And so to episode 2 of the second season, “Who Mourns For Adonais?” No, despite the fact that this episode deals with Greek gods, that’s not a typo for “Adonis“, it’s a reference to the poem Adonaïs, by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
It begins with the Enterprise surveying the Beta Geminorum system, belonging to the star otherwise known as Pollux, in a piece of well-placed real-world stellar cartography. Approaching Pollux IV, a huge disembodied hand made of some sort of energy field grabs the Enterprise and stops it dead in space. Then a disembodied head appears and cryptically invites Kirk and selected crew to beam down to his planet. Kirk declines and tries to get the ship away, but the hand squeezes the hull, causing Scotty to complain that the hull cannae take the pressure. Apparently putting pressure on the hull – but not enough to actually buckle it – also causes a painful increase in air pressure inside the ship, as everyone clutches their ears in pain while it occurs. The head specifically doesn’t invite Spock, who it says reminds him of Pan, with the pointed ears.
Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, and Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas beam down. Palamas is the Archaeology and Anthropology officer. It seems they have specialists in everything on the Enterprise. Earlier we saw that Scotty has a soft spot for Carolyn, but McCoy doesn’t think it’ll go anywhere because currently Carolyn is dedicated to Starfleet. She may find a man outside Starfleet and leave the service, but won’t fall for a fellow officer.
They beam down to an idyllic area which has a small Greek temple in it. The owner of the disembodied head greets them, and introduces himself as Apollo, the god of the sun. He claims to have been on Earth 5000 years before, and has now been waiting for humanity to find him again.
In a strong echo of “The Squire of Gothos“, Apollo takes a shine to the girl of the week, Carolyn, and uses his nigh-omnipotent powers to put her into an alluringly flimsy dress and begin flirting with her, while keeping the men of the landing party at bay and preventing them from contacting the Enterprise. In another echo of that episode, Kirk deduces that Apollo has a power source somewhere and that perhaps they can trick Apollo into a moment of weakness and destroy it.
Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Spock is ordering people around, including instructing Uhura to rig a subspace bypass of the jammed radio circuits to contact Kirk. We see Uhura head deep in a console, soldering circuits, showing she is a practical, hands-on crew member. Which is good, except that her elaborate hairdo is getting in the way and is in serious danger of catching fire from the soldering iron.
Apollo displays some weakness when Scotty, protective of Carolyn, incurs Apollo’s wrath and Apollo unleashes lightning bolts on him. This weakens Apollo and he vanishes for a while. Chekov likens the disappearing act to that of the cat with the smile from a Russian fairy tale. When Kirk amusedly points out that it’s an English tale, with a Cheshire Cat, Chekov sincerely responds, “Cheshire? No, it was Minsk.”
There’s a bunch of padding to make up the 50 minutes of screen time, followed by the Enterprise breaking through the giant space hand and contacting Kirk. He orders phasers fired on the temple, which destroys it, to the impotent horror of Apollo. Kirk gives a Picard speech about humanity not needing gods any more – and goes on to say they get on fine with “just the one”. Apollo sheds tears and then vanishes, following the other Greek gods who have long since given up and spread themselves to the winds of the Universe.
The episode ends without resolving the romantic tension between Carolyn and Scotty, and of course we never see Carolyn again. A rather lame episode, with recycled plot elements and unsatisfactory loose ends, although there are a few moments of drama and interest to keep it from being appalling. Chalk up yet another semi-omnipotent being in the growing catalogue of beings encountered by the Enterprise, and bring on the next episode.
Tropes: Literary Allusion Title, Shown Their Work, You Are A Credit To Your Race, Girl Of The Week, Career Versus Man, Physics Goof, Classical Mythology, Cargo Cult, Physical God, Theiss Titillation Theory, Bolt Of Divine Retribution, The Original Klingon, Padding, Patrick Stewart Speech, Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions, Death Of The Old Gods, Sufficiently Advanced Alien.
Body Count: Apollo, scattered to the Cosmos.