WARNING: Let "Sleeping Dogs" spoilers lie.�
In brief: Watchable for a few character moments, but telegraphed and calculated.�
"Sleeping Dogs" Enterprise Season 1, Episode 13 Written by Fred Dekker Directed by Les Landau Brief summary: A Klingon vessel in distress puts an away team in a tenuous position.
There's been a back-and-forth quality of Enterprise shows lately. After "Cold Front," which put everyone squarely in the middle of deeply weird events, we got "Silent Enemy," which was decent but nothing particularly ground-breaking. There then came "Dear Doctor," which was about as meaty an episode as we've seen. If the pattern holds, that would make "Sleeping Dogs" okay, but not particularly novel.
To put it mildly, the pattern's holding.
So far as I can tell, "Sleeping Dogs" is an episode that exists to satisfy some fans' need for Klingons, and not for much else. There are a few moments that give us something unique to this crew, but a very small batch -- the rest is Generic Enterprise Episode #53 merged with Klingon guest performances.
We begin with Archer and company investigating a class-9 gas giant. Since he's never seen a gas giant of this particular type before, Archer decides it's worth staying around ... and before long, an automated probe finds a ship stranded in the atmosphere of the planet. Hoshi, Reed, and T'Pol head down in a shuttle to investigate.
Once there, they quickly find that it's a Klingon vessel and that everyone appears to be unconscious. T'Pol urges a hasty departure (since the Klingons would view their arrival as an invasion), but Reed and Hoshi want to stay and help. Before long, the one conscious Klingon on board ambushes Reed and takes off in the shuttlepod, leaving the team stranded in a ship that's sinking ever deeper into the atmosphere.
The feeling here should probably be one of desperation; at the very least, there should be a sense of oppressive tension in the air. Unfortunately, having dark lighting is not enough to darken the tone substantially; I never felt much of a threat from the situation, which tends to blunt the drama right off the bat.
What we get instead, both on the Klingon ship and on the Enterprise, is "everyone discovers things about Klingons that they didn't know, but longtime fans already do." They're a warrior race; they value honor; they consider everyone an enemy until shown otherwise; they prefer freshly killed meals and consider gagh a delicacy; they consider signs of weakness grounds for attack. Gee, any Klingon stereotypes we've missed?
Not only that, but there's an awful lot being told to us here rather than shown. Archer decides to read up on Klingons in the Vulcan database and just *tells* Trip about two-thirds of what I said in the previous paragraph. Telling instead of showing is a spotty enough technique when the information is *new* to the viewer; when it's basically Klingon 101 which a lot of fans would already know, it's almost terminally dull.
On a related note, there seemed to be a number of moments which were present for little reason other than to appeal to the trivia-minded: Mayweather's "well, I looked up the schematics, and this is a Raptor- class vessel" comes to mind as a strong example. What useful information did that provide Archer at the time? He doesn't know much about the Klingons as it; he won't know the difference between a Raptor-class vessel and a rerun of _Viper_. Fans who are into ship classes, though, are spared the speculation. Now, I'm hardly one to object to neat trivia facts sneaking into shows: sometimes they're quite interesting. However, when said facts interfere with the actual pace of the show, they're in the way, and that moment among others qualified.
On a character level, things were somewhat more positive, though there wasn't much time spent on characterization. Hoshi, however, is having an interesting time of it. As far as Hoshi goes, this episode is a sequel to "Fight or Flight:" while she did everything but fake an illness to avoid going over to the alien ship in the earlier episode, this time she feels she's "found her space legs" and actively volunteers for the mission. Just by itself, that's a distinct plus.
Her conversation with T'Pol about wanting to bury her feelings sometimes was an interesting one as well. T'Pol's actual "take my hand" calming technique felt like it suffered from iffy execution (in that I wasn't sure whether she was simply calming Hoshi with words, with something telepathic a la a very low-level meld, or something else), but I'm intrigued by the implications. So far, the human we've seen have been very opposed to Vulcans, which given their history up to this point is understandable. Hoshi's admitted to envying T'Pol in some ways, however, and if she really does take T'Pol up on her offer to learn some emotional control, we could see a human "falling under the Vulcan spell." That would offer some interesting sources of conflict if it goes far enough; as I said, it's intriguing.
