Get Your Hands Off My Starship, Bro.
Right? It seems like such a chore. Whenever it’s a Greek Space God, they are kind of handsy, too. That’s not a play on words, with the giant energy hand, I’m actually referring to the episode “Who Mourns For Adonais?” In that episode, Apollo (the Greek God) uses his God Powers to grab the enterprise in a giant God Hand. The Enterprise can’t break free, so the ship beams down a landing party. On the landing party, there’s a blonde scientist, and in the original script she is pregnant with Apollo’s child at the end of it. Those lines of dialogue stayed in the adaptation of the episode by James A. Blish, and even inspired a “Star Trek: New Visions” by John Byrne.
So yes…Greek Space Gods are kind of handsy.
Not that hard to defeat, though. Despite being able to hold the Enterprise stationary in space, and kind of smash it a bit, Apollo can’t really do too much without the machinery in his Space Temple recharging him. When Kirk orders a phaser bombardment, he’s pretty much done for. I guess we need to add that to the list of chores Cap will have here…after punching the God Hand, she’s going to have to fly to the Space Temple and wreck it.
To speak for a minute about the episode, “Who Mourns For Adonais?”…the episode is “iconic” and memorable. It is jam packed with images that are familiar to even the most casual of Star Trek fans. “Kirk confronts a Greek god in deep space!” is a pretty catchy premise. “A giant hand grabs the Enterprise and threatens to crush the ship!” is the type of delightfully insane visual that ranks up there with “space Lincoln!” when it comes to Star Trek visuals that stick with people outside the context of the show itself. Put that together with yes, the Enterprise dealing with a “Chariots of the Gods” style space God, and you’ve got some stuff there.
A whole lot of Gene Roddenberry’s ideas on religion were wrapped up in this episode. To be clear about his perspective, Gene Roddenberry was an atheist. He was AGGRESSIVELY atheistic. “Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all,” he had stated in a statement that was surprisingly confrontational for a man who is known for a franchise built on tolerance and open-mindedness. “For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.” It should come as no surprise that his views were reflected in the show itself.
Despite a throw-away line from Kirk about how the Federation finds “one god” is quite enough, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” really codifies this atheistic approach. Kirk and his crew stumble across a straight up bona fide god from Ancient Greece. He has only simple command for the crew of the Enterprise. “You will gather laurel leaves, light the ancient fires, kill a deer, make your sacrifices to me,” he declares. “Apollo has spoken!” They aren’t really going to do any of that, and that’s what makes the conflict of the show happen.
As such, Kirk and his crew are forced just take out Apollo once and for all. “Who Mourns for Adonais?” is stunningly direct. There’s no attempt to dismiss Apollo as an imposter or a fake, the episode makes a strong case that Apollo is exactly who he claims to be. Even Kirk and his crew seem to accept the probability that Apollo did visit Ancient Greece and was accepted as a god by the native populations at face value. However, even accepting Apollo’s background at face value, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are forced to respond with force. I’m a big fan of heavy handed symbolism, and Kirk orders the Enterprise to destroy the temple. With the place of worship reduced to ruin, Apollo himself literally fades away. It doesn’t get more heavy handed than that metaphor.
As such, “Who Mourns for Adonais?” uses Apollo as a stand-in for all religious deities, with particular emphasis on the major religions in the United States. The episode is very much about Kirk’s refusal to bend down before a god. This isn’t simply a character CLAIMING to be a god, but a character with historical precedent of being worshipped. Not having any of that nonsense, Kirk and his crew argue a whole lot with a god and then destroy him.
Presumably, there’s a pantheon of Space Gods out there. Apollo refers to a few other gods, and the Animated Series brings out an Aztec deity. It’s not unreasonable that this would be a thing that the Enterprise just kind of copes with.
Cap doesn’t seem too happy about it.