“Who Mourns for Adonais?” is the second episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon, and directed by Marc Daniels, it was first broadcast 22 September 1967.
The title is in line 415 of the 1821 elegy Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley and roughly means “who mourns for gods?”
In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise are held captive by an alien who claims to be the Greek god Apollo.
A huge energy field in the shape of a glowing green hand appears and grabs the Enterprise, halting its movement. Captain James T. Kirk tries to shake the ship free, but to no avail. A humanoid apparition appears on the bridge viewscreen and addresses the ship’s crew. Kirk demands that the ship be set free, but the being responds by tightening its grip, threatening to crush the ship until Kirk agrees to the being’s demands that the ship’s crew be beamed down to the planet below.
Kirk leads a landing party that includes Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas (Leslie Parrish). The team arrives at what appears to be an ancient Greek temple, where they encounter the humanoid who identifies himself as the god Apollo (Michael Forest). He informs the party that he will not allow them to leave, and renders the team’s communicators and transporter room nonfunctional. He indicates that he expects the crew of the Enterprise to worship him as their ancestors had done, and in return promises to provide for all their needs and desires. Kirk refuses.
Apollo’s attention shifts toward Carolyn, angering Mr. Scott, who steps forward to defend her against Apollo’s advances. Apollo destroys his weapon and announces he will take Carolyn as his consort. After displaying his power, Apollo appears tired, and vanishes along with Carolyn.
Kirk and McCoy speculate that their captor was one of a group of powerful aliens that visited Earth millennia ago and became objects of worship to the ancient Greeks. Having noticed Apollo’s apparent fatigue, Kirk decides to try to provoke Apollo in order to test the limits of his power, perhaps weakening him enough to allow the landing party to overcome him. Meanwhile, Carolyn learns that Apollo belonged to a group of travellers, god-like in the sense of having the power of life and death, but unable to exist without love and worship. He is the last of their kind, the others having given up hope that humans might one day turn back to them.
Kirk’s plan to provoke Apollo is frustrated when Carolyn intervenes to protect the landing party. Apollo instructs Kirk to begin making arrangements for the remaining crew to come down to the planet. Kirk takes Carolyn aside and tells her that she must reject Apollo to save them all from slavery. She reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, Mr. Spock locates the power source for the force field holding the Enterprise, and finds a way to fire phasers through it. Sorrowfully putting responsibility before her romantic desires, Carolyn lies and tells Apollo her interest in him is purely scientific. Angered and hurt, Apollo calls down thunder and lightning to intimidate her. Kirk orders Spock to fire on the power source.
Defeated, Apollo addresses his fellow gods, admitting that there is no room left in the universe for them, and begs to be taken away. He fades to nothing. Carolyn is devastated. Kirk shows some remorse, remarking that humans owe their moral code to the Greek civilisation – and thereby, in all likelihood, to Apollo and his kind.
Apollo’s “green hand” is mentioned in dialog in Star Trek Beyond as well as is seen fully in the movies credits.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Marc Daniels.
- Writer(s): Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 22 September 1967.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.