Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In the Pale Moonlight"

****

Air date: 4/13/1998
Teleplay by Michael Taylor
Story by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Victor Lobl

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." — old proverb

Nutshell: Disquieting, but a spellbinding tour de force. It's a gripping, scary, and inevitably chilling tale ... I'm calling it a DS9 masterpiece.

Given what it does to its central character, "In the Pale Moonlight" is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Trek canon. I'd say this has a good chance to become a controversial episode. I would suspect there are going to be some out there who will see this episode and wonder if the DS9 writers are slowly dismantling everything about the Federation that Roddenberry's Star Trek idealism took for granted. The episode documents an ugly series of events, to be sure, and at the end of the episode I was left stunned, disquieted, and compelled.

But "In the Pale Moonlight" is a perfect demonstration of what the Dominion War is all about—or at least what it probably should be about if it intends to maintain tension and dramatic realism. Anyone who thinks that the perfect Roddenberry vision can thrive in a Federation that's plunged into a war of this magnitude is probably hopelessly idealistic and hopelessly naive. Personally, I think it's absurd to claim Star Trek or the Federation cannot have a dark side, especially when considering that Trek usually, for all practical purposes, still keeps its moral compass in check when delving into dark issues in an episode like this. (Besides, to loosely quote Andre Braugher's character, Frank Pembleton, from Homicide: Life on the Street, "Virtue doesn't mean anything unless it's tested alongside vice.")

A big point of the episode is to show what ugly things war can lead desperate people to do, so it strikes me as only natural (and necessary) that a chapter like "In the Pale Moonlight" would take place during a time like this. The episode is a story superbly told—the best of the season—and I think there's a lot to be said for a tale that documents the agonizing effects of the war on one man, particularly one man who can make decisions that potentially impact thousands or millions of people—namely, Captain Benjamin Sisko.

The episode is told in flashback by Sisko as he makes a personal log entry. "I can see where it all went wrong," he begins. The foreshadowing is the first of many things this episode gets very right. It lets us immediately know where it's going—essentially straight into hell. From the outset, it seems obvious that Sisko's plan, whatever it is, is destined to go very wrong. As a result, we know we're in for what's going to be a rough ride with a not-so-happy ending.

The story marks an extremely significant return to the war storyline where Federation casualties are still running very high. One day, Sisko reaches the decision that something must be done if the Federation stands a chance of survival—and soon. He wants the Romulans to join the game. As we know from "Call to Arms," the Romulans have signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, and they have no desire or motivation to enter a bloody war at this point.

But Sisko disagrees. His argument: When the Dominion forces are finished with the Federation, they'll go after the Romulans, no matter what the Dominion may have promised. But Sisko knows Romulans, and knows they're going to want proof that such a betrayal will take place.

Well, of course, there is no physical proof, and when Sisko seeks Garak's help to gather intelligence information from his few remaining Cardassian contacts, the result fails (that is to say, everyone Garak talks to turns up dead within a day). Garak recommends to Sisko the only sure-fire method for convincing the Romulans a threat exists: They must manufacture the "evidence" themselves.

From here is the opening of a Pandora's box unlike anything Sisko has probably encountered. As he states in his log, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," and in making the agreement with Garak, Sisko lays the first stone.

The plot of this episode is not as primary as the wringer it puts Sisko through, but make no mistake: This is by far the most important plot development episode since "Sacrifice of Angels"—perhaps even more so (especially given that "Sacrifice" had some notable omissions). Peter Allan Fields, the man behind many good second-season stories (as well as last season's "For the Uniform") returns to garner story credit in a pivotal episode; Michael Taylor's teleplay demonstrates his knack for getting inside the characters' heads with a flashback-like device (a la "The Visitor," "Things Past"). Although, considering the story also had an uncredited rewrite by Ron Moore, it's difficult to dole out credit accurately. I'll just heap the praise onto everybody for pushing as far as they did in both the plot and the dark underlying themes. The plot pretty much works like a well-oiled machine and is constantly interesting and relevant. Meanwhile, given how much is often made of the Trek franchise and ideology, it seems to me the unpleasant themes took some guts to see through.

Sisko's involvement in Garak's plan takes turn after frightening turn. Sisko enlists a criminal named Tolar (Howard Shangraw) to fake a holographic recording of a briefing between Weyoun and Damar regarding a supposed planned attack on the Romulans. Sisko orchestrates a trade with one of Garak's sources: An authentic and rare data rod upon which to record the holo-briefing in exchange for a highly dangerous biological substance that is normally regulated directly by the Federation. Sisko bribes Quark to keep things quiet when Tolar assaults him. Sisko makes bold-faced lies to Romulan senator Vreenak (Stephen McHattie) to convince him to join the war effort. All of this, meanwhile, is conducted in secret; no one knows what's really going on except Sisko and Garak. Even Starfleet Command, who gave Sisko permission to see the daring plan through, probably doesn't know everything concerning how the plan is being conducted.

Sisko's plot quickly becomes a high-stakes game where the goal is to convince Vreenak that an out-and-out lie is actually the truth. When trying to confirm Sisko's story, will Vreenak discover that the data rod is a fraud, or will Tolar's fabrication hold up under scrutiny? The episode builds an incredible sense of suspense in its later stages, helped along by the narration of Sisko's own feelings of doubt and dread. I haven't been so viscerally wound up in the outcome of a story since "Sacrifice" earlier in the season. Sure, we knew something was going to go wrong given the narration, but seeing how it would play out had me riveted to the screen.

Watching Sisko go further and further into this plot was literally scary. Sisko is not the type of character that I normally equate with obsessions, but this time he gets in so deep that it nearly becomes one; he's willing to go to great lengths ("I'm making a new agreement!") to protect this plan.

And when Vreenak uttered those three simple words—"It's a fake!"—I seriously feared the fate of the Federation. The twist, of course, is that Sisko's plan ultimately works because Garak intervenes (outside Sisko's knowledge) by planting a bomb on Vreenak's ship, making it look like Dominion sabotage killed him. It's a startling turn of events. The last scene between Sisko and Garak is powerfully acted, and pulls the plot together to turn the Romulans against the Dominion more plausibly than I would've thought possible. (Although, I'm certainly curious what Starfleet had to say to Sisko about the bombing, or if they even knew or suspected Sisko's connection.)

Victor Lobl deserves kudos for assembling this package in a manner such that it all holds together and in the meantime grabs us by the throat and refuses to let go until it's all over (and David Bell's brooding score is effectively appropriate). The performances are wonderful. Andrew Robinson and Avery Brooks were both great; the former demonstrating his usual acerbic wit and cleverness even in the grim setting, the latter documenting a man under the great pressures of infinitely high stakes and moral crossroads.

The supporting characters were also effective. Howard Shangraw's Tolar wasn't a groundbreaker, but the character's early lack of discretion and focus (public drunkenness, attempted murder of Quark in his bar) was enough to convince me that the data rod had a good chance of failing inspection. (Even without the foreshadowing narration I would've been pretty doubtful of success.) Stephen McHattie's Vreenak, on the other hand, was a perfect Romulan—arrogant, suspicious, sarcastic, and skeptical; Sisko had his work cut out for him, and their discussion was wryly written.

And, ultimately, whether you like what "In the Pale Moonlight" does to Captain Sisko or not, you've got to admit—this is powerful character development. It left me both troubled and intrigued. It may not exemplify what I'd want to see in my ideal Starfleet hero, but that's what makes the story work so well. It's a tragedy in the most characteristically fundamental of ways: It questions the core of a man's morality by pushing him to the limits until he makes decisions that he never would've wanted to have to consider in the first place.

The fact that Starfleet sanctioned such a risky and morally questionable plan is itself a sign of very desperate times. Some have argued that Section 31 in last week's "Inquisition" was evidence of a Federation that may not be as Roddenbery-esque as it "should." I've never been one to pronounce black-and-white verdicts concerning the Roddenberry ideology, but I'd certainly say that the attitude of this show pushes far beyond what we saw of Section 31 last week. By giving Sisko "their blessing," Starfleet has essentially condoned one officer to lie, cheat, bribe, and cover up the truth. I see that as much more challenging than the idea of Section 31. It's a very interesting issue to ponder, though certainly disturbing.

Morality aside, however, I do somewhat question the strategic prudence of Starfleet approving of such a risky plan. If failure could indeed completely alienate the Romulans, it's a wonder they would be so willing to go through with it. It could very well be that Starfleet felt it had no other choice (especially given that partway through the episode news arrives that the Dominion has invaded and conquered Betazed), but it still seems like an awfully big risk to take with so much on the line. Forget such little plot anomalies; they're slight at best, and the big picture couldn't be much more involving.

But what this episode all comes down to is Sisko. Simply put, this Sisko is not the same man he was before the war began. Or maybe at his core he still is, and the whole point is that the darkness around him brought out the worst within him. To demonstrate such a point, Avery Brooks' monologs to the camera, particularly the final one, were downright riveting. When all's said and done, he shifts sideways on his couch and crosses his legs in a way that sent a chill running down my spine. (The gesture is simple enough, but it's executed so ingeniously that the image is forever burned into my mind.) He says he can live with himself. And then he repeats himself—twice. And he sounds like he means it. Yet he also sounds like he doesn't believe it. This is a troubled man, having made choices that have ripped him up inside. He's tortured but hardened, and all he can do is try to make the right call while rationalizing that the ends justify the means—which in many ways, perhaps, they do.

This last scene is a masterstroke, showing how important the effects of the story's plot is upon the character. The episode's story itself is not just a means to a plot-development end, but a fully realized character piece.

Eight years ago, when TNG's classic "Yesterday's Enterprise" aired, there was a brutal war between the Federation and the Klingons that existed in an alternate timeline. The Picard of that timeline was a strangely different man. He was a dark and somber "what if" version of the real Picard. "In the Pale Moonlight" features a dark and somber Sisko, and what's so frightening is that this isn't a "what if" situation; it's really happening for Sisko and the Federation.

Looking back at "Sacrifice of Angels," when the Prophets told Sisko that his pagh would follow another path, I cannot help but think that the events of "Moonlight" may indicate a possible direction that Benjamin Sisko may be headed in. I by no means hope that's the place he ultimately ends up, but the chilling consequences of "Moonlight" on his character are too great to be ignored, and far too compelling to be dismissed. This episode truly pushes the envelope of the Roddenberry idealism, but I think it's great that the DS9 writers have taken this step; "In the Pale Moonlight" is one of the all-time best DS9 installments. I'm very interested to see where Benjamin Sisko goes from here.

Next week: It's a 180 into lightheartedness when Odo and Kira have a holosuite date.

Previous episode: Inquisition
Next episode: His Way

Season Index

103 comments on this review

Admirable Chrichton - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 8:18am (USA Central)
I have noticed that many consider this to be the most subversive episode of Trek ever to be shown (well perhaps that Enterprise episode where they steal that warp core from the aliens might be a contender for the role.). Yes it probably is, and in this we have a problem. Trek has (at the time ITPM aired at least) become a sub genre of a genre, and this episode shows this. By Trek standards it is a dark and dangerous episode, but perhaps not when compared with other types of shows in our cynical nineties and noughties. Don't get me wrong I love Trek, and think this episode is one of the strongest, and I think the values Trek promotes are laudable. But the core reaction to this episode does highlight the gap between Trek optimism and the cynical dramas around at the moment.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 12:59pm (USA Central)
While the episode IS certainly groundshaking in its way, i still cannot confirm your statement: "Sisko is not the type of character that I normally equate with obsessions, but this time he gets in so deep that it nearly becomes one; he's willing to go to great lengths [...] to protect this plan."

Well, Sisko isn't man capable of obsession? Well Michael Eddington would say otherwise! Given the fact, that Sisko has shown himself being capable of poisoning whole atmospheres, I cannot say that I was too stunned of this weeks deed of his!
Jayson - Tue, Dec 18, 2007 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
ITPM is an example of what makes DS9 so great in that DS9 can be summed up in this "Paradise has a price and these are the people who pay that price"
Tomás Foley - Sun, Jan 6, 2008 - 6:54pm (USA Central)
Im glad I found your website and its reviews... Im a huge fan of DS9 & the first review I read was this one... it has to be a really tough review to do & reading your words I think you have done a spellbounding job of representing the Trek based controversy that inevitably sorrounds such a plot, the outstanding storyline and its 'required' place at such a time in DS9's overall development, the guts it takes to write such a piece. I think to me, the fact that Sisko was at his best in terms of his acting, the passion, the body language, the anguish and confusion and claims of self-assurance in his mission to do what had to be done in his eyes, justifies this piece of drama in itself.

Its to me the best Star Trek DS9 episode, just gripping, clever & controvesiol... I hate seeing reviews that challenge this episode and its failing of Roddenberrys dream, because all things evolve & like you quoted so well "Virtue doesn't mean anything unless it's tested alongside vice."

