This episode has a reputation to live up to, and always does. No matter how long you wait, the language, hair, and attitude never come back into style. They only seem more and more dated than they did even the very day the episode aired. Frankly, hippies deserve more respect.
There simply is nothing redeeming about this episode, and it's no wonder that Fontana took her good name off of it. Reportedly, this started out as a story about McCoy's documented (in the series bible) but never seen daughter, Joanna. At some point in the process, the producers must have watched an episode of The Monkees, realized that Koenig bears a passing resemblance to Davy Jones, and decided they wanted to attract the younger set. So the space hippies were born.
They're seeking Eden, and our poor crew -- save Spock -- represents the authority against which they are rebelling. That Spock is the connection is a nod to, of all things, ratings. By this point (pardon the expression), Spock had been established as by far the most popular character on the series. To capitalize on that, the producers found the perfect opportunity for the character to make a connection with the space hippies, and by extension, people of a similar age in the audience. It was a cynical ploy that leaves the character diminished by no small measure.
As is becoming the norm, the technical aspects are very cheap and cheesy. The spaceship which opens the episode looks like it's made out of cardboard (which it may have been), Sevrin's ears are horribly overdone, as is the make-up and hair for all the hippies, and the props have become genuinely laughable (the bicycle-spoked instrument is a personal favorite for its sheer absurdity). Even the music, so long a hold-out from the overall decline in quality, finally succumbs. The "songs" written for Adam are intended to approximate the pop music culture of the era. In fact, they end up sounding exactly like a composer who knows nothing about pop music trying to write pop music. It never works, and here it reaches extremes of absurdity which include a 12-bar blues number performed by Spock on the Vulcan harp.
The guest stars are a mixed bunch. Homeier is icy and maniacal as the insane Sevrin. He plays it with some subtlety, but the material ultimately defeats him. Rapelye offers the worst Russian accent ever, but plays her part with the mooney eyes required. Napier's dedication to his role is admirable. He gives it his all, and manages to look like he's enjoying himself while wearing a miniskirt and playing a crossbow with nearly-invisible strings. At one point during the Big Jam, he makes adjustments that actually look like he'd made up the rules on how to play the thing. He did his best, and would survive the role to have a long career.
The costumes are certainly a highlight. I'm not sure that any of them really click properly. Irina's outfit borders on interesting, but just doesn't have the same definition as other recent Theiss creations. And the rest of the hippies? Well, let's just say that the costumer did what was requested of him, and leave it at that. (Same goes for the make-up and hair people.)
Again, the entry point for our heroes is faulty, and the mess devolves quickly into another boring ship-hijacked story. The "irony" of the ending is probably supposed to have deep meaning, but it really comes off as kind of cruel. What are the producers saying? That the search for Eden will end up killing you? That's pretty cynical for Trek. I have to believe that any message in this episode is purely accidental. It's just memorably bad Trek.
Rating: Very Bottom (7)