Star Trek: The Original Series

"Who Mourns for Adonais?"

**

Air date: 9/22/1967
Written by Gilbert Ralston
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise is grabbed by a giant "hand" in space and rendered immobile, at which point an entity claiming to be the Greek god Apollo invites Kirk to come down to his planet. Kirk accepts this invitation, lest his ship remain stuck in space for all eternity, and beams down with a landing party. Apollo informs Kirk that he and his crew will become his "children," living on this planet where he can take care of them. When Kirk resists, Apollo's wrath ensues.

The premise for this episode is a tad silly, yet somewhat interesting: What if the Greek gods were actually alien beings with powers that gave them god-like status in the human eye? Unfortunately, this bright idea can't save a story overwrought with half-baked exposition and a general tendency for dramatic excess. Scotty's hot-headedness is way overdone, making him look like an idiot. Meanwhile, Shatner's "urgent" performance goes overboard; Apollo's powerful bag-o-tricks turns old very fast; and the love story between Apollo and Lt. Palamas (Leslie Parrish) is just plain bland.

Michael Forest as Apollo also chews too much scenery; with that posturing voice, he seems like he belongs in a Shakespeare-in-the-park festival. And the episode grows tiresome with repetitive scenes and dialog. The ending sends the show off nicely with a statement mourning Apollo's plight, which is one of obsolescence, but it can't make up for a lackluster hour.

Previous episode: Amok Time
Next episode: The Changeling

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13 comments on this review

Strider
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 1:18am (UTC -6)
I was glad that for once we had a female officer who did her duty, rather than tossing it over for love (ala McGiver and Khan).
Lt. Yarko
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 11:39am (UTC -6)
I hate hate hate Scotty in this one. How he didn't lose his commission after the crap he pulled on this one...
DutchStudent82
Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 10:27pm (UTC -6)
One thing that I wonder : why would a being like this be so depended on HUMANS.

There are many planets just leave for oneother one aye?
-> it even said this region of space has very UNDERdeveloped species (may be apollo's influence, than again.. why would he live on a planet without people? with so many save havens nearby.

What happend to the original members of this spiecies (that small band cannot have been all of them, unless they were a minority genetic variation within a larger race without these same abiity's) still there must have been many more of them, or at least have been, they cannot have left all for earth, what did happen with the others?

Why would such a race EVER leave.. it was not like worship of these gods ceased because of greek uprising.. and even roman conquest did not completely wipe it out (since roman Gods were the same as greek Gods, only with different names mostly).. So they would have left when rome became christian on a large scale and perhaps not even untill the rise of islam who wiped out the last remaining greek pockets outside of roman influence.
why would they have left 5000 years ago... while that religion was very alive and kicking untill 2000 years ago??

and why would they not just have presumed new names and go visit say - the indians - or any primitive tribe on earth... plenty to go around.

and after that why not leave for oter planet repeating the heist?
and if they could not leave, how did apollo even get here?
and if he could get there, why did he not land on any of those tasty INHABIITED worlds
and why would he be so stupid to try to force obediance of modern humans, while he could have hitched a ride with them to any of those tasty primitive sociery planets nearby?

And what the HECK was kirk thinking with his human above all else speach. (not that I don't like the terra prime concept... I do in fact) but it seems very discrimination, like the ferengi say : we ALL know the federation is just a homo sapiens fanclub.
(for a federation of hundres of planens.. should not spaceships represent that aka should not like 390+ of those 400 crew members be alien of dosins of different spiecies? and if so why is the entire leadership of the ship all human + 1 half-human? how's that for racism!