Thanks for a brilliant review... any chance of another star though??? Go on be brave!!!
indijo - Fri, Jan 18, 2008 - 10:37am (USA Central)
I was damn lucky to catch this one, considering all the problems holding a job and a place to live. I caught the rerun late on a friday or saturday night, and i have to agree with most everything said here.

Star Trek was once criticized for being "too cerebral", during its TOS years. This was another way of saying it required too much intelligent thought and the critic that said this was actually, whether intentional or not, calling the average viewers stupid, or at least not smart enough to follow such complex dialogue and story-lines.

Along that perspective, ITPM is one of the most cerebral, thought-provoking, serious episodes ever covered by the Trek series. It's also an inside look at one of the darkest aspects of war; the way in which it feeds the "means justified by the ends" attitude and turns too many good-hearted souls into guilty politicians with skeletons in their closets.

The snake eats its own tail, war is forced upon us, whether we want it or not. Life sucks that way, really bad!
alicelouise - Wed, Jan 23, 2008 - 11:40am (USA Central)
Just curious, was Gene Roddenberry around at the creation of DS9? DS9 is a great show; but, in some ways it isn't Star Trek. That DS9 was on a different path than TOS and TNG became apparent in its 1st season.

I think that Roddenberry was okay with the idea of something like the Borg challenging the Star Trek verse's existence. What measures are taken to challenge the Dominion (the creation of section 31, biowarfare against the Changelings, and, gaining an ally by the worst type of subterfuge) may not have been acceptable to the Great Bird of the Galaxy. In fact there is an apocryphal story that he put the kibosh on teh use of a cloaking device in ST productions because "the Federation doesn't sneak around."

I personally thought DS9 was some of the best Trek and made welcome, realistic developments.

Just my .02
Jammer - Wed, Jan 23, 2008 - 12:07pm (USA Central)
Roddenberry was dead well before DS9 got the green light, so he had no input on it. It's an interesting question whether he would've accepted DS9's challenge of the Trekkian status quo. Quite possibly not.

The fact of the matter is that Roddenberry's "humans are perfect" idealism in TNG became so extreme as to inhibit storytelling probably more than it should've.
alicelouise - Thu, Jan 24, 2008 - 11:03am (USA Central)
On the the other hand, in TOS there was plenty of material where Capt. Kirk had to make very hard choices.

Start with the pilot: "Where No Man has Gone Before"-he had to sacrifice his best friend to save the Enterprise crew.

"Dagger of the Mind"-a rehabilitiation facility where experimentation is done on "criminal" minds. At the very best it shows a very lax Federation. At worst it shows a government like the Alliance on "Firefly".

The Cloud Minders-A Federation member world that enslaved most of it's population to mining of a needed resource.

A Private Little War-The Federation and arming one faction against the Klingon sponsored faction. A good follow up would be to see how this world is doing now that the Federation and the Klingons are best buds.

This might belong on one of the TOS blogs. It does show that Gene Roddenberry was willing to green light episodes that showed virtue having to grapple against vice in TOS. TNG got rid of that DS9 might have brought it back. I don't think any of the other commanders had to do the grappling of Sisko ITPM; to bring this post back to it's original episode.
Jayson - Thu, Jan 24, 2008 - 4:34pm (USA Central)
Jammer, I don't know exactly how Gene Roddenberry would have received DS9 but I do think he would have approved of it because at its heart DS9 was like TOS in that it had a western feel to it. I think was in fact Michael Piller who called it The Rifleman in space.
Jammer - Thu, Jan 24, 2008 - 5:17pm (USA Central)
I couldn't say how GR would've hypothetically reacted to DS9. As has been alluded to in other posts here, GR was not so rigid in the "humanity is perfect" back in the TOS days. I think he came to that premise during TNG's run; I think I read somewhere that his argument was that since it was farther in the future, the Federation was even more perfect than during TOS, and was above things like interpersonal human conflict. Which of course makes it tougher to do drama. DS9 was a step back from that. Would GR have had a problem with that? Don't know.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Fri, Jan 25, 2008 - 3:59am (USA Central)
Well, I don't think that Roddenberry opposed conflicts per se, not even in the Next Generation. I'd like to quote from the book "40 Jahre Star Trek" by Thomas Höhl/Mike Hillenbrand:

Picard is afraid of being ridiculed in the presence of children, yet he commands a ship with children on board and even lets a kid serve on the bridge - Wesley Crusher! I would call this potential for conflict!
Furthermore: Wesleys father - Jack Crusher - died serving under Picard. AND: Not only Jacks son is on the ship, no, his widow is the ship's CMO! If that's no potential for conflict, what is?
Why should Roddenberry have created such characters, if he indeed disliked conflict so much?

And had TNG really no conlfict situations? "The measure of a man": Data has to fight for his rights as an individual. "Pen Pals": The senior staff has a serious debate about the Prime directive. "The Offspring": Picard and Data stand between order and personal belief. "The Pegasus": Riker has the dilemma between following immoral orders of a dubious admiral and his loyalty to Picard. "Heart of Glory", "Sins of the Father", "Reunion", "Redemption": Worf has to fight with the disparity between his Klingon side and his Starfleet duties. (This is also a notable arc of the "series without arcs").

I hope you see what I mean: Roddenberry was not an opponent to inter- or intrapersonal conflict. But he did not want a bunch of officers that would have conflict among each other out of the blue, because of the weeks plot. He didn't want officers, that turned against the ideals of the Federation without reason either.
I suppose that Roddenberry could have approved Siskos deed in this episode because of the lifes that where at stake here.
But a Roddenberry Starfleet charakter would not poison atmospheres to capture one man! I am surprised, that "In the pale moonlight" gets more attention by "Roddenberry-wouldn't-like-this -critics" than "For the uniform".

Doza - Fri, Feb 1, 2008 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
Excellent review.

This episode this example one of how the world is indeed grey. There is no true evil or good, only degrees of grey.

Best episode of the series, IMHO. Anyway to confirm that Moore did a rewrite? This episode is up his alley.
Ian - Fri, Feb 1, 2008 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
Moore confirmed that the episode was a virtual page-one rewrite by him in an AOL posting. (On the top of my head he also did substantial rewrites to DS9's "Visionary", as well as TNG's "Sarek" and "Rascals" Also, in the episode's entry in the DS9 Compendium, Michael Taylor very frankly points out that virtually all the credit to the episode should go to Moore.

Ironically, "The Visitor", the other episode that Michael Taylor is famous for, recieved as much a significant rewrite by Rene Echevarria.
Jhawhshfd - Wed, Apr 16, 2008 - 1:03pm (USA Central)
Whenever people question what Gene Roddenberry would think of this episode and that direction the series takes, for some reason the only thing I can think of is Gene in the Star Trek movie days (specifically Trek 6) where he wanted the crew to travel in time to have arguments with Einstein, kill off Sulu, and ultimately have Spock personally kill JFK, firing the grassy knoll shot, to "preserve the timeline." I know he created the series and all, but I can't help to think that he was really just a detriment to the show when TNG was starting up, which only got better as he had less influence on it. But I guess nothing is sacred to me.

PS: This episode is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, and this review is what made me go back to rewatch DS9. The BSG reviews on this site are also what made me start watching BSG.
Seth - Wed, Apr 23, 2008 - 1:51pm (USA Central)
First off, I loved this episode.
Having said that, I'm also sick & tired of people b!tching that TNG 'had no conflict' or 'had no arcs'. Excuse me??? There's Worf's constant clashes with both his own people & his Enterprise crewman(don't forget he went to DS9 later on). There were also the Borg arcs, which is quite impressive in that they only appeared once a season from Season 2("Q Who") on; hence they were never overused the way they were on Voyager.
Picard and Crusher also had notable, (somewhat) heated exchanges. Hell, even Pulaski(though I didn't much care for her) had moments of conflict. I think people are just P.O'ed that TNG was beginning to eclipse TOS in popularity within some circles so they decide to make up ways to shoot it down.
Mat - Sun, May 25, 2008 - 8:01pm (USA Central)
Okay, I've watched this episode a few times and I gotta say it is rediculously overrated. Yes it is a great episode but the number of people who suggest it's the best episode made or something of the sort are crazy. I probably wouldn't even include it in my top 5 to be honest.

Great? Yes. The best? Far from.
Eoin - Tue, May 27, 2008 - 10:41am (USA Central)
In my opinion, it is the best episode of DS9. It shows what DS9 is all about, shades of grey with no easy or contrived solutions. The reason it might beat out an entry like "Duet" for example as best epsode, is that this episode has lasting ramifications, the entry of the Romulans into the war. (Although it would have been nice to see some character development of Sisko from this).
Too many other great episodes from Trek involved Time-Travel situations where the status-quo was restored at the end of the episode.
Great acting and writing alround.
Ishan - Fri, Jun 6, 2008 - 7:02pm (USA Central)
This episode is pure genius, another jaw dropping performance from Avery Brooks, and is why I love DS9. Logical answers to moral crises instead of shmultzy "We need to stick to starfleet protocol" status-quo-loving crap.
Maybe JJ will cast his eyes at DS9 for Star Trek XII
Jayson - Fri, Jun 6, 2008 - 7:54pm (USA Central)
I have to agree Ishan regarding Avery Brooks, man what fantastic actor. I think he not only delivered in this episode but during the entire series. There was a passion and enthusiasm that he had that we didn't see much in Star Trek.

But back to this episode, your right when you say its not logical solution to an insane situation.
Alex - Mon, Dec 22, 2008 - 8:13am (USA Central)
The high point of season 6 in terms of quality, I think - like so many of you I love this episode. Its composition, content, delivery and the quality of the performances are amongst the best in Trek.

I'm with Ishan and Jayson on the Avery Brooks front - although, in what is probably my favourite scene I think they missed a trick (the last scene, incidentally). Brooks seems to be playing to the A camera as if it were a one-man play, and only occasionally do they cut to the second camera in a profile shot.
If they'd mixed the profile shot more, it would've given more of an impression that he was talking to himself/the computer only, rather than to a roving camera.

On the GR reaction front - I don't know. Perhaps if he'd been around, DS9 would never have happened, or would've been very different. Perhaps like us and so many others he would see the war themes (and more importantly the imperfect characters) as some of the most compelling drama ever put forward in the franchise. Wasn't he a war veteran himself? His idealism is clear throughout TNG, but as in TOS, perhaps he retained that kernel of realism that when the chips were down, humans would do what it takes to survive - and juxtaposing that against Sisko's federation morality as in this episode is what makes it so compelling.
Baz - Sat, Jan 3, 2009 - 3:56pm (USA Central)
Easily one of my favourite episodes, and the one of the best episodes of DS9, but it's let down by 1 thing: Why didn't Vreenak contact the Tal Shiar and tell them about the fake programme just after he left the station? Dis I miss something, or is this a bit of an oversight? It's not really a big problem but it does leave a couple of unanswered questions regarding the end of the ep.

Still, it's an excellent, gripping, intelligent and multi-levelled outing and one that's worth watching over and over.
Neil - Sat, Oct 31, 2009 - 7:57am (USA Central)
Although I enjoyed this, I don't agree that it's the best of DS9, nor even in the top 5. Avery Brooks solo performance in front of the log recorder is far too hammy for that.

It's something that he's been getting progressively worse at as the years go by, overacting, overemoting, chewing the scenery... but this episode has the worst of the lot.

I also thought the final scene where Sisko gives Garak a couple of solid blows to the face was over-the-top. Kirk was happy to throw his fists around when necessary but it was never the first thing he thought of. It was unnecessary in the context and the fact that Garak didn't seem to suffer much discomfort from it just makes it worse.

Finally, I think you may as well remove the 'bot checker' field from this comment form - it's always the same question. Is it broken or did it never actually work?
J - Fri, Nov 6, 2009 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
In reference to a few of the comments above, it is not true that DS9 came into being totally after Gene Roddenberry's death. The idea of a show set on a space station had come up in his meetings with Brandon Tartikoff, and both Piller and Berman had notes from meetings with Roddenberry in which they discussed his feelings about such a series and what it might be like. Piller said a number of times at conventions that Roddenberry had given his blessing to the basic idea of the series before he passed away.
Gretchen - Wed, Nov 25, 2009 - 11:19am (USA Central)
Great episode, but 1 question:
Sisko says that Vreenak was killed a few days (2 or 3, I forget) after he left DS9. When they last saw each other, Vreenak told Sisko that he was going to expose his scheme to everyone. So, what was he doing during the 2 or 3 days before his death? I would think that would be plenty of time to expose & prove someone's crimes to the universe.
Alexander - Wed, Nov 25, 2009 - 11:08pm (USA Central)
"Great episode, but 1 question:
Sisko says that Vreenak was killed a few days (2 or 3, I forget) after he left DS9. When they last saw each other, Vreenak told Sisko that he was going to expose his scheme to everyone. So, what was he doing during the 2 or 3 days before his death? I would think that would be plenty of time to expose & prove someone's crimes to the universe."

