Director: Marc Daniels
Writer: Gilbert Ralston
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Michael Forest, Leslie Parrish, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and John Winston
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 9/22/1967
Production #: 60333
While approaching the planet Pollux IV, the Enterprise is immobilized by a giant hand consisting of pure energy. When a landing party beams down to investigate the disturbance, a powerful humanoid claims to be the god Apollo (Michael Forest) from Greek mythology.
Unlike “The Space Vikings” from Lost In Space, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” seriously examines the hypothesis of an alien entity influencing ancient Earth culture. That being said, modern viewers may have a difficult time overlooking certain ridiculous aspects of the Apollo character, whereas many Star Trek fans will take issue with Scotty’s uncharacteristically buffoonish outbursts.
As indicated earlier, a goofy execution taints an otherwise fascinating premise. Fortunately, guest actor Michael Forest portrayed the aforementioned deity with enough gravitas to keep the audience engaged at all times. On one hand, Forest’s character comes across as an abusive, narcissistic fraud, not entirely dissimilar from Trelane in season one’s “The Squire of Gothos.” Where Apollo differs from William Campbell’s mischievous character, however, is that the former manages to elicit sympathy due to his childlike inability to comprehend humanity’s rejection of his authority. In tragic contrast to other Star Trek villains, Apollo honestly believes himself to be a benevolent ruler with the best of intentions, which is why his pain becomes unbearable upon learning about mankind’s abandonment of past gods and religions.
Though technological constraints may explain why so many appalling special effects are present, Scotty’s idiotic reactions to Apollo can only be attributed to lazy writing. Even if viewers are to accept that Scotty would repeatedly charge an invincible foe after being shot back each time, such antics hardly seem appropriate when exploring science fiction concepts of a serious nature.
The romance angle in this episode also falls somewhat flat as a result of weak character development. Despite the fact that Forest and Parrish had strong chemistry together, the subplot involving Apollo and Lieutenant Palamas ultimately seems like a poor rehash of Khan’s relationship with Marla McGivers.
At its core, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” presents an insightful examination of humanity’s need to worship and respect a higher power, and whether such drives will motivate our endeavors for centuries to come. While a humanistic philosophy seems in direct contrast with archaic religious practices, Kirk’s conflicted speech in the final scene leaves more room for discussion on this topic than one would perhaps expect given Star Trek’s secular undertones.
“Who Mourns for Adonais?” puts an intriguing twist on the origins of Greek mythology. Several unintentionally humorous moments prevent Gilbert Ralston’s story from realizing its full potential, though Star Trek fans are nevertheless advised to view this episode for its thoughtful implications.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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