(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise is captured by an alien claiming to be Apollo, the Greek god of the sun.
Montgomery Scott is flirting with Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas on the bridge while Kirk and McCoy lightly tease him. As the USS Enterprise nears the planet Pollux IV, a huge green hand made of energy materializes in space, catching and holding the ship. "Am I… seeing things?", Ensign Pavel Chekov exclaims. Captain Kirk orders that the Enterprise reverse all engines but the "hand" manages to hold the ship anyway. "Helm doesn't answer. We can't move!", Lieutenant Sulu states. Kirk orders Uhura to send word to Starbase 12.
After a couple of failed attempts to break free of the "hand" holding the Enterprise in space, scanner five-seven displays the ghostly, laurel-wreathed head of a man. Claiming the eons have passed, he welcomes the Enterprise crew, congratulating his "beloved children" for leaving their plains and valleys and making a "bold venture" into deep space. Among other things, this being claims familiarity with Earth of five thousand years ago, dropping the names of individuals alive then. Captain Kirk's repeated demands for freedom finally irritate him, and he threatens to "close his hand" and crush the ship – a threat sufficiently credible that Kirk agrees to visit the planet with his officers, expressly omitting Spock, with the being saying that the Vulcan reminds him of Pan, whom he had always found boring.
The landing party consists of Kirk, McCoy, Scott, Chekov, and Palamas, who is trained in archaeology, anthropology, and ancient civilizations, all fields likely to be of some use. Materializing on the surface, the five crew members meet the being responsible for their capture, a being familiar with ancient Earth, who introduces himself as Apollo. Despite his claims, McCoy's tricorder scans show him to be a "simple humanoid". Changing to an enormous height, Apollo looks down at Kirk and the crew, and in a loud, booming voice, he intones, "Welcome to Olympus, Captain Kirk!"
Apollo claims he and others – Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Hera, Hermes, and Artemis – were a "gallant band of travelers" who visited Earth some five thousand years ago. He demands to be worshiped by the Enterprise landing party, and in return offers a simple yet pleasurable life. He reveals himself as petulant and arrogant – qualities that correspond to his depictions as a god. But he controls a dangerous power, as the crew discover in a number of ways: their phasers are all fused, the transporter device and communicators are inoperative, and Scott is injured by lightning strikes for other willful acts he commits against Apollo. Moreover, he has developed a romantic interest in Palamas, angering Scott.
Aboard the ship, Spock is proceeding under the same assumption, and the crew may be making headway: Lieutenant Uhura rigs a subspace bypass circuit to restore communications, and Sulu discovers a strange radiated power on the planet with no clear source. Spock asks the helmsman to scan the entire planet for the source of the power readings by looking where it is not – a simple process of elimination. Sulu, along with Leslie's assistance, begins the scan.
Apollo, meanwhile, has taken Palamas away from the rest of the Enterprise crew. He tells her the gods left Earth when mankind turned away from them, and that they need admiration just like Humans need food. They returned to their home, an empty place without worshipers. But they lacked the strength to leave, and so they waited. And over the course of time, all but Apollo discorporated. Apollo claims the gods are immortal, and cannot die – not, at least, in the way Humans understand death. But even they eventually reach a point of no return; they "spread themselves upon the wind… thinner, and thinner, until only the wind remained…" He then mentions that he "knew [Carolyn] would come to the stars" and be forever by his side as his queen. Palamas doesn't understand, but Apollo seduces her by saying that fifty centuries ago, gods took mortals with them to love and care for, as his parents did.
As on the Enterprise, the landing party has discovered the energy flow but is equally unable to isolate it. Chekov's theory is that Apollo can channel this flow of energy through his body without harm to himself, much like the electric eel on Earth or the giant dry worm of Antos IV. Finding the source of this energy is top priority. McCoy notes that, although Apollo is generally a standard humanoid, he has a mysterious extra organ in his chest. Apollo returns to the landing party and tells them Palamas is no concern to them anymore. Scott is enraged and charges at Apollo with a vase, but the god strikes him down with a bolt of lightning, throwing him off his feet.
