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Recap / Star Trek S2 E2 "Who Mourns for Adonais?"

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Apollo wants YOU... for lifelong worship!

Original air date: September 22, 1967

It starts off as just a peaceful morning on board the starship Enterprise when suddenly, as they approach Pollux IV, a giant green hand pops up and holds the Enterprise in place by the saucer section. While everyone is trying to figure out what the hell is going on, a face wearing a gold crown of laurel leaves materializes, claiming to be Apollo, and name dropping those such as Agamemnon, Hector and Odysseus. He insists some crew members come down to the planet to visit him. He specifies that Spock not come as he reminds him too much of Pan.

So, it's Kirk, Chekov, Bones, Scotty and Lt. Carolyn Palamas to beam down. Carolyn, it should be noted does not wear red though we've never seen her before nor will again. (She survives though.) Apollo makes his grand appearance, giving everyone the good news. They're all going to leave that stuffy old starship, come down to this crisp, green planet and worship him! Won't that be fun? Nah, didn't think Kirk would agree.

Apollo makes show of his cosmic powers and demands respect that he just isn't getting. He woos Carolyn, and is not wholly unsuccessful in turning her. However, Kirk convinces her that it isn't right to condemn everyone on the Enterprise to a life they don't want, even if she is made a goddess. She gives Apollo the shaft, and he throws the mother of all tantrums. In the meantime, Spock has managed to locate Apollo's power source (his temple), and destroys it. Broken and defeated, Apollo follows his fellow gods into oblivion. While Apollo was unable to get the worship he desired, he did manage to inspire pity.

Note: This episode got something of a sequel, courtesy of fan-made web-series Star Trek Continues, entitled "Pilgrim of Eternity." It features Apollo's original actor in this episode, Michael Forest, doing a Role Reprise.

