Star Trek: Enterprise: Sleeping Dogs   Rewatch 
November 5, 2018 8:34 AM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Wherein there's Klingons on the starboard bow.

Memory Alpha has a couple of interesting tidbits, in particular that a scene was shortened and that one of our miscellaneous Klingons was played by recurring Trek guest star Vaughn Armstrong. (I can only assume he was just loitering on the set given the frequency of his appearances here.)

Extended scene
For this episode, there is an extended scene that can be found on the ENT Season 1 DVD.

Scene 43, 44
As in the aired version of the episode, Archer and Tucker talk while they do some welding inside a shuttlepod. Archer admits that he may have made an error asking Bu'kaH for assistance and decides to appeal to her Klingon way of thinking. This version of the scene ends with Doctor Phlox contacting Archer with news that he has discovered a cure for Bu'kaH, although there is also an "interesting wrinkle" that he would like to discuss with the captain.

Background information
> The title of this episode comes from the expression "Let sleeping dogs lie."
> The final draft script of this episode was issued on 12 November 2001.
> Vaughn Armstrong, who also plays Admiral Maxwell Forrest, was the second choice to play the Klingon captain. He filled in for an unknown actor, who was unable either to complete his work or do the re-shoots. (Vaughn Armstrong ENT Season 1 DVD)
> This is the only episode of the series to be directed by regular Star Trek director Les Landau.
> This is the first appearance of the entirely computer-generated targ.
> This is the only appearance of the Klingon Raptor-class scout vessel. Tucker describes the Klingon vessel as a "tough little ship." This is a phrase used by William T. Riker and Thomas Riker, both referring to the USS Defiant, in Star Trek: First Contact and DS9: "Defiant" respectively.
> In this episode, Hoshi Sato has gotten over her fear of going on away missions, as seen in "Fight or Flight".
> Chronologically, this is the first time that photon torpedoes, Star Trek's staple weaponry, are mentioned. It is also, chronologically, the first time that gagh, a Klingon delicacy, is mentioned and shown.
> In "Judgment", Captain Archer's advocate, Kolos, turns the Klingon court's attention to how Archer had assisted the Empire in the past, referring to events in this episode.
> Archer says that this is the third time Enterprise has run into the Klingons. This confirms that the only other canon appearances by the Klingons up until this episode were seen in "Broken Bow" and "Unexpected"; there were no encounters "off-screen."
> In previous episodes, T'Pol has made references to using a nasal inhibitor because Vulcans find the scent of Humans intolerable. At the end of this episode, when T'Pol, Reed and Sato are in the decontamination chamber, she claims she smells nothing, indicating that she has become accustomed to the smell of Humans. T'Pol is not likely to be under the effect of the nasal inhibitor at this point, because she mentioned the smell on the Klingon ship. The lack of scent from the Humans may also be due to the decontamination chamber killing all odor-causing bacteria and/or microbes, since neither of the officers seem to smell anything, and they make excuses to stay in there longer.
> Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78)
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 364) calls this installment "an atmospheric episode where the Klingons are [successfully] shadowy and vicious."
> This is the second time that Vaughn Armstrong plays a Klingon when Enterprise crew board an alien vessel not knowing what species they'll find aboard, the first being TNG: "Heart of Glory".

Memorable quotes
"It gave me nightmares sometimes."
"Other than keeping Ensign Mayweather up at night, I'm not sure what we expect to accomplish here."
- Mayweather on hearing the sounds of electromagnetic interference from a gas giant while T'Pol chimes in

"We can travel faster than the speed of light. You think we could find a cure for the common cold!"
- Reed suffering from a cold

"Well, you won't be contagious inside an environment suit, just… try not to sneeze in your helmet."
- Phlox, to Reed

"You know, I read if they sense a leader's weak they'll try to kill him and take command."
- Trip Tucker, offering advice to Archer on how to deal with their Klingon captive

"Remind me to stop trying to help people."
- Archer, to Tucker, after a futile attempt at negotiation

"Ah, the one time we need our chief engineer is the one time we leave him behind."
- Reed, lamenting Tucker's omission from the away team

"It's called gagh. It's a Klingon delicacy, but only when they're alive."
"They look like worms."
"They are worms."
- T'Pol and Sato, searching the galley of the Klingon ship

"You're in a dangerous situation in an alien environment. Your anxiety is understandable."
"Don't you mean 'for a Human' ?"
"You can't deny your nature."
- T'Pol and Sato

"I decided to take your advice about thinking like a Klingon. The Vulcan database has about 900 pages on them."
"Learn anything?"
"Plenty. They're driven by a warrior mentality. They tend to view anyone they meet as a potential enemy."
"That may explain why our guest is so irritable."
- Archer to Tucker

"This was your plan? To grope around in the darkness and hope to stumble upon my ship?"
"That's how we found it the first time."
- Bu'kaH to Archer

"You wouldn't last ten seconds in a battle with us. You've got multiple hull breaches, your shields are down, and from what I'm told, you're fresh out of torpedoes. If I were you, I'd take what little honor I had left and go home. Fire one shot, and I'll blast you right back to where we found you."
- Archer, to the Klingon captain

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: The Somraw Raptor is present in the MMO, as a Tier 2 ship (low level gear). It does outclass the NX-01, which is a Tier 1.