Not stated directly, but seems implied that Vreenak wanted to make his presentation more dramatically, on the floor of the Senate. Transmit it immediately and he loses that opportunity. On why he didn't tell the Tal Shiar, it's been shown both in TNG and DS9 S7 that the Tal Shiar were often disliked by other power-centers on Romulus, I'm sure Vreenak didn't want to hand over his proof of Federation duplicity to another player.
Mart - Wed, Feb 24, 2010 - 2:22pm (USA Central)
Alexander,

Good theory about political infighting.

Unfortunately, we are told that Vreenak is in fact Tal Shiar himself; the very Vice Chairman.

Mart
Dan - Sat, Mar 6, 2010 - 8:26pm (USA Central)
"All it cost was the life of one romulan senator and one criminal"

I guess the 4 romulan body guards don't count...
gion - Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - 10:25pm (USA Central)
Unlike anything before on Star Trek this episode gives a feel that the Federation is fighting for naked survival. Not even any of the Borg crises managed to carry that feel so well. At that point lofty principle or preserving life become pieces of embellishment and we fall back into a raw "us or them" mentality.
In a way "In the Pale Moonlight" is a logical consequence of "Statistical Probabilities" in which Bashir and his patients determined that in order to save many billions of lives, the Federation ought to surrender to the Dominion. It was the rational thing to do, yet it was rejected by all, likely including most viewers as well. Under no circumstances could it be accepted that the other side wins. By rejecting the sanctity of life means were already put before ends.
Nic - Mon, Jul 12, 2010 - 8:15am (USA Central)
When did Gene Roddenberry's view of what Star Trek should be become a BIBLE of what to do and what not to do? First of all, Gene's opinions about anything and everything changed throughout his life. Gene created Star Trek, and therefore Star Trek fans owe him A LOT, but now that he has passed away I see no point in wondering whether he would approved of this or that episode. If YOU don't like the show, then don't watch it.

I for one think this is a fantastic episode that was ruined for me because I pretty much knew the whole plot and even some of the dialogue before seeing it for the first time. That being said, I would rank it the second best of the season so far (after "Rocks and Shoals").
Lucian - Sun, Aug 15, 2010 - 11:15pm (USA Central)
Fantastic episode, possibly the best episode in any of the trek series.
Although not too fond of sisko at the beginning he made the role his own as the series went on,Garak was class as always.

Great review btw
Marco P. - Wed, Aug 18, 2010 - 5:01am (USA Central)
While the idea behind the whole episode (namely that growing casualties in the Federation would push Sisko (or someone else) to do something drastic) is a good one, I am rather displeased with the final scene of "In the Pale Moonlight".

"A guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant, so I will learn to live with it... because I can live with it. I *can* live with it." says Sisko.

Some readers have commented that after the events of Season 5's "For the Uniform", Sisko's actions and final scene statement should come as no surprise. Perhaps that is true. However, it is not only Star Trek's idealism (as envisioned by Roddenberry) that we are going against here, but MORALITY in general. A Jean-Luc Picard, despite perhaps forced to choose the same path and sacrifice a few for the greater good of the many, would have commented on the moral ambiguity of this choice, stating something along the lines "only time will tell if our choice was the right one... but at what price?". Sisko on the other hand, seems to accept the moral burden on his conscience far too easily, in a a way that is unbecoming of a StarFleet officer and even more so of a Trek lead character.

So while the script, story, and directing (great idea to use the flashback system) are all top notch, it is primarily in the morality department that I have a big problem with this episode. Something that not even the appearance of Canada's Stephen McHattie can erase...
Laura Sharman - Thu, Sep 9, 2010 - 6:43pm (USA Central)
interesting stuff
Nic - Mon, Sep 13, 2010 - 12:21pm (USA Central)
Marco, I think you misinterpreted the meaning of the final scene. Sisko is trying to convince himself that he can live with his immoral actions because they were for the "greater good", but there's something in the tone of his voice that tells us he hasn't succeeded - that his actions will haunt him the rest of his life.

That, for me, is what makes this a quintessential Star Trek episode. Hollywood action films of today are filled with "heroes" who often end up killing more people than the villains. The fact that Sisko is distraught about killing two "innocent" people to (potentially) save millions - a decision most military leaders today wouldn't even blink at - is true to the Trek ideology of an enlightened future for humanity. So yes, this is one of the darkest episodes of Star Trek ever made, but it is still a Star Trek episode. And a great one at that.
Maaz - Sat, Sep 18, 2010 - 7:50am (USA Central)
This, along with Duet I think was the best episode of DS9 and one of the best in the whole of Star Trek.

The whole story was carried so brilliantly, and the acting complemented it superbly. Brooks and Robinson were incredible. I've gotta say, I was expecting Odo to put up a bit more of a fight about letting Tolar go, like Bashir did about the Biomemetic Gel, but that was the only flaw.

On that part about the Federation risking this going bad, they were desperate enough, they would have done it.

In Star Trek, Gene was trying to show that humanity has changed and developed to a utopia state, but that was challenged in Homefront and Paradise Lost, and completely flipped on its head here.

Sometimes you have to bend the rules to save them. There is a price for paradise. And that price is paid under the table.

(on a side note, I get the feeling that Garak used half the Gel to pay for a Dominion bomb to plant on the shuttle)
Rob - Sun, Sep 26, 2010 - 6:51am (USA Central)
Great episode. Like many other episodes from DS9 it demonstrates that during times of desperation even the federation shows its dark side.

Finally the Federation was facing a worthy opponent "the Dominion" the Federation could only stand their ground against them by sacraficing their morals and everything they believe in. By comitting acts such as this and lets not forget section 31.
Carl Walker - Sat, Oct 2, 2010 - 10:00pm (USA Central)
Maaz, Odo explains to Sisko that he is "certainly aware of the need for special security measures during wartime," and in fact he's always wishing that he could implement "special security." Odo had no problem recommending that "human" rights (there must be a broader term for this in the Trek universe, although we never heard it) be trampled on for the greater good in "Homefront." Letting an attempted murderer go must have been a bit harder for him to swallow, but I still find it plausible that he sees all justice as ultimately secondary to the greater order (just as the FC claims).
Elliott - Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - 3:24pm (USA Central)
ENOUGH!

"Shades of Grey"...if I have to hear that damned phrase one more time...

Life is not black and white. Thank you for the heads up! I'll be sure to check to make sure there's no one crossing the street even when I have a green light.

This truism is not an explanation of something being "good" or "bad" in the dramatic sense, it's just a point of view. An intelligent person acknowledges the literary value in things with which he disagrees, whether it's Orwell or the Bible. He also acknowledges the failings of something with which he agrees (whether it's Buddha or Dawkins).

I am sick of people praising this show because it shows people violating their principals, as though that is a literary virtue. Good or bad, true or false doesn't really matter if the episode is executed well and exudes a mythic core. This one is a mixed bag. There's some good mood-painting and the story structure is a good one as well as fresh. Brooks gives one of his worst performances to date which is very sorry given the centrality of his character here. Garak is brilliant and compelling, making up for some of Sisko's nauseating portrayals.

The moral issue itself...well, at this point I don't believe in Sisko's morality at all, so the choices he makes are of very little insight into his character. Basically, he serves a Bajor-centric code at best, occasionally pausing to punch someone. Taking Sisko as an everyman in any time, the idea is interesting. It makes one think, momentarily about the ideas at present. No one bothers to mention that if everyone were to behave as does Sisko (a similar problem with the preceding Section 31 story), the federation would not exist, so why violate it's principals to save it? The federation may be an organisation, not a being, I understand that...but this episode and this show in general seem to be saying that people can and always will sell their souls to survive. I'm not sure what the point of saying that is other than to depress. Taking Sisko as a starfleet captain, he is simply a villan now, no two ways about it. He cares about saving his own people only. Such an attitude in the Federation is clearly immoral.
RT - Thu, Jan 13, 2011 - 7:10pm (USA Central)
Your points are very interesting. Nuance is something that should be part and parcel of any quality drama. Its mere presence does not guarantee anything spectacular, although obviously, it helps the cause. And certainly, there is nothing intrinsically rewarding about plots that force characters to make grim decisions. But I doubt that fans of this episode enjoy it only because they get a sadistic thrill out of seeing Sisko’s ideals getting mangled.

TNG usually questioned morality and ethics by proxy. It used Data for the human condition, Klingons for politics and corruption, the Borg to consider collective identity, and Q for almost everything else. Here instead, we have a Starfleet Captain putting himself on trial, with no one to shift blame to or hold responsible but himself. There’s a definite power in this. The onus falls completely to Sisko, even if at the end of the day you find his moral limbo rather superficially consequential, as I do. “Self-respect” aside, has Sisko actually paid much of a price for his actions?

I also agree that Brooks toys with over-acting as usual, but he absolutely nailed the one line that he HAD to get right, and that is the “I can live with it” finale. He doesn’t really know if he can, and we don’t either, even if he is far removed from being the greenhorn idealist he was in earlier seasons. As pitch perfect as Andrew Robinson’s Garak is (as always), this is the moment that makes the show work.

I won’t go so far as to say ITPM is overrated, because it is stylishly told, generally well conceived, and I’d love to suffer amnesia just long enough to watch the last ten minutes again unspoiled. For me though, “Rocks and Shoals” does most of what ITPM does, but better.
Neil - Tue, Feb 1, 2011 - 9:30am (USA Central)
I have to disagree with RT about Avery Brook's last line being perfectly done. The emphasis on 'can' that suggests he is trying and failing to convince himself of that, is so badly done it's difficult to imagine how it was chosen from the probably 100 takes they did of that final scene.

However, the problem is that in reality, a person trying to convince themselves that they can live with what they've done will always be speaking to himself mentally, in his head. So as humans we don't have much experience with hearing that kind of sentiment out loud.

The closest thing I can think of is a boxer, standing in his changing room before a bout he is likely to lose, clenching his fists and shouting 'I *can* win this' to himself. Or some similar situation. And compared to that, Avery Brooks' version sounds small and obvious and badly acted.

Then again, maybe it's just me, but I find Brooks' acting pretty much uniformly awful whenever he does anger or frustration or any negative emotion. I think in real life he's a pussycat and he just can't do 'bad' very convincingly.

I did enjoy the episode the first time I watched it because the shuttle explosion was a genuine shock, I wasn't expecting it and in fact was really clueless as to what was going to happen after the hologram fake was detected.

And the retrospective narrative style was interesting, I'm not sure if DS9 has done one of those before.

But, by far the worst part of this episode for me was the main idea that Sisko was being torn apart by his evil actions in getting the Romulans into the war. If 'for the uniform' had never happened, it could be believable. But it had, so it wasn't.

There's 2 parts to his anguish. First, the people who were killed by Garak. An earlier commenter mentioned that the death of the romulan soliders on the shuttle didn't seem to bother him, and that's a key point. By this stage Sisko has murdered dozens of people in one-on-one combat... hell, he's murdered at least 50 Jem'Hadar face to face already.

Second, he's destroyed at least a hundred enemy ships by this point in the series, sending thousands of soliders to their death, the vast majority of whom were just innocent grunts fighting for their commanders like Sisko's own underlings.

So the idea that he cares about the death of a couple of random people is ridiculous.

The second part of his pain is the idea that he cheated to get another entire race tangled up in his war, and there will be thousands and thousands of deaths in the future because of this. I think this is the obvious *real* source of his pain, but again, I just don't beleive that someone in his position, having done the things we've seen him do, would even blink at this in reality. His self-hate for this is just not believable.

First, the fact is that the Romulans *would* have been invaded by the Dominion after the current war was won. That's been the Dominion's plan all along - they will enslave Cardassia and Bajor as well, eventually. And then *every* other race in the quadrant.

So even though the Romulans don't see it, he's actually done them a huge favour.

But more importantly, a rear-echelon mother-frakker one the losing side of a war this big and evil simply wouldn't think twice about doing this sort of thing to get a chance at victory. Sure, the Federation as imagined by Roddenberry originally would never have done this, but they would also have crushed the Dominion in two weeks due to their incredibly advanced technology as well. Roddenberry's Federation was *never* as pure as it should have been and by the time DS9 rolls around, the Fed is just as good at dirty tricks as every other species out there.

I enjoyed this story, mostly because I experienced genuine suspense in not guessing the outcome when I first watched it. But the core premise of Sisko's internal struggle is nonsense, and Brooks' acting was the over-the-top scenery-chewing over-acting we always get when he is in evil mode.
Andy70 - Mon, Feb 14, 2011 - 1:17am (USA Central)
I had missed a handful of DS9 episodes and finally got around to seeing them, ITPM was one of them.

An incredible episode that poses some HARD questions.