Chekov observes that, as Apollo vanishes, he appears tired or pained. It seems that Apollo has a limited reservoir, and when he expends too much energy, he must retreat and recharge his energy cells. They therefore plan to force him to expend his power, and weaken him so that he might be overpowered.
Aboard ship, Spock asks Kyle to take his equations to the nuclear electronics lab so that they can generate M-rays on selected wavelengths to punch a few holes in Apollo's force field to fire their phaser banks through.
On Apollo's return, the landing party attempts to goad him into attacking someone, however, Palamas, who was not part of the plan, ruins it in her well-meaning attempt to save Kirk from Apollo's wrath. Kirk begins to devise another plan – but notes that it depends on Palamas' loyalty. If his plan does not work, Kirk notes, the Enterprise crew had better get used to herding goats.
Palamas has fallen in love with Apollo, who has told her she will be his consort, the mother of a new race of gods, and will inspire men throughout the universe. Palamas is returned to the landing party, weakened but content. Palamas tells Kirk of Apollo's plans for the crew to live on the surface of the planet, but Kirk tells her she has work to do after noticing her weakened state. "All our lives, here and on the ship, depend on you." She must spurn Apollo; to do otherwise condemns the crew to "nothing less than slavery." Kirk reminds her of her loyalty to Humanity, since that is where her duty (and his) lie. Palamas reveals her sympathy for Apollo's plan, but Kirk speaks to her of duty, orders, and the Humanity she shares is tied together beyond any untying with Kirk and others that she cannot share with Apollo. Kirk seems to be getting through to Palamas – when Apollo summons her back. She says "He's calling me," but no voice is heard. It's uncertain whether Apollo uses some form of telepathy to summon her. Kirk reminds her of her duty once more before she disappears.
Uhura is successful in contacting the landing party. Spock determines that the god's powers come from his temple. The Enterprise has used Spock's technique with M-rays to pierce the force field around the ship. The ship could fire phasers, but Kirk needs to know exactly where Apollo and Palamas are first before they are fired.
Apollo and Palamas are kissing passionately, but then Palamas tells Apollo she has merely been studying him; she could no more love him than love "a new species of bacteria." Of course, she is lying through her teeth when she says this, and is broken-hearted, but she must put responsibility before romantic desire, no matter how reluctant she is to do so. She walks away, and there is wind and thunder, noticed by the rest of the landing party. Palamas screams, and the sounds appear to indicate that she and Apollo are near the temple, and a gigantic Apollo looms nearby. Kirk angles to lure Apollo closer to the temple – his power source – and orders phaser fire to destroy the temple, despite the close proximity of the landing party. The Enterprise shudders from lightning bolts fired at it by Apollo, but continues firing phasers until the temple is completely destroyed.
Apollo, rejected by a mortal woman and bereft of his powers, asks for the Humans' forgiveness and spreads himself upon the winds to join his fellow gods. After he is gone, McCoy and Kirk regret what they had to do. Now believing that Apollo was the god of the ancient Greeks, Kirk talks about all that Apollo's people gave to Earth – their culture and philosophy – and wonders whether another outcome was possible. He muses to McCoy if it really would have hurt them to have gathered just a few laurel leaves. The Enterprise departs Pollux IV for open space.
"Bones, could you get that excited over a cup of coffee?"
"Even from here, I can tell his pulse rate's up."
- - Kirk and McCoy, observing Scott flirting with Palamas
"I like to think of it not so much as losing an officer as gaining… Actually, I'm losing an officer."
- - Kirk to McCoy, about Scott and the consequences of his love for Carolyn
"Captain Kirk, I invite you and your officers to join me. But do not bring that one. The one with the pointed ears. He is much like Pan. And Pan always bored me."
