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The Trek Nation - Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 31, 2002 - 9:53 AM GMT

See Also: 'Sleeping Dogs' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: When Enterprise detects a wounded vessel sinking into the atmosphere of a gas giant, Archer sends T'Pol, Reed and Sato in a shuttlepod to investigate the wreck. The damaged ship turns out to be a Raptor-class Klingon vessel whose crew has been knocked unconscious by some mysterious force. While the three Enterprise crewmembers try to decide how best to help the aliens, the one remaining healthy Klingon on the ship ambushes Reed and takes off in the shuttlepod. Seeing the little ship head to open space, and hearing the Klingon's request for warships to defend against an attack by Enterprise, Archer orders Tucker to use the grappler and haul the shuttlepod in. The Klingon, Bu'kaH, is dying slowly from a neurotoxin that disabled her ship's crew, yet she insists that she would rather have her ship destroyed than let it fall into human hands.

Without Bu'kaH's assistance, Archer cannot risk taking Enterprise far enough into the atmosphere to rescue his officers, nor can he help them restart the engines of the Klingon vessel to save themselves. Sato helps Reed translate the diagnostics on the bridge, identifying a curious weapon called a photon torpedo, but they cannot repair the port fusion injector which is necessary to power the ship. When she and T'Pol go in search of water for the dehydrated Reed, Sato admits her anxiety to the Vulcan. T'Pol teaches Sato a form of mental discipline that calms her. Meanwhile, the captain researches Klingons in the Vulcan database and rethinks his approach to the one in sickbay by commanding instead of requesting her help. Phlox has determined that Bu'kaH's crew became ill from a bio-agent consumed in Xarantine alcohol; Archer demands to know whether she wants her colleagues to die in dishonor when she could save them and his officers too.

In desperation, Reed suggests shooting photon torpedoes to create shock waves that might move the Klingon ship into a higher orbit. T'Pol does not believe they will achieve enough altitude until Hoshi insists that they fire six torpedoes at once for maximum effect, even though the detonation could tear the ship apart. Not only does the experiment work, but it allows Archer and Bu'kaH to locate the sinking ship. With the Klingon crew revived and their ship saved, Archer expects gratitude but gets for his trouble a demand for his surrender. Knowing that the Raptor has no torpedoes, the captain threatens to blast it back where he found it if the Klingons fire. Enterprise flees before more Klingons arrive, and Reed, Sato and T'Pol enjoy an afternoon in the decontamination chamber to rid them of any germs they might have picked up on the alien vessel.


Analysis: 'Remind me to stop trying to help people,' Archer grumbles halfway through 'Sleeping Dogs,' an entertaining and lively episode with strong character work and the old, unreformed Klingon attitude we all love. Finally, the captain catches on to something that hasn't seemed to sink in no matter how many times T'Pol points it out, namely: not all species think like humans. This time Archer does his homework about Klingons and realizes that he's been dealing with Bu'kaH all wrong; instead of politely asking for her help, he needs to scoff at her plight and accuse her of dishonoring her people. T'Pol evidently understands this -- she suggests that it would be kinder to let all the Klingons die in ignorance than to save a few of them, as Sato suggests -- but Archer has to experience the situation first-hand to get it.

For the second week in a row, Sato demonstrates that she won't be Uhura -- she won't sit at the communications station monitoring the hailing frequencies when she can demand the opportunity to join an away team. And never again will she say 'Captain, I'm frightened' -- well, she does make a similar admission to T'Pol, but it's in the context of explaining what she envies about Vulcan culture, not a request for comfort. Surprisingly, T'Pol responds not with aloofness but with the shockingly intimate gesture of sharing a Vulcan mental technique. And when Sato and Reed want the science officer to cover for them so they can stay in the relaxing decontamination chamber awhile longer, she fakes a headache. Could it be that T'Pol's becoming a team player?

Even Reed has warmed up. When we first see him, he's helping Sato at target practice, and when we last see him he's basking in the decontamination chamber, pressed up against her. For someone with a cold he's pretty non-grouchy, though one wonders about the intelligence of sending him on this mission in the first place; Phlox must have known that fever and dehydration were possible risks, sure to be exacerbated in high-pressure situations, with the additional danger of infecting the entire away team, thus rendering all of them less capable of performing their duties. Malcolm shows the expected curiosity when Hoshi discovers photon torpedoes, yet we're spared the expected technobabble about how the devices work and differ from Enterprise weapons. And she's the one who encourages taking the big risk with them. He's bound to appreciate that character trait as much as pineapple cake.

Tucker appears in only a couple of scenes but they're pivotal, grappling the shuttlepod and admiring the 'tough little ship' where his crewmates are trapped. Mayweather unfortunately has much less to do, which creates a bit of a lost opportunity; one would think a human raised on a ship and used to dealing with unexpected aliens would be ideal for an away team like this. Archer leaves the young officer in command of the bridge, yet all the action takes place in the hangar and sickbay while he's in charge.

We learn nothing new about the Klingons except that they eat their pets -- a far more disgusting discovery than the dead gagh in the kitchen. Maybe targs haven't been domesticated in Archer's era...hmm, were they domesticated in Kruge's? Bu'kaH seems spirited and it's great to see a pre-'Day of the Dove' female with her stature, but her obstinate posturing looks all too familiar to long-time Trek fans. We're still not getting enough material to bridge the gap between these Klingons, Kirk's Klingons and Picard's Klingons. One nice point for continuity, though: when Enterprise first encounters the Klingon ship without identifying it, it seems odd that T'Pol doesn't know whose it is. She later explains that she is unfamiliar with the Raptor class ships. I really appreciate such attention to detail.

The derelict looks appropriately dark and grungy, though only the galley really hints at the Klingons' less savory personal habits; I expected more bat'leths, more blood wine, though probably the crew was in the wrong part of the ship for that. Given how backward the Klingons always seemed on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine with their daggers and gauntlets, it's interesting to observe them in the technologically dominant position. Yet wouldn't Klingons of Kirk's era have hunted down and destroyed Enterprise just for the heck of it, after the crew saw them dishonored on the deck of their own ship?

The equal-opportunity cheesecake-and-beefcake finale (like the his-and-hers bodysuits earlier after T'Pol, Reed and Sato ditch their environmental suits) provides levity and a sense of camaraderie that this show does very well, increasingly so as the writers get more of a sense of the chemistry between the actors. I'm the wrong person to make comments about the spoken Klingon language, but it sounded convincing to my ears. I'm also the wrong person to analyze the ship schematics and the realism of the gas giant -- whenever I try, someone who knows more about mechanical engineering and G-forces corrects me -- but visually the episode maintains a nice balance between images of the sweating crewmembers and the struggling ships. All in all, 'Sleeping Dogs' is one of Enterprise's better episodes, even though it may not get into the Klingon Fans' Hall of Quv.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews Enterprise episodes and Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, as well as Andromeda episodes for SlipstreamWeb. She has written for magazines and sites such as SFX, Cinescape and Another Universe. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.