Star Trek 429: In the Pale Moonlight

429. In the Pale Moonlight

FORMULA: Inquisition + The Enterprise Incident + Whispers

WHY WE LIKE IT: Going too far. The narration. "It's a FAAAAAKE!"

WHY WE DON'T: Its place in the schedule.

REVIEW: The only problem with In the Pale Moonlight is that it comes too closely on the heels of Inquisition. With Section 31 now lurking in the background now, you almost have to wonder they're not involved in this or why Sisko has to, in effect, do their job for them. Switching the episodes, Inquisition might have seemed like Sloan was trying to ferret out Sisko rather than Bashir, which might have cranked up the tension even more. But regardless of my misgivings pertaining to the schedule, In the Pale Moonlight is nothing short of a minor masterpiece.

Told in flashback, the episode breaks the fourth wall by turning the viewer into the computer in which Sisko inputs his log. It's more effective than you'd think. In the story, the Dominion War has taken a turn for the worst. Casualty lists come in weekly and Betazed is invaded, threatening the security of Earth and Vulcan. They've gotten to the planets we know. What they need to turn the tide is for the Romulans to join the war effort. But as Dax ably demonstrates with a bit of role-playing, it's not going to be an easy sell.

Cue the best use of Garak in a while as Sisko's secret operative and counselor in things underhanded. From a perfectly legit plan to smuggle whatever secret plans the Dominion might have about backstabbing the Romulans out of Cardassia, the serpent-like Garak pushes Sisko into grayer and grayer territory, until he's in a very dark patch of gray indeed. His officers log opposition to his orders, Quark lords a bribe over him, and the turning point of the war will be anti-heroic at best with Garak going even farther on his own initiative than Sisko would have allowed.

The Romulans have never quite fulfilled their promise as a Star Trek race, but as an uneasy ally to the Federation and Klingons, they may just achieve it. Vreenak is more arrogant than any Romulan we've seen, and that's saying a lot. A great performance. The cloaked Romulan shuttle is a fun bit, and Garak's final solution a brilliant one. In the end, Sisko's log is more about convincing himself that he can live with what he's done, that in this case, the ends did justify the means. It's a beautifully acted moment, punched up by Sisko erasing the entire log and the screen cutting, finally, to black.

LESSON: The devil is a Cardassian tailor trying to sell you a dress for the ball. If you buy, you dance.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Bold not only in breaking the standard format, but allowing a Starfleet captain to so completely compromise Star Trek ideals. Strong performances all around and an important moment for both Sisko and the Dominion War arc.


Anonymous said...

You're right on cue with this one. Daring, brilliant episode. And while other captains of Star Terk have broken rules before, we have always known it was for the greater good. This time, when Sisko's plan is created, we know its just wrong from the start.

Stephen said...

this episode is so clever. avery brooks knocks it out of the park his final monlogue gives me chills. the man is probably the best actor in star trek if a maybe so bold.


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