The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In the Pale Moonlight"

by David E. Sluss

23 April 1997

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THE BOTTOM LINE: Well, I had an affectionate nickname for this episode to use just in case it turned out to be terrible (a la "Craprifice of Angels," or "One Little Shit"). But I don't think I'll need to use that nickname after all, because this episode was actually pretty damn good (If you ask nicely, I'll tell you what the nickname was). It can be argued that it's a case of "too little, too late," but the war finally got the coverage that such an important event would seem to merit. As an added bonus, we got a taste of the personal toll the war is taking via the casualty list "ritual," which, while not much, is the sort of thing that we should have been seeing on a regular basis since throughout this War Argh. In addition, we got to see Our Heroes make the tough decisions and bear the consequences (at least for this episode). There are a few problems I see with this episode, detailed below, but overall I think this episode is a real success for DS9. The real question is whether the repurcussions of this episode will be remembered in the future.


DOMINION UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: The Feds may not need to do anything to defeat the Dominion now that the enemy has made the bad decision to take over Betazed. They've now opened themselves up to a devastating psy-war in which the Betazoids will kill them with soporific psychobabble.

ODD EXPOSITIONAL CHOICE OF THE WEEK: I'm not so sure about the choice of telling this tale via Captain's Log Flashback. It didn't seem to add anything to the story, and strikes me as being lazy. Instead of showing Sisko's disappointment with himself when he did things like bribe Quark and threaten Forger Blue, we were treated to Sisko's voiceover: "I felt disappointment with myself." In addition, I feel that the "culprit dictates the details of his actions, only to burn the tape in the end after he bears his soul" shtick is a movie-of-the-week style cliche that could have easily been avoided. A related problem is the...

HONEY-BAKED HAM OF THE WEEK: If there was one thing that nearly sank this episode, it had to be Brooks' performance, which at times, especially during his log entries, was comically overacted. "I'm not just the president of the William Shatner Acting School, I'm also a client!"

PHANTOM CHARACTERS OF THE WEEK: Well, last week, I noted that we had seen nothing but holograms and hallucinations of Dolly the Vorta, and here we got another instance of that. In addition, we're building up a good catalogue of Dumb-Ar fakes.

SUBTLE REVENGE OF THE WEEK: Garak got a little back from Worf this week: "Always nice to see you!" Of course, it was Worf who stopped Garak from doing what needed to be done to stop the Dominion way back in "Broken Link." This time, Garak knew that Klingon hump was out of the loop and couldn't do a thing to stop him. Good for you, Garak!

ROMULAN UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: The Romulans' change of heart and lack of knowledge about Sisko's scam is a bit problematic. Garak's insistance that problems with the data rod forgery would be attributed damage caused by the explosion is too pat. If the Romulans found flaws in the rod, I should think they'd make damn sure of its authenticity, at which point they would discover the forgery. They would assume that the Federation did it, and killed Vreenak to keep him from exposing the fact. Then, technobabble tests of "eddy currents" and this, that, and the other thing would reveal that Vreenak's ship did not come directly from the meeting, but stopped at DS9, and then there would be big trouble. In addition, are we to believe that no one on Romulus knew of Vreenak's detour to DS9? I would expect Vreenak to inform the Tal Shiar, of which he is a key player, of his little trip if for no other reason than to avoid them discovering it and thinking he was collaborating with the Feds as a stooge of Spock or something. Either the Romulans are dummies, and as inept at intelligence and security as Starfleet is, or they were looking for any excuse to break the treaty with the Dominion.

PLOT ELEMENT THAT BETTER NOT BE DROPPED OF THE WEEK: The entry of the Romulans into the war is supposed to be vital. Well, damn it, it sure as hell better be shown to be important. Look at how important destroying the Ketricel White factory in "A Time Too Bland" was supposed to be and how it didn't seem to affect a damn thing. Look at how important it was to destroy that Dominion shipyard in "Call to Arms" and how it never seemed to matter, especially now, since the Dominion shipyards (according to Vreenak in this very episode) are operating at peak performance. Bloody Liberty, this Romulan entry had better not be swept under the carpet like those things were.

PLOT ELEMENT THAT BETTER NOT BE DROPPED OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: If Sisko's self-respect really has been destroyed by this incident, then that shouldn't be forgotten. Unfortunately, important character changes are reset all the time by DS9, and I'm not optimistic about the future of this one.

Previous: "Inquisition"
Next: "His Way"
EUNUCH OF THE WEEK: The Big Mo'; momentum that is, which DS9 seemed to be building between "Inquistion" and "In the Pale Moonlight." Unfortunately this trend looks to be ... ahem ... cut short by next week's "His Way." At the very least the war doesn't look to be addressed in any non-trivial way in next week's show.



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This review is copyright 1998 David E. Sluss
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