Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1998): S06E19 – In the Pale Moonlight


“In the Pale Moonlight” is the 143rd episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 19th of the sixth season.

In this episode, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) works with Elim Garak (Andrew Robinson) to trick the Romulans into joining the war against the Dominion.


Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), conflicted over events of the last two weeks, recounts his experiences in a personal log entry, the details of which are revealed in flashbacks. The losses suffered by the Federation in the war with the Dominion are taking their toll, with Sisko noting that whenever a casualty list is posted at least one of his officers spots the name of a friend or loved one. A major advantage the Dominion has is their non-aggression pact with the Romulans, who are allowing the Dominion free passage through their territory. Sisko decides that in order for the Federation and its allies to win the war, he must bring the Romulans in on their side no matter what.

Sisko enlists the help of former Cardassian spy Elim Garak (Andrew Robinson) to obtain intelligence from Cardassia, assuming the Dominion must be considering a conquest of Romulus eventually, but all of Garak’s contacts end up dead shortly after communicating with him. Garak instead suggests they forge a recording of Dominion leaders discussing a surprise attack. Hesitant, but driven forward by the Dominion’s recent conquest of Betazed, Sisko obtains permission from Starfleet to proceed.

On Garak’s request, Sisko secures the release of a forger named Grathon Tolar (Howard Shangraw) from a Klingon prison. Then, in order to obtain an authentic Cardassian secure data rod, he is forced to trade a large quantity of bio-mimetic gel, a rare, dangerous, and highly regulated material. Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) strongly objects, and relents only when Sisko orders him unequivocally; providing the doctor with the orders in writing, the doctor still vows to lodge a formal complaint. Matters are complicated when Tolar stabs Quark (Armin Shimerman) in an altercation while drunk. To keep Tolar out of trouble, he bribes Quark and convinces Odo (René Auberjonois) to drop the matter. At this point, Sisko recognises the legal and ethical compromises he is making but presses on knowing it is for the greater good.

Tolar creates a holographic record of a Dominion meeting between Damar (Casey Biggs) and Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs) discussing plans involving the Romulan invasion. Meanwhile, on Garak’s advice, Sisko invites Vreenak (Stephen McHattie), an influential Romulan senator, to Deep Space Nine in secret. Sisko shows Vreenak the recording and gives him the data rod, but the senator discovers the forgery and departs, furious and vowing to expose the deception. As Sisko faces the possibility that his actions may actually force the Romulans to join with the Dominion once Vreenak returns to the Empire, he learns that Vreenak’s ship was destroyed en route.

Sisko angrily confronts Garak, who admits he planted a bomb on Vreenak’s ship in case the forgery was not accepted. Garak also admits he killed Tolar in order to keep his work secret. Garak maintains that when the Romulans scan the wreckage and find the rod, any imperfections will be attributed to damage from the explosion, and thus the recording will implicate the Dominion as planned. Garak asserts that Sisko included him in the plan to do the things that Sisko was unwilling to do. Garak also states that Sisko can ease his conscience with the knowledge that the Alpha Quadrant may have been saved at the cost of the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal and the self respect of one Starfleet officer, which he calls a bargain.

Subsequently, the Romulans join with the Federation and declare war against the Dominion, quickly striking at nearby Dominion outposts. At the end of his log entry, Sisko admits that Garak was right about a guilty conscience being a small price to pay, and states, somewhat uncertainly, that he can live with his decision for the good of the Alpha Quadrant. He then orders the computer to delete the entire personal log.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Victor Lobi.
  • Writer(s): Peter Allan Fields.
  • Release Date: 15 April 1998.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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