Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 2

Who Mourns for Adonais?

Aired Unknown Sep 22, 1967 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
176 votes

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Episode Summary

The Enterprise encounters an alien who claims to be the Greek god Apollo.

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  • The Enterprise is ensnared by the Greek god Apollo, who has decided that the time has come for mankind to worship him again.

    With a title derived from an elegy written by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Adonas: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats), "Adonais" takes an interesting premise and uses it as a tone poem that doesn't really develop a story.

    When this episode first aired in 1967, it was ahead of its time. One year later the book "Chariots of the Gods?" was published and the same idea (that aliens visited the ancient civilizations of earth) became a pop cultural phenomenon. Here, however, the idea goes mostly unexplored and just serves to set the stage for another all-powerful being to mess around with the Enterprise before Kirk figures out "his bag of tricks". It's a plot that has grown stale by this point, though it would continue to pop up, even in the Animated Series, and the feature films.

    Shakespearean thespian Michael Forest, guest starring as Apollo, uses a mid-Atlantic accent (which Patrick Stewart would later make famous) to great effect, and he gives his character a strong sense of pathos. There's a bittersweet sadness in the idea of mankind leaving a god behind like a son or daughter becoming a teen and no longer idolizing a parent. But Apollo simply has too little to do other than mope. The plot can be summed up as Apollo asking for worship, Kirk refusing, Apollo becoming angry, and having it all repeat over and over until the end, all on the same "planet" stage used in "Amok Time" (redressed to look like ancient Greece). Reminiscent of Madlyn Rhue's part in "Space Seed", Leslie Parrish plays a female officer smitten with Apollo, ultimately having to decide whether to please him or Captain Kirk. (She's actually decent in the part, though the sexist idea that she needs to leave Starfleet when she gets married doesn't do much establish her character). Meanwhile, Spock gets a short B story on the ship, attempting to (quite literally) break free of Apollo's grip. It all gives us some memorable bits, from the visual of a giant hand to Apollo's final soliloquy, and it's set to a beautiful score by Fred Steiner; but with no story, the pieces just don't add up to a meaningful whole.

    Remastered Edition: With the original version of this episode having to cheat its way around some difficult visual effects, it leaves quite a bit of room for improvement. CBS Digital is happy to oblige. To give credit where it's due, the signature effect for the episode is a giant hand grabbing hold of the Enterprise, and it's always been rather well done. (The CBS team redoes it but keeps the concept the same). Unfortunately, back in the 60s the original effects team couldn't add anything else to this shot, because compositing three images together was just too difficult. As such, the original footage can't show the ship, the hand, and the planet in the same shot, with the end result being that the planet disappears for most of the (original) episode. Also, late in the episode when the Enterprise fires its phasers, the hand is inexplicably gone. Fortunately, digital technology allows for more freedom, and the new effects fixes these issues by including an Earth-like globe throughout and having the Enterprise punch through the hand with phasers just as the dialogue indicates (with the script likely written before the original effects team figured out it wasn't possible for them to do). The CBS team also corrects the color of the phasers and touches up a shot of a temple being leveled. On the other hand (pardon the pun), there's a special effect that proves too much for CBS Digital to replace. Apollo's head appears on the viewscreen amidst a background of stars, and to matte the guy into a new star field would require some intense, time consuming work. With the original effect working just fine, they wisely leave it alone, giving us a rare shot of the stars in a remastered version that hasn't been redone. (They also leave an obvious mistake alone. At the end, as Apollo gives his final speech, there's a tree behind his head. Yet supposedly he's a giant, with no tree nearly as tall as him. It's the classic case of not seeing the Forest for the trees).

    Special Bonus Review

    Pilgrim of Eternity: 6.5

    Apollo returns to wreak havoc on Kirk and the Enterprise.

