Sarek and Amanda appreciation post.
That is really difficult to answer…
I think this is an episode that divides Star Trek fans - a lot of people either love it or hate it. And I am really torn between those two opposites.
In my eyes, the episode is brilliant in way of storytelling, writing and character development. How the story is told with Sisko’s long entries and the action in between that is awesome. And his “I am okay with that / I would do it again” at the end came as a surprise to me and gave me a better understanding of this character. In this episode, we learn what Sisko is capable of, what he is willing to sacrifice (and also what Garak is capable of).
And while it is brilliantly written and fits very well into the world of DS9, it goes against everything that Star Trek is to me. Because, to me, Star Trek (which was TOS and TNG to that point) was one of the few real utopias, a vision of an actually better future for all, where mostly morally good people are in charge of things. What Sisko and Garak do in “In the Pale Moonlight” is very morally wrong to me, which also makes it difficult for me to watch - at points, I am downright uncomfortable with this episode. Especially because of how Sisko ended his log entry.
So while I can admire the episode for its storytelling, I don’t like it at all for its morals and message. (Which is also my problem with DS9 in general, but that is another question)
Objectively, it is a great episode - just not for me because it betrays values I believe in. If one had a different view on morality / ethics, this would definitely be in the top five episodes of DS9. And it probably fits our time better than the utopia of TOS.
To Kirk the Enterprise was always first, his ship always won in his heart.