- - Apollo, inviting the whole Enterprise crew to Pollux IV except Spock
"If you want to play god and call yourself Apollo, that's your business, but you're no god to us, mister!"
- - Kirk, to Apollo
"Insults are effective only where emotion is present."
- - Spock, on his rejection by Apollo
"I am Apollo!"
"And I am the tsar of all the Russias!"
- - Apollo and Chekov, as Apollo identifies himself
"I have four hundred and thirty people on that ship up there!"
"Not anymore, Captain! They are mine now. To save, to cherish, or to destroy at my will."
- - Kirk and Apollo
"To coin a phrase, fascinating."
- - McCoy, after the giant Apollo suddenly looks tired and vanishes
"A god cannot survive as a memory."
- - Apollo to Palamas, explaining why the other gods withered away
"Spock's contaminating this boy, Jim."
- - McCoy, as Chekov provides Kirk detailed information
"He disappeared again like the cat in that Russian story."
"Don't you mean the English story? The Cheshire Cat?"
"Cheshire? No… Minsk, perhaps…"
- - Kirk and Chekov, after Apollo attacks Scott again and vanishes
"Approach me. I said approach me!"
"We're busy!" (to Scott) "Look after the girl."
"You will gather laurel leaves! Light the ancient fires! Kill a deer! Make your sacrifices to me! Apollo has spoken!!"
- - Apollo and Kirk
"I offer you more than your wildest dreams have ever imagined. You'll become the mother of a new race of gods. You'll inspire the universe. All men will revere you, almost as a god yourself. And I shall love you, time without end, worlds without end. You shall complete me, and I you."
- - Apollo to Palamas
"Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."
- - Kirk to Apollo, on how Humanity has changed since Apollo left Earth
"A father doesn't destroy his children."
- - Palamas, pleading with Apollo to spare Kirk's life
"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."
- - Kirk, convincing Palamas to reject Apollo
"The time has passed. There is no room for gods."
- - Apollo, before he fades away for the last time
"I wish we hadn't had to do this."
"So do I. They gave us so much… In a way, they began the Golden Age. Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?"
- - McCoy and Kirk, lamenting on the death of the Greek gods
- Story idea "Olympus Revisited" by Gene Roddenberry: 5 December 1966
- Story outline by Gilbert Ralston: 8 March 1967
- First draft teleplay: 7 April 1967
- Second draft teleplay: 19 April 1967
- Revised second draft by Gene L. Coon: 8 May 1967
- Final draft teleplay by Coon: 15 May 1967
- Revised final draft by D.C. Fontana: 26 May 1967
- Second revised final draft by Roddenberry: 29 May 1967
- Additional page revisions by Coon: 31 May 1967, 1 June 1967
- Filmed: 31 May 1967 – 8 June 1967
- Day 1 – 31 May 1967, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 2 – 1 June 1967, Thursday – Desilu Stage 9: Int. Bridge
- Day 3 – 2 June 1967, Friday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Apollo's temple
- Day 4 – 5 June 1967, Monday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Apollo's temple
- Day 5 – 6 June 1967, Tuesday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Apollo's temple
- Day 6 – 7 June 1967, Wednesday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Apollo's temple
- Day 7 – 8 June 1967, Thursday – Desilu Stage 10: Ext. Apollo's temple, Garden area, Bluescreen vfx shots of Michael Forest
- Score recording: 12 July 1967
- Original airdate: 22 September 1967
- Rerun airdate: 10 May 1968
- First UK airdate: 27 April 1970
Story and production
- The title is taken from Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Line 415 reads "Who mourns for Adonais?". Shelley's Adonais is derived from Adonis, a male figure of Greek mythology associated with fertility. "Adonais" is also a pun on "Adonai", one of the Hebrew spoken names for God in the Holy Bible.