As Vreenak points out succintly, the Dominion "..is resolved." Very chilling. If something doesn't seriously change in the Federation's favor, it is doomed. Sisko knows this, Starfleet knows this. So the gloves come off and the Romulans are deceived into declaring war on the Dominion...princples and morals bent and broken so that their destruction can be avoided. Powerful themes, powerful performances.
Stubb - Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
There is only one thing that lifts this episode from good to great, and that is Andrew Robinson's performance as Garak. Garak is a nuanced, deeply realized character with a mysterious past that leads us to wonder not only what he's done, but also what he is CAPABLE of doing. Each scene with Sisko adds to Garak's virtuosity and ruthlessness. But watching his final confrontation with Sisko, it's blatantly obvious that he utterly steals the climax of this episode right out from under our dear over-emoting Captain. I've watched the end of this episode multiple times, and never cease to wonder at the depth of Robinson's acting -- it seems his every move, his every expression, his every gesture in that final confrontation is perfectly calibrated. Jaw-dropping.
Jim King - Fri, Aug 5, 2011 - 9:46am (USA Central)
This is a cheeseball episode that wants viewers to think it deep. Sisko doesn't really face much of a moral choice here.
gtr - Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - 7:31pm (USA Central)
As others have said, Sisko's actions in this episode were far less shocking after seeing him (in an earlier Maqui episode) order the poisoning of an entirely innocent colony's atmosphere just because it suited him as a bargaining chip...
gtr - Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - 7:32pm (USA Central)
...that was much more astonishing for me and I felt it was skipped over much too lightly at the end of the episode.

"Hey, they swapped planets, it's all fine."

Yeah, right.
Krysek - Tue, Nov 1, 2011 - 9:43pm (USA Central)
I really disliked this style of Sisko talking to the camera instead of just his log. Why is it so bold to try to get the Romulans back it already happened once before? If it happened big whoop, it probably won't help. Yeah, treaty whatever. And Garack did something on his own, whats the big deal? Would have been much more interesting with a dozen of those accidentally created Superborg from Voyager but i guess this show isn't allowed to kick-ass unless the Founders do it.
wildcolonialboy - Wed, Dec 14, 2011 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
I'm surprised no one has mentioned (as far as I can see) what really stuck out to me; Garak says (paraphrasing), "If you want to ensure the Romulans see evidence of Dominion duplicity, we're going to have to manufacture that evidence".

This comment is so much more troubling in light of the Iraq War that occurred several years after Deep Space Nine finished.

This episode, with Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, really evokes a certain prescience in light of what has occurred since 9/11.
Nic - Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - 10:52pm (USA Central)
I couldn't disagree more; I think Brooks gave one of his best performances in this episode. Lobl's direction should get a lot of credit as well, but whenever he launches into his "People are dying out there" speech I am close to tears. Here is a man who has put the fate of the entire quadrant on his shoulders.

Yes, his moralizing is inconsistent with "For the Uniform", but I hold that against "For the Uniform" itself, not "In the Pale Moonlight".
Nebula Nox - Mon, Apr 2, 2012 - 4:57am (USA Central)
I agree that this is an incredible episode of DS9.

It shows what Quark maintained earlier: that humans, when they are cornered, do desperate things.

In terms of morals, of course, lying and deceit are not good. But if that is what is necessary to save all you believe in...?

Of course, six humanoids died in the process as well. One was a criminal already condemned to death. I love the chilling way that Garak promises to come to him and say "hello," - when of course it will be good-bye. Killing Vreenak was worse - he had been invited to DS9, and it is rwrong to kill an invited guest - but Vreenak was the pro-Dominion Romulan whose pact with them had already allowed the deaths of so many in the Federation. We know nothing of the bodyguards, but bodyguards have chosen a dangerous occupation.

So Sisko might reason if he was trying to justify this!

I only wish there had been more follow-up with Sisko on this.

And I do appreciate the comparisons to the situation leading up to Iraq, although Bush/Cheney and the media were more guilty in lying to their own people. And the US was not in danger, whereas the Federation was struggling for its survival.
Justin - Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
Well, I'm certainly not going to engage in pointless debate about whether or not this episode (and the one previous) is a "bridge too far" outside of the Roddenberrian ideal. I respect that many fans feel that it is and acknowledge that they make very good points in expressing it and will leave it at that.

In regards to the stylistic choice of having Sisko address the camera during his log, I think it was extremely well directed AND acted. I don't understand this automatic distaste some viewers seem to have for melodrama. Not all melodrama is bad melodrama. People emote, it's a fact. Especially when they're forced to cope with impossible situations. So, is Avery Brooks chewing scenery here? Yes! What's wrong with that? He does it well and it's fun to watch. He's also a Shakespearean-trained actor. Who did melodrama better than Shakespeare, I ask you.

One of the reasons this is such a great episode is because it keeps you guessing all the way up until the end. At the beginning of the episode Sisko says he can "see where it all went wrong" and then we find out he's going to try to convince the Romulans to enter the war. So, right away we're duped into thinking the series of events we're about to witness will end in the failure of that goal. Because think about what we knew about the Romulans at that point. They could be counted on to be paranoid, arrogant, duplicitous, treacherous, and hard-headed. Add to that the fact that they had tried to unilaterally deal with the Dominion threat TWICE already. Once when Sisko (and future O'Brien) foiled their plan to collapse the wormhole, which in retrospect, turned out to be a pretty good idea; and once when the Tal Shiar was fooled by a changeling infiltrator and nearly wiped out after a failed invasion of the Dominion. So, it would be no surprise that the Romulans might take a "thanks, but no thanks" approach when the Federation comes, hat in hand, asking for their help. Garak's solution makes that much more sense taking all of that into account.

So, aside from Sisko's shocking revelation at the end (and it was VERY shocking), the surprise for me was that any attempt to convince the Romulans to join the war had worked at all.

A few points about Romulan politics and whatnot - this involves a bit of logical ret-conning, but bear with me...

Vreenak was a Romulan Senator, Pro-Dominion, and the Vice Chairman of the Tal Shiar. We find out later that Koval was Chairman of the Tal Shiar, and while on record as being opposed to the Federation-Romulan alliance, was actually an ally of Starfleet Intelligence and Section 31.

Why do I bring all of that up? Because it stands to reason that Vreenak and Koval would be at odds with one another politically. Therefore, it makes sense to me that Vreenak, after realizing that the Cardassian optolithic data rod that Sisko handed him was a FAAAKE, would want to sit on that information before getting back to Romulus. The Tal Shiar was probably still a mess, he knew there were already pro-Federation elements within his own government, and he had just left a secret meeting inside Federation-controlled space. He couldn't risk sending a transmission for all of those reasons. He also had a flair for the dramatic, so he probably wanted to wait until he was on the floor of the Romulan Senate before exposing Starfleet's "vile deception."

Garak, of course, knew all of this. Hell, he knew the Romulans better than anyone. Planting a bomb on Vreenak's shuttle - one perfectly designed to not completely destroy the data rod - was a masterstroke of underhanded genius.

The only thing I want to know is, how did Garak manage to dispose of Grathon Tolar without Odo taking notice? Or maybe he didn't and Odo looked the other way...?
Snitch - Fri, May 11, 2012 - 11:28pm (USA Central)
Epic episode, 4 stars from me. We needed more of this kind of dark war episodes.
Laroquod - Thu, Jun 21, 2012 - 7:13pm (USA Central)
I wish that the destruction of the Federation as a positive vision of the future were the only problem I had with this episode, because then I would at least be able to respect it as an alternative vision, however inappropriate for Star Trek. But Avery Brooks's overacting stinks so hard in the long soliloquys (which the writers used to paper over and conveniently skip all of the toughest conversations), that it's really impossible to take this episode seriously enough to take offence. False dilemma. Bunch of self-justifying mumbo jumbo instead of showing a clear and complete record of what transpired. Not admirable even as a criticism of utopianism, and quite tediously overwrought in any case.
Sintek - Sat, Sep 8, 2012 - 10:50pm (USA Central)
I love, love, love this episode, but I've always felt it would work better without the framing device. The plot is engrossing on its own, and every time I watch it I get lost in the narrative, but the jarring cuts to Sisko in his quarters jerk me out of the trance and remind me that "oh right, I'm watching a tv show."
Jock Strapp - Sun, Sep 16, 2012 - 12:51am (USA Central)
I'm starting to believe that they could show a scene of Capt. Sisko sleeping in bed and people will say Avery is over-acting? LOL!

Easily worthy of 4 Stars.
Jay - Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - 3:30pm (USA Central)
I thought that Worf's snarl of contempt at Garak as he walked off with Sisko seemed a bit out of place after the events of Purgatory/Inferno last season...he really owes his life to Garak in a way.
Arachnea - Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - 8:31am (USA Central)
This episode is a mixed-bag, well written, well directed but with obvious flaws. Many things have been said and I won't dwell on them, but I'd like to answer some.

First, the acting of Avery Brooks. Some love it, some don't; I... don't :p. It's not just about overacting, but this episode relies a lot on good acting with the monologue. When I watch, I see Brooks acting, not Sisko; it feels like he's reciting, not immersing himself into the role. Someone mentioned theatre and maybe that's his flaw, like Shatner's. What's overacting for TV would be great acting in theatre (they have to reach the far end of the audience), but TV needs something different. Well, just compare A.J. Robinson to Brooks ! Robinson gives us the whole deal: body language, facial expression, subtle line deliveries; He is Garak.

Second, the morality and obsessions of Sisko have been questionable from the very beginning. He disliked Picard (who was a Borg's victim) and held him responsible for his wife's death. He went after the Maquis not because of Starfleet honor, but for revenge against one man. He deliberately poisoned a planet's atmosphere for his own personal gain. He bribed and blackmailed many times (mostly Quark). He disobeyed orders to go and save one man (instead of keeping the station safe). And never once his position as a starfleet officer is threatened, he's even promoted ! And at the end of this episode, he goes punching Garak to ease his own conscience. Conclusion: Quark is more moral by Ferengi standards than Sisko is by human standards.

So, I'd have liked to have the writers take a bigger risk and have him do this without Starfleet knowledge and acquiescence. It'd have made sense and I wouldn't have lost my respect for Starfleet.

DG - Thu, Dec 6, 2012 - 8:41am (USA Central)
WHEW!!

I um, in my attempt to try really, really, REALLY hard not to find out what happens in this episode... spent the entire 45 minutes waiting for SISKO to blow up Betazed--and I apparently missed the 2 seconds at the beginning where they tell us the Dominion just conquered it.

Compared to that... the ending was a massive! relief.

Oh, so you were involved in getting 1 Romulan Senator killed. That's IT!? You didn't even kill him! geez...

I THOUGHT YOU WERE GONNA BLOW UP BETAZED!!!

(sorry for the yelling, but talk about a relief/freak out over nothing)
DavidK - Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - 5:16am (USA Central)
I think people forget that the fact Sisko is agonising over what has happened is the whole point. A bona fide cynical show would have these events happen as a matter of course.

That's my reaction to the concept of Section 31 from the previous episode too. People react like they were the end of Star Trek...the crew were horrified they existed, they are quite clearly "villains", or at least an antagonistic presence. Bashir and Reed both "join" them in one fashion or another, but not wholeheartedly, usually subversively, with their own agenda at work.

In both cases I think it's clear while DS9 examines dark things, it's final stance is not positive about them.

Also I think it's interesting that someone pointed out a Roddenbery Federation would have lost to the Dominion long ago. That's what I find interesting about the idealism of the Trek universe...it's only idealistic about humans, what happens what an outside force pushes on them? I think people would say a sufficiently evolved humanity would find a way to make diplomacy work...but the Borg were an exception to that rule, completely unable to be reasoned with. Assuming the Dominion fall into that category as well, what does the Federation do?

That's why I think DS9 is a worthy Trek show. It's easy to be enlightened when you're not being attacked, when you're not being tested. The Federation probably did start to crack along the way, but I think it's worthwhile to show that enlightenment is hard to maintain, but important. Sisko did make a mistake here in many ways, but while he tried to tell himself he can live with it, he knows he made a mistake, and it bothers him, and *that* is the good thing.


On anther note, I do wish some form of Trek was still going, because I think one day the Romulans would have found out what happened in this episode. That would have started a great arc.
Baron - Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
The only thing I didn't like was Sisko talking to the camera. This kind of took me out of the episode every time it was done. However, with that said the last scene was still great.
Chuck AzEee! - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 1:23pm (USA Central)
Arguably, Deep Space 9's opus, and while many might see Sisko's anguish on involving The Romulan Empire in the Dominion war as a bit melodramatic, but in truth, what he wound up doing cause a chain of events that would despite the heavy casualty aspect, end a war that would have cost billions and billions and all it took was the murder of one very important Romulan senator. Garak knew that and acted upon it.
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:38am (USA Central)
To be honest, my biggest problem with Sisko in this episode is that his reactions in different parts of the episode are out of keeping with the scale of his actions. Being accessory to the murder of a Romulan senator and his aides is terrible -- but the loss of life of that action is simply nowhere near the loss of Romulan lives resulting from the forgery of evidence that the Dominion is planning on going after the Romulans. Oh, yes, the Romulans would have been attacked by the Dominion anyway, most people agree, but the Romulans had exactly the same information the Federation had and came to the conclusion that they would be safe, and the Romulans strike me as better judges of what is in their own best interests than Sisko, who doesn't give a damn about Romulans. The manufacture of evidence makes Sisko and Garak responsible for all the Romulan deaths in the war, and the fact that Sisko signs onto *this* makes his reaction to the senator's death seem frustrating; the manufacture of evidence is the greater crime.