    Where did this one come from, you ask? Well in 2013, Vic Mignogna spearheaded an effort to make new episodes of the original series for fans to enjoy. Funding the first episode himself, Mignogna brings back Michael Forest to reprise Apollo in "Pilgrim of Eternity", an episode that premiered at Phoenix Comicon. While the series features new actors playing the old parts (including Mignogna himself as Captain Kirk), it meticulously recreates the original sets, lighting, camera angles, tone, and structure and reuses many old elements, such as sound effects and music. For obvious copyright reasons, Mignogna is unable to profit this work, but its real purpose is simply to entertain fans of the original series, and as such, all the finished episodes are available online for free viewing.

    For "Pilgrim", Apollo is back, and this time he spends the episode on board the Enterprise. Forest steps back into the Greek God's shoes without missing a beat, and with this authenticity and all the familiar sets around him, the episode makes it easy to accept you really are back in the Original Series. As the script moves along, it picks up threads from "Who Mourns for Adonais" and develops them in a way "Who Mourns" never does, even allowing Forest to sing in one of the episode's most poignant moments. Meanwhile, the visual effects hold up their end of the bargain, being nearly on par with the remastered versions of the original series.

    Unfortunately, the episode is not without its flaws. Beyond Mignogna, the actors aren't fabulous, ranging from "ugh" to adequate. (The cast includes Chris Doohan, son of James Doohan, as Scotty, Mythbuster's Grant Imahara as Sulu, and Marina Sirtis as the voice of the ship's computer). In particular, Scotty spends the episode almost comically angry, and Imahara is tries too hard to summon his inner George Takei, creating a parody. More than that, however, the series misses Nimoy and Kelley, with no amount of money or effort able to make up for the loss. With most fan presentations, it's not so noticeable because there are too many other sins. Here, however, everything is present but these guys, and it's hard not to bemoan the fact that we can't do a slingshot around the sun, pick up the original actors from 1969, and drop them in these episodes.

    The script itself is not without issues, too. While strong early, begins to falter in the second half. The point of the story is to build a moral dilemma, but in the process the danger and tension dissipate. Of course, the premise itself is built on a weak (if memorable) episode, so it only has so much steam in it.

    In the end, however, the episode is probably just as good as its prequel and better than quite a few Original Series episodes. For an old fan who has watched the original 79 a hundred times, it can be quite a trip to watch a new episode of the original Trek once again!

  • All I could do was think how Lt Palamas would have enjoyed "Large Apollo" if he had won

    As with most TOS outings, the blu-ray's new f/x elevate the proceedings to a believable level, but come on... this episode is too simple and simply shallow, even for TREK circa 1966.

    An alien, claiming to be the Greek god Apollo, ensnares the ship with a force field (shaped like his hand, a very big hand it seems), and wants to crush the ship if the crew don't worship him 24/7. Kirk and crew have to stop him before he treats the ship like a giant beer can. Yeah, one would have to have drank a lot of beer to be able to sit through this episode.

    The alien claiming to be Apollo is well-acted, and it's easy to see why Kirk would object to herding sheep, eating lamb chops, not getting to the 3rd season episode written by the creator of Lamb Chop (Shari Lewis), and making itchy wool sweaters in effigy for the rest of his life, but good grief - this episode is a turkey, which makes me pine for the horrendously awful "The Alternative Factor" or "The Galileo Seven".

    As usual, Scotty is protective and sexist toward the token female object of the hour and just about gets killed. Granted, he is wearing a red shirt, but that's okay - in TNG and its spinoffs, if you were a yellow shirt you'd be killed (or at least getting your pants the same shade of yellow if you got sufficiently

    Kirk states that his one God is sufficient - whether that's the one that says it's a sin to eat cows, or the one that says it's a sin to eat anything that isn't a cow is still up for debate... Either of them is preferable to a deity belonging to a culture that practiced molestation of boys, but in 1967 or now I doubt that the premise of beings visiting Earth, going away, and humans finding them would be explored in any serious manner. Even "Plato's Stepchildren", which is a harsher yet more watchable tale, doesn't go into detail about how humanity's ancient cultures behaved... so in that respect, it's easy to believe Kirk's defiance...

