Mark Watches ‘Star Trek’: S02E02 – Who Mourns for Adonais?

In the second episode of the second season of Star Trek, the crew is captured by Apollo. REALLY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Well, that was a weird one. I enjoyed it at times, but ultimately, I felt like the show just took this idea of such grand scope, and then didn’t do much with it. I love the idea at the heart of “Who Mourns for Adonais?”: What if the Greek gods were real, but they were an alien race on a space exploration? Honestly, IT’S SUCH A GOOD IDEA.

The problem, though, is that this story asks us to accept this theory solely based on what we see here. The powers that Apollo exhibits are fantastical and impressive, sure, but other than his ability to flex his muscles and woo Carolyn (which has its own messy implications), how else are we supposed to believe that this being was one of the Greek gods? I guess my issue here is that there is a lot of telling. Even one of the other subplots – that Apollo is unbelievably lonely – suffers from the same issue. The episode is so straightforward that there’s not much room to explore any emotional depth at all.

“Who Mourns for Adonais?” starts off with one hell of a mystery, and for the first third of the episode, it’s constantly surreal. What is that hand? Why is that floating space face telling the Enterprise that it’s so excited that they’ve returned home? WAIT, WHAT THE HELL, THAT’S APOLLO? I admit that I was hooked into this story quickly, but I then began to lose interest once the episode consistently kept all of its story on the surface. We’ve got hints of the blossoming crush that Scotty has for Carolyn, and it certainly influences his actions on Pollux IV. But it’s a superficial story, and I was left wishing I had learned a lot more about it. It almost felt as if it was tacked on to the episode at the last minute.

I think you can see this same pattern throughout this story. We’re told that Apollo has some mysterious organ in his body, but we never find out what it is. We’re told that the structure on Pollux IV (where Apollo lives? Sleeps? Eats? Does he do any of those things? What’s he been doing for the last 5,000 years???) is the source of his energy, but we’re never told how that’s even possible. And then, in the episode’s most perplexing twist, Carolyn is instantly flattered by Apollo, so much so that she’s willing to give the entire crew over to him. I think there’s a valid criticism about how ridiculously sexist that seems, so HAVE AT IT, FRIENDS. I mean… we don’t know anything about Carolyn. Is Apollo her type??? Does she enjoy it when alien gods remove her clothing and replace them with a dress??? There’s not a single line of context given to us that would explain why she’d fall in love with someone IN AN HOUR. Really, that might be the one detail that’s most damning here. It’s not like the crew spent months on that planet. IT’S A FEW HOURS.

I think the show does demonstrate the foolish things that Scotty and Carolyn do for love, though… again, it’s the same problem. At least we had one scene prior to landing on Pollux IV that made it clear that Scotty had a crush on Carolyn. At least there’s some context for his behavior. Sort of? It’s not exactly the most well-developed story we’ve seen on the show.

My favorite aspect of this episode, however, was the collection of scenes on the Enterprise. There, we got to see Sulu and Uhura work under Spock, AND IT’S SUCH A TREAT. Spock is such a vastly different captain when compared to Kirk, and it shows. He’s far more analytical and dry, but you know what? He got shit done. He came up with (admittedly complex) plans to find a way through the force-field hand; he assigned them to the crewmembers he trusted the most; and he made sure that in Uhura’s case to be vocal about his respect for her. For me, the scenes on the Enterprise felt far more fulfilling to me.

That’s not to say that I hated this episode, and I realize I’m being more harsh than I usually am. This is a decent story, I was entertained, and I appreciated the chance to get more time with Ensign Chekov. (HE IS SO ADORABLE, I HOPE HE NEVER STOPS MAKING COMMENTARY ON LITERALLY EVERYTHING.) I know this review is also rather brief, but I also wasn’t particularly inspired by “Who Mourns for Adonais?” I’ve seen much better on Star Trek, and I don’t want to drive this one into the ground. ONWARDS, THEN.

The video for “Who Mourns for Adonais?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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