- According to Allan Asherman's The Star Trek Compendium, an abandoned ending to this episode would have revealed that Palamas was pregnant by Apollo (see Apocrypha). Shortly after the production of the episode concluded, costume designer William Ware Theiss, who designed the gown of Palamas, said that he preferred this ending, "Because I'm hung up on Greek mythology, I always preferred the script in the version the studio killed, wherein the ending is bittersweet rather than tragic. Dr. McCoy discovers the young female officer is due to bear the child of Apollo." (Inside Star Trek, issue 7, p. 5) In fact, James Blish uses this ending in his adaptation of the episode in Star Trek 7:
- KIRK: "Yes, Bones? Somebody ill?"
- McCOY: "Carolyn Palamas rejected her breakfast this mornin."
- KIRK: "Some bug going around?"
- McCOY: "She's pregnant, Jim. I've just examined her."
- KIRK: "What?"
- McCOY: "You heard me."
- KIRK: "Apollo?"
- McCOY: "Yes"
- KIRK: "Bones, it's impossible!"
- McCOY: "Spock, may I put a question to this gadget of yours? I'd like to ask it if I'm to turn my Sickbay into a delivery room for a Human child–or a god. My medical courses did not include obstetrics for infant gods."
- In the original script, the gods and other mythological figures were mentioned by their Latin/Roman names, but in the revised final draft (and the finished episode) they are called by their original Greek equivalents (possibly at the suggestion of series researcher Kellam de Forest). (archived May 12, 2013) The one exception to this is Hercules, whose name would be Herakles in Greek.
- Arch Dalzell acted as the director of photography for two days of the shoot, as regular cinematographer Jerry Finnerman had fallen ill. Finnerman resumed work after two days, finishing the episode. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two) 
- Gilbert Ralston's original story was heavily revised by Gene L. Coon for it to become the episode as ultimately featured. Coon remained otherwise uncredited for it. Partially in error in his belief that the episode was Coon's, his friend and protégé Russell Bates intended his Emmy Award-winning Star Trek: The Animated Series episode, "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth", as a subtle homage to the episode. 
- The plot of "The God Thing", Gene Roddenberry's rejected script for the first motion picture, resembled this episode. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier also covered much the same ground, and various other Star Trek outings have revisited the "ancient astronaut" trope. Several major "non-fiction" works dealing with alien gods appeared in the mid-sixties before Who Mourns for Adonais?– Robert Charroux's One Hundred Thousand Years of Man's Unknown History (1963), Peter Kolosimo's best-selling Timeless Earth and W. Raymond Drake's Gods or Spacemen? (both in 1964). However, H.P. Lovecraft's horror fiction predates all of the above by decades.
Cast and characters
- According to Michael Forest, the producers originally wanted Jon Voight for the role of Apollo. However, he was hired for another project. 
- The producers were looking for someone with an English dialect and Shakespearean theatrics to pull off the Apollo role. First, they wanted to find someone in England, but rather decided to look for an actor at the San Diego Shakespeare festival. The head of the theatre recommended Michael Forest, who was already in Hollywood, making films at the time. Forest was called in for an audition, where he first had to take off his shirt, to let them see if he had the muscled physique needed for the part. Next, they asked him to read some lines in an English accent. Forest refused, claiming he couldn't do it, but is able to speak in a Mid-Atlantic accent, probably more suitable for the character. He did it, and they gave him the role. 
- Forest previously co-starred with Leonard Nimoy in Jean Genet's theatrical play, Deathwatch and the subsequent movie adaptation, which also featured Robert Ellenstein and a score by Gerald Fried.
Props and special effects
- In the trailer, the phasers fired by the Enterprise at the temple are blue. In the episode itself, they are red. They would once again be blue in the remastered version of this episode (see below).