The rest of the characters fared less well. Reed gets a cold which appears to serve absolutely no dramatic function (and no, becoming light-headed in engineering doesn't qualify, as given the heat and the evident dehydration he could easily have been affected anyway), T'Pol gets to do very little other than bark orders or object to the plans of others (not counting her scene with Hoshi), and Archer gets stuck trying to swagger like a Klingon. (He also, after his first meeting with Bu'kah in sickbay, asks others to "remind me to stop trying to help people," which on the heels of his actions in "Dear Doctor" is a *terrible* sentiment.) Bu'kah gets to do little more than embody Klingon stereotypes, and Michelle C. Bonilla does not exactly do a stellar job in the role.
And, of course, there's the calculated sex appeal. Let's make the outfit *inside* the environmental suits nearly skintight, so as to put our three stranded folks on best display (and setting up at least one shot that *really* emphasizes Jolene Blalock's figure over the content of the scene). Let's put the three of them in the "skimpy-outfit decontamination" setting, despite the fact that Archer apparently doesn't need to go through it despite having been on the same ship. [I suppose we can be thankful that at least we didn't have the "let's smear this baby oil ... er, decontamination gel ... on each other" portion of the scene.]
All in all, this seemed a fairly low-energy episode: the direction was a bit too flat, most of the actors seemed as though their hearts weren't really in this ... most of the show just sort of plodded along. The show gets some points for not really doing much "wrong" per se and for the Hoshi material, but for the most part this is all pedestrian at best.
-- Reed's weapons interest is still in full swing; I did like the bit where Hoshi translates something as 'photon torpedoes,' and Reed's attitude is basically, "Ooh, what are THOSE?" He's a kid with a new toy, but that's okay. :-)
-- There are some nice visuals here and there in the gas giant, particularly when Archer and Bu'kah's shuttle comes into range of the Klingon ship.
-- "That was ... amazing." "When we return to the ship, I'll teach you how to do it on your own." Okay, so it's about T'Pol's calming techniques -- but wow, is that ever dialogue that "slash" fanfic can put to good use.
-- The actual "what's affected the Klingon crew?" question was resolved perfectly well; both the problem and the Klingon reaction to it made a fair amount of sense.
-- Hoshi heads off to the galley to find water for Reed, but T'Pol says that she shouldn't go alone and accompanies her. Okay, but that means you've left the self-described light-headed and dehydrated one alone; *real* bright move.
-- The "detonate torpedoes to create a shockwave" was a perfectly decent solution as well, though I'll admit that I initially thought they were firing it to gain altitude simply based on Newton's Third Law. (The whole action/reaction thing, see.) The shockwave is probably a better idea.
-- Obvious dialogue of the week: Reed says that the ship will be crushed in a few hours tops, to which T'Pol responds, "Then we better hurry." It's those keen insights that make Archer keep her around, really...
-- The pressure is at one point stated to be "15,000 GSC." I guess one way to avoid being yelled at for spotty science is to use units no one understands. :-)
-- Vaughn Armstrong gets to play another Klingon, for those keeping score.
That's pretty much it. "Sleeping Dogs" isn't really a bad episode, but it's certainly one I'm in no hurry to see again. Those who love any and all Klingon material will likely be somewhat more entertained than I was, but this was just too by-the-numbers for me.
So, let's wrap up:
Writing: I'm trying to think of surprises. I'm not coming up with any. It basically holds together and has good Hoshi material, but that's all. Directing: Not *nearly* tense enough given the circumstances; a bit too blase. Acting: Other than Michelle Bonilla, no real complaints.
OVERALL: 5: watchable, but very pedestrian.�
Archer and T'Pol are caught in a civil war?
Tim Lynch (Castilleja School, Science Department)
"Photon torpedoes? Never heard of anything like THAT."
Copyright 2002, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to
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