(airdate: September 22, 1967)
Writer: Gilbert Ralston
Director: Marc Daniels
Apollo: Michael Forest
Lt. Carolyn Palamas: Leslie Parrish
Lt. Kyle: John Winston
Captain's Log: The Enterprise is surveying the Beta Geminorum system when a giant green hand reaches out and grabs the ship, holding it immobile. The hand belongs to a humanoid face, who invites Kirk and a small landing party down to the surface of Pollux IV. Upon arrival, the being declares himself to be the Greek god Apollo, who has been waiting for humanity to travel across space to meet him again. The other Greek gods had given up and disappeared, but Apollo had not given up hope. Apollo is quickly enchanted with Lt. Carolyn Palamas, declaring that she will become his mate, while the others are to worship him. Kirk and the others refuse to do so, leading to Apollo becoming angry with them. Spock, aboard the ship, is eventually able to contact the landing party, informing them that Apollo's power appears to come from his temple. The Enterprise thus destroys the temple. Apollo, finally realizing that humanity will no longer worship him, consigns himself to oblivion.
Whoops!: Spock knows Apollo's name without being told it. And honestly, that's about it.
Classic Lines: "Give me your hand. Your hand! Now feel that. Human flesh against human flesh. We're the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We're tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference. We're human. We couldn't escape from each other even if we wanted to. That's how you do it, Lieutenant. By remembering who and what you are. A bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. The only thing that's truly yours is the rest of humanity. That's where our duty lies."
McCoy: "To coin a phrase: fascinating."
McCoy, gently admonishing Chekov: "Not the whole encyclopedia, Chekov." Chekov: "The captain requires complete information." McCoy: "Spock's contaminating this boy, Jim."
Cringe Lines: McCoy, apparently not believing in married career women: "On the other hand, she's a woman. All woman. One day she'll find the right man and off she'll go, out of the service."
Apollo being sexist: "You seem wise for a woman."
Technobabble: A strong pinpoint charge of M-rays on certain wavelengths helps the Enterprise penetrate Apollo's forcefield.
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Five minor injuries were treated in sickbay after Apollo grabbed the Enterprise. Apollo also attacks Scotty with lightning blasts multiple times, telekinetically chokes Kirk, and attacks Lt. Palamas with a wind storm after she spurns him. He also shoots lightning blasts at the Enterprise when it's destroying his temple, but to no avail.
Alien Love: Scotty appears to have a thing for Lt. Carolyn Palamas, but she's more taken with Apollo, who has declared that she will become the mother of a new race of gods. [A cut scene at the end of the episode revealed that Palamas was in fact pregnant with Apollo's child. Subsequent non-canon works have run with this idea, most notably Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series of novels.]
Library Computer: Pollux IV is a blue, Earth-like class-M planet in the Beta Geminorum system, with an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, approximately four billion years old. [This is the only time in the original series that a star is referred to by both its Bayer designation (the Greek letter-plus-constellation form) and its proper name.] The Enterprise sensors detected no life forms, and it appeared to be a quite unremarkable planet.
However, Pollux IV was the home of a very powerful being, the god Apollo. Apollo was a human-like being with dark curly hair [not blonde, the way Apollo is traditionally portrayed] and brown eyes, wearing a golden toga and calf-length Roman sandals, and with golden laurel leaves in his hair. Apollo was a powerful, long-lived being, who had [probably] once been worshipped by the ancient Greeks. He was one of a band of travellers who included Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Hermes, Hera, and Pan. Five thousand years ago they had travelled to Earth, where they were treated as gods. Apollo mentions Agamemnon, Hector, Odysseus, Hercules [sic], Daphne, Cassandra, and Leto as classical figures that he had known. Leto, a mortal, had been his mother and Zeus was his father. [This is different from classical accounts in that there Leto is said to be a goddess, not a mortal.] Apollo stated that Pan had always bored him, and that Spock reminded him of Pan [presumably because of his ears]. According to legend, Apollo was the god of light and purity and skilled in the bow and the lyre, and he was the twin sister of Artemis.
These travellers remained on Earth until they were forgotten and ignored. The gods needed to be worshipped - they fed on it. Unwilling to destroy humanity, they instead returned home to Pollux IV (which they called Olympus), where they chose to wait for humanity to come to them. However, the other gods grew weary of waiting and lacked the strength to leave Pollux IV, and so they consigned themselves to the wind, growing thinner and thinner until nothing physical remained - although Apollo noted that this wasn't actually death, as his people are immortal. Hera was the first of the gods to go this way, but the others followed, until only Apollo remained.
