Star Trek TOS: Kirk vs God. It Was Bound to Happen Eventually.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2, Episode 2
Who Mourns for Adonais?
McCoy kicked off the episode speculating women who find love on Enterprise eventually leave the service. While Star Trek was tremendously progressive in its roots and dealings, this was emphatically a 1960s sentiment, for better or worse.
Then, the excitement started. A green hand appeared on the navigation screen of Enterprise, acting as a force field grabbing at the ship. Of course, the ship shook when the big green mitt grasped the ship. Kirk and friends were trapped in a stationary grip of a force field.
The only thing the crew knew for sure was the hand was a force field and that it was not real tissue, even though it was shaped like a human hand. A man showed up on screen, speaking as a God-like or Shakespearian figure. Kirk was unimpressed by the figment, taking a tough-guy tone with the intruder. Calling the crew “his children,” the figment likened everyone to descendants of Greek gods.
The antagonist invited Kirk and his peers to join him, except he wanted nothing to do with Spock — a discriminatory command toward the Vulcan. But Spock was unfazed by the insult because of his emotionless facade. Kirk and a party of four beamed down to the “god’s” planet with the man dressed in a full toga upon their first meeting.
The man insisted he was Apollo, an actual Greek demigod. And he wanted to be worshipped.
Kirk scoffed at that nonsense, so Apollo sprouted to the size of the Jolly Green Giant — and temporarily disappeared. Resultingly, Kirk began to believe that the man really was Apollo.
This God was also a misogynist — a weird sentence to type. He told Carolyn, a Lieutenant on Enterprise, she was “wise for a woman.” He soon after dressed her in a goddess gown with the flick of his divine wrist.
Kirk cooled it on the Apollo-is-real talk, telling McCoy he was probably just a preacher in Greece long ago. The episode danced around acknowledging the existence of God, using Apollo as a vehicle to cast doubt on religion. Or, at the very least, Who Mourns for Adonais? warned of false prophets.
Apollo zapped Kirk in the throat during a confrontation, rendering him speechless for a few moments. Chekov, a newcomer crewmember to Season Two, noticed Apollo vanished when his energy lowered, a potential segue to toppling the foe.
Carolyn was offered the role of “mother of a new race of Gods,” so Apollo revealed his plan for galactic domination. To combat this, Kik’s plan to foil Apollo involved a full rejection by Carolyn of Apollo. The captain believed it would weaken his powers.
The plan worked. Apollo tried to channel weather (thunder and lightning) when rejected by Carolyn. Back on Enterprise, Spock and his crew fired lasers on the green hand still engulfing the ship. Mission accomplished.
Apollo’s powers were useless after Carolyn dismissed his ardor. He asked for the humans’ forgiveness and jettisoned back to the company of gods. On brand for Star Trek, Kirk and McCoy felt bad about kicking Apollo out of their worlds.
The scorecard: Kirk 1. God 0.
Themes: Man vs. God
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).