For what it's worth, I also think that while we can suspect strongly that it's in the Romulans' best interests to enter into the war against the Dominion, I don't think the series provides enough information for us to conclude that with certainty. For one thing (ironic, considering that it exists only because of ANOTHER betrayal of Federation values) Section 31's genocide plan would probably lead to the Founders' death before the Dominion turned on the Romulans.

Garak is not so deluded as Sisko as to believe that one can "merely" create a lie/manipulate an entire sovereign state into sacrificing thousands of lives in a bloody war, without getting one's hands even dirtier and becoming a murderer/assassin.

This is still a strong episode, but Sisko is too blase about the manufacture of evidence early in the episode for me to be as sympathetic to his guilt later on as I would otherwise be.
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:44am (USA Central)
Here's a story I'd like to see: the Romulans finding out about the deception and assassination of Vreenak. How would they react? Considering that the Romulans were the villains in the last two (both poor) Trek movies, it might have been interesting if somehow word got out to the Romulans that they were tricked into joining the war effort to save the Federation and this led to an increased desire for retaliation on the Federation for their deception (and, I suppose, a much greater hostility to Spock's attempts at reunification).
Blake W - Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 11:09pm (USA Central)
I think In the Pale Moonlight might be EVEN better than most people believe because: It seems that when Garak agreed to help Sisko, he knew Sisko's plan was unrealistic & wasn't going to work. Garak alludes to this in his final conversation with Sisko: "that's why you came to me, because you knew I could do things you couldn't". I really wish this was mentioned in the review because:

It makes the episode that much better and really highlights how important someone like Garak can be (which easily turns into a moral argument). It totally seems like Garak intentionally lied to Sisko when he said, "all my contacts were killed".. But he never completely lied; he never actually said he was going to pursue Sisko's plan and I'm sure he really did have contacts that were killed after he tried to reach them... But did he try to reach them after his conversation with Sisko? Or did he spend the time coming up with his own plan? Like, how did Garak know about Vreenak meeting Weyoun? He had to have talked to one of his friends in the Cardassian govt more than once.

But, Garak told Sisko his contacts were killed within 1 day of speaking to him. And, if they were killed, why not tell Sisko immediately? And give an update and say he might have another plan? Garak waited until Sisko was anxious enough to come to him & ask for an update (he knew it would be the best time to propose his plan). He basically manipulated Sisko becuz, as Garak said, Sisko went to him to be manipulated.

Sisko wanted to believe his plan was realistic, but deep down he knew he needed someone willing to do what Garak was willing to do (or at least, that's what Garak said in the final conversation).
Sam - Thu, Jun 6, 2013 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
It might've been mentioned, but there's actually no scene in which the criminal who makes the forgery dies. It is only stated again that he did die. It makes me wonder if the character was killed in a deleted scene or perhaps was written out of the eventual program.
Take it easy - Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - 1:43am (USA Central)
@William B: Interesting take on deaths of Romulans.

@Arachnea: Bingo on Brooks acting.

@Marco P: I agree about morality. Everybody is immediately bringing Gene's idealism and rules it out. But here it is basic morality.
chrispaps - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 8:05am (USA Central)
Best episode ever. Perhaps the best hour of television ever.
Corey - Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
The message of this episode can be summed up thus: America kills muslims to protect paradise and its freedoms. This, of course, is a lie. To make the lie sell, you have to invent extreme, ticking clock scenarious, which DS9 then does, to sell you to fascist message.
Brandon - Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - 5:01pm (USA Central)
I cannot believe we're even having this discussion. Sisko did not kill anyone, never conceived of killing anyone, never had the desire to kill anyone. Listen very carefully: THAT. WAS. GARAK. Sisko's involvement and moral agony went no further than having to lie to someone. We are not given the opportunity to see him grapple with the possibility of having to kill. The script tries to justify Sisko's guilt with his line, "I am an accessory to murder". Bull. The episode strains so hard here that it herniates. Garak acted outside of Sisko's knowledge, on a level far, far above Sisko's willingness to participate. Lying is not morally justifiable, but it is so far removed from assassination and murder that Sisko's sense of guilt is dramatically unjustified. In fact, when Vreenak does die, Sisko is so morally outraged he goes down and starts tossing Garak around his shop in a fury. The story shoots itself in the foot by suggesting that Sisko never would have agreed to assassinate anyone, then having Sisko own someone else's assassination as if he did it. I'm not buying it for one second.

"In The Pale Moonlight" is a masterpiece of atmosphere, tension, and urgency, but its "character arc" pivots around a false dilemma.
Patrick - Tue, Oct 15, 2013 - 1:52am (USA Central)
Brandon, Sisko knew about murders being committed and covered up for them, therefore he is an accessory after the fact.
Jack - Sun, Oct 20, 2013 - 11:21pm (USA Central)
Ye, Patrick is right. And it's sealed at the end when Sisko says if he had to do it again (including the hindsight of the two murders), he would.
V_Is_For_Voyager - Mon, Oct 28, 2013 - 5:49pm (USA Central)
I agree with Elliot's comment from 2011 that this episode is a mixed bag. Avery Brooks' acting is at its all-time worst here, and he nearly sinks the episode for me. It's not just overacting, it's _bad_ acting... silted and painfully forced. Ironically, Andrew Robinson is at his very best here, so the two performances cancel each other out. I also agree with Elliot that merely showing a character violating his principles has no literary merit in itself, and as many others have pointed out, Sisko already crossed that line when he basically gassed an entire planet with biological weapons to get Eddington.

I felt this episode seriously violated the old "show, don't tell" principle of storytelling with Sisko's totally unnecessary narration. Avery Brooks is at his best in his quiet moments with his family, and I think this episode would've been much better if the audience was following events as they unfolded, with Jake or Cassidy there to act as a check on his conscience. Far better to _see_ a character actually dealing with his emotions than have him shouting directly into the camera about what he was supposed to be feeling after the fact.

Also, I felt the writers cheated a little bit (as they often do, in cases like this) by making the Romulan Senator and the alien forger so personally despicable and unlikeable. If you really want to make it tough, make the Romulan honorable and decent, or make the forger into an entertaining and amiable fellow. This is supposed to be such a tough moral decision, something so unthinkable, yet all we really have is Garak being his badass self and bumping off a few real jerks offscreen. Yes, it defies Roddenberry's vision, but aside from challenging the hallowed ideology of Trekdom, it doesn't actually take that many dramatic risks. Because the audience really doesn't like either of these obnoxious and highly disposable characters, and because Garak is cool enough to be considered the Cardassian James Bond, there is ever point where the audience actually feels even the slightest bit of genuine moral dilemma.

In the end I like this episode just because it's a great showcase for Garak and I appreciate what the writers were trying to do. If they had replaced Sisko's fourth-wall histrionics with some quiet character moments, and had push the moral queasiness a bit more, I think it would've been as great as many believe it to be.
Blake W - Thu, Oct 31, 2013 - 11:04am (USA Central)
@Brandon you're absolutely wrong. Do you not remember the first conversation Garak and Sisko had? Sisko told Garak his plan, Garak told him it was an unrealistic suicide mission, Sisko suggested Garak use his contacts, (and the important part) Garak told Sisko it might be a very bloody business, and Sisko's reply: "I'm prepared to do whatever it takes".

For you to suggest Garak acted outside of Sisko's knowledge is just insane. Garak went out of his way to warn him that a slew of people may need to be murdered. He explicitly asked him if he was okay with that, and Sisko's justification was: "our people are getting slaughtered, so if ppl need to die to stop the slaughter, then fine".

What is so hard to understand about that? The story does not suggest Sisko would have never agreed to assassinate anyone; that's just your misguided interpretation of Sisko's anger at Garak. Maybe you're forgetting that Sisko isn't a cold-blooded murderer. And maybe you're forgetting Sisko's anger evaporated when Garak convinced him there was no chance of the Romulans discovering the truth.
Kotas - Sat, Nov 2, 2013 - 10:54am (USA Central)

Interesting episode format. Develops Sisko and the story at the same time. Garak is always great.

9/10
Ric - Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - 2:57am (USA Central)
Refreshing episode format, splendid Garak as always, however disastrous acting from Brooks. Very good episode writing and execution, but with a plot that is atrocious to Star Trek heritage.

At this point there is no way back: DS9 has become a quite good political show, but at the expense of not fitting anymore within Trek world. It is true that the series crossed the line not just recently, but the past few episodes have put it far far off the equilibrium point between the so famous shades of grey and being respectful with how the Federation and Starfleet are written in any other Trek media.

Let's just pretend this is another parallel universe to the usual one, so it can be swallowed.
Ric - Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - 2:58am (USA Central)
Refreshing episode format, splendid Garak as always, however disastrous acting from Brooks. Very good episode writing and execution, but with a plot that is atrocious to Star Trek heritage.

At this point there is no way back: DS9 has become a quite good political show, but at the expense of not fitting anymore within Trek world. It is true that the series crossed the line not just recently, but the past few episodes have put it far far off the equilibrium point between the so famous shades of grey and being respectful with how the Federation and Starfleet are written in any other Trek media.

Let's just pretend this is another parallel universe to the usual one, so it can be swallowed.
Josh - Thu, Dec 19, 2013 - 7:18pm (USA Central)
@Ric: This would be the Federation and Starfleet where having Romulan ancestry would be considered a shameful secret to be hidden ("The Drumhead"), it is possible to seize sentient beings for research purposes ("The Measure of a Man", "The Offspring"), elements in Starfleet engage in illegal weapons research ("The Pegasus"), the "perfection" of the 24th century manifests as smug superiority ("The Neutral Zone"), the Federation involves itself in internal political conflicts ("The High Ground" and hardly limited to it), admirals often seem duplicitous if not outright rogue ("Too Short a Season", "Ensign Ro", among others), and treaties are signed resulting in the displacement of millions ("Journey's End").

I agree that the Federation and Earth in particular were often presented as something close to a utopia, especially in Picard's rhetoric or Troi's responses to Sam Clemens in "Time's Arrow". But there's plenty of evidence that it often fell short of that ideal, and that was just with the examples listed above on TNG. DS9 did indeed push the envelope further, but in this episode and some later ones it often functioned as a comment on the nature of moral compromise in war. The revelation of Section 31 hardly passed without comment from characters like Bashir, who in "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" called the Federation a "24th century Rome".

While it's true that early TNG exemplified, I suppose, the "vision" of Roddenberry that we'd have "solved" all human social problems in about 350 years, this was never the case on TOS or any of the first six movies. In Star Trek VI, elements of Starfleet conspires with Klingons to assassinate the Klingon chancellor!

Star Trek is at its best when exploring moral dilemmas through often loosely allegorical stories about the present day. Originally DS9 used the non-Starfleet characters to explore "less Starfleet" issues like terrorism and prejudice and the personal and political legacies of violent conflict. And the "frontier" setting (to quote Bashir) allowed us to see a less-perfect world where not every problem has been consigned to history. As Sisko said in "The Maquis, Part II":

"On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!"

Anyway, to my mind, examining the tension between maintaining a better world and fighting against the externalities of war, insecurity, and inequality is a lot more interesting and relevant than positing a stagnant and fairly arbitrary vision of a "perfect" future.
Blake W - Mon, Dec 30, 2013 - 2:00am (USA Central)
@Josh I'm so glad we have people like you who can intelligently counter all those who claim DS9 doesn't fit into the Trek world. As far as non-Starfleet characters exploring less Starfleet issues, Honor Among Thieves comes to mind. It's one of my favorite DS9 episodes because, as far as I recall, there's never been anything on TV that more accurately conveys (to the point where viewers truly understand) what it's like to realistically live as a gangster / criminal.

DS9 has done an outstanding job with exploring the truth about war and so many other issues. I think people are out of line to assume the truth about war would be something different in the future. Just because Roddenberry had a certain vision of society doesn't mean you can apply that to a war. And I think it would be outrageous if people actually suggested that simply deciding to explore the issue of war is disrespectful to the Star Trek heritage.
Ric - Thu, Jan 2, 2014 - 1:48am (USA Central)
@Josh Thanks for this insightful reply. It happens that, in general, I agree with it. I agree with your point of view and I do acknowledge that both Starfleet and the Federation have been shown as having their flaws since much before DS9. This is true, although of course less true for TOS than the later. And to think that any misconduct is absent from either the Federation or the Starfleet just because of their utopian-like organization, would be both a naïve reading and a mislead memory of the Trek legacy so far.