William B
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
I actually liked Kirk's "your duty is to humanity" speech, but that's partly because I think it's wise with the original series not to take certain episodes too literally. This episode is a great case in point: the crew is going up against "Apollo," who apparently is the real Apollo whom the Greeks used to worship. This bombshell that human civilization was partially created by these aliens is never mentioned again, nor does anyone seem all *that* astonished by it within the context of the episode. This isn't like TNG's "The Chase," which also ends with a reveal that is never mentioned again but is treated within the show as a momentous occasion, and a few moments are given to contemplate the implications for the various species within the show. Here, the actual import is buried, and "Apollo" seems to be more of an abstraction.

I think the episode is about the death of religion in the twentieth century, and its gradual substitution with secular humanism. That read is *sort of* undermined by the reference to finding "the one" quite adequate (presumably the Abrahamic one), but I think there we can still view the Abrahamic God as a different type of idea than the pantheon of antiquity. In any case, this episode is not really about aliens, and while that's mostly always true in Trek (the aliens generally represent certain ideas), this one seems more metaphorical than most, and so Kirk's speech about the value of humanism and the responsibility of humans to each other ends up, within the context of the *episode*, not so much being parochial and "humans only" as representing a wide reaching dedication to the whole of humanity, which, in the 20th century, is a pretty difficult thing to argue. The thing that is lost in the transition from worship of other beings (whether they exist or not) to the emphasis on humanity is that abstracting certain virtues into external beings like gods were able to give humans focus and represent concepts at a time when believing these traits were within humans was impossible. We lose some of our innocence in recognizing that we are masters of our fate, and thus are responsible for what happens to us. The person who sacrifices the most, according to this episode's (pretty sexist) conception of things, is Lt. Palamas, who could have been treated as a goddess and have all her needs taken care of, instead of "having to" fend for herself; the early suggestion that the senior staff seem to believe that she's going to ditch the ship the moment she gets married suggests that others at least believe that what she wants is to have the chance to be taken care of by a man rather than make her own way. We all have that impulse to be taken care of, to some extent, and to put our faith in something besides ourselves; the cost of freedom of awareness of our choices is that we lose that sense of security. I think that's why Kirk wonders if they should have gathered a few laurel leaves.

Apollo's sadness at being jilted by humans is partly, then, projection onto an abstract, fictional character what it must feel like to be abandoned; it reminds me, weirdly enough, of the "Toy Story" movies, which put a lot of focus on the (nonexistent in real life) inner lives of toys formed from the bond that children forms with them. I think this is a decent enough way of expressing the real sense of personal loss that comes with losing one's emotional connection to fictional beings -- even if the fictional beings can't feel, the people who formed attachment to them can. It also connects to a parent recognizing their children having grown up and no longer being needed, a connection which Apollo makes explicitly. In any case, the ending where Apollo mourns the loss of connection to humanity is one of the two moments (the other being Kirk's humanity speech) that stood out to me and which I liked.

The rest of the episode *is* pretty blah; not too much of it is outright *bad*, except of course, as everyone has mentioned, for the Scotty material. Dude, calm down, what is *wrong* with you? The sexism on display in the Palamas subplot is, as others have mentioned above, somewhat mitigated by the fact that she sides with her crew rather than the god who flatters her at the end; it doesn't make her story all that compelling though, which is a shame since she's given something like the episode's emotional centrepiece, as the only person who was *really* tempted to join with Apollo and who ends up betraying him. Like Jammer, I think this probably earns 2 stars, but no more than that.
Beth
Wed, Dec 17, 2014, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
Ohh this episode... I just wanted to smack some sense into Scotty-the-Suddenly-Thick-Brained-Caveman, and give Lt. Palamas (aka Lt. Pajamas) another few whacks in the head. (And why the heck do all these pretty and easily-manipulable officers with "specializations in myth and antiquity" keep popping up on a ship of deep-space exploration? Ahhh, plot convenience, of course. Or as some might call it, poor writing).

I really wished for this episode (as with a few other Trek episodes) to have a stronger-minded woman to stand up and think a little on her own, who's more like the Number One from "The Cage", logical and focused on duty to her ship and crew, rather than some flimsy mimsy, being so easily swayed by some hunky two-bit "god" and a fancy-schmancy dress or robe. GRRR.