Also, it is possible to accrue lasting system damage to your ship in Star Trek Online, that can either be repaired with spare parts when you’re on missions, or for free at any dry dock facility. Push your ship too hard, and it’s possible to leave yourself pretty bad off. (In the game, this happens when you blow up and respawn.)

* Vulcans Are Superior: T’Pol’s approach to the Klingons is still way more practical than Archer’s, and I bet she’s actually familiar with their files.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: All three ships suffer damage from the massive pressure of a gas giant.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: The Somraw is more powerful than Enterprise, and only backs down because they’re suffering critical system damage.

Poster’s Log:
So there’s a few things I noticed going on here.

* Good production values.

ENT is pretty. I really have to give it that. It looks better than plenty of stuff I watch now, twenty years later. I thought the gas giant sounds were pretty neat too, for that matter.

* Character Development.

Both Hoshi and T’Pol demonstrate some character development in this episode. Hoshi is getting better at Away missions and more comfortable in her role on the ship. T’Pol is getting less stiff about humans. I also like that the two women connected on the mission, and that T’Pol offered to help Hoshi later. This is all good stuff, and credit where it’s due.

* The smell thing again.

I’ve complained about it before, and likely will again, but this episode features another instance of the tiresome ‘foreigners smell funny’ idea. I feel like it’s further reinforced by T’Pol no longer reacting to humans so negatively: as her feelings about humans soften, so does her visceral disgust with them.

It’s icky.

* The elephant in the room: Sleeping Dogs vs. Dear Doctor.

Previously, in the ENT rewatch, we had a great discussion about the underpinnings of the Prime Directive, wherein I believe the general consensus ended up that the PD is largely about avoiding the unintended consequences of helping others. The emphasis is on pre-warp civilizations, but we have also seen that the Federation dislikes interfering in the internal politics of other civilizations on many occasions.

I would argue that Sleeping Dogs is a place where intervention was a bad idea, based on their own avowed principles, on at least two counts:

1) The Klingons react poorly to help.

The Vulcans have generally cautioned against just diving in and helping the Klingons at basically every turn largely because the Klingons despise weakness and don’t seem to have a very developed sense of gratitude. It’s true that Archer made some headway in the series premiere by returning Klaang to them alive. However, it is also true that they were extremely unpleasant after Archer helped them in Unexpected, and he basically had to coerce Bu'kaH into accepting help here, then talk his way out of a fight even after saving them all.

This is all stuff that should have been obvious to him if he had just read the stupid manual and respected other cultures. Not everybody actually wants assistance for a host of reasons that might seem silly to us, but are important to them.

2) These Klingons are raiding third parties.

So last time, we had this big deal about how helping the Valakians would ‘hold back’ the Menk. Maybe. In several thousand years. Assuming nothing interesting happened between now and then. Letting the Valakians die was so important Phlox almost didn’t tell Archer it was optional.

This time, we know exactly what the Klingons were doing: they raided a Xarantine outpost. They killed people. They stole. Not for defense, but - by their own proud admission - because they are lawless pirating jerks who take whatever they want and damn the consequences. So we know exactly what helping them means: as soon as they are on their feet again, they will loot, pillage and photon torpedo their way through the sector, giving exactly zero fucks about it. Indeed, the first thing they do when they’re loose is threaten Enterprise for the crime of assisting them in the first place.

Helping them doesn’t have hypothetical poor unintended consequences for philosophers to agonize about, it’s a pretty clear case of the frog and the scorpion (a story we know they know). In helping, Archer risked his crew in order to facilitate the further crimes of pirates, and also risked pissing off the Xarantine if they ever found out (shades of Hope and Fear there). Moreoever, he did this without even finishing the Vulcan dossier on Klingons and having some kind of plan to leverage his good deed into political capital.

This was exactly the kind of dumb shit where ‘some kind of directive’ should’ve been considered. Even if they were unwilling to let the Klingons die - a completely understandable perspective - there was no need to give the Klingons back their warship in the process of a save. Bringing the actual people on board and depositing them somewhere was also an option. (I suppose the situation is analogous to finding a highwayman stabbed on the road, bleeding out: it's one thing to bind his wounds and keep him alive, and another to give him back his weapons.)