Of course there are wrong choices, misbehavior, misconduct, political crimes, conspiracy, choices made under the table, and so on. Human being are still human beings: the institutions were almost perfected, but individuals can certainly make mistakes. But usually, all of those mistakes, if relevant enough, are seem as deviants to be investigated, prosecuted, maybe punished. Notice that most of the examples of those deviations or misconducts happening in the TOS or in the TNG are examples of characters that deviate from the Federation and Starfleet norms and are either punished or at least investigated, put on hold, released from duty, etc. In the later DS9 episodes (I am thinking of seasons 5 to 7, mainly the second half of 5 and the entire 6), the very main characters are misbehaving or departing from the dogma and the norms regularly without facing almost any questioning or consequence whatsoever.

It means: I do not care about characters making mistakes. I do care about late DS9 transforming deviations in quite a normal thing, accepted easily by the institutions of Federation or Starfleet. It is institutionalizing what in previous Trek was sporadic deviation, usually punished or at least painfully investigated.

I've been giving examples in other comments so I will not flood them again here, but just recall some happenings such as Bashir's lie about this genetic enhancement, Kira showing her face to Dukat in a travel to the past and trying to alter/altering the future, Sisko bombarding a planet to chase the Maquis leader, his falsification of war events in the current episode, or when he simply decided to listen to the prophets and obstructed the agreement with Bajor, and so on.

It does not have anything to do with the so praised and realy welcome shades of grey brought by DS9. Of course I do recall the citation you've mentioned, where Sisko states how DS9 is facing a challenges that defy the easy world of the Federation and forces them to deal with unusual dilemmas. I do love this aspect of DS9. But it is not the same thing as going over the top and making DS9 crew untouchable for whatever crazy/outsider/illegal actions they make. Starfleet and Federation have to be the same across shows, no matter how many shades of grey we praise or how much we welcome moral dilemma. Consistency across shows is the number one necessity rule for belonging in the same fictional universe.

@Blake That said, I think it is clear at this point that I am not one of those who think DS9 as a whole did not fit in the Star Trek universe.
Trent - Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - 8:27pm (USA Central)
Sisko's faking an attack on the ROmulans is akin to America's provoking Japan into the Pearl Harbour attacks, the fake baby incubator lies used to start Gulf War 1 and the fake WMB lies used to start Gulf War 2. All fascist Empires do this.

DS9 ignores history and presents Sisko's actions as a "burden" and a "hard choice" which "must be undertaken" for the "greater good". To convince you that his action is "kinda necessary" the decks have to be stacked against the Federation, namely by creation a massive super villain in the form of the Dominion.

But the Dominion never exists in real life. Those cringing in the fear of big bad super villains are always liars who manufacture threats. Those doing what Sisko does are always the bad guys. The whole concept of the Dominion ruins DS9, because it creates the image of an Other who seeks to eradicate. But there is no Other, just propaganda, be it the propaganda that sells a false image of Hitler, or Saddam Hussein or whatever. There is no Dominion and there is never any justification to lie to sell wars.

This is not a complex DS9 episode. It's an apologia for fascism.
Josh - Wed, Jan 15, 2014 - 9:07pm (USA Central)
There have never been "Others" who seek to eradicate? What "false" image of Hitler are you talking about?
Trent - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 11:37am (USA Central)
You think Hitler was a boogeyman who, like the Dominion, wanted to take over everywhere?

Europe was ruled monarchs and Tsars, most of whom were related. The British, Russian and German monarchs were kin, for example. AFter WW1, when revolutionary forces across Europe stood up against the aristocracy, like Napoleon once did, the kings and queens got worried. Most of those instigating the uprisings were communist radicals and Marxists (ie the Federation). They wanted to end late-feudalism and instigate change. Into this chaos came Hitler, who was backed by the monarchs, West and the capitalist class. Everyone in power loved him because he set about crushing Marxists (which he labelled a Jewish conspiracy, and which he hated for "toppling" Germany's Wilhelm 2, again related to British monachs), and everyone was fine with his anti Semitism. You can find hundreds of quotes with the Pope of the time and the leaders of the US and UK praising Hitler and Mussolini and championing him as an "friend against the evils and ungodliness of marxism". The Banks of England and France outright petitioned the government to support Hitler as a "force against radicals". Furthermore, everyone was happy because he promised to attack the winners of the Russian civil war, the communists who toppled feudalism and ousted the Russian kings. The Kings/Tsars, to make matters worse, were supported by most Western nations, which lets you know quite clearly on whose side the West was on: the side of power, not the common man. Heck, the White Rebels were virtually funded entirely by the US to assist the Tsars during the Russian Civil War.

In other words, Hitler was a puppet of the monarchist/capitalist nations who was used as a tool to take out the threats to monarchs and capitalists. Why? Because communism (the Federation) destroys capitalist profit and eradicates the class based heirarchies which feudalism and capitalism rely on. It is progressive, and power hates losing power.

It's the same story with all other dictators, be they Saddam Hussein or the 40 or so CIA backed dictators put in place across Latin AMerica.

There is no Dominion out there who exists to threaten power and who exists to provide stupid "grey areas" where "you might have to break a few rules" in order to "get rid of evil". History doesnt work that way.

DS9's Dominion arc just promotes the typical evil empire vs good guys narrative that fuels most contemporary earth conflicts and propogates a gross distortion of history. It's the reason people had no problem taking out Saddam Hussein, for example, whilst the fact that he was a CIA asset goes unacknowledged. Not to mention the contemporary war on "terrorists" and "Al Queda", the latter whom "we" created. Heck, on 911, the CIA and Al Queda were working together in the Macedonia civil war. It's all about social class; power creates evil to destroy progressive movements. Check out the last 3 Western funded coups in Haiti and Honduras and Ecuador over the past 9 years, (or heck, lol, even current wars on bit-torrent websites). Not once were these even reported in the news. The Federation is not some utopian fantasy, it exists on our planet, and is always being crushed.

There is nothing in Earth history resembling the Dominion's attack on the Federation. It resembles "myths" and "lies" about certain conflicts in history, but not the truth. If the Dominion arc were analogous of Earth history, the Dominion would be a Federation creation.

If we, however, believe in Roddenberry's views on the Federation - the notion that it is utopian and always righteous - and we accept the rediculous, straw-man portrayal of the Dominion (which would never logically exist), then the Dominion arc would have unfolded much differently. We have no Earth examples of altrusitic wars waged to genuinely free people from exploitative systems, so this is hard to write.

My guess is that an enlightened society like the Federation would realise that going to war with the Dominion in order to liberate its member states might not be beneficial in terms of aggregate deaths. It might be better to run and play things defensively and diplomatically and just wait for their messed up feudal system to evolve. An enlightened body like the Federation wouldnt play things like Sisko played things, but the writers were stuck in a very bad (and propagandistic) WW2 allegory.
Trent - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 11:41am (USA Central)
Please excuse my typos and poor sentence construction. I did not proof-read and typed on a small device.
Josh - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
A few facts to clarify your bizarre conspiracy-laden rant:

- There were no more Tsars in 1933, the NSDAP having come to power in Germany some 17 years after the October Revolution and 16 after Nicholas II was executed.
- The only monarchs of any significance left after WWI were in the UK and Italy. Edward VIII aside, accusations of Nazi-sympathy are unfounded in the UK, which by that time had had constitutional monarchy for over 200 years.
- Hitler was preceded by the dictatorial emergency powers of several other chancellors under Paul von Hindenburg in the presidency of the Weimar Republic. Mainstream conservatives like Papen were too weak to govern on their own in the Reichstag and felt they could control Hitler. Of course, they were incorrect, and we know the rest of that story. Arguably monarchists like Papen and Hindenburg expected that Hitler would serve adequately as their "puppet", but otherwise your historical interpretation is, shall we say, rather far off the mark and reads like something you'd hear in a lecture in Moscow c. 1951.
- Whatever Nazi sympathizing went on prior to 1939 does not invalidate the fact that from about 1938 onward Hitler was uniquely the aggressor in numerous invasions and conflicts, up to and including invasions of monarchies and republics alike, from France to Denmark to Norway to the Soviet Union.
- That you would somehow omit mention of "The Final Solution" in your argument suggests you are wearing extreme ideological blinders.

Now, as for DS9, your argument simply does not withstand a review of actual textual evidence. Initially the Dominion attacks Starfleet vessels to establish an aggressive territorial claim in the Gamma Quadrant. Starfleet's response is to bolster defences at DS9 (e.g. the Defiant). In the meantime the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order perceive the Dominion as a grave threat and collaborate to destroy the Founders. Unfortunately for them, the Founders infiltrate their ranks and lead them into a trap.

At the same time, they start sending changeling operatives to infiltrate Starfleet and the Federation. This could certainly be viewed as a defensive strategy against the uncertain threat posed by Federation "solids". They also seek to turn major Alpha Quadrant powers against each other through such infiltration (e.g. Martok in "Apocalypse Rising"). The Klingons have in the meantime responded provocatively to Cardassian weakness following the fall of the Order, and have attempted to annex Cardassian systems.

To paraphrase Eddington and Sisko in "Blaze of Glory", the Klingons (and the Maquis) had the Cardassians on the run - and they ran right into the hands of the Dominion.

Finally, facing the regular movement of Dominion troops and arms into Cardassia, Sisko and Starfleet decide to mine the wormhole. Their refusal to remove the mines is what starts the war (or at least becomes the trigger). All the preceding events led up to it, and while the Founders' somewhat paranoid ideology about "solids" played into much of it, they mostly adopted a strategy of covert operations aimed at the neutralization or mitigation of what they regarded as security threats rather than open warfare.

Anyway, we've seen the Federation involved in wars (or heard of it) in every series and most of the movies too. The Dominion War was of course the first to be fully dramatized. I'm not sure where it was ever portrayed as "altruistic". But either way, the level of anti-DS9 rhetoric based on fairly partial and questionable historical viewpoints is disturbing.
Trent - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 7:01pm (USA Central)
Well, I am home now and can hopefully type with more coherence.

In my last post I was broadly and quickly sketching historical movements which span from the 1850s to the 1970s, and the forces which led to a reactionary like Hitler getting into power. I think it is unfair and insulting to call this a "conspiracy rant". I also think you are misreading my writing.

"There were no more Tsars in 1933"

I did not say or imply this. Perhaps you think I am implying that "Tsars put Hitler in power"?

Regardless, even in 1933, the overthrown Russian aristocracy was behind many counter-revolutionary groups operating in Russia. So yes, there were "Tsars" in 1933.

In Germany, the Spartacus League (a Marxist group) would die off after WW1. In its wake came subsequent left-leading factions, which repeatedly rose up against the German government, only to be crushed. From 1919 onwards, the German Army was tasked with putting these groups down. This went on for decades, until Hitler took up the mantle and put an end to them all. I am not implying that "Russian Tsars wanted Hitler in power", but rather, the ruling class (in all superpowers) saw Hitler as a tool to crush worker movements. The aim was to stop the equivalent of a Russian Civil War in Germany. Because Russia was such a backward, feudal nation, these same flames couldn't ignite in the same way in Germany. The ruling class and land owners had a more robust state on their side.

"the NSDAP having come to power in Germany some 17 years after the October Revolution and 16 after Nicholas II was executed."

Irrelevant. And of cours Wilhelm 2 wasn't executed and the German aristocracy would maintain a grip even when Hitler was in power.
Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, Wilhelm Keitel (war minister), Konstantin von Neurath (foreign minister), Otto Ohlendorf (head of SD), Kurt von Schroeder (financier of NSDAP), Ernst von Weizsacker (Foreign Office) etc...most of the major figures in the NAZI party are related to the aristocracy. But let's not forget that the opposite was also true. What makes the rise of Naziism horrible is that it was largely supported by the working class. I'd wager that throughout history, a dispossesed working class is always just as much responsible for conservatism and fascism as anyone else.

"The only monarchs of any significance left after WWI were in the UK and Italy."

No. The old monarchs simply transitioned into the new, capitalist ruling class. Churchill, of course, and many British politicians of the day, are descendents of royalty and openly praised Hitler. Their allegiances only turned when Hitler and Stalin formed a temporary alliance, which spooked Britain.

"Whatever Nazi sympathizing went on prior to 1939"

At least you agree with me now. Up until 1939, the US, UK, France and the Vatican endorsed Hitler. Specifically, they endorsed his killing of Marxist revolutionaries (often under the guise that these groups were Jewish and so "contaminants") and the protection of big land owners. I use the term "Marxist" loosely. While some of these groups were Marxist in the best sense, seeking the outright abolishment of class society, most were simple worker movements which fought for minor benefits. Most were put down.