At least Kirk was able to put some sense into her and Lt. Palamas FINALLY spurned Apollo's affections with the cold sarcasm they deserved. (Too bad Kirk's speech smacks of, erm, R-A-C-I-S-M, but it gets the plot from A to B effectively enough).

I did feel kind of bad for Apollo at the end - like I felt bad for Charlie X or Trelane or any other god-power-being who meddles too far with the Enterprise crew and meets their sad fate. But as others above have pointed out, what the heck was Apollo DOING - and why would he think "Hey, I know, those humans will just come and worship me again after, um, growing past the whole god thing." And it had to be Apollo that didn't see the end for him coming - so much for his supposed wisdom!
Bill
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
I enjoy looking up the images/stories of supporting actors from these episodes to see what else they were involved in over the years, how they've aged, or when they died. Certainly Leslie Parrish and Michael Forest were two beautiful creatures in 1967, much like all the People of Vaal in "The Apple." As for Forest, he truly has been a prolific actor according to IMDB.
CPUFP
Sat, Oct 3, 2015, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
Since William B has already pointed out the most important things about this episode, I'd just like to say that I was amazed by Apollo's lack of nipples. I know that cartoon figures of the era were not allowed to have them (well, not just only this era - even 20 years later, He-Man did not have any), but it was still pretty amazing to me to see that there were no visible nipples at all on the actor. A big thumbs up to the make-up crew!
Emma
Wed, Jan 20, 2016, 6:56am (UTC -6)
Also, as well as having no apparent nipples, it would seem that Apollo was the god that always skipped 'leg day' too! ;)
Sparkina
Sun, May 22, 2016, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
I thought that episode was EXCELLENT and it is a favorite of mine. I liked the love part the best. One thing. I noticed a lot of people here liked that Carolyn Palamas met her responsibility to the ship instead of marrying Apollo as was her desire. Am I the only one who thought that was sad, that Carolyn and Apollo parted, and that Carolyn LIED THROUGH HER TEETH and said she only viewed Apollo as a study specimen and compared him to bacteria?
The Man
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
I hated the love part. And considering she "lied through her teeth" to save the crew I didn't have a problem with it at all. As for you being upset that she didn't marry Apollo "as was her desire" maybe Apollo shouldn't have kidnapped the crew. If he had let them go he could have had her. And if she had attempted to convince on this she wouldn't have had to lie to him.
The Man
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
And she did not love him she was suffering from stockholm syndrome.
Skeptical
Thu, Dec 1, 2016, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
I love the first Captain's Log after the credits. You can just tell that Kirk is sitting there, trying his best to avoid describing the events. You know the last thing he wants to say in his Log is that a giant floating green hand is holding on to the Enterprise. Despite all of TOS' wacky adventures, even Kirk knows this one is just too ridiculous to be believed.

Also, Agamemnon and company were ~3200 years ago (or 3500 by Kirk's time), not 5000. I guess once you get past a few hundred years, everything counts as ancient, huh?

Oh well, such is life. Ignoring the silliness of the green hand, what was the value of the episode? Sure, the whole "ancient gods were actually advanced aliens" schtick is a classic sci-fi staple, but, well, that's the problem. It's a classic sci-fi staple, and was already old by the time this episode aired. If you wanted to do it, you would need some kind of hook, some kind of spin on the concept rather than just playing it straight. Otherwise, it's just... there. And unfortunately, that's what this episode feels like. Something that is just there, without much meat on it.

I mean, compare that to Mirror Mirror, which at first glance might seem the same thing: just a sci-fi cliche of an evil mirror universe. Except that the episode builds on several subplots. We have the assassination attempts, we have our heroes being forced to play their roles as best as possible, particularly Uhura and Kirk. We have Kirk and McCoy being forced to choose between their own self-interest and their ethics (saving Spock and the peaceniks), we have variations on the theme of evil with Marlene and Spock. It's a sci-fi cliche, yes, but a good one. Here? The threads just don't seem to exist.

