TREK-A-DAY: Who Mourns for Adonais?
EPISODE THIRTY-ONE: Who Mourns for Adonais?
Yep, it’s a sci fi nerd/classics minor’s dream: a Star Trek episode where The Enterprise encounters Apollo and the root of all Greek mythology. AWESOME!
So, Kirk and Co are happily riding through space, making casual misogynistic comments about Scotty’s pursuit of a female crew member when suddenly, they are grabbed by that most dangerous of space oddities, A GIANT SPACE HAND!
Apparently someone on board got to the last level of Super Smash Brothers causing the entire ship to face Master Hand.
Well, it turns out they’re in the grasp of Apollo (yep, Greek god Apollo), one of a number of highly advanced space travelers who landed on Earth in Ancient Greece forming the myths of humanity’s past. AWESOME!
Apollo is enamored with the object of Scotty’s affections, which leads to lots of him getting hit by lightning and her falling for Apollo. Apollo, in turn, demands worshipers and has been waiting for space farers ever since he left Earth. The other gods all threw in the towel, but Apollo hung in there and now demands sacrifices. However, remembering their mythology, the humans know he must recharge after each attack and so they decide to antagonize him in the most aggressive way possible: by laughing at him! This is thwarted by our lady friend who manages to buy them some time, but he nevertheless demands a return to ancient Greek ways.
And so the lieutenant is asked by Kirk to betray her love and does so, distracting him long enough to let The Enterprise blow up his temple and with it his power. This leads to one of the sadder moments yet inTrek, as a tear stained Apollo is told by Kirk that humanity has outgrown the gods. Realizing his time is past, Apollo cries out for his fellow gods’ forgiveness and passes into nothing. While the crew does comment on what a shame having to destroy him was, I can’t help but view the destruction of the root of mythology as a true tragedy (albeit a necessary one to get free of the big green hand). Just the classics scholar in me, I suppose. Harsh, Kirk.
This episode is a lot of fun. I love when Trek and sci fi reach back into humanity’s past (I lost my mind when Dune tied its story into ancient Greek myths) and this episode does it admirably. It also includes a love story between two day players, a nice change of pace from the usual man character focused stuff. We also get some actually scenes for Scotty and Chekov continues to be awesome, both solving problems and acting as a delightfully fresh-faced and overly eager foil to the older guard of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (also explains the Beatles mop-top). Uhura also gets a little moment to shine, soldering and fixing the communications systems proving she is capable of far more than just opening comm channels and occasionally improvising songs for Spock and Charlie.
This is yet another great episode for the series (and one I can remember capturing my imagination when I was much younger); the show has really settled into itself and the strength of the ensemble is getting a lot of play so far, which is really nice.
Incidentally, I’ll be interested in comparing Kirk’s treatment of Apollo to his meeting with God when we hit Final Frontier.