoy informs Kirk that their clothing will protect them from the acid for a while. The team soon finds Adam, the only one of the group not barefoot, lying dead on the ground – a half-eaten fruit in his hand.

Sevrin and the other survivors are then found in the shuttlecraft, all with severe acid burns on their feet. Kirk tries once again to convince them that this "paradise" is completely uninhabitable, but Sevrin refuses to listen and bites into one of the fruits. The poison kills him in a matter of seconds.

Irina, heartbroken at how things have turned out, goes to the bridge to say goodbye to Chekov. Luckily, no Romulans arrive, and everyone returns to the Enterprise and heads back to Federation space. Spock advises her not to give up their search for Eden as he believes they will either find it, or create one for themselves.[1]

Errors and ExplanationsEdit

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit

Plot OversightsEdit

  1. This episode keeps referring to “starbase.” Kirk will take them there. Kirk wants a message sent there at the beginning of the episode and at the end. However, Kirk never says which starbase.Most likely the closest one to Enterprise's location.
  2. Evidently all the Romulans are down for their afternoon naps, because none of their ships shows up to challenge the Enterprise- even though the Enterprise flies into Romulan space to get to Eden. Yet again, fortune smiles on the flagship of the Federation. Eden could be in the Federation half of the Netural Zone.
  3. After Sevrin and his followers leave the ship, Kirk shuts oft the ultrasonic sound and calls the bridge. He asks if they have control of the ship, and the answer comes back, “No.” Moments later he asks if they can break orbit it they need to, and the answer comes back, “l think so.” Did I miss something here? Don’t you need control of the ship to break orbit? The engineering staff could have restored partial control between Kirk's two questions.
  4. Soon after following Dr. Sevrin and his students to Eden, a landing party discovers one of them dead underneath a tree. You can tell he was a musician. Even in death, the index finger on his right hand keeps strumming.Possibly an automatic nerve reaction to the presence of acid in the soil.
  5. The landing party discovers that the plants on the planet are filled with acid. The vegetation bums the skin with a simple touch. Yet once the landing party locates Sevrin and the others inside the shuttle, they drag them outside! Since Sevrin and the others wear few clothes, their feet are already burned from the acid. Why, then, is Kirk hauling them out of the shuttle? Wouldn’t it be better to leave them inside with the protection it affords? The landing party want Sevrin and his followers to understand the severity of the dangers.[N 2]

Continuity And Production ProblemsEdit

  1. The stolen spacecraft is a Tholian vessel flipped around with engine nacelles attached. Possibly a coincidental copy of a Tholian ship.[N 3]
  2. The establishing shot of a lake comes from Shore Leave. The Caretaker's people could have modeled the Shore Leave planet lake on the one shown here.

Nit CentralEdit

  1. John A. Lang on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 11:44 pm: Why didn't Kirk use the "knockout gas" from Space Seed to arrest Dr. Severin & his gang? Kirk is under orders to handle the group gently, and give them free rein of Enterprise, because one member of Severin's group is the son of a Catullan ambasador.
  2. steve McKinnon (Steve) on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - 11:33 am: Here's a big one that nobody has addressed yet: What the heck was Spock doing analyzing planets IN THE ROMULAN EMPIRE???!!! He's supposed to be finding a planet suitable for colonization by the hippies, a.k.a. FEDERATION CITIZENS, one of them being the son of the Catulan ambassador, whom Kirk has been told to protect from trouble, but he's looking for a suitable colony planet in ENEMY TERRITORY, where they, as FEDERATION CITIZENS, could never colonize! They are heading for the area which Dr Severin's research indicates is the most likely location for Eden.

Internet Movie DatabaseEdit

Revealing mistakesEdit

  1. In the brig, when Sevrin turns his back to the camera, the wrinkles of his bald cap are visible. Couldn't this be a side effect of the disease Servin is afflicted with?


  1. This is a reference to the Biblical Garden of Eden
  2. This error, and the preceding one, are listed under Revealing Mistakes in the IMDB entry.
  3. This is replaced with a new design in the remastered version.


  1. The Way to Eden at Wikipedia

The Original Series Season 3
Spectre of the Gun I Elaan of Troyius I The Paradise Syndrome I The Enterprise Incident I And the Children Shall Lead I Spock's Brain I Is There in Truth No Beauty? I The Empath I The Tholian Web I For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky I Day of the Dove I Plato's Stepchildren I Wink of an Eye I That Which Survives I Let That Be Your Last Battlefield I Whom Gods Destroy I The Mark of Gideon I The Lights of Zetar I The Cloud Minders I The Way to Eden I Requiem for Methuselah I The Savage Curtain I All Our Yesterdays I Turnabout Intruder