Star Trek: Who Mourns for Adonais?   Rewatch 
February 21, 2015 12:56 PM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A powerful being claiming to be the Greek god Apollo appears and demands that the crew of the Enterprise disembark onto his planet to worship him.

"Who Mourns for Adonais?" is episode No. 31, production No. 33, the episode was written by Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon, and directed by Marc Daniels, it was first broadcast September 22, 1967, and repeated May 10, 1968. The allusion is to the 1821 elegy Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise are held captive by an alien who claims to be the Greek god Apollo

Memory Alpha Link

Trek Nation Review

The episode can be viewed on Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
posted by Benway (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Trek nation review sums up my thoughts on the episode:

The compelling idea that the gods of ancient Greece were in fact powerful alien humanoids has merit, but the writers don't take it anywhere - how did they find Earth, why did they pick it rather than one of the other numerous inhabited planets in the galaxy, did they ever go anywhere else, how did they travel from Olympus through the cosmos? No answers, only questions about the unseen power source in Apollo's temple, the strange organ in his chest that McCoy never gets a chance to examine, the philosophy of compassionate conservatism that Apollo seems to have cultivated in his time alone on Pollux IV after the other gods gave up on humans. We don't even find out whether he literally needs worship to live, the energy of human love, or whether that's metaphoric and he merely gives in to despair at the end.

My thoughts on the episode were the same...the concept has promise, but in the end, it didn't go anywhere. Kirk meets an all powerful Earth God, his strategy is to annoy him to find the source of his power...then he destroys it. Time to move on.
posted by Benway at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2015

Anyone else really happy that Apollo zapped a moony, love-struck Scottie. Because that was just embarrassing.

Also, really? Starfleet officers are so weak willed that they just follow energy beings around like schoolgirls?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:53 PM on February 21, 2015

IIRC they avoided any mention of it on the TV show, but in the end of the James Blish novelization, McCoy reveals that Lt. Pamalas is pregnant. And Kirk wonders just what she will give birth to. Definitely something one couldn't show on TV at the time.
posted by happyroach at 12:25 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

James Blish took liberties. In his novelization of "Tomorrow is Yesterday", Spock mentions the Vegan Tyranny (tyranny of the star Vega, not tyranny by vegetarians), which is right out of Blish's own Cities In Flight series.
posted by Mogur at 5:32 AM on February 22, 2015

This is one of the worst of the superbeing genre with which TOS was at least 50% too obsessed. "Hello, puny humans! I am a god! Do my bidding!" "No you're not." "Yes I am! I shall do something godlike to demonstrate!" "Well, okay then, you're powerful, but you're not a god!" etc. They're all supposed to be humiliated by rationality, a laudable trope one supposes, but these are essentially fantasy sequences in what really leaned toward a hard sf show. Ugh.

(No, I'm not terribly happy with Q, either; thanks for asking!)

So in this case it's actually a bit of advanced tech (yadda yadda indistinguishable from magic), and all they have to do is reverse-engineer its practical effects so they can discern a weakness. But it all comes up against the question that is the single most redeeming idea in Star Trek V: "What does God want with a starship?"

Anyway, another awful thing about this is the sexism in the Palamas character (let's not even address the silliness that it's only a Greek who would know of Apollo and become enthralled by him, a common enough article of racial determinism in this era of Trek that would be embodied later on more by alien races -- Klingons and Ferengi the most). She's a trained Starfleet officer, naturally, but the story requires her to be weak-willed and irrational when the ship is in danger. Terrific. When you think about how het up Roddenberry got about Ellison portraying his beloved officers with drug addiction and larceny on their minds, it's really, really annoying that being female was just the way things were, even for Starfleet.
posted by dhartung at 12:01 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to mention that Star Trek Continues, the fan-produced web series, brought back Apollo (and the actor portraying him) for its first episode, "Pilgrim of Eternity".
posted by fings at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2015

James Blish took liberties. In his novelization of "Tomorrow is Yesterday", Spock mentions the Vegan Tyranny (tyranny of the star Vega, not tyranny by vegetarians), which is right out of Blish's own Cities In Flight series.

Blish took liberties, certainly, as one must when adapting a 50 minute teevy show into a 20-page short story. But I think the main reason his stories differ from the episodes we know is that he usually worked off of an early draft script, and the stories, once accepted, went through many changes before production. For the first three books at least, the show was still in production and often, Blish hadn't even seen the broadcast episode.

Memory Alpha points out, "The stories in this volume were based on early draft scripts, and there are some significant differences between the printed version and what actually appeared on screen. Due to the lead times required for publication of print books such as these, James Blish was forced to use the only scripts available from Desilu promotions, which were draft scripts that had been discarded."