Who Mourns for Tropes?:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Carolyn openly weeps at the virtual death of Apollo. Bones shows some remorse for what they had to do. Kirk ponders if maybe they should've gathered just a few laurel leaves to make Apollo feel better (or perhaps learn more from him).
    Bones: I wish we hadn't had to do this.
    Kirk: So do I. They gave us so much. The Greek civilization, much of our culture and philosophy came from a worship of those beings. In a way, they began the Golden Age. Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?
  • Ancient Astronauts: Kirk speculates that Apollo's story of being the Greek god of that name may be true, not in a "actually a deity" way but in an "advanced aliens visit primitive Earth and inspire worship" way. Notably, this episode predates the Trope Codifier, Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods. This may be why the episode focuses on the Greek pantheon, which tends to be sidelined in more modern iterations of this trope.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Chekov responds to Apollo announcing who he is with "Yes, and I am tsar of all the Russias."
  • Anger Born of Worry: Kirk chews Scotty out for trying to take on an invulnerable cosmic power against his orders, then points out more gently that Scotty could get hurt doing this.
  • As You Know: For someone whose job it is to know these things, Lt. Palamas displays a very rudimentary knowledge of the god Apollo.
  • Attention Whore: Apollo. Of course, he's a god, what do you expect?
  • Bittersweet Ending: The crew effectively eradicate the power source holding them captive, and are free to leave... but don't feel so good about their victory after Apollo's emotional Final Speech, not to mention that in taking down Apollo, they effectively took down the Last of His Kind, and a vital part of their own Earth history.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    Bones: To coin a phrase: "Fascinating!"
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Scotty tries to scrap with Apollo several times, only to be knocked ass over teakettle.
  • Captain Obvious: Sulu identifies huge, glowing, disembodied extremities well.
  • Career Versus Man: Carolyn must choose between Apollo and her duty. Early on, Bones even discussed the trope.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Apollo says that gods "return to the cosmos" when they are no longer worshiped. All the other gods have done this, and now he will too.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: For once, the show gets to claim this in its treatment of women, as Apollo's line "You are very intelligent for a woman" is clearly presented as a relic of the last time he was among humans. Considering Apollo was part of a highly intelligent race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who forced humanity to worship and obey them, this even suggests that sexism (and possibly other forms of inequality) were all his fault in the first place.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Apollo's defeat by the Enterprise and rejection by Kirk and the others (especially Carolyn) drives him to this.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Apollo pops out of nowhere and casually invites Kirk and co. over for a visit. (It isn't purely social, though.)
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Kirk and co. turn their back to Apollo and laugh when he demands sacrifices of deer and laurel leaves, both in hopes of getting their point across as well as an attempt to make him waste his power smiting them enough for them to be able to overpower him, but their plan is foiled when Carolyn jumps in front of Apollo and asks him to be merciful to them, as described below.
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Carolyn charms Apollo, and is charmed by him.
  • Divine Date: Apollo demands some alone time with Carolyn. She doesn't exactly fight it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Played for Laughs. When McCoy says that Lt. Palamas will leave the Fleet when she finds Mr. Right, Kirk answers that he prefers to think of it not as losing an officer, but as gaining a...He cuts himself off when he realizes that losing an officer to marriage differs from "losing" a child to marriage.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Scotty. He's clearly smitten with Lt. Palamas, Bones notes to Kirk that he doesn't think she reciprocates his feelings.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe — Palamas thinks of Apollo as kind and loving, even though he acts like a dick to everyone else.
  • Emotion Eater: Apollo says that he and the former Greek gods need positive emotions (such as admiration and love) from other beings the same way humans need food.
  • Expy: Female Enterprise historian is wooed by superior being and briefly turns her back on the crew? Where have we heard this before?
  • Gilded Cage: The pastoral setting Apollo has conjured looks like Paradise. But, it is still a prison if one is not allowed to leave.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Gods just can't emotionally deal with not being worshiped.
  • Greek Mythology: Apollo loves to name drop. Among the other Greek gods and Hercules he mentions people from The Odyssey and The Iliad.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: When filling the team in on the myths concerning Apollo, Palamas states that his mother was a mortal (i.e. a human) named Leto. Apollo himself later confirms this. (The original myths have Leto as a goddess, not a human; the only Olympian god born of a mortal woman was Dionysos.)
  • Helicopter Parents: In a strange sense, this is what Apollo seems to think he is to the human race. He longs for the days when humanity was dependent upon his protection, refuses to accept that they've moved on as a species, and insists that they stay on his planet with him just like in the old days.
  • Hot God: Apollo is a classically handsome hunk in a skimpy toga.
  • Instant Costume Change: Apollo turns Carolyn's uniform into a pink toga faster than you can say "Clothes beam!"
  • Insert Cameo: The hand seen stopping and holding the Enterprise belongs to none other than Gene Roddenberry.
  • In the Original Klingon: Inaugurates the Running Gag of Chekov claiming Russian origins for everything, in this case comparing Apollo's vanishing act to "the cat from the old Russian story" and indignantly refusing Kirk's suggestion that the Cheshire Cat is actually English.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The episode title and plot were inspired by Adonaïs: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Apollo and Carolyn both lose IQ points upon falling for each other. It makes Scotty a little less bright as well.
