In The Pale Moonlight (S6, E19)
The Dominion War that consumed the narrative of Deep Space Nine‘s final two seasons was filled with many huge, dramatic moments. Do you go with the loss of the station in season five finale ‘A Call To Arms’? The battle to retake it in ‘Sacrifice of Angels’? The harrowing grittiness of ‘The Siege of AR-558’ or the destruction of the Defiant in ‘The Changing Face of Evil’? While the war arc was breathtaking, no episode made more of an impact to the series than season six’s ‘In The Pale Moonlight’.
This is dark, daring and gritty Trek; the events of the Dominion War growing more desperate as Betazed fell to the enemy and the crew faced endless lists of casualties as the Federation and Klingons continued to use. The desperation to bring the Romulans into the war forges the narrative, told through the sombre personal log of Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks is never better). Giving him a double act in Garak is a wonderful choice too, the insidious nature of the Cardassian tailor forcing Sisko to go where no other captain would dare to, in a world of corruption, lies and moral ambiguity to deliver what needed to be done.
It leaves Sisko exposed as a character, complicit in an elaborate scam to deceive the Romulans into joining the war against the Dominion, but also murder (albeit at the hands of Garak) when their daring plan unfolds. Other captains would have been consumed with regret over their actions, but the episode make the courageous decision to have Sisko face acceptance over his actions. Sure, they were wrong, but they were needed.
What is your favourite Deep Space Nine episode? Would you pick a different five? Let us know!