    Obviously, there's not much to really say about this one - except "skip it, next please". Unless you like eye candy, especially in the form of eye candy, especially if you can appreciate both genders. Just turn off the brain, turn on the thing that makes you enjoy eye candy, and let the next 51 minutes whiz right by... but it's nowhere near the level of intellectualism that it could or deserves to be.

  • Not a bad exploration of power, vanity, corruption, and pulling the plug on it all. Certainly better than some installments and light years ahead of any weekly TV science fiction of the time.moreless

    Kirk must thwart the ambitions of the Greek god Apollo, now a refugee in space and seeking worshippers in the 23rd century.

    There is a lot of this episode that's not really any different than "The Apple", but there are a few more novel concepts here. Long before "Chariots of the Gods", the supposition that powerful aliens may have formed the basis of Earth myth is interesting. It's nuts of course, but a unique idea to come to sci-fi TV in the 60s.

    The character of Apollo is well-played, a nice mix of arrogance and sentimentality. Leslie Parrish may actually be better than Madelyn Rhue ("Space Seed") as the female who falls for the "superman". Weak points include the scripting of Scotty, he has little of his ability and his lines are all insanely over-dramatic screams as he lunges at the superior being (also in the scripting department, the dialog before the opening credits is some of the most sexist of the series). The scientific mumbo-jumbo aboard the Enterprise re-inforces the story well, as Spock and crew play a major role in solving the problem from orbit.

    Perhaps a little more could have been invested in explaining why the superficial aspect of worship is so important to Apollo before his ultimate defeat, but there is some pathos at his demise and a definite sense that he is at least a sympathetic anachronism. Overall, not bad.moreless
  • The Enterprise encounters an alien proclaiming to be the Greek God Apollo.

    "You're no God to us Mister!!!" LMAO

    A classic Star Trek episode in every sense. Surprisingly great special effects, a great story and a battle of wills between Kirk and a alien making himself to be the God Apollo.

    Sure some of these elements have been reused as others have posted but to me what matters most is if the episode is entertaining. It was entertaining to me.

    The special effects were good as well especially the scenes showing Apollo such as him becoming a giant right before the crew's rise. A nicely shot scene.

    Although Star Trek was notorious for some outdated effects, they really made you feel like these things were happening for real.

    Great acting by the cast and guest stars. Shatner as usual commands the screen when he has the chance.

    Although the Enterprise has been prone to violence, this is an episode where that is warranted. Apollo is cruel, violent and unmerciful. He forces the enterprises to beam down to the planet to where he is and worship him for life.

    Kirk and the crew try to discuss a way of breaking this God, or alien or whatever he is.

    It has a lot of issues dealing with the whole Gods myth and how we deviated from Gods. It's a funny thing we don't worship Gods but now have substituted to worship other things like technology.

    Nice entertaining episode.moreless
  • The Enterprise is literally grabbed by a giant energy field in the form of a hand. The cause is a being who claims to be Greek God Apollo, who holds the ship captive and insists the beam down party worship him. Far from perfect, but this one appeals to memoreless

    This is a far from perfect 'Star Trek' episode, but I still like this one. Not only does it have a reasonably story, but I have always loved tales of the Greek Gods, and am a huge fan of later, such themed shows such as 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' and 'Xena: Warrior Princess' (all episodes of which I have reviewed on this site, by the way). So an episode that revolves around a powerful alien claiming to be Apollo instantly appeals to me.

    The special effects highlight of the episode is undoubtedly the giant hand which literally grabs the Enterprise. For the limited special effects and budget of the time, it is a great image (note that I am reviewing the original version of the episode; I have not seen the enhanced remastered versions as yet).