The Apollo we see here is arrogant and somewhat capricious, assuming that humanity will readily worship him and angered when he finds out this is not the case. He was also incredibly lonely. Apollo declared that the women on Earth are the most beautiful in the galaxy, and he's smitten with Lt. Carolyn Palamas, the Enterprise's A & A officer. Apollo appeared to be a normal human, but he had the ability to use tremendous amounts of energy, most likely via a special organ in his chest. Apollo's abilities included those of projecting an image of himself in space, creating a giant translucent green hand out of energy which could stop and (if necessary) crush the Enterprise, creating matter (such as Lt. Palamas's dress), growing in size, throwing bolts of electricity from his fingers, fusing the working parts of phasers, creating electrical storms, and invisibly choking people from a distance [yes, much like Darth Vader]. However, the expenditure of energy wears him out, and he must retire to rest afterwards. The source of Apollo's powers was his temple, a small marble and limestone affair with Ionic columns, containing enough space only for his throne (also marble). This temple emitted a radiating energy pulsation on unusual wavelengths, which Apollo was able to tap into. [Does this mean that ancient temples on Earth also had the ability to create energy, or was this something Apollo (or one of the other gods) rigged up to compensate for the lack of worshippers on Pollux IV?] The temple was capable of being destroyed, although it took a prolonged, sustained blast from the Enterprise's phasers to do so. After this final act of defiance, Apollo chose to fade away, joining his brothers and sisters in oblivion.
Lt. Carolyn Palamas was the Enterprise's A & A officer and thus knowledgable in archaeology, anthropology, and ancient civilizations. She was a blonde woman with blue eyes, dressed in sciences blue - at least until Apollo redressed her in a flowing, completely backless pink gown. [This is the outfit that Leslie Parrish had to be legendarily glued into, because there was no other way to keep her in it.] She finds herself smitten by Apollo, although she is able to do her duty and spurn him for the sake of the others.
The forcefield surrounding the Enterprise almost completely encircled the ship, and it resembled a standard forcefield but on unusual wavelengths. Communications and transporters were rendered inoperable by the field. Reversing the polarity of the field had no effect on it, but they were able to negate parts of the field by concentrating pinpoint charges of M-rays on selected wavelengths, allowing the ship to fire phasers at the planet below. Uhura was also able to rig a subspace bypass circuit, allowing the ship to communicate with the landing party; Spock stated that he could think of "no one better equipped to handle" the bypass than Uhura.
The Enterprise has a nuclear electronics lab. It also has multiple tractor beams [we hear of the "forward" ones here, which implies others], which can be set to repel. The pressure tolerance of the ship is a little higher than 1000 GSC [grams-force per square centimeter; 1000 GSC would be roughly 98 kiloPascals, or about 1 atmosphere - which makes sense for a starship]. The ship's phasers can evaporate stone, though not without some effort.
Pollux V has a "strange lack" of intelligent life. [This could be related to the presence of the gods on Pollux IV. Or it could just be a coincidence.]
The electric eel of Earth and the giant dry-worm of Antos IV can both generate and control energy without hurting themselves.
Chekov is 22 years old. He believes that the Cheshire Cat is actually a Russian story ("Cheshire? No, sir. Minsk perhaps, but–"), and exclaims that he is the Tsar of all the Russias upon being told Apollo's identity.
Kirk notes that humanity has no need for gods, finding "the one quite adequate". [Thus implying that Kirk at least believes in a higher power.]
Final Analysis: "Say five thousand years ago, a highly sophisticated group of space travellers landed on Earth around the Mediterranean." "Yes. To the simple shepherds and tribesmen of early Greece, creatures like that would have been gods." The image of the hand grabbing the ship is instantly memorable, and Michael Forest's imperious performance as the god Apollo is fabulous. The conflict between Apollo and Kirk is also clear, with neither side willing to budge, and Apollo's final moments are suitably tragic. This story also predates much of the ancient astronaut ideas that would be popularized by Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods? the following year, and does a better job of it here than much of what would follow. "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is a classic, and deservedly so.
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Page originally created: July 28, 2018
Page last updated: May 21, 2019