is exploring the Pollux system and ship’s archaeologist Lt. Carolyn Palamas is presenting her report on Pollux 5, while they head for Pollux 4. Scotty is smitten with her but McCoy warns that she’ll probably get married and leave Starfleet. They arrive in orbit around Pollux 4, and a large green energy-hand moves from the surface and approaches them. They try to pull away but the hand follows them and grasps the saucer section of the ship, holding them fast. They try to break free but are unsuccessful. In space, a giant human face of a man appears before them and greets them, speaking portentously and referring to them as children. Kirk insists he release them first and their captor applies pressure on the ship’s hull until they’re forced to surrender. The man invites them down to Pollux 4 but says that Spock reminds him of Pan and him to stay behind.
Kirk takes a landing party of McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, and Palamas down to Pollux 4 where they find a pleasant glade and a Greek temple. The man, a chiseled figure of humanity wearing a golden toga, greets them and again welcomes them as his “children.” He speaks of ancient Greek heroes and gods and then identifies himself as… Apollo, God of the Sun. When they try to signal the Enterprise
, he deactivates their communicators with a thought and insists that they worship him. When they refuse, he grows 30’ tall to intimidate them. However, Apollo then teleports away and Kirk has Palamas give them a briefing on the Greek legends. There’s not much she can add except that their captor matches the descriptions of the Apollo of myth. They figure he must have some power source to hold the ship and grow to giant-size, and start searching the area.
Apollo returns and insists that they worship him. He’s taken with Palamas and starts coming on to her, and Scotty tries to intervene with his phaser. Apollo destroys the weapon and fuses the other phasers into solid hunks of metal, then transforms Palamas’ uniform into a Greek dress. Seeming fatigued, Apollo disappears with Palamas and after checking on Scotty, they look for the power source while Kirk figures that Apollo and the other Greek Gods may have been aliens who arrived on Earth 5,000 years ago.
On the Enterprise
, Spock is attempting both to establish communications, find the landing party, and break through the force field surrounding the ship. Meanwhile, Apollo explains to Palamas that he and his fellow “gods” basked in the worship of humanity until mankind turned away from them. Losing much of their energy, they returned to their homeworld of Pollux 4 and gradually grew depressed until one by one they dispersed themselves among the stars. Only Apollo remained, believing humanity would eventually find its way through space to his planet.
Acting a science officer, Chekov figures that Apollo is tapping his power source directly and McCoy confirms that their captor has an extra organ in his chest. Apollo returns alone and blasts Scotty with a lightning bolt when the engineer tries to attack him. When Kirk defies him, Apollo telekinetically chokes him, but then staggers to his temple throne and teleports away. They figure that Apollo is having trouble maintaining his energy reserves and holding the Enterprise
in orbit at the same time, and every time he disappears he’s recharging himself. They decide to try and provoke an attack so he’ll exhaust himself on one of them and the others can defeat him.
Spock starts to weaken the force field holding the Enterprise
while Apollo returns with Palamas and insists they worship him. They mock him and he prepares to kill Kirk until Palamas intervenes and convinces him to give them one more chance. Apollo agrees and teleports away with her to a nearby glade where he kisses her and she responds. She then goes back to talk to them personally and get them to surrender, but Kirk snaps her out of it by appealing to her as a fellow human, and as an Enterprise
crewman. She goes back to Apollo and starts analyzing him as a scientist.
Spock makes contact with the landing party and informs them he’s identified the temple as the source of Apollo’s power. The Enterprise
prepares to destroy it but they have little choice but to wait until Palamas returns so they know she’s safe. A furious Apollo turns on Palamas when she spurns him, and as she runs off he summons a thunderstorm and goes after her. The landing party runs for cover and Kirk orders the attack just as Palamas arrives and Scotty gets her to safety. Apollo tries to destroy the Enterprise
with lightning bolts but the shields hold and with the temple obliterated, he’s rendered all but powerless. Kirk sadly tells him that they’ve outgrown the need for gods and Apollo realizes his time has come. He grows to giant size and then calls out to his fellow gods asking for forgiveness, then throws himself upon the solar winds, dispersing himself across the universe. As Palamas weeps, Kirk is forced to consider that with all that they gained through Greek culture, perhaps they might have gathered a few laurel leaves and lit a few sacrificial fires.
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