Star Trek: Enterprise

“Sleeping Dogs”

2 stars.

Air date: 1/30/2002
Written by Fred Dekker
Directed by Les Landau

"Remind me to stop trying to help people." — Archer

Review Text

In brief: Some admittedly good character moments, but the story is too bland and not really about anything.

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 not adequate.

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 too great.

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 future.

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?

Previous episode: Dear Doctor
Next episode: Shadows of P'Jem

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Comment Section

34 comments on this post

    I found it contradictory that T'pol says the Klingons "Don't call for help." and that Klingons don't use escape pods because "it would be considered an act of cowardice to abandon ship" when;

    the first thing Bu'kah does is flee on the shuttle and call for help.


    Bah, an alright show; nothing spectacular or groundbreaking though. 2.5-3 stars.

    I cannot believe a race as obstinate, belligerent and primitive as the Klingons would ever have invented the wheel, never mind done anything useful with it. For them to be a warp-capable civilization is incredible. But anyway...

    I think Jammer was too hard on this one. I'm in agreement with Michael's rating: 2 1/2 - 3 stars. Personally, I thought the Klingons were completely in character, and I didn't think Archer's actions were really that unbelievable or off base. This episode wasn't a classic by any means, but I certainly found it enjoyable. That doesn't seem to be enough for Jammer, but it is for me.

    The way Enterprise handles this is creepy and becomes creepier with even more episodes to come.

    After the Klingonette told Archer and co that they raided the ship (according to their captain) or the outpost (according to the Klingonette - do these people read their own scripts?) and "took what they want" Archer still wants to become friends with her. Pirates! They robbed and probably killed innocent people. This is eerie. Since when does Starfleet condone piracy?

    Well, we get the answer further on in the series. Nausicans can sail away pirating while a freighter defending itself is being scolded by Archer, left to its enemies.

    Ferengi plunder the ship and collect women to be sold as slaves - for goodness sake - and they can waltz away like nothing happens.

    In that episode about the dilithium miners the Klingons are sent away with a few fire crackers, left to terrorize other people. Maurauders, it was.

    It's no surprise when you realize how the series wrote Archer. Shockwave Suliban Silik ordered to kill 3000 miners and Archer lets him go, smiling happily because Enterprise after all wasn't guilty. And 3000 families grief, knowing the murdered was set loose by Archer.

    Weird to see Archer making such a fuss about a Mallurian poisoning the water on a Sid Meyer world.

    Not to mention when Archer _himself_ is a victim of pirates. In Anomaly he has no problem to nearly push a guy out of the airlock. Archer and co are written like creeps and mass murderers, like in Dear Doctor. Has this guy no common decency?

    The 22nd century is not a good place to live in. Especially when you meet Archer and his ilk.

    I watched this episode when it was originally shown in the UK and haven't been able to make myself watch it since. Not only was the episode boring, it was a huge missed opportunity.

    This is set before the first Klingon war. While I didn't necessarily want to see another Trek turn into a long war saga - too many memories of the amazing DS9, too far from what Trek is supposed to be about - I want to see the seeds of conflict being sown, especially because it's supposed to be humans who started the war. In ENT, all Archer ever does is help the Klingons out and they act like retards about it, always trying to arrest or kill him. Archer does nothing to incite a future war or earn realistic enmity. There's too much "You are my enemy, prepare to die!" which came in during Voyager and never seemed to go away.

    Sleeping Dogs is a wasted opportunity on so many levels. We don't actually see the interiors of alien ships very often - we've had bridge shots of Romulan vessels, a couple of Cardassian corridors and a number of locations aboard a Klingon bird of prey - this was a chance to see a new generation exploring something that would be vaguely familiar to us but more primitive than that seen in DS9 and TNG.

    Not to mention the massive hole at the centre of this episode, which is humans and Klingons having to work together to solve a common problem, or alternatively the seeds of future war being sown. I thought the Klingons acted like prats in this episode.

    As Jammer mentioned, this episode lacks urgency. The away team has 30 minutes before they are crushed to death, meanwhile Archer and Tucker are casually discussing Klingon psychology. And the Klingon reinforcements are promised to arrive at any moment, but their arrival never challenges the timeframe of the rescue.

    "I cannot believe a race as obstinate, belligerent and primitive as the Klingons would ever have invented the wheel, never mind done anything useful with it. For them to be a warp-capable civilization is incredible. But anyway..."

    Yeah, ST writers sure did love plots that revolved around cartoonishly stubborn alien species.

    This is a very well done, moody atmospheric episode. Another reason why a big fan of this series.

    All right, I finally made myself watch this episode again, along with a few others from season one.

    I was struck by how well-acted the show is. The Klingon actors made the best of their very poor, obstinate lines, but Reed, Hoshi and T'Pol were excellent. Hoshi is coming along nicely - a shame her character will be all but abandoned in later seasons - and Reed was excellent, his desperation showing as he argued with Hoshi about detonating the torpedoes.

    The episode is still a missed opportunity on many levels. We do not see a decent reason for human-Klingon wars (which we are supposed to have started, by the way), the Klingons are written as tards and the closing scenes where the klingons actually threaten to fire on Enterprise were ridiculous, although Archer's response was spot on.