I notice you have no interest in contesting my application of this historical narrative to US actions in the Middle East and Latin America. This is largely because WW2 propaganda and mythology lingers; WW2 is presented not as a class conflict, but an existential battle between good and evil.

"does not invalidate the fact that from about 1938 onward Hitler was uniquely the aggressor"

Not really. Leave Hitler alone, and Poland gives him back Danzig, he takes back Rhineland and Czechoslovakia and he either takes West Prussia by force (it was Germany's prior to WW1), threats, or bullies it into becoming an independent ally. He then goes north and takes on Russia - his target and self described life goal - with Ukraine taken as a backstop to prevent what Hitler called "Napoleon's mistake". His aim is Russia and Russia alone. All the other countries he takes were, in his eyes, and in the eyes of many in Germany (and even Americans), "simply part of Germany before WW1".

In my view, he has no interest in England or France and certainly not the US. But we cannot know this for certain. His goal is Russia. You can argue that Hitler's Imperialist ambitions to take back what Germany lost after WW1 are "immoral" - and you'd be right - but of course all the other land holdings of all the other Empires were taken by naked Imperialism and are equally immoral. And of course France and England were absolutely fine with giving Hitler every country (as the post WW2 demarcations only further prove), so long as he keeps going north east and takes out communism in Russia.

"in numerous invasions and conflicts, up to and including invasions of monarchies and republics"

Except he wouldnt have invaded these countries if the West didn't declare war. Once war was declared, all the Empires were invading countries to create bulwarks, jostle for resources or get at each other. England was dropping troops on foreign soil without permission too, and often armies had to pass through foreign countries simply to get at each other. Blegium and the Netherlands, for example, were specifically invaded by Germany because of the Allied declaration of war, to prevent British troops landing and to get access to France.

"That you would somehow omit mention of "The Final Solution" in your argument suggests you are wearing extreme ideological blinders."

Ah, so I'm a neo nazi holocaust denier? Why must I mention the Final Solution? Does something in my previous post hint at "Nazi sympathies"? Isn't it interesting that you'd label anyone who challenges your WW2 Good War mythology, a "holocaust denier"? Why do you think that is?

For the record, I hate Hitler and treat the Holocaust as seriously as every other mass murder, which is to say, not very seriously at all. As a student of history, I have been desensitized to mass murder, from the mass murders in Indonesia, to the recent genocides in Sri Lanka, to my governments continual genocides in Africa (currently being portrayed as a war between Christians and Muslims, the pressence of French puppet dictators conveniently ignored), and to the almost hundred million killed by CIA coups over the past century. I am tired of the sheer ease at which millions dead go ignored, and I believe what facilitates this cycle of murder is the way man both resorts to silly myths, and an analysis of history which ignores social class.

The truth is, WW2 is far more interesting and far more complex than the silly "goodies" vs "baddies" narrative that people force it into. There were absolutely no good guys, everyone was complicit, and to pick sides in a battle between Empires, when all Empires are inherently immoral, is a waste of time.
Trent - Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - 7:36pm (USA Central)
"Now, as for DS9, your argument simply does not withstand a review of actual textual evidence."

Your summary did nothing to sway me. The Dominion is an evil Empire which wants to "instigate order", "take over everything" and which "contaminates our civilization" with "terrorist cells" populated by figures who can "hide amongst us". It's all very familar. Thankfully, DS9 never slides into outright fascism. It is skeptical of the Federation's black ops units and it is skeptical of Sisko faking data (like the West faked sattelite photos and gave to Saddam, and faked the nurse Nayirah testimonies, and faked WMDs, and faked bombings in Saigon, and faked the Gulf of Tonkin etc), but these things are nevertheless still presented as "necessary evils", a part of the White Man's Burden. We accept these "necessary burdens" for one reason only: the Dominion is SUPER POWERFUL and painted as an existential threat. You cannot know Earth history and read this as nothing but the usual strawman preamble to fascism or fascist policies.

If the Federation were real, and an Empire like the Dominion somehow managed to form, the Federation would not have played things out like DS9 shows things play out.

"But either way, the level of anti-DS9 rhetoric based on fairly partial and questionable historical viewpoints is disturbing."

Many comments on this episode are similar. Scroll up and you will see users rightfully likening the episode to the US' "relationship" with "muslims" or chastising it for its phony "moral grey areas". People recognise crypto-fascism when they see it.
Andy's Friend - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 1:11am (USA Central)
@Trent:
Hello Trent. You mention that you are a “student of history”. As a professional and published Historian, I would like to examine some of the statements you so graciously have contributed to the discussion yesterday:

------------------------
“…most of the major figures in the NAZI party are related to the aristocracy.”

This is an interesting claim. Let’s take it more or less from the top, shall we? And please note the last fellow on the list.

― Hess [Deputy Führer]: commoner ― Göring [Minister of Aviation]: commoner ― Goebbels [Propaganda Minister]: commoner ― Himmler [head of the SS]: commoner ― Speer [Minister of Armament etc.]: commoner ― Ribbentrop [Foreign Minister]: commoner [von by adoption in adulthood] ― Bormann [head of the Party Chancery]: commoner ― Lammers [head of the Reich Chancery]: commoner ― Bouhler [head of the Führer Chancery]: commoner ― Meissner [head of the Presidential Chancery]: commoner ― Frick [Minister of the Interior]: commoner ― Gürtner [Minister of Justice]: commoner ― Funk [Minister of Economy]: commoner ― Schwartz [Reich Treasurer of the Party]: commoner ― Daleuge [Chief of Police]: commoner ― Amann [Reich Press Leader]: commoner ― Rosenberg [Minister of Occupied Russia]: commoner ― Frank [Governor-General in Poland]: commoner ― Seyss-Inquart [Reich Commissar in the Netherlands]: commoner (in spite of the fancy name) ― Lutze [ill-fated head of the SA]: commoner ― Müller [Reich Bishop, i.e., head of the (Nazi) German Church]: commoner ― von Schirach [head of the Hitlerjugend]: noble!

I think I’ve missed a few, but you have the 11 most important of the 18 Reichsleiters here, plus a few ministers etc. ― virtually all the top brass, i.e., your “major figures”. If you had said that virtually all the field marshals and generals of the Wehrmacht were of noble birth, I would have agreed with you. As it is… well, what can I say?

------------------------
‘I’d wager that throughout history, a dispossessed working class is always just as much responsible for conservatism and fascism as anyone else.’

Another interesting claim. 'Throughout history' is perhaps overdoing it, as the working class is a fairly new concept. But if you consider the inter-war period in Europe, which social groups were the mainstay of right-wing conservative, authoritarian, or fascist regimes?

In virtually all cases, they were [typical allegiance]: 1) senior army officers [conservative/authoritarian]; 2) junior army officers [radical right/fascist]; 3) upper urban middle class [conservative/authoritarian]; 4) lower urban middle class [radical right/fascist]; 5) large landowners [conservative/authoritarian]; 6) small farmers [radical right/fascist]; 7) industrialists [conservative/authoritarian]; 8) petty entrepreneurs [radical right/fascist]; 9) religious groups [conservative/authoritarian]; shopkeepers [radical right/fascist]; and finally, 10) students [anything goes].

This is what we see everywhere in Europe, from the Baltic states to the Balkans. Workers were left-wing. I’d advise you against wagering: you’d lose your money.

------------------------
“What makes the rise of Nazism horrible is that it was largely supported by the working class”

A very interesting claim.

Until 1928, the NSDAP had followed an urban strategy designed to attract blue-collar workers. But at the 1928 elections, the NSDAP only won a miserable 2.8 percent of the vote. It was only after that that Hitler made a fundamental change in strategy, aiming now at all sectors of society. From 1928 onward, the NSDAP ― National Socialist German Workers Party ― was a workers’ party in name only. It was the middle class and particularly the farmers that were Hitler’s main supporters. The German workers, as everywhere else in Europe, were essentially left-wing. Don’t go near that dabo table, Trent!

------------------------
[Josh]: ‘The only monarchs of any significance left after WWI were in the UK and Italy.’
[Trent]: ‘No. The old monarchs simply transitioned into the new, capitalist ruling class.’

Yet another interesting claim, yet also mostly untrue. While powerful noble houses did exist in Germany and Austria, who only became republics following the Great War, the role of the nobility in France was already mostly only that of government officials – the service of the State in the proud tradition of the Grands Écoles. In Spain the influence of the nobility experienced an all-time low during the Second Republic [1931-1936/1939]. In the Soviet Union, of course, it vanished entirely.

When considering the role of the aristocracy in Europe in the inter-war era, you have to remember that the only countries in Europe where the institution of entail hadn’t been abolished by the mid 1920’s were Germany and Sweden; in Germany Hitler began projects to abolish it, but only after the war were they carried out. In all Latin Europe, it had been abolished sometime in the mid-19th century.

The truth is, that for the vast majority of European aristocracy, 1) the upkeep of estates was becoming exceedingly expensive; 2) inheritance laws following the abolishment of the entail were fragmentizing the formerly vast noble estates in every country but Germany and Sweden; and 3) the nobility in most cases hadn’t succeeded in performing the transition to what you call “the new, capitalist ruling class”, i.e., the industrial and business sectors.

I know you’ll be able to find houses like the Liechtensteins and Schwarzenbergs in Austria, and a number of dukes etc. in the UK and Germany, and a few more who are the exception to this rule, but in the vast majority of cases, the European nobility was dire straits after the abolishment of the entail [Netherlands 1918, Denmark 1919, UK 1925…], and were mostly concerned with their immediate survival as landowners on the short-term. In fact, one of the main reasons why Sweden didn’t abolish the entail system before the 1960s was because one of the largest Danish noble estates was famously ripped apart in 1926 because when the old count died, all his eleven children had to get an equal share.

Finally, Mussolini’s Italy is a good example: though a monarchy, entail had been abolished in the various Italian states before the Risorgimento as early as ca. 1815; consuetudinary law allowed for women *not* to inherit real estate, but nevertheless, a hundred years later, all but the largest noble estates had been partitioned to oblivion – and the aristocracy had thus seen most of its economic and even political power be eroded. Look at the way Mussolini chaged ministers like we change underwear. And how many of them were noble? So again, I must disagree with you. Don’t go near that poker table, Trent: Riker will cut you to pieces every time.

------------------------
I could go on like this with any of your claims, but the message would become too lengthy, and I don’t want to burden Jammer’s servers. Suffice it to say, if I may quote Data in “The Measure of a Man”: "You're a little vague on the specifics”, Trent.

Be careful next time you try to give a lecture on an internet forum: you never know when there is someone out there who actually knows what you’re talking about.
Trent - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
"I think I’ve missed a few, but you have the 11 most important of the 18 Reichsleiters here, plus a few ministers etc"

Yes, that line was hyperbolic. I am not implying that the party was a "new aristocracy". But I remember a French author (Daniel Guerin) detailing how the opposite was also true; he mapped the movements of the German aristocracy leading up to the mid 1930s, and how they retained alot of power in business and policy.

"This is what we see everywhere in Europe, from the Baltic states to the Balkans. Workers were left-wing."

Roughly 40 percent of the party was comprised of the working class, then you had a larger majority in or from esteemed jobs like mining, law, medicine etc, and then of course with a large base of support on the outside, what I called the "dispossesed working class". You're arguing that support from the public didn't come from the German working class, however, which I can buy. It's the old "fascism is petite bourgeoisie" saying, fascism appealing to "he who has lost something"; the worker never had anything in the first place.

"Until 1928, the NSDAP had followed an urban strategy designed to attract blue-collar workers."

This is the common countermyth to the myth that the Nazi party was all Big business. The story goes that small businesses burnt by the Depression and lacking the protection that the big fat corporations had, flocked to the Nazi party in the early 30s. Before this, the party is somewhat genuinely socialist. Then later its embraced by the big corps. Usually its US history books positing one narrative, Europeans the other.


"Yet another interesting claim, yet also mostly untrue."

Only semantically. You've got relatives to King's as Prime Minister of the UK and aristocracy in charge of it's Treasury...and this is in a modern democratic nation. Power protects power and power under capitalism is simply wielded differently.

I agree with your nuanced view - your point is that the aristocracy essentially withered away, my point was that old power transitioned into the new capitalist and ruling class - but I think it is reductive in a different way. Power doesn't just disappear. Wasn't the crown in Britain giving Wilhelm royalty for lumber harvested in Ssarland and Rhineland, which the British government then taxed? And this is while he's in exile and hates the British.

"the nobility in most cases hadn’t succeeded in performing the transition to what you call “the new, capitalist ruling class”"

Yes, most were supplanted by a new, moneyed class.

"but in the vast majority of cases, the European nobility"

But not as many as people presume. Names change, companies rebrand, and assets keep snowballing, especially for those who controlled grain, banking, insurance and are in oil and metals. Wilhelm 2's living relatives, for example, have titles in the UK, Spain and Russia. The Queen's a majority shareholder in some of the world's biggest bank and gas companies and so forth. Late capitalism is never a clean break from prior modes of social organisation.

