4/9/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Who Mourns for Adonais?"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S02E02
Air Date: September 22, 1967
Written by: Gilbert Ralston
Directed by: Marc Daniels

Premise
Just when you thought Earth had abolished all the ancient Greek gods, Kirk runs into the last surviving member of the race that originated the myth.

Review
While Kirk and Bones tease Scotty for flirting with Lt. Carolyn Palamas, a huge green hand floats out into space from a nearby planet and grabs the Enterprise by the saucer section. This, as you might imagine, was quite unexpected. They scan it and find it to be made of energy - not biological matter. So it's not a real hand. So then, what's this face that appears on the screen moments later? He claims to know about humans from eons past and is proud of his "children" for venturing out into the stars. And I bet this shtick never gets old for him.

Stuck over the planet, Kirk and a landing party are pretty much forced to beam down and meet with this guy. And this is the first time we get to see Chekov in action. The party consists of him, Kirk, Scotty, Bones and Lt. Palamas. Because Palamas just happens to be an expert on archaeology, history, and the like. Apollo specifically requests that Spock not come down because he reminds him of Pan, who bored this guy back in the day. When they arrive, the guy introduces himself as Apollo and goes to great lengths to make as many references to ancient Greece as possible. I mean, really, who is he trying to convince?
Betcha I can win a Greek trivia game!
In any case, he demands to be worshiped and that's when he crosses the line. Kirk vehemently refuses and starts to walk away, but that's when Apollo starts showing his power over the lightening and, apparently, the power of Apache Chief. Although you can't specifically hear him say Eh-neeek-chock, it's certainly implied when he grows to be taller than the temple behind him. In any case, the Enterprise is unable to leave until the green hand of doom is unlocked anyway, so Kirk decides to stay... after Apollo disables his communicators and transporters.

In the meantime, Apollo takes Lt. Palamas as his wife or girlfriend or something and dresses her up in a nice pink toga. He tells her of the plans he has for the crew of the Enterprise; about how he wants to bring all of them down and provide for them in return for worship. And she seems to go along with it. He tells her that the gods once took human consorts. And the thought of being a consort seemed to excite her just enough to make out with him.
Well, now, that blows me bagpipes!
Meanwhile, Spock comes up with a plan to weaken Apollo by goading him into attacking one of the landing party and, in his weakened state, blow up his power source. So the next time Apollo arrives, Kirk and crew yell and rant at him to try and anger him, but Lt. Palamas ruins the plan by innocently trying to save them from Apollo's wrath. Welp. There goes plan A. Except it kind of works in their favor...

Strengthening the bond between Palamas and Apollo would only make it worse when she breaks up with him... so here's plan B... break up with him. Palamas "explains" to Apollo that the only interest she had in him was academic. She studies history, and here was history made real right in front of her. So she had to get a better look - to study him. This makes him incredibly angry. He calls upon a storm, makes the thunder roar and... uses up all his energy. And that's when Spock fires on the temple, his power source.
Can't tell if phasers or pink paint...
Apollo tries to retaliate by shooting lightening bolts up at the Enterprise, but he never reaches far enough. Eventually the temple is destroyed and Apollo goes into this long, dramatic death scene where he waxes on about how Greece was so great and all his god friends were right and blah blah blah and eventually he disappears. They express regret over having to destroy the last survivor of a species, but what he demanded would have meant the end of their lives as they knew it. Besides, who wants to be caught in a toga in the 23rd century? So gaudy.

Overall Thoughts
At one point in this episode Kirk says that mankind has grown beyond gods and that "just one is perfectly fine." I think this is a real reflection of the times in which this episode was created - how people like Roddenberry were trying to convince people we didn't need the supernatural, but were forced by the powers that be to at least accept the Judeo-Christian God. The idea of a fake "God" is, of course, revisited in The Undiscovered Country, but as a running theme, Star Trek tends to handle the subject of religion rather well. I could go on and on about that, but suffice it to say that this episode might get a lot of flack for the depiction of Apollo, but works perfectly as a depiction of mankind's need to be challenged in order to progress.