As the death toll mounts, Captain Sisko realizes that the only way to turn the tide of the war is to enlist the help of the Federation's oldest enemy: The Romulans. However, the Romulan Star Empire has declared neutrality. What reason could the Romulans possibly have to dirty their hands in the bloodiest war in the history of the Alpha Quadrant? Sisko's search for that reason forces him to cross one Moral Event Horizon
Tropes in this episode:
- And Now For Something Completely Different: The entire episode takes the form of a captain's log entry, with the audience taking the perspective of the computer.
- Anti-Hero: At the end of the episode, Sisko lists the numerous ways he's violated the law and his own integrity for the sake of the Federation.
- Armor-Piercing Slap
- Bar Brawl: Off-screen.
- Batman Gambit: Sisko and Garak
- Good Is Not Nice: Sisko, especially when the Federation is backed into a corner and his forger Tolar hasn't behaved himself very well on parole. At one point, he threatens to send Tolar back to the Klingons and "tell Gowron to take his time" while executing him.
- I Did What I Had to Do: A point Sisko makes in his log, and which momentarily causes him to lose his composure and start ranting.
Sisko: That was my first moment of real doubt, when I started to wonder if the whole thing was a mistake. So I went back to my office; and there was a new casualty list waiting for me... People are dying out there... every day! Entire worlds are struggling for their freedom! And here I am still worrying about the finer points of morality! No! I had to keep my eye on the ball! Winning the war, stopping the bloodshed, those were the priorities! So I pushed on. And every time another doubt appeared before me, I just found another way to shove it aside.
- Kick the Dog: Sisko punches Garak after he realizes the Cardassian planted a bomb in Senator Vreenak's shuttle. Garak immediately calls him out on his hypocrisy.
- Large Ham: Sisko at times during his personal log monologues. And it is glorious.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sisko's monologue is spoken to the station computer, but most of the time he's staring directly at the camera.
- List of Transgressions: Sisko does this for himself. It's a short list as the trope goes, but some of them are real doozies for a Starfleet Officer.
Sisko: I lied; I cheated; I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men; I am an accessory to murder.
- Not so Above It All: As so gleefully noted by Quark after Sisko bribes him to drop the charges against Tolar.
Quark: Thank you for restoring my faith in the 98th Rule of Acquisition: "Every man has his price."
- Sarcasm Mode: Sisko's announcement of the Romulans' entry into the war, alluding to a Black and White Morality that he knows for a fact does not exist:
Sisko: So this is a huge victory for the good guys!
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: But that doesn't mean it feels very right.
- Shout-Out: The episode's title comes from the Joker's Catch Phrase in 1989's Batman: "Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?" As Garak's actor Andrew Robinson noted, the lesson Sisko learns from Garak in this episode, figuratively speaking, is "You can't go to bed with the Devil without having sex."
- This Means War!: The Romulans declare war on the Dominion. They very nearly ended up at war with the Federation instead.
- Unobtanium: Both the genuine Cardassian optolythic data rod Sisko and Garak require for their scheme, which is usually only manufactured by the Cardassian government on an as-needed basis and therefore requires "a small miracle" to purchase anywhere else, and the highly-controlled biomemetic gel they end up having to trade for it, which can be used for illegal genetic experiments and building biogenic weapons of mass destruction and is therefore not legally available at any price.
- What Could Have Been: When the writers decided to have the Dominion conquer a Federation planet, they wanted it to be an established world. They kicked around some ideas before narrowing it down to two choices. Betazed was what made it to screen, but the writers seriously considered Vulcan instead before deciding that would be too serious.
- What You Are in the Dark
Sisko: But the most damning thing of all is... I think I can live with it. And if I'd have to do it all over again... I would.
- Computer, delete that entire log entry.
- Although the delivery makes it clear that Sisko is as much trying to convince himself of this as he is the log.
- Xanatos Gambit: Elim Garak in one of his finest moments in all of Deep Space Nine.