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SYFY WIRE Warp Factor

One of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's best episodes had a title inspired by the Joker [Warp Factor 2.6]

By Brian Silliman

What does Jack Nicholson's Joker have to do with one of the best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine there is? It's all in the title.

The Season 6 episode "In the Pale Moonlight" shows a very dark side of the war with the Dominion, with Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko teaming up with Cardassian tailor/super spy Elim Garak in order to do what needs to be done. The war is going badly, and casualties are mounting. The Romulans are playing neutral, but Sisko needs them in the fight.

They don't want to play ball, but Captain Sisko knows a thing or two about that particular sport. Together with Garak, they take the Romulans out to the ballpark, and by episode's end, the Romulans are not just root-root-rooting for the home team, they're a part of it.

All anyone knows is that the Dominion blew up the shuttle of a Romulan senator, and they found a damaged holo-recording of the Dominion plotting to conquer Romulus onboard. We know differently, because Captain Sisko tells us what really went down as he narrates his personal log to the camera. He literally danced with the devil in joining with Garak (who took the liberty of bombing the shuttle, not necessarily a part of the original plan), and the price is one dead senator and a guilty conscience. The most damning thing of all? Sisko thinks that he can live with it. He can live with it.

The title itself came from Ronald D. Moore, who did the final (uncredited) writing on the script for this episode. He was indeed inspired by the words of the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman: "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" He asked that of all his prey.

Welcome back to Warp Factor, where we're exploring Sisko's dance with morally dubious devils. Though the episode portrays an ethical deep dive into the abyss (not something Gene Roddenberry would approve of), it remains one of our most favorite episodes of Star Trek ever made. Watch our dance below, and then delete this entire personal log.