Star Trek “The Apple” and “The Way to Eden”

Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek has always showed an idealistic future that didn’t run away from the tough questions.  In the season 2 episode “The Apple,” Captain Kirk and company beam down onto a planet that seems like a paradise… until it starts killing off his crewmen.  It turns out that the planet is peopled by a primitive tribe under the leadership of an intelligent machine called Vaal.  Vaal is a benevolent dictator that provides fruit of the tribe to eat, ensures that the people will never age or get sick, but in return, the primitive people are like children.  They don’t even know what sex or love is as Vaal has prohibited closeness and touching between men and women.

Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy engage in a debate very similar to the one at the end of Brave New World: is it better to be happy or free?  Spock argues that the people are happy and well cared for by Vaal, and they should not interfere.  McCoy argues that the people aren’t living, they’re merely existing, as they have no freedom, and they should recue them from mindless obedience to Vaal.

In the end, Vaal, rightly deciding that Kirk’s landing party is a threat to him, orders the people to kill them.  Kirk stops the attack with only one crewman dead and in return, kills Vaal by draining its power supply, thereby freeing the people and setting them on the path of social evolution.

In addition to the parallels between “The Apple” and Brave New World, the primitive people of Vaal are very similar to the Eloi in The Time Machine.  Both groups are primitive and child-like because they are under the care of someone or something else.  In The Time Machine, the Morlocks have malevolent intentions and the Time Traveler is unable to rescue the Eloi, while “The Apple” has a decidedly happier ending.

Briefly, the Star Trek episode “The Way to Eden” has a bunch of hippies rebelling against authority.  They hijack the Enterprise ad redirect it to a mythical planet called Eden where they plan to create their own primitive society away from the Federation’s technology.

Their idea of man’s nature is benevolent; man doesn’t need the intense rigid structure that characterizes the society in Brave New World.  They just need, to, like, be free and get back to their roots, man.   In this case, they would probably like to live simply, like the Eloi or the tribe in “The Apple” – as long as there aren’t Morlocks or Vaal

ruling over them.


One thought on “Star Trek “The Apple” and “The Way to Eden”

  1. The episode entitled The Apple reminds me of the book The Giver by Lois Lowry as the citizens in the society also have no understanding of love or sex. Much of what we know of the world is kept from them and they are controlled buy the Elders of the community who provide for all of their needs. Everyone is seemingly happy in the community but they are not free although they have no idea they are not free or that anything is wrong. Similarly you mentioned Spock “argues that the people are happy and well cared for by Vaal, and they should not interfere”. This is true as well at first for the Giver who argues that the people are fine the way they are. It is Jonas who ultimately helps the Giver see that this is not the case and the citizens in the community are not living. The same way Vaal is killed and those in the land are free for social revolution, in the Giver, Jonas escapes the community into Elsewhere and it is safe to assume that the memories are released into the community and perhaps a social revolution will begin as well.

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