It also gets back to my basic complaint about the series wherein they have no standard operating procedures for anything, and no plan for how the mission helps Earth in concrete ways - they’re just making everything up as they bumble around, and that hurts my willing suspension of disbelief. (TOS and VOY had better framing on that point, while TNG and DS9 typically had actual mission parameters most of the time.)

Anyway. This is not a terrible episode: the production values are pretty great. It always cracks me up to not recognize Vaughn Armstrong. I liked the CG targs. I liked Hoshi and T’Pol bonding over distress tolerance. Framing the drama around being crushed by a gas giant is reasonably clever. There is plenty to like here, and I can understand if all that appealed to anybody because it was legitimately fun, and it’s clear the writers are at least trying to do their jobs.

However this is still a stupid episode, and its placement in the running order still makes me long for The Good Place, or at least some internal moral consistency.
posted by mordax (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Agreed on the production values; I was very impressed by how everything looked, how well done the Klingon ship sets were put together - it was a visual striking & enjoyable episode. The plot was a good, solid Trekian "away mission in a race against time" episode. But...

-I want to give the crew the benefit of the doubt, that they view a big part of their mission as being out there to not just explore, but also make contact with other beings, and that they want to make that contact as friendly as possible. But they fail, again and again, to realize that what is friendly to them is often perceived very differently by other cultures and species; and especially since they know the Klingons already (and should have better knowledge than they do - seriously, it took until your third encounter with them to actual start reading through the Vulcan database?) they should have been checking their assumptions from the outset. I get that they have no PD yet, but this type of encounter should be better fodder for discussing the foundations of it - the crew using what limited knowledge they have already to articulate some rationale for helping/not helping in this situation. On top of that, the situation is ethical fraught because the crew winds up helping space Vikings go on to raid again; there's no thinking of longer term consequences here - I could almost hear Picard explaining the long-term issues of this decision to some well meaning ensign. And yeah, they are supposed to be learning, but seeing them draw from past experience to reach some different conclusions would be great.

-I get the rationale for including Hoshi on the mission. But when you are investigating a crippled ship in the pressurized depths of a massive gas giant...perhaps you also want to bring along your engineer? Like, is there a reason they can only send 3 people? Not enough room for 4?

-some unclear thematic connections for me; Reed's cold seemed to be a way to build this as a Hoshi episode - the idea of things adapting and surviving in adverse conditions, but it felt like his cold was a minor point that got used in sickbay and then never really mentioned again. Did I miss something?

-Some parts of this felt a little fan-servicey: T'Pol giving Hoshi a hand massage (which takes on implications given what we know about Vulcan affection/mating rituals) and offering some more private lessons, and then the three of them sitting around sweating in their underwear for the final scene.

-Bu'kaH was played by Michelle C. Bonilla, who seemed familiar to me - I'm guessing from her time on ER.
posted by nubs at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ya know, I never even considered the fact that Archer helping the Klingons get back to raiding was a shitty thing to do.

Because, like (I assume) the writers, I approached it with too much of my mind in the meta-knowledge that Klingons eventually have to become friends with Starfleet. To focus so much on that meta-text, and on making Archer look savvy and righteous and forward-thinking by having him basically "side with" the Klingons in that way, distracts from the episode's actual purported plot/exposition. It literally never occurred to me, or Mrs. CoB, or it seems the writers, to ask "What about the Xarantines?" …and I friggin' came up with stats for Xarantines for my Trek RPG. They aren't even the mere throwaway dialogue reference to me that they are for the writers.

Feh. Prequels.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:47 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I too was not happy with the episode generally, although my dissatisfaction comes from a slightly different angle. But I'll give credit where credit is due: the Raptor-class ship is a nice design, plausibly 22nd century, not only in its exterior configuration but in the interior, with the control panels generally being smaller and less bright than the Klingon ships of later centuries, which lines up with the NX-01's control schemes. (It's also neat that they actually have to translate the controls. I sometimes wondered, while watching DS9, if all the Ops crew had to learn Cardassian fluently to operate the controls, since most of their tech was still Cardassian.) I also liked the scene between Hoshi and T'Pol; not only was it basically Bechdel Test-compliant, but I thought that it was edging up to a mind-meld, maybe not a full one but a bit more than relaxation technique coaching. Finally, there was a bit of Archer & Co. realizing that they might have to, you know, get down a bit with the Klingon mindset if they were going to be dealing with Klingons.

But... but... I was generally not real happy with the Klingons themselves, and the way that they were portrayed compared to what we have seen in the past. First, I was dismayed that they were basically murderhobos. Now, I will allow that showing some of them having these tendencies may be a Planet of Hats aversion--it may be a lesser House that doesn't have a lot of money and is kind of scuffling around for whatever they can scrounge--and that we've seen Klingons having taken battle trophies before (in DS9's "Apocalypse Rising", Worf pretends that Odo's polaron emitter is actually a Vulcan children's toy taken from a raided colony). It might be that they even had a legitimate beef with the Xarantines. It's just that we saw a lot of this stuff from the Kazon on VOY--remember them?--and I don't really miss them.