On the one hand, we have our subplot with our random yeoman of the week. A subplot which immediately calls to mind Space Seed, in that the powerful superman for some reason falls in love with her and she falls in love back. Sure, she doesn't betray the ship this time, but it was a paper-thin plot that went nowhere and had no payoff. We don't know why Palamas was attracted to Apollo nor vice versa, and frankly we don't care. It was there to fill time and provide another exotic costume for male distraction purposes, nothing more.

And on the other hand, we have a repeat of Kirk and company dealing with an irrational god-like being while trying not to get killed a la Squire of Gothos. And again, it provides some interest, but is overall rather lacking. The big picture, that this guy was on Earth 5000-3500 years ago, is completely ignored. Sure, Lieutenant PlotPoint finally got around to asking Apollo about his past, but even that was mostly just as part of her ruse to make Apollo upset. Yes, fine, Kirk's first duty is to his ship. But surely someone might have asked about the Trojan war, about the blossoming Greek civilization, about when the gods appeared and when they left. About the art, the politics, the music, the history, the architecture, the culture, everything. Archeology is a very inexact science. To have a living witness from that time would be incredible.

Makes me wonder why everyone had to be so obstinate. If Apollo wasn't so obsessed with trying to fit the Enterprise crew into little his little Greek boxes, he might have found a people that would respect and honor (albeit not worship) him. And if Kirk and crew weren't so antagonistic towards Apollo, they might have realized what a wonderful opportunity this was. So Kirk's wistfulness at the end about gathering a few laurels or whatever does make some sense. This was a huge wasted opportunity.

As an aside, what's with Apollo's obsession of being worshiped? Was it just what he wanted, or (much like Pratchett's idea in Discworld) did he require worship in order to survive? It wasn't clear to me.
RandomThoughts
Fri, Dec 2, 2016, 12:00am (UTC -6)
Howdy Folks

@Skeptical

As I recall from my mythology course and later involvement, the gods of Greece were more powerful the more believers/followers they had. In one of the mythos, the gods were able to defeat the titans (their forebears), because they had followers, which gave them more power. The titans could only use the power they had, as they were not worshiped, and were defeated because the gods were gaining power from the people. Of course this is just one telling (a bit simplified), and there are many stories, but this was the one I liked the best. :)

Also, in this episode, Apollo didn't seem to have real power of his own, he had a building that supplied him power, which he was able to convert to use with/against the Enterprise crew. Without that building/power source, he was much reduced. Perhaps it was just old habits, and he wanted to Feel the power of adulation again...

Now, Scotty. Hmm... Small spoiler alert, if watching TOS for the first time straight through, skip to the **'s.

They show him with a full-on infatuation/love for Lt. Palamas, which seems to nearly drive him mad. I mean, he does some really stupid things. Thinking about the later episode Wolf in the Fold, of course they thought he was the culprit (after a head injury caused by a woman), because he'd been shown to be a nutjob here when a lady said "Hello" to him or showed some mutual interest. Then, third season, The Lights of Zetar, he once again is a bit off the rails when it comes to the lady he had his eye on, who ends up being the person the baddies wanted. Now, I loved, loved Scotty, especially when he was in command of the Enterprise from time to time, but he was written very poorly when it came to women, and that is a dis-service to Scotty. We cannot do anything about it of course, but looking back... wow.

**

Overall, from the first time I saw this episode in the 70's as a young'un until now, I always thought it was so sad Apollo decided he had to spread himself on the wind. But it seems you cannot have an emotional, pull-the-heartstrings ending if he just sails off to Starfleet and tells them what he knows of the past, or his people... that's why it's a tragedy...

But most of us kinda/sorta wish that could have happened...

Happy trails everyone... RT

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