The Enterprise is captured by an alien claiming to be Apollo, the Greek god of the sun.
Then, on scanner five-seven, a new image: 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, at least from five thousand years ago, tossing about 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 that seems very real. This threat finally prompts Kirk to agree to visit the planet with his officers, except for Spock. Spock evidently reminds this being of Pan, who always bored him.
The landing party consists of Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov and Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas. Palamas is trained in archaeology, anthropology, and ancient civilizations – all fields likely to be of some use here. There, they meet the being responsible for their capture. A being familiar with ancient Earth, and who introduces himself as Apollo. Despite his claims, McCoy's scans show him to be a "simple humanoid".
Apollo claims he and others – Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Hera, Hermes and Artemis – were a "gallant band of travelers" who visited Earth five thousand years ago. He demands to be worshiped, and in return offers a simple yet pleasurable life. He reveals himself as petulant, arrogant, and accustomed to obedience. All these qualities correspond with his depictions as a god. But he controls a power that also makes him very dangerous, as the crew discover in a number of ways: phasers are fused, and individuals are injured by lightning strikes, or other acts of directed will. And, he has developed a romantic interest in Palamas, whom he wants to make into his queen.
Despite his array of tricks, the Enterprise landing party refuses to completely believe Apollo is a god. Aboard the ship, Spock is proceeding under the same assumption, and the crew there may be making headway: Uhura busies herself rigging a subspace bypass circuit to restore communications. And Sulu discovers a strange radiated power with no clear source.
Apollo, meanwhile, has taken Palamas away from the rest of the Enterprise crew. During a conversation, she discovers that the gods left Earth when mankind turned away from them. 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 can't die, at least, not 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 wife and queen. Carolyn doesn't understand, but Apollo manages to seduce her by saying that fifty centuries ago, gods took mortals with them to love and care for, like how his parents fell in love. They then kiss.
The landing party has also discovered the energy flow, but, like Sulu, they cannot isolate it. Chekov's theory is that Apollo can channel this flow of energy through his body without harm to himself. Finding the source of this energy is top priority. McCoy adds something very interesting: while generally a standard humanoid, Apollo has an extra organ in his chest that so far defies understanding. Chekov makes a key observation: 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. Aboard ship, as Uhura and Sulu work, Spock has devised a method he hopes will penetrate the force field, at least in a few places; he proposes to generate M-rays on selected wavelengths.
On Apollo's return, the landing party attempts to goad him into attacking someone; their goal is to force him to expend his power, and weaken him so that he might be overpowered. But Palamas, who was not part of the plan, ruins it in her well-meaning attempt to save Kirk from Apollo's wrath.
Attempts to foil Apollo's plans are hampered by Palamas, who has fallen in love with the god and whom Apollo decides will be his queen and the future mother of the thousands of gods he wishes to have. This is a problem, because Kirk's final plan requires her to spurn Apollo; if she does this, depriving him of the love and adulation he needs, it may weaken him. If she chooses Apollo, the Enterprise crew had better be prepared for a radical change in their lives.
Spock determines that the god's powers come from his temple. The Enterprise has used his technique to pierce the force field around the ship. When Kirk tells Palamas to reject Apollo, which she reluctantly does, the captain orders Spock to use the Enterprise's weapons to destroy Apollo's temple. Apollo, rejected by a mortal woman and bereft of his powers, spreads himself upon the winds to join his fellow gods. After he is gone, McCoy and Kirk regret what they had to do, but what Apollo demanded, mankind could no longer give.
- "Captain's log, stardate 3468.1. While approaching Pollux IV, a planet in the Beta Geminorum system, the Enterprise has been stopped in space by an unknown force of some kind."
"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 Scotty and the consequences of his love for Carolyn
"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 Enterprise crew to Pollux IV except Spock
"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
"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 Scotty) 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
"Mankind has no need for gods. Our one will do"
- - 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."
- - McCoy and Kirk, lamenting on the death of the Greek gods
- Story outline by Gilbert Ralston, 8 March 1967
- Teleplay, 7 April 1967
- Filmed late May and early June 1967
- Score recording, 12 July 1967
- Original airdate, 22 September 1967
- Rerun airdate, 10 May 1968
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. Also, "Adonais" would be the English plural of the Hebrew noun, so it would mean "Who Mourns for Gods?"
- 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). 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 in their Latin names, but in the revised final draft (and the finished episode) they are called by their original Greek equivalents (possibly for the suggestion of series researcher Kellam de Forest).
- The plot of "Star Trek: The God Thing", Gene Roddenberry's rejected script for the first motion picture, is similar to this episode's. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier also covers much the same ground.
- Behind-the-scenes stills reveal that Arch Dalzell acted as the director of photography for part of the shoot, as his name is shown on some of the clapperboards. However, regular director of photography Jerry Finnerman's name is also shown on some of the clapperboards. Why Dalzell was involved in the production of this episode is unknown; in any case Finnerman is the only credited director of photography in the episode's end credits. 
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)
- 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)
- Leslie Parrish would wear the famous Bill Theiss dress again in another Desilu/Paramount show: a 1968 episode of "Mannix" entitled "The Girl in the Frame."
- The scene where Apollo flips Scotty 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)
- The second season blooper reel shows Michael Forest parading very effeminately in his Apollo costume. Mr. Forest was supposedly displeased with his costume, and this was his way of showing it.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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, pg. 33)
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.
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
4 billion years ago; 5,000 years ago; A&A officer; Agamemnon; ancient civilizations; anthropology; Antos IV; Aphrodite; Apollo's temple; appendage; archaeology; Athena; Artemis; artisan; atmospheric disturbance; bacteria; Beta Geminorum system; bow; cartographic detail; cartographic section; cartographic scanner; Cassandra; Cheshire Cat; communications system; class M type; coffee; culture; czar; Daphne; deer; Earth; eggshell; electric eel; encyclopedia; English; energy; evolution; flock; force field; giant dry-worm; goat; God; Golden Age; Greece; Greek gods; GSC; Hector; Hera; Hercules; herd; intelligent life; laurel; Leto; lyre; M-rays; Mediterranean; Minsk; Mount Olympus (Olympus); myth; mythology; neural damage; nitrogen; nuclear electronics lab; Odysseus; Olympian; organ; oxygen; Pan; percentages; phaser bank; philosophy; Pollux IV; Pollux V; pulse rate; relic; Russia; Russian; sacramental wine; Saracen; scientist; sheep; shepherd (shepherdess); shock; slavery; social development; space normal; standard orbit; Starbase 12; subspace bypass circuit; tractor beam; tribesman; Zeus
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