Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s “best” episode is often claimed to be “In the Pale Moonlight” but what would be the second best?
When we talk about a series’ best episodes, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s “In the Pale Moonlight” may not only be DS9’s best but may be the best in all of Star Trek. It is phenomenal viewing. It may not be your favorite episode or even one you like, but when asking a majority of fans this is the one that most cite as the best from DS9’s catalog.
I tend to agree. The framing of the episode is what sells it, it’s all told from the perspective of Captain Benjamin Sisko as he dictates the events of the proceeding days to his personal log. As his journaling unfolds, we see Sisko is caught in a conflict between his morality and his sense of duty. On one hand, Sisko has a way to fight the Dominion War and maybe even when if the Romulans get involved. To do so, however, he has to betray everything he believes in to achieve it.
The episode ends with Sisko betraying his beliefs, allowing plans to come to fruition, and then having to live a lie, knowing his actions may have saved the Federation and the Alpha Quadrant. But it’s his delivery, as he verbally dictates his feelings to his personal log that sells the episode.
It’s not a tale of espionage or sabotage, no it’s a story of a man realizing that a soul has a price, and he found his. It’s heartbreaking to see what Sisko is willing to allow to win but it’s one that resonates with fans because so many people could justify doing exactly what he did.
It’s nearly perfect.
So if “In the Pale Moonlight” is the top dog, what’s second?
What’s the second-best Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode
There are so many episodes that could go here. There’s “Sacrifice of Angels”, the sixth and final part of a six-episode arc that saw the crew try to wrestle Deep Space Nine away from the control of the Dominion. “Trials and Tribble-ations”, an episode that features classic footage, paired perfectly with the then-modern Deep Space Nine visuals.
There’s “Far Beyond the Stars”, which isn’t in my top 10 but is many fans’ number one or number two pick, and it features the corp cast of the series as 1950’s writers and editors. Then there’s “The Visitor”, Space’s pick for the second-best episode in the franchise. It sees Sisko time traveling uncontrollably, stopping only periodically throughout his son’s life. His son ages but his father never do.
An older Jake Sisko is played by Tony Todd, making this a great episode for a variety of reasons. Not just a stellar guest starring role by Todd, but it’s a heartbreaking story of a son’s love for his father.
It’s hard to pick just one, for my money, I’d pick “Hard Time”, as it shows the impact that guilt can have on a person, and just how destructive one’s life can become when you no longer trust anything around you.
What would your top two favorite DS9 episodes be?