    I cannot hate Archer just because the writers occasionally make him do something stupid. After all, what exactly is he supposed to do with pirates and hostile raiders? Stick them in his brig? Destroy their ships and murder their crew? Turn them over to other authorities - what authorities? This is a really thorny subject which the writers simply ignore.

    TNG era Klingons were written as such thickheaded buffoons it's hard to take any episode that revolves around them with a any seriousness; and that includes Worf.

    Bog standard plot with a Das Boot edge, but competently enough handled for all that. I thought there were some nice character moments too for Hoshi in particular (although not quite sure what Malcolm's cold was all about), and if nothing else the horrors of a Klingon galley was nicely portrayed.

    That said, the Klingons really do seem to be coming over as implausibly belligerent, although Archer facing them down at the end was something of a decent moment. 2.5 stars.

    Above average episode even if the Klingons come off as punks.

    Hoshi gets some good stuff and like was said above, I have no acting quibbles for anyone in the episode here.

    Nothing earth shattering, but a solid 3-star effort.

    I actually liked this one for the fact that there was some character building. Hoshi gets some time and T'Pol hands her a mean to overcome her anxiety. She makes the decision to fire all the remaining torpedoes. To a certain degree, the three on the Klingon ship work together.
    But as the review rightly remarks: there is no sense of urgency and it feels too clean and relaxed. Especially when Archer and the Klingon woman arrive: that ship is falling to its doom but they stand around babbling in a relaxed almost joyous way. Where is the fear and the tension? The frantic rush? The beads of sweat? Even Hoshi keeps her calm.

    As to the Klingons. They are orcs. I can't buy into the idea that a society that is driven by infighting and hostility will get anywhere. Societies work because beings cooperate. If they don't they fall prey to those who do. But we have to have some diversity and what better way to borrow from the fantasy world, hence: orcs... eh, Klingons.

    The year is 2001 and after 35 years over numerous movies and TV shows, with their archetype being explored and played with not just in Star Trek but many other works of sci-fi, here is Star Trek's take on Klingons for the modern era: Dumb one-dimensional thugs who want to die in battle and say honor a lot.

    Couple of cute character interactions, but otherwise, I found this one just kinda boring.

    I need to check the star rating on this with the original draft document, because the rating does not match the review at all. There might have been a data entry error at some point. Looks like someone pointed it out in 2011 and I missed it. Oops.

    Not a bad episode, but not a good one either. The episode is slow, the plot minimal but there are some good character moments and it focuses on what ENT is about in Season 1: going over the mechanics of things that "future" Trek series take for granted such as communication, exploration, etc. Very little seems to be taken for granted due to technology.

    "Sleeping Dogs" does a good job of showing what it is like for 3 Enterprise members to explore a Klingon ship and trying to get it running again. I think the idea of firing torpedoes to get the shockwaves to push the ship higher into the atmosphere is a good one and was well executed. Hoshi is growing in confidence and it was a nice moment to see T'Pol help her out with a Vulcan relaxing technique. The bad part about that is the lack of urgency.

    As for the Klingon portrayal (the female and the captain), I think it is accurate and true to their character/race -- again, like Klingons in TNG, DS9 I find it hard to believe how this race is supposed to accomplish anything.

    The ending de-contamination scene was stupid and should be omitted but it does solidify the bond between the 3. I thought it was unusual for Trip to not go aboard the Klingon ship but he'll have plenty of episodes where he's central. Archer's generosity should be wearing thin after episodes like this and "Fortunate Son".

    2 stars for "Sleeping Dogs" -- nothing special here, just the crew going through their routine, some character development, and the Klingons look like idiots. The episode makes a good effort at showing the crew exploring a Klingon ship in a realistic manner, but that's not that interesting given how familiar we are with Klingons from TNG, DS9.

    diz boorin! Wanna seee stufz blooow!!! Aaargh nakiez!!! waaah whine!

    This episode was a HUGE missed opportunity. I was entirely expecting first contact with the Klingons to be a disaster as it led to all-out war. Enterprise shied VERY far away from this in favour of a shitty, unresolved "temporal cold war", followed by the genuinely gripping but ultimately inconsequential Xindi arc. No signs of any Klingon or Romulan war.

    By this point it was becoming clear that Enterprise was failing to deliver much of what any reasonable Trek fan would have expected to see from a prequel. We got new species (Denobulans, Xindi, Sphere Builders, Suliban) who are not mentioned in any "later" Trek, and whose introduction was of uncertain worth. Don't get me wrong, I liked all of them, but why were they included - what was their overall contribution to creating the Federation? Why them instead of Romulans, Klingons, Tellarites?

    Enterprise does handle some things VERY well. Their relative lack of technology meant that many achievements were genuinely hard-earned, and not just a product of scriptwriters writing paragraps saying TECH TECH TECH. (That is genuinely what they were doing in Voyager scripts.)

    My friend has started watching ENT for the first time and I was VERY keen to hear his unbiased comments after the first 10 or so episodes. He nailed it perfectly. "I don't know. It started off brilliant and turned into a load of bollocks. It's boring, nowt happens. And that song!"