The point though, is that Hitler's squashing of worker movments and Marxist movements were widely praised and supported, covertly and publically. Hitler only became a threat when his Imperialism infringed upon British Imperialism.

"You're a little vague on the specifics. Be careful next time you try to give a lecture on an internet forum"

I wasn't lecturing and was deliberately typing very broad movements (on a touch-screen phone no less, and on a comment box which allows no edits).

"you never know when there is someone out there who actually knows what you’re talking about."

I prefer CLR James' quip: "historians never know what they're talking about. I know. I'm a historian."
Trent - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
My last quip sounds rude in print. It was intended as a joke but reads offensive. That was not my intention. Au revoir.
Andy's Friend - Sat, Jan 18, 2014 - 10:21pm (USA Central)
@Trent: No problem :-) Much better to just both concede "Touché!" and get back to Star Trek ;-)

PS: And I think you're right about the CGI on Voyager. I wonder why that is.
Jons - Fri, Feb 7, 2014 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
I think what makes this all very disturbing, is that THE PLAN WORKED... Which in the end justifies the means, and helps Sisko justify his actions - and even think that they were right.

What is dangerous and disturbing, is that every dictator and evil person is convinced they are doing the "right thing" or the wrong thing but "for the right reasons". The loss of that absolute, objective moral compass is what is scary and at stake in this episode. That makes the last scene very chilling and disturbing.
Trekker - Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - 8:52pm (USA Central)
@Jons, What is Evil, but the "greater good" to another?

We create laws, rules, and social systems to structure our selves from taking positions beyond a certain threshold, which we call evil. However, under different circumstances, evil is not easily defined.

Take the current debate right now about surveillance technology. Europeans are pissed off about it; Americans hate it. However, behind all this evil spying, how many lives have been saved by this use of covert surveillance? While detractors push for transparency, the world is not ready for the entire truth.

To connect this point to this episode, Sisko in this episode is committing a bunch of crimes, trying to bring a neutral power into his nation's war, and covering up murders, but he wanted to be transparent at first like most viewers of Star Trek would want back in the 90's (Transparency, Technological growth, and a "happy" future).

At the end of the episode, he chose to delete the record and bury the truth forever, because no one was ready to know. To classic Trek Baby Boomers, this is wrong and antagonistic to everything 90's stood for.

To me and others of my generation, DS9 is not talking to Baby Boomer generation, but my Millennial generation, who will witness our share of tragedy and know fear, no other generation alive has felt. This is social commentary 10 years before its time.
Andy's Friend - Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - 6:02am (USA Central)
@Trekker: "DS9 is not talking to Baby Boomer generation, but my Millennial generation..."

...which is exactly why so many of us have so many problems with it. DS9 isn't about the future. And certainly not the future we saw in TNG. In that sense, DS9 betrays what Star Trek stood for. It transformed a unique franchise into a mundane sci-fi series.

It could be argued that DS9 set the precedent to JJ Abrams' films. They would never have been done that way if DS9 had gone say, "more TNG than TNG", and had expanded on everything Picard's Federation stood for.



William B - Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - 10:16am (USA Central)
"It could be argued that DS9 set the precedent to JJ Abrams' films. They would never have been done that way if DS9 had gone say, "more TNG than TNG", and had expanded on everything Picard's Federation stood for."

I prefer TNG to DS9 overall, but I disagree with this. J.J. Abrams' films have nothing to do with most Trek, to be honest; their (popular, financial) success has everything to do with their rejection of the franchise as a whole, rather than hewing closer to any particular previous instance of it.
Josh - Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - 10:55pm (USA Central)
People around here - especially some commenting on this episode - like to throw around assertions about what Star Trek "stood" or "stands" for. But what is that exactly? Can you show that Trek has a particular definition that is either adhered to or violated in various episodes and movies? Provide textual evidence for your assertions, because that's all they are.

As for the comparison with JJ Abram's "reimagining", that's taking it much too far. These new films are vapid and derivative - and have product placement that is dated *now* (Bud? Nokia? Really???). Just deplorable. If the DS9 episode "Valiant" is often derided for being "implausible", at least it ends appropriately - all but one of the cadets dies. In the Abrams' version, not only does the cadet captain save the day, but he is rewarded with an instant full command. What?
Trekker - Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - 11:17pm (USA Central)
@Andy- JJ Abrams is a Warsie, hiding behind a breen outfit :P Seriously, his films have nothing to add to Star Trek, which at its core had intellectual elements that aspired for more than action.

@Josh- I don't disagree with you, but one thing that Star Trek has strived for and is a confirmed statement from showrunners was social commentary.

However, what I saw was a commentary on how we were moving to the world we live in today. Government surveillance, secret clandestine intelligence operations, and military engagements were limited in 90's in terms of scope and visibility.

I think DS9 is depressing, but realistic to who we are as people. We won't ever become enlightened to a point that we can end violence, strife, and war. Roddenberry never advocated total peace, so why are older fans clinging onto that concept so hard.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Mar 20, 2014 - 4:58pm (USA Central)
I really can't take anyone seriously that dislikes this, and by association DS9, because of the way a Federation citizen is portrayed. In every series each Captain has done questionable things. In movies characters have behaved in questionable ways. Throughout the series the Federation or Starfleet have been inconsistent in their behaviours. The Prime Directive being handily used as a wishy washy way of non involvement.
The galactic equivalent of crossing the road to avoid walking past someone who is being mugged because they don't look socially evolved enough to deserve your help.
It is nonsense. Dislike this episode because you don't like the storyline or you don't like the fact that the Federation is at war. I mean surely such an enlightened species would never have gone to war with the Klingon’s, the Romulan’s, the Cardassian’s etc. But no evolved people still fight and kill for what they believe.

Star Trek cannot live up to the ideals it sets itself, even when Roddenberry was still alive. Is it entertaining though… Hell yes.

And this episode is entertaining. 4/4
Toraya - Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
I appreciate the writers' efforts here. I'd give the ep three stars for how hard it tries to say something big.

Pluses: Garak, as always.

Minuses: Brooks's hamminess, the framing device (It was far too similar to that TNG ep where Crusher invites some alien scientists for a symposium), and - as an above commenter said - Sisko going apeshit over the death of one Romulan senator after not agonizing at all about all the young Romulan men and women who would soon be cannon fodder thanks to his lies.

For me the most emotional moment of the episode was Garak relating that all his Cardassian contacts (whom I think must have been his last connection to the world he loves) had been murdered thanks to Sisko's scheme. In the fight scene when Sisko punched him, I really wanted Garak to retort, "You know, when all my friends died -- for YOU -- you didn't bat an eye. "

Somewhere along the line (I think it was 'Waltz') I stopped seeing Sisko as a sympathetic character. Which is a shame.

Buck - Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - 1:25pm (USA Central)
"... and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal, and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer."

Best line of the episode.
eastwest101 - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 - 2:31am (USA Central)
I would have loved to have given a 5 out-of 5 star rating for this episode, good story and executed well but all the brilliant work was undone by some Avery Brooks overacting (tm) - completely agree with V_is-for_Voyager's comments about Brookes stilted and forced performance.
Vylora - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 1:39pm (USA Central)
Definitely a lot of reading in the comments for this episode. A lot of contention here and understandably so. However, I have been adding my two cents to some of these shows and, despite my many agreements/disagreements with some comments, I will keep it brief.

This is about as top-notch as any Star Trek episode gets. Superbly written and directed with sociopolitical ramifications that evolve naturally and logically from what has been put before us so far. If I ever made a "best-of" list of Trek episodes; this one would get automatic inclusion into the top ten. Absolutely marvelous storytelling and a testament to what can happen when the strengths of the creative department are fully utilized.

4 stars.
Elliott - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 4:58pm (USA Central)
@Vylora :

I too shall stay away from the philosophical aspects of the episode in this post. May I then ask, by what standards do you judge the directing, writing (presumably the acting) to be "top-notch"? Ignoring the implications and focusing on the episode-specific content, why are the ramifications' natural and logical (from your perspective) evolution particularly superb?

I am genuinely interested in your answer, but from my perspective, the logic in the episode is a bit wanting. Yes, the rôle of Garak and Vreenak and the entire ploy to get the Romulans involved in the war works quite well, and I commend the writers on this point, but the emotional core of the episode is about Sisko and his struggle with morality, which frankly comes out of left field. Frankly, if such an episode had aired in Seasons 1 or 2, it would be more logical to assume Sisko's writhing were warranted since our knowledge of him and his character would be more limited. We would have to rely on assumptions about his character based on his wearing a Starfleet uniform. But by Season 6, I've seen Sisko be rather amoral (The Maquis, Shattered Mirror, For the Cause, Rapture, Children of Time, Waltz) if not downright villainous (Blaze of Glory). The suspension of disbelief to empathise with his being bent out of shape over one oily Romulan Senator and one criminal who was sentenced to death anyway is too high for me to consider the episode truly excellent.
ShastOne - Fri, May 9, 2014 - 2:22pm (USA Central)
I didn't really feel that distraught by Sisko's actions. Maybe if the criminal he pardoned was a better person and not a murderer, then I would care more about Garak killing him. And I didn't really find the Romulan likable (no surprise there) so I didn't really feel like those two's deaths being on Sisko's conscience were such a big burden to bear. Now if the criminal was a kind-spirited innocent and the Romulan senator an amiable fellow NOT abetting the Dominion, maybe it would've felt more hard-hitting.

So this episode wasn't as "I've become a mob kingpin" thing as Sisko's menacing raise of his glass at the end alluded to for me. It's like, okay... a murderer and someone benefiting your enemy died and it potentially saved everything and everyone in the world that you hold dear. It's morally wrong, but... I found the selling of that bio-gel more sinister than inadvertently killing those two, because who knows who that invaluable gel is being sent to, in what ways they'll use it, or what innocents will suffer from its use.
NCC-1701-Z - Mon, Jun 16, 2014 - 1:59am (USA Central)
GREAT episode. Gene would probably be rolling in his grave over this, but let's face it, in wartime, idealistic morality is the first thing out the window, and I'm glad DS9 acknowledges that and faces it.

What I liked:

-Garak. Enough said. "And all it cost, was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal...[sneering tone] and the self respect of one Starfleet officer. I don't know about you, but I'd call that a bargain." I still shudder when I think about that line. Sisko's face as Garak spoke those words said all that needed to be said.

-Ruthless Sisko going all Darth Vader on Tolar - "I am altering the deal, pray I don't alter it any further!" - er, I mean, "I am making a new agreement!" (Plot hole: Tolar recorded the data on the rod right before Sisko said that. Wouldn't that render Sisko's threat basically pointless? No matter. As Garak said, it's best not to dwell on such minutae ;) ) In general, Sisko was great in this episode, especially with the log entries.

-Vreenak. Such a sniveling arrogant jerk- perfect for the role. When he said "It's a FAAAAAAAAKE!" my stomach dropped. I genuinely wasn't sure if we'd get a happy ending at the end of the ep the first time I watched this.

-The Dominion has taken BETAZED?! Holy crap. I guess the good part is, no more Luaxana Troi! (I read that the writers considered having Vulcan get taken over instead, but then decided Vulcan would carry *too* much weight.)

-The final scene between Sisko and Garak. Highlight of the ep.

-One quibble and it's more of a long term plotting thing - I wish previous eps has shown at least a token attempt to draw the Romulans in at least in the background, just a couple of throwaway lines per episode, no more. Now we suddenly have Our Heroes taking on this project just for kicks when Starfleet's top brass should have been on this from the get-go? Then again, I guess I'm spoiled with modern TV's trend towards heavy serialization (BSG, Lost, even light sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother). Garak's quote on such minutae also applies here.

The folks at fiveminute.net also did a great parody of this ep:

fiveminute.net/ds9/fiver.php?ep=inthepalemoonlight

Call it a three-way tie with "Duet" and "Way of the Warrior" as one of my favorite DS9 episodes ever.

PS: In hindsight, Garak's ruthlessness was foreshadowed in "Rocks and Shoals" when, on the subject of massacring the Jem'Hadar, he said "Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion."
Come to think of it, seeing as to how Sisko in that ep decided, "We have no choice, we either kill them or they kill us", everything in that ep foreshadowed what transpired in ITPM, from a character perspective.
Phillip - Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - 3:06am (USA Central)
I don't blame Sisko for doing what had to be done to win the war. Although in season 3 the romulans tried to destroy the wormhole which would have saved millions of lives and Sisko stopped them. This is also the same Sisko who was willing to risk the life of his son the aliens in the wormhole could fight a battle on the space station. Picard would never have been duped by aliens. He definitely wouldn't have put his crew or family in jeopardy for the aliens. That's why in the great Trekkie debate about who the best captain is you gotta throw Sisko out

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