- A traveling matte was used to allow a giant Apollo to appear with the landing party in the foreground at the end of act one. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 73)
- Apollo's temple was constructed on an indoor studio set. Swaying trees (courtesy of hidden stagehands) and dubbed-in bird sounds were combined with stock footage of an outdoor lake and adequately conveyed the illusion of being outdoors. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 73)
- Leslie Parrish wore the famous Bill Theiss dress again in another Desilu/Paramount show: a 1968 episode of Mannix entitled "The Girl in the Frame."
- The scene in which Apollo flips Scott to the side was actually executed by stunt double, Jay Jones, who was wearing a special harness with which he was pulled backward on cue. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 73). Jones nearly slammed into a step prop which could have caused serious injury.
- The second season blooper reel shows Michael Forest parading very effeminately in his Apollo costume. Forest was supposedly displeased with his costume, and this was his way of showing it. The blooper briefly cuts to William Shatner rolling his eyes and Forest blowing a kiss.
- In the original version, the hand holding the Enterprise disappears when the starship fires the phasers at Apollo's temple. In the remastered version, the Enterprise phasers fire through the hand, which then starts to dissolve then finally disappears.
- In "The Ultimate Computer", Kirk can be seen operating in his cabin the small computer on which Sulu attempts to calculate weak points in the force field, just before McCoy enters with the Finagle's Folly.
- Fred Steiner's score for this episode is among the strongest in the entire series, and sections of it are present in many later Star Trek segments, including "Requiem for Methuselah". (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 73)
- This is the only time in TOS that a star is both referred to as its Bayer designation and ancient name, specifically β Geminorum / Pollux.
- This is the first of two times in TOS Season 2 that Kirk tells an Enterprise crewmember he has earned his pay for the week. In this episode, after Chekov suggests how Apollo might be generating and controlling his energy, Kirk says, "Mr. Chekov, I think you've earned your pay for the week." The next instance will be in "The Doomsday Machine".
- Although Kirk says to Apollo "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate," the god in question is not identified.
- Apollo's "giant green hand" is referred to in Star Trek Beyond as one of the possible causes of the disappearance of the USS Franklin, and appears in the end credits of that film.
- The Enterprise's encounter with Apollo's hand is also glimpsed in ST: "Ephraim and Dot".
- Marc Daniels cited this episode as his favorite among those he directed, claiming "it all came together so well". (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, p. 114)
- Leslie Parrish stated, "Whenever I watch it, I go right back to the whole thing again and cry my way through it. I relive it. My impression of it is that it's one piece of work that I'm very proud of. Of all the work I did, this is outstanding, because it is rooted in something which I believe so deeply." (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, p. 115)
- Michael Forest recalled working with his co-stars, "Leslie [Parrish] was a delightful person to work with; no problems; never any difficulties; we would just discuss what we were going to do and we would do it. She was excellent and very personable. William [Shatner] was a bit of a problem, however. You never saw me standing with him; we were always in different shots. We would be talking to one another, but we wouldn't be on camera at the same time. I'm sure that's what he stipulated – because I was so much taller." (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, p. 111)
- Jason Alexander cites this episode as his favorite of the original series, describing it as "thought-provoking, beautiful, and very sad." (TV Guide: Vol. 44, No. 34, Issue #2265, p. 33)
- In The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers, author Phil Farrand expresses the opinion that this episode's creators missed an opportunity to explain James Doohan's missing finger, believing that Apollo's destruction of Scott’s phaser could also have severely damaged his finger.
The remastered version of this episode premiered in syndication the weekend of 12 January 2008. It featured new shots of the giant hand in space and an enhanced version of the phaser attack on Apollo's temple.
- The next remastered episode to air was "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
- In Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier, character Mark McHenry is a descendant of the child of Apollo and Carolyn Palamas (revealed to have been impregnated during the events of this episode), and has at least some of Apollo's powers.
- The John Byrne Star Trek: New Visions comic "Of Woman Born" also has Palamas becoming pregnant with Apollo's child.