    I think crisis point came for him when we were laughing together about the whole "What does Malcolm have for dinner" saga in a previous episode. He just couldn't understand why such a terrible idea got so much screen time.

    I told him to hold on until season 3 when "it comes alive".

    2 stars. Started out with some potential but then got pretty thin and tiresome. No real mystery or entertaining plot

    Did anyone notice that the Klingon captain at the end was Admiral Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong)?


    I certainly did!!
    One of his 13 different Star Trek characters!!

    Many have already mentioned the absurd lack of urgency - it's clear the characters know they "really" have 44 minutes, just like the audience. One little thing: explosion shock-waves to push the ship up was a ridiculous notion, guaranteed to destroy the ship - c.f. depth charges.

    What struck me, not yet mentioned, is that Archer's tack with the stupid-belligerent Captain at the end was almost precisely wrong. Klingon: "surrender or die." Archer: "You are facing overwhelming odds. Attack us and experience an honourable death, going straight to Stovokor, and forget about having to report your shameful rescue to the Empire." Yeah, luckily this klingon feared death.

    Overall, though, I'm surprised at finding how much I'm enjoying Enterprise. The benefit of rock-bottom expectations I suppose!

    "I cannot believe a race as obstinate, belligerent and primitive as the Klingons would ever have invented the wheel, never mind done anything useful with it. For them to be a warp-capable civilization is incredible. But anyway..."


    I forget where this came from precisely, but wasn't it established in canon in an earlier show that the Klingons stole all their advanced technology (including warp) from the Romulans? Of course the Romulans wouldn't have any kind of Prime Directive, and the Klingons becoming warp capable centuries before they naturally would explains a lot.

    No. They developed it on their own after the time of Kahless. Even non-fictionally, war is a boon to developing tech...the "enlightenment" they gained from Kahless kept them honor-bound enough to prevent them from annihilating themselves. Developing warp capability in order to conquer new worlds.

    In Kirk's time, there was an exchange of technology going on with the Romulans...but not as much as to declare them allies canonically (at least, not at that time). More like a mutual respect between the two, I guess. So you get Klingon-inspired Romulan ships in TOS, Romulan-provided cloaking by the time of STIII (yes, I know that the "S.S.Bounty" was originally scripted to be a Romulan ship helmed by Romulans). This respect would be challenged somewhat when the Khitomer conspiracy revealed that Romulans were partially involved in the attempted takeover of the Klingon Empire...the "mutual respect" completely dissolved following the attacks on Narenda III's outposts, and subsequent Khitomer massacre. Worf does state that the Romulans "were supposed to be allies" at the time of this massacre, tho…so one existed between the two Empires at least before those attacks.

    Reasonable, if a little unremarkable. The Hoshi side of things works pretty well, but the biggest sin, I think, is that Bu'Kah is just not enough of a character to sell the main conflict on Enterprise, hence why it feels a little pedestrian. Agreed with Jammer on the final scene too, which weirdly chooses not to address Hoshi's arc and instead opts for a stilted bit of comedy. As for T'Pol's meditation trick, I don't think it's anywhere near as fanciful as half the things Spock and Tuvok could do and I liked seeing her bond with Hoshi. 2.5 stars.

    Wonder if T'Pol, Malcolm and Hoshi continued things in their quarters after decon...

    Alternative ending:

    The Klingon captain decides on Death before Dishonor and attacks the Enterprise.
    Battle ensues where the Klingon vessel is utterly destroyed.

    Episode ends in glorious pointlessness with an extremely exasperated Archer.

    ^ I like your ending better, Govert.

    This is an ok episode. Nothing special though.

    I've said recently that I wish there had been more Hoshi-centric stories. I had forgotten that there were at least three episodes in season one where she plays a prominent role. The problem is that they are all the same story. "Hoshi doubts herself but rises to the occasion" is the central theme of the first post pilot episode Fight or Flight, but it is repeated here in Sleeping Dogs and again in Vox Sola.

    I hate when Trek does that. Not every Quark episode has to be a "Ferengi episode." Not every B'Elanna Torres episode has to be about her being half-Klingon. I mean, it's fine to explore those aspects of the characters, but sometimes it feels like the writers say "OK, Tuvok is a Vulcan, what are some Vulcan type things we can write about?" instead of "Here's a good story that would work really well with Tuvok as the central character."

    Good ep!

    I liked the Klingon ship!

    And Hoshi and T’Pol looked awesome in their zip-up environmental suits!


    Over and over i am just completely amazed by how beautiful this enterprise is. It feels real and possible. I love that they based it on sub. Just amazing job

    Weird a doctor would confuse cold with virus.

    Wow they send a guy with contagious flu to first contact situation? No one else available. This is hard to believe.

    I just saw this for the first time as I give Enterprise a try for the first time since 2001. I remember liking Hoshi and I I think she has a good role here, but I'm sorry to see from comments that she won't be getting much more screentime. She gave an otherwise pedestrian episode enough to make me risk a 2* episode!

    I totally agree that sending Reed out while he's sick is ridiculous. It must have seemed dumb before 2020, but now it just looks preposterous.

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