  • Manly Tears: A ton of this from Apollo, who's heartbroken when he realizes this universe has no room for gods. If you look close, he even makes a tiny spit bubble.
    Apollo: I would have cherished you, cared for you. I would have loved you as a father loves his children. Did I ask so much?
    Kirk: We've outgrown you. You asked for something we could no longer give.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Scotty tells Carolyn that she looks tired. Would she like to get some coffee with him? Then again, it doesn't seem like Carolyn's peppiness is really what he's worried about.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The weird green hand.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kirk and Co. openly mock Apollo so that he will attack them, expending his energy and allowing Enterprise to counterstrike. Unfortunately, Carolyn interjects on their behalf and calms Apollo, averting the fight — and causing the landing party to remain under Apollo's thumb a bit longer. Kirk even lampshades it with his sarcastic thanks. (In her defense, Kirk never told her what they were attempting.)
    • Should also be noted that Kirk knew that Apollo would very likely kill at least one of them when sufficiently enraged. Carolyn may well have saved their lives.
  • Obliviously Evil: Apollo essentially holds the crew of the Enterprise hostage, punishes them when they step out of line - nearly killing some of them, and takes Carolyn away from the landing party to have all to himself - not caring about if he has a relationship with anyone (then again, neither does Carolyn very much). He doesn't realise that after thousands of years of cultural development, those actions to 23rd century humans just make him look like a dick, and certainly not like a god worthy of their worship anymore - just earns their hostility. His muttering to Carolyn, and his eventual demise reveal that he was genuinely confused by their antagonism towards him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Apollo goes into a full-blown panic when the Enterprise attacks his temple, realizing that humanity has grown more powerful than he is.
    (while hurling lightning bolts) "STOP!! STOP, I SAY!! I COMMAND IT!! STOOOOOPP!! STOOOOOOPPP!! STOOOOOOOOOOPPPPP!!"
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: In his tantrum, Apollo says he would love Kirk and his crew like children. Kirk comes out and says they have outgrown that need.
  • Physical God: Apollo.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Carolyn pleads with Apollo not to destroy Kirk and co. for openly mocking him.
  • Plot Hole: Kirk leads a landing party down to the nearby planet, where the alien reveals that he is Apollo. Later in the episode, Spock, who had been on the Enterprise the whole time, makes reference to Apollo. There is no way Spock could have known who the alien was as Apollo immediately jammed the landing party's communicators: at best, he might've picked up on Apollo mentioning that he doesn't want Spock present because his pointy ears remind him of Pan and he's never liked Pan and thus Spock might've known he's related to Greek mythology, and while he did see his face on the main screen and could've made an educated guess based on his appearance on which such character he would likely be, it's still a stretch.
  • Power Echoes: Apollo loves using a booming, echoing voice that would put Princess Luna to shame. His voice softens when he speaks to Carolyn.
  • Psychic Strangle: Apollo uses this on Kirk after zapping Scotty.
  • Reverse the Polarity: One of the tactics Spock tells Sulu to do to try to free the Enterprise from Apollo's grasp.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • Kirk seems to have invokedtaken some liberty with his knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Such stories include no element of gods needing to "recharge" after a good smiting of the mortals. Then again, myths may have gotten a bit garbled over the centuries.
    • Leto wasn't a mortal woman but a Titan, the daughter of Koios and Zeus' cousin.
  • Secular Hero: Subverted with a little Nay-Theist thrown in.
    Kirk: Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate.note 
    McCoy: Scotty doesn't believe in gods.
    • Taken literally, this could mean that no one believes in more than one god. And that some people believe in less than one. Makes sense in a way since polytheism is now associated with primitive civilizations and all of the modern world's major religions are either non-theistic (many Jains, Hindus, Buddhists, Unitarians, some Quakers among others) or monotheistic (Abrahamic religions).
  • Shock and Awe: Apollo's favorite supernatural power. He loses it when the Enterprise destroys his fancy marble temple.
  • Sizeshifter: Apollo can grow to many times his normal height, and uses it to intimidate the crew.
  • Spanner in the Works: Kirk and his men come up with a pretty good plan to provoke Apollo into draining his energy, but they aren't able to communicate the plan to Carolyn without tipping off Apollo. Sure enough, Carolyn derails the plan by talking Apollo down before he can start firing lightning bolts.
  • Spurned into Suicide: What eventually becomes of Apollo.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: After Apollo is defeated, McCoy regrets that it came to that, and Kirk acknowledges how much Apollo and his fellow gods gave to humanity via the Greek civilization, even stating "Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?"
  • That's an Order!: Kirk orders his people to refrain from attacking Apollo without his say-so. Not that Scotty listens.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Apollo tells Captain Kirk how long ago his people lived on Earth.
    Apollo: We knew your Earth well, five thousand of your years ago.
  • Villainous BSoD: YMMV on whether Apollo's a full-on villain or Anti-Villain, but when the Enterprise destroys his temple, he looks like his world just ended (which, in a sense, it kinda has).
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Apollo just knew someday humans would go to the stars and has been waiting centuries upon centuries for them, only to find they have no interest in being his followers. No one does. He's so lonely.
  • Wine Is Classy: Apollo invites Kirk and co. to "drink the sacramental wine". He serves no wine, but a bowl of grapes can be seen.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Apollo tells Carolyn she is wise for a woman. She later turns it on him, telling him he's quite good at imitating humanity.



Turns out the Greek gods were aliens

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Main / AncientAstronauts

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