[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Sleeping Dogs"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Enterprise's
"Sleeping Dogs." If you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.
In brief: Some admittedly good character moments, but the story is too bland
and not really about anything.
Plot description: T'Pol, Reed, and Sato find themselves trapped in a doomed
Klingon vessel after embarking on a mission to figure out why it is adrift
in the violent atmosphere of a gas giant.
Enterprise: "Sleeping Dogs"
Airdate: 1/30/2002 (USA)
Written by Fred Dekker
Directed by Les Landau
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
"Remind me to stop trying to help people." - Archer
The most prevailing sense I get from "Sleeping Dogs" is that it wants to be
a submarine movie, but, no, it doesn't really know what it wants. It doesn't
tell much of a story; it simply documents a recycled situation, and that's
To be fair, there's some reasonable character work in the middle of all
this, particularly with young Hoshi Sato. But there's also a sense that the
plot is simply rounding the usual bases. After last week's insightful "Dear
Doctor," this week's "Sleeping Dogs" has almost nothing in terms of insight,
and opts instead to tell a simple, watchable, pedestrian plot. It's not that
I disliked it; it's that I didn't care.
If you want to see a Trek submarine story of a ship trapped in an
unforgiving atmosphere, I more urgently recommend DS9's "Starship Down." At
least that maintained some level of tension. "Sleeping Dogs" is too often
lackadaisical in execution, which is fatal for any story like this.
The run-down. Away team takes shuttle to investigate ship adrift in gas
giant's atmosphere. Team boards ship, finds out ship is Klingon. Ship's
Klingon crew is unconscious and/or dying. Lone Klingon woman attacks away
team, steals away team's docked shuttlepod. Away team is now trapped on
Klingon ship slowly descending into atmospheric pressures that will
eventually crush ship. Enterprise can't mount rescue because pressure is now
So now it's time for our characters to work the problem. Like any submarine
thriller, the enemy here is the clock, as the crush depth becomes nearer and
nearer with every passing minute. If our away team -- Hoshi, T'Pol, Reed --
cannot figure out a way to power up the ship, they will perish along with
it. Meanwhile, Archer attempts to work the problem back aboard the
Enterprise; he captured the Klingon woman who tried to escape in the
shuttlepod and he now tries to enlist her help in saving the downed Klingon
vessel. Her name is Bu'Kah (Michelle C. Bonilla), and she's not particularly
wanting to help, which is perhaps an understatement.
One of the annoyances of "Sleeping Dogs" is its painfully simpleminded
approach to the Let's Work Together storyline of Archer reaching out to
Bu'Kah. Of course she doesn't trust him. Even though it's beyond obvious
that the humans are trying to help her, she maintains the standoffish You
Are My Enemy rhetoric. This leads to a line that may hold more practicality
than Archer may realize, as he says to Trip, "Remind me to stop trying to
help people." When you try to help the Klingons, they get offended on the
grounds of bruised honor.
But, of course, Archer probably should have known this, particularly after
the events of "Broken Bow" and "Fight or Flight." There's a scene after his
initial failed olive branch where Archer studies the Vulcan database on
what's known about Klingon culture, and he learns what every Trek fan
already knows -- that they consider most encounters in terms of a potential
conflict and that they are based on a rigid code of warrior honor. That
Archer hadn't already read this material is approximately as suspect as the
notion in "Silent Enemy" that the crew could be out here for months with
plans and materials for installing phase cannons, yet chose to wait until
their backs were against the wall to begin construction.
Back aboard the Klingon ship, Hoshi attempts to decipher the Klingon
language ("Reading it is a lot harder than speaking it") in order to work
the ship's controls and get the vessel up and running. This proves
difficult, however, and the away team is unable to reactivate the engines.
But they do figure out the weapons system. One nice character bit: When
Hoshi reads a display that says "photon torpedoes," Reed, the weapons guy,
perks up with immediate interest. Any character who by nature likes to blow
things up is cool in my book.
A lot of the plot plays like documentary footage of three people walking
around a ship and trying to work a problem. That is to say it's not a
misguided story subject, but it's also not terribly interesting. Part of the
appeal, I think, is supposed to emerge from the fact that our characters get
their first up-close-and-personal look at the inside of a Klingon ship (the
walk through the mess hall in particular is depicted with a heavy intent of
Ominous Foreboding). The lighting and production design aims for "strikingly
dark and mysterious" and succeeds in reaching that goal.
What's lacking is any sort of surprise or pattern of deep thought
whatsoever. There are, to be fair, a couple good character moments, mostly
surrounding Hoshi's attempts to get her "space legs" by accepting this away
mission in the first place, which hints at actual character growth following
up "Fight or Flight." The scene where T'Pol tries to calm Hoshi's agitated
nerves is notable in that we see T'Pol opening up a little bit to her human
crewmates, but the Vulcan calming method employed here seems a little too
much like magical hypnosis left unexplained. Potentially interesting, the
plot instead runs away from the moment as quickly as possible. Much like a
lot of the episode, it ends up sitting idly.
In the final act, our desperate away team resorts to firing and detonating
photon torpedoes and hoping the shock wave will push them upward into
lower-pressured areas of the atmosphere. The tricky part is in not shaking
the ship apart with the shock wave in the process. I liked how Hoshi stood
up and forcefully voiced her opinions as the situation turned more
desperate. The rest of the solution depends on Bu'Kah helping get the
engines operational, which Archer convinces her to do in scenes of
surprising banality. But then the whole conflict is forced in the first
place, because Bu'Kah and the Klingons are required to be flat-out *dumb* to
believe the Enterprise crew is responsible for their predicament, or a
threat in any way.
I was left unsure as to exactly how (or even if) the Klingon crew was cured
(to say nothing of why they didn't simply die in the first place).
Presumably Archer gave Bu'Kah the antidote to the poison that had disabled
them, but there's no scene that shows or talks about that happening. It's
left a little muddled.
The icing on the cake is how the Klingon captain arrogantly threatens the
Enterprise after we have just saved his ship! Archer stands his ground and
threatens back (and has a far better hand), and I admit to laughing at the
way the Klingon captain switches off the transmission in defeated disgust,
but come on -- is this necessary? The Klingons come off here as stupid
ingrates and clueless thugs, which -- I don't know -- might be the point.
I'm honestly not sure what the point is.
If there's a lesson to be learned, I wonder if it's that we shouldn't bother
helping the Klingons anymore. They don't seem to deserve it, and they
clearly don't want it. I hope someone reminds Archer about that in the
The final scene takes place in the decontamination chamber, not seen since
the infamous T'Pol/Tucker rub-down scene in "Broken Bow." The
decontamination chamber should be renamed the Reduced Clothing Zone, as that
is its more obvious purpose. This scene is no more or less interesting or
inappropriate than most scenes in "Sleeping Dogs," which methinks serves as
a commentary on both the scene and the episode, if you see what I'm saying.
Next week: A follow-up to "The Andorian Incident." A test of continuity?
Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...