    The episode also has some good moments for the supporting crew members. Chekov comes across as very intelligent (I like the line about Spock "contaminating him") and likable, and proves to be a good addition to the cast; Uhura gets to do some space-age soldering, and – although I didn't find his attraction to 'guest crew member of the episode' Lt. Carolyn Palamas all that convincing, Scotty also had some good moments. He did seem a little dumb to keep trying to attack Apollo, only to be repeatedly sent flying with a 'thunderbolt', but that's love for you!

    This is another episode that deals with a powerful alien being 'toying' with the Enterprise and her crew, something which had already been done in several first season episodes ("The Squire of Gothos" immediately springs to mind), and something that even by the early second season was becoming something of a cliché of the series. It is true that it does have somewhat of a 'seen it before' feel, but at the same time, it still makes for a watchable episode.

    The only downside of the story is that it does seem a little stretched to fill the episode. The giant hand in space is thrilling, and the first scenes down on the planet surface as the landing party meet Apollo are intriguing – could it be that he really is the ancient Greek God, who visited Earth thousands of years ago? But later on, the story does lose momentum slightly. I would have liked to have seen the possibility of it being the real Apollo being dealt with in more depth.

    At the end of the story, I was unsure if the being really was Apollo or not – it was indicated that he may well have been, but never felt to be truly decided one way or another.

    All-in-all, a good episode. I'm not sure if it's quite strong enough to be considered a classic of the series, but I like it all the same.moreless
Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

Mr. Spock

William Shatner

William Shatner

Captain James Tiberius Kirk

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Leslie Parrish

Leslie Parrish

Lt. Carolyn Palamas

Guest Star

Michael Forest

Michael Forest


Guest Star

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

Ensign Pavel Chekov

Recurring Role

John Winston

John Winston

Lt. Kyle

Recurring Role

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • When the landing party is conversing around the marble table, there are several shots of Kirk in which three tall trees are prominent in the background behind him. The tree in the middle consistently shakes vigorously back and forth behind Kirk throughout all the shots, yet the other two trees remain still. If a wind that strong were shaking one of them that forcibly it would certainly at least stir the branches of the two neighboring trees, as well as ruffle the hair of the landing party.

    • Trivia: In this episode Chekov says he's 22 years old.

    • When Apollo throws Scotty across the courtyard, he hits a brick wall which wobbles noticeably.

    • Kirk tells the lieutenant "This far out we may never get help," but they are only 79 light years out. That does not seem too far for Star Trek travel and communication times.

    • When Kirk calls up to order Spock to fire phasers, he has trouble getting his communicator open and tries again (successfully). Fair enough, except both times it makes the little activation chirping noise.

    • When Apollo grows large, he towers over every tree on the landscape. But when they cut to closeups of his face, we can see taller trees behind him.

    • After Spock "punches holes" in the giant hand, it disappears - presumably we should see a giant hand with...holes in it, but we don't.

  • QUOTES (18)

  • NOTES (3)


    • Title:
      Referencing the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats" (1821). It is a pastoral elegy written seven weeks after Shelley had learned of the death of his fellow writer.

    • Title
      In modern parlance Adonis (the more common spelling of the name) refers to a handsome, irresistible and sometimes terribly vain man. In ancient Greek and Roman mythology Adonis was originally the most beautiful mortal man ever born. The object of desire for both the goddesses Persephone and Aphrodite, Adonis spends four months of the year with each goddess and four months to himself thereby copying the passage of the seasons. He thus inextricably becomes linked to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The passage from rebirth to life to death is followed by Apollo in this story, although his final passing seems to have no hope for resurrection. Interestingly considering his influence over Carolyn Palamas, Adonis was also the central figure in a cult whose adherents were all women.

    • Kirk: Don't you mean the English story of the Cheshire Cat?
      Referring to a character from the classic children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). The Cheshire Cat is a sly creature who has the ability to appear and disappear at will, sometimes leaving behind only a smile.