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1986
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 18, catalog number VHR 2343, release date unknown
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.2, 24 February 1997
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 17, 24 October 2000
- As part of the TOS Season 2 DVD collection
- As part of the TOS-R Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- James Doohan as Scott
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- John Winston as Lt. Kyle
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Eddie Paskey as Leslie
- Unknown actors as
- William Blackburn as stand-in for DeForest Kelley
- Frank da Vinci as stand-in for Leonard Nimoy
- Roger Holloway as stand-in for James Doohan
- Jeannie Malone as stand-in for Leslie Parrish
- Eddie Paskey as stand-in for William Shatner
4 billion years ago; 5,000 years ago; 2245; 14b by 26 index; A&A officer; admiration; Agamemnon; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; all night; "all right"; analysis; ancestor; ancient civilizations; answer; anthropology; Antos IV; Aphrodite; Apollo's temple; appendage; archaeology; area; argument; arm; arrogance; Artemis; artisan; Athena; atmosphere; atmospheric disturbance; audio; "bag of tricks"; bacteria; beauty; behavior; benevolent; Beta Geminorum system; billion; blood; blue; body; "Bones"; bow; bow arm; "break his heart"; bug; capricious; cartographic section (aka cartographic detail); cartographic scanner; Cassandra; chance; Cheshire; Cheshire Cat; chest; children; class M type; coffee; communications system; compassion; contact; cosmos; courage; creature; culture; cup; czar; damage report; Daphne; death; deer; discipline; discussion; distance; dream; duty; ear; Earth; efficiency; eggshell; electric eel; emotion; encyclopedia; enemy; English; energy; energy cell; equation; estimation; eternity; evolution; evolutionary pattern; existence; face; fact; father; fear; fire; fireworks; flattery; flesh; flock; fluffy creature; force field; frequency; friend; giant dry-worm; goat; god (goddess); Golden Age; Greece; Greek gods; Greek mythology; green; GSC; hailing channel 3; hand; happiness; harm; head; heart; Hector; Hera; Hercules; herd; Hermes; history; home; hull; Human (aka Humanity); humanoid; idea; immortality; impulse power; information; injury; insult; intelligent life; "in that case"; "in the name of"; invitation; knee; landing party; laurel; leaf; legend; lesson; Leto; lifeform; logic; love; loyalty; lyre; M-rays; Mediterranean; memory; Minsk; morning; mother; Mount Olympus (Olympus); myth; mythology; name; nature; neural damage; nitrogen; nuclear electronics lab; Odysseus; officer; Olympian; organ; oxygen; pain; Pan; paradise; passion; patience; peace; percentages; phaser; phaser bank; philosophy; phrase; pipe; place; plain; "point of no return"; polarity reversal; Pollux IV; Pollux V; power source; pressure; pride; process of elimination; progress; progress report; projection; pulse rate; purity; question; relic; report; response frequency; result; risk; Russia; Russian; sacramental wine; sacrifice; sail; Saracen; scanner five seven; scientist; Scots language; section; Sector 1; Sector 25; sensor; sensor report; sensor scan; sharing; sheep; shepherd (shepherdess); shock; signal; singing; skin; sky; slavery; social development; space normal; space traveler; species; specimen; spring; standard orbit; standard procedure; "stand by"; star; Starbase 12; station nineteen; station seven; station three; story; subspace bypass circuit; surface; Telepathy; temple; theory; thing; thistle; thousand; thunderbolt; tissue; "to coin a phrase"; tool; toy; tractor beam; transmission circuit; transportation device; traveler; tribesman; tribute; trick; tricorder; tsar; twin; universe; valley; wavelength; "wee"; week; "what the devil"; wind; wing; worship; worshiper; wrath (aka angry); year; Zeus
- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" at Wikipedia
- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
|Previous episode produced:
|Star Trek: The Original Series
|Next episode produced:|
|Previous episode aired:
|Next episode aired:|
|Previous remastered episode aired:
"Day of the Dove"
|TOS Remastered||Next remastered episode aired:|
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"