The episodes covered in the first three volumes:
Trek (1967)
  • Charlie's Law (broadcast as "Charlie X")
  • Dagger of the Mind
  • The Unreal McCoy [broadcast as "The Man Trap"]
  • Balance of Terror [Martine and Tomlinson do get married, and three crewmen are killed in auxilliary control, including Stiles. Also, the entire crew are pretty hostile to Spock]
  • The Naked Time ["La Pig"? Also, I believe they sprayed some magic antidote gas around the ship and cured everybody all at once. They didn't phaser their way iinto engineering; Reilly simply 'snapped out of it' and opened the door. On the other hand, we miss out on Uhura's classic reponse to Sulu / d'Artagnan.]
  • Miri [a "cat brain"?]
  • The Conscience of the King
Star Trek 2 (1968)
  • Arena
  • A Taste of Armageddon
  • Tomorrow is Yesterday
  • Errand of Mercy
  • Court-Martial
  • Operation: Annihilate! [A very different ending. Apparently, the original script had the Enterprise setting up UV satellites around a bunch of planets in other star systems as well.]
  • The City on the Edge of Forever [In a footnote, Blish explained that he'd tried to blend the best of Ellison's original and final results, and took responsibility in case he'd failed. On the other hand, here's one of those liberties: In response to Edith Keilors's speech, Spock refers to a "Bonner the Stochastic" -- a character from Blish's own Cities in Flight.]
  • Space Seed
Star Trek 3 (1969)
  • The Trouble With Tribbles [It's Sulu who accompanies Uhura on the space station. The part written for Sulu was given to Chekov, since Takei was off playing soldier in the Phillipines with John Wayne (filming the execrable The Green Berets)].
  • The Last Gunfight [broadcast as "Spectre of the Gun]
  • The Doomsday Machine [Decker doesn't die.]
  • Assignment: Earth
  • Mirror, Mirror
  • Friday's Child [Eleen dies, and Leonard and James aren't nearly so smug.]
  • Amok Time
In the introduction to ST3, Blish reprinted a fan letter sent to him recounting a real-life corbomite manoever by a real-life (US Army) Captain Kirk in Vietnam. [The incident is apparently also mentioned in the book Star Trek Lives! which I must've read a million years ago, but of which I have no memory at all.]
By an interesting coincidence I happen to be Captain [Pierre D.] Kirk. This being the case, the men of my last command built a rather elaborate "organization within an organization" based on the series. My jeep was slightly altered so that its registration numbers appeared as NCC-1701. Our weapons were referred to as phasers and our radio communication procedures were patterned after those of the Star Fleet. Our call signs corresponded to the various sections and personalities of the crew of the Enterprise.

My junior officers picked up the names of the more recognizable regular characters in the series. My executive officer made an excellent Spock in that he physically as well as temperamentally resembled the Vulcan. The men wanted him to get an "ear job" but he drew the line at this.

As you can see, the men of the 363rd [Transportation Company, U.S. Army] went to some lengths to identify with the Star Trek series. This was quite an effective means to maintain morale in the present unpleasantness in Indochina.

The series, by the way, is one of the most popular shown in the Republic of Viet Nam -— a great favorite of both the American forces and the Viet-Namese people.

Turning to the point of this letter—about eight months ago I was in command of an armed convoy en route from An Khe in the central highlands to Da Nang on the Northern coast. As we proceeded along route QL #1, which the late Bernard Fall referred to as "the Street without Joy," we were engaged by snipers, which usually served as the prelude to an ambush.

Deciding to run through the suspected area, I signaled my gun trucks to cover our cargo vehicles, and then via my jeep radio I announced: "Attention Viet Cong. We are the Federation Starship Enterprise and you are now in deep trouble. Phaser banks—charge your phasers and fire on my order."

This comment was directed at my gun trucks to serve to fire them up for what promised to be a tight situation, but to my surprise the radio exploded into a torrent of frantic jabbering in Viet-Namese and moments later the sniping ceased and we continued through without incident.

The only thing I can assume is that the V. C. were monitoring our broadcast transmissions, had seen the show on television and thought that we were in fact the Enterprise.

Under the circumstances I can readily understand this reluctance to engage us in a fight. Happily I can report that despite their initial sniper activity no casualties were suffered by the crew of the Enterprise.
Meanwhile, over at, a Colonel Pierre D. Kirk (US Army, retired), checked in several times between 2010 and 2012, sometimes to talk Trek, sometimes to defend his honor and the veracity of his story.
posted by Herodios at 12:09 PM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm with Benway; why drag in Apollo and then not engage with the concept? At least get the mythology right.

Lt. Pamalas describes Apollo as the son of Zeus and Leto, a mortal. However, Leto was a Titan, therefore as Godlike as Saturn.

Apollo says Pamalas is beautiful like other women he's known: Daphne, Cassandra. Yeah, great choices! Daphne is not a woman, she is a Naiad, daughter of a river god and a nymph, who was tormented by Apollo until her father turns her into a tree. Cassandra is a human who spurned Apollo's advances, cursed by him to see the future but never be believed. If Pamalas is really a classical scholar, she should have been worried right then.

When Kirk won't worship him, Apollo sneers that he is prideful like Agamemnon and Hercules, who "felt my wrath". Well, Hercules wasn't a man- he was half-man, half God, and as far as I know, never argued with Apollo. Agamemnon was a human, but he angered Artemis, Apollo's sister. When Orestes avenges his father's death in Aeschylus's play, he is seen as following the justice of Apollo and ignoring what is due the Furies.

So the scriptwriter was just hotdogging Greek Mythology.

Overall, Kirk's pugnacious sniping was counterproductive. Kirk also should have curbed loose-cannons Scotty and Chekov. We really needed a calm Picard to quote Aristophanes and reason with Apollo in an Olympian manner.
posted by acrasis at 4:36 PM on January 25, 2021

« Older 12 Monkeys: The Red Forest...   |  The Blacklist: The Kenyon Fami... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments