Star Trek Reviews

Return to season list

Star Trek TOS - Season 2 - Episode 02

Star Trek TOS - 2x02 - Who Mourns for Adonais?

Originally Aired: 1967-9-22

Synopsis:
The Enterprise is held captive by the Greek god Apollo. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.42

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 75 42 18 27 22 20 27 21 11 10 15

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
None

Factoids
- A line from Spock indicates that Earth-like planets are excessively common in the galaxy, to the point of it not even being terribly noteworthy when a new one is discovered.
- This episode establishes that Chekov is 22 years old.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk and McCoy making fun of Scotty being for smitten with the historian officer.
- Scotty fighting for his girl in vain.
- Kirk making fun of Chekov's age and supposed vulnerability to young, pretty girls.
- The Enterprise phasering Apollo out of existence.

My Review
While the idea that the gods of ancient civilizations were in fact advanced space aliens taking advantage of primitive humanity is an intriguing premise for a science fiction story, the way this episode tells such a story leaves much to be desired. Aside from the fact that Star Trek has already featured far too many god-like aliens, nearly every aesthetic choice made in this episode is overwrought and embarrassing to watch, especially the giant hand forcefield which fondles the Enterprise all episode. More than that we've got yet another story where the Enterprise is held hostage by the guest antagonist of the week with an irrational motive, yet another female officer who falls for the arrogant bad guy of the week, and yet another plot resolved by blowing up a concealed power source fueling a bag of magic tricks.

Then there's the logical problem about why Apollo and his comrades ever left Earth to begin with. Apollo mentions that the Greeks simply stopped worshipping him and his comrades. Okay, and how did they get away with that exactly? Kirk's crew was only narrowly able to avoid enslavement by Apollo by firing phasers at his power source. I'm not an expert on history, but I'm pretty sure the ancient Greeks didn't have phasers with which to overthrow their gods. If Apollo and his comrades wanted them to keep worshipping, they certainly could have forced the Greeks to continue doing so.

There is a powerful theme in this story though which is nicely summed up by a line from Kirk which opens with "mankind has no need for gods." This is an excellent illustration of the episode's theme, as the whole point of the story is to demonstrate how the whole concept of a god is little more than a human psychological construction to explain observations (or imaginings) which appear supernatural. Kirk even says that mankind has outgrown gods in a manner easily likened to how children outgrow their infantile toys. But Kirk undermines that entire point and in doing so the entire theme of the episode in his very next sentence by stating "we find the one quite adequate." In that single sentence, Kirk's credibility suddenly vanishes. How could mankind have outgrown gods if it still needs to believe in one? All in all, I'll sum up this episode by saying what a great idea for a story wasted on such bad storytelling.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jem Hadar on 2009-04-06 at 6:45pm:
    Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

    Problem
    - How would Spock know that the God's name was Apollo when he was talking to Kyle about his location- it was never mentioned until the landing party beamed to the surface, which he wasn't a part of!

    Also, I really enjoy this episode. I give it a 7.5/10
  • From Flex on 2009-05-22 at 4:52pm:
    Hey, great site - while I often rate these TOS episodes more highly than you do these are all great reviews and entries, very thorough?

    I just wanted to say I rate this episode rather highly (a 6, maybe). It's nothing stunningly original, but I find the story rather poignant and sad.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-04-04 at 12:39pm:
    My nitpicks, once again:

    -Somebody has mentioned this, but Spock mentions Apollo's before he should have been aware of it.

    -This episode reeks of sexism. At the beginning, you here McCoy talking about the woman on the bridge. He mentions that if she meets a man, she'll withdraw from Starfleet and settle down. Also, when that same woman is down on the planet, she acts mindless, and falls in love wih Apollo very easily.
  • From Krs321 on 2011-11-01 at 4:01pm:
    I like the new 'filler quotient' ratings; solid addition and I hope you put them on the other series at some point.

    However, I have to disagree on this episode. Kirk crushing this guy's spirit is awesome and I genuinely feel bad for Apollo.

    I'm not sure the filler quotient should depend so heavily on canon significance as much as how sucky the episode is (Alternative Factor, barf).
  • From Strider on 2012-07-30 at 12:58am:
    Even though we have another female officer who falls in love with the bad guy of the week, at least this female officer knows her duty and doesn't put her romance ahead of her captain, crew, and ship. It's an improvement from other episodes, at least.
  • From Deggsy on 2013-04-11 at 4:49pm:
    Am I wrong in thinking that the networks used makeup or whatever to hide Apollo's exposed nipple?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-08-15 at 9:44pm:
    "WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS?"

    I don't think the story is as bad as you make it out to be. Parts are good; parts are bad. I'd certainly give it a higher rating than a 1.

    Yeah, the giant hand looks ridiculous, esp. in the remastered version, in which, when it first approaches the Enterprise, looks a little like a twisted-balloon sculpture, or an inflated latex glove. But how else is Apollo going to hold, squeeze, and crush the ship? You kind of have to go with it. I suppose he could just zap it, but it wouldn't have the right imagery. You couldn't have, "And I'll crush it's empty hull." It's worth going with it just for that line. What else could you do? A tractor beam? Doesn't quite fit in with the Greek-god bit. But the hand looks a little better toward the end. Maybe it should have been at the end of a really long arm!

    About Spock knowing Apollo's name too early in the story: This type of thing happens elsewhere in the series.

    Chekov is clearly wearing a wig.

    Re your question about the Greeks stopping worshiping the gods, Apollo addresses this: "We could have struck out from Olympus and destroyed. We have no wish to destroy, so we came home again." What you think of that is another matter.

    You wrote, ". . . we've got yet another story where the Enterprise is held hostage by the guest antagonist of the week with an irrational motive, yet another female officer who falls for the arrogant bad guy of the week, and yet another plot resolved by blowing up a concealed power source fueling a bag of magic tricks."

    There was only one previous episode where a female officer falls for the bad guy of the week: Space Seed. So that's only two episodes from the first 31. But yes, there were three previous episodes with machines blown up and seven with the Enterprise held hostage.

    But you can look at it as what the show is. "What? Another symphony with four movements and in standard form?" "Ralph Kramden did something stupid again?" Trying to be positive here. :-)

    Carolyn's dress is pretty good.

    I love the special effects when Scotty is propelled across the marble floor by Apollo's lightning bolt. Intense, and well done! (From the remastered version. I don't presently have access to the original and can't recall how well it was done in that. But I do remember being impressed.) OTOH, Apollo should have recoiled at least a little.

    How can Apollo be so clueless about humans in the 22nd century? He wants something he can't have from our heroes: genuine worship. You can't force that. He has god-like powers, but this simple fact somehow eludes him. But gods need worship, etc., he says. Still, wouldn't that get pretty boring for after a while, even for Apollo or the other Greek gods? (The 22nd century? Yes, I know. But Star Trek TOS being in the 23rd century is based on an incorrect argument about "Miri." It should be recognized as the 22nd, which it clearly was in "Space Seed" and "Tomorrow is Yesterday." And do you really want to base the TOS period on "Miri" at all?

    Scotty was pretty clueless, too. It took two lightning bolts (the second being pretty severe!) and a smack in the face that sent him tumbling over the picnic bench from Apollo to teach him. First time we have Scotty fawning over a woman and showing signs of bad form (getting a bit hysterical in this episode). And as we know, it's going to get much worse!

    You ask, "How could mankind have outgrown gods if it still needs to believe in one?" Most have outgrown multiple gods, the kind of gods the ancients worshiped. That's progress. Some have speculated, with good reason, that many are just hard-wired to believe in a personal god. They can't help it. Neil deGrass Tyson gave an excellent talk on this subject, mostly with regard to scientists of various fields. It's on YouTube somewhere.

    Man, who would want to live in Apollo's dream world? Sounds pretty boring to me. Well, at least there'd be no war or disease.

    When Uhura works on fixing the bypass circuits, the thing she's using makes big sparks and such. Now generally, why does stuff like this on Star Trek always involve bright flashing light? Why is fixing things in TOS always like welding? And dig the 1960's circuit boards in that scene!

    Carolyn is a little too taken to Apollo until the end after Kirk talks her out of it.

    The scene where Carolyn spurns Apollo is weird. Also: "Carolyn, I forbid you to go. I order you to stay." "Is that the secret of your power over women? The thunderbolts you throw?" The dude just can't take no for an answer.

    The scene where the Enterprise destroys the temple is pretty cool. "Stop! . . . Stop, I say! . . ." And the power of the Enterprise vs. the power of Apollo. Intense.

    Boy, Michael Forest's neck looks really long after the temple is destroyed, no?

  • From Chris Long on 2018-05-27 at 6:55pm:
    A stupid episode in general but poignant at the end, I found...

    Spock says, "No life forms" when there is vegetation all over the place! Something has to be propagating those plants and trees!

    Chekov's wig was to make him look like Davey Jones of the Monkees, I believe. It looked ridiculous though!

Prove to me that you are a real person and not a spam robot by typing in the text of this image:

Return to season list