The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Who Mourns for Adonais?

Whilst in orbit of Pollux IV, the Enterprise crew are more than a little surprised to find the ship held in place by a giant, glowing hand. Forced to beam down to the planet, Kirk and his landing party encounter the culprit, a powerful being claiming to be the Greek god Apollo. Apollo is the last of a powerful alien race who visited Earth and were treated as gods by the ancient Greeks. Apollo misses those days, and longs for the Enterprise crew to worship him, but Kirk has other ideas, and sets about finding a way to escape.

In the many and varied range of episodes in which godlike aliens toy with the lives of the Enterprise crew, this is certainly one of the weakest. Whilst not as outright ridiculous as The Squire of Gothos, it is instead rather dull. Apollo spends most of his time trying to force Kirk and crew to worship him, they resist and speak of free will, and the obligatory female crewmember of the week first gets a crush on Apollo, and is then forced to pretend she was only using him.

Which, of course, brings me to my main problem with this episode – its depiction of women. I know that Star Trek is a product of its time, but it was aiming for an egalitarian future, and unfortunately it doesn’t manage that with the gender divide. At the very start, Kirk and McCoy discuss how, once a woman has found the right man, she’ll leave Starfleet – evidently we don’t want married women aboard (except maybe Tomlinson from Balance of Terror), and the idea of working mothers is too much to countenance. What’s that you say – what about women who marry other women, or who don’t want to get married at all? Steady on, that’s crazy talk!

Worse yet, throughout the episode we have Scotty perving over female crewmember of the week Carolyn Palamas, whilst Palamas herself is swiftly bewitched by Apollo and even claims to have fallen in love with him after about half an hour on the planet. Fortunately, she is able to pull it together and do her job, but let’s have less of women as soft, emotional beings that need to be protected, and more of them as trained, professional Starfleet officers. Yes, I know we’re not very likely to get that in a 1960s TV show, but I can dream.

Summary – Who Mourns for Adonais: Not the worst episode so far, but probably the dullest.

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