Mostly, though, I'm just not really happy with the Klingons being dumb. They pour alien ale down their throats without testing it first, Bu'kaH won't cooperate at first, and the Enterprise crew get attacked even as they complete their rescue. I rewatched "Day of the Dove" last night, and while it's not perfect--the brownface on the Klingons gets more egregious the older I get, and Mara didn't have as much dialogue as the first female Klingon on the show should have had--but it's one of the better third-season TOS episodes, with Kirk saying, in effect, "geez, we're being really racist all of a sudden." And one of the things that has always stuck with me is Kang saying, "Only a fool fights in a burning house." It's surprisingly deep for such a simple saying, applying to any number of circumstances, from literal house-on-fire emergencies to being able to retreat from hopeless situations in battle to cooperating with enemies in the direst of situations (such as the one which Kang and his crew found themselves in). It is, in effect, saying that practical considerations should override notions of honor and glory, depending on the circumstances. It's why the Klingon Empire still exists--imagine how long they'd last if they could never retreat, or form alliances of convenience--and it certainly could have applied here, especially as the crew obviously wasn't just raiding the Klingon ship. Unless they really are just privateers of a sort, and even then, the Enterprise has already shown themselves willing to help the Klingons without strings attached, as they did in "Broken Bow" (and that's another thing--this episode is just about halfway through the first season, and already they're doing another let's-help-the-Klingons-even-though-they-don't-want-it episode), which netted the Klingons some important intel that they otherwise would have lost. None of that comes into play here. It's disappointing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

and should have better knowledge than they do - seriously, it took until your third encounter with them to actual start reading through the Vulcan database?

That continues to kill me.

Mostly, though, I'm just not really happy with the Klingons being dumb.

Also a fair point, and one that got me thinking.

Feh. Prequels.

I think this might be true on a bigger level than just 'we know how this turns out.' I've been noodling on this a lot, and after reading Jack's post, I wonder if this isn't some bias about how history works generally.

There's a (currently obviously discredited) trope these writers would've grown up with that people in the past were not merely less technologically advanced than 'modern' ones, but also less sophisticated personally. The idea that people in the past are naive, haven't thought a lot of stuff through. And while ENT is in the future relative to us, it's in the past relative to Trek we actually know.

So maybe depicting the whole lot of these people as stupid is about that, whether anybody intended it to be or not. Like... they don't have the Prime Directive yet, so obviously they have no rules. The Klingons aren't 'civilized' yet, so they're just murderhobos. Etc.

I dunno if this is true, just... a thought that struck me over lunch today.
posted by mordax at 8:05 PM on November 5, 2018

This is an interesting thread of thought: looking back at several past episodes, it holds up -- the writers seem to be projecting back pre-PD as 'no directives,' rather than as 'different directives.' T sort-of-explicit framing device for both Fortunate Son and Dear Doctor and Civilization is that the Enterprise is exploring what is essentially a wilderness: a lawless, unexplored area where civilization doesn't exist, where Starfleet principles rather than human laws guide the crew's actions.

Which, of course, doesn't need to be the case - they could create and mine a lot of storytelling gold out of early encounters with other civilizations yielding a bunch of different sets of principles, rules and laws that are alien (the Klingons), or exploitative (the Malurian) or just plain weird. Heck, you can even use the Vulcans - both in terms of their principles and what seems to be a very "hands-off" policy when it comes to dealing with/encountering other species. In short, they go out and find not a lawless frontier, but a confusing mix of laws, rules, and anarchy, and from that the dawning realization that it would be great to get everyone on the same page in terms of principles and ethics and guidelines. But maybe this is easier - the presentation of the universe as being chaotic contrasts against the Federation as being a foundation of order and rules.

Mostly, though, I'm just not really happy with the Klingons being dumb.

Yeah. There's a lot of fan-servicy stuff in this episode with respect to the Klingons - the ship is well done, the displays match what we expect, there's gagh, there's targs; all the trappings, but not the core of the Klingons: their sense of honour and duty. "Only a fool fights in a burning house" - this is a sinking ship, but the same principle would seem to apply.
posted by nubs at 8:30 AM on November 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can completely buy that Berman and Braga had that theory of cultural naivete that itself was very naive--if you buy that the 24th century was more genteel and refined than the 23rd (which Gene Roddenberry very much believed), then by extrapolating backwards to the 22nd century, it's a wonder that Archer doesn't plant the flag of United Earth onto every rock that he stumbles across. I understand the appeal of going out under the assumption that everything that they run across is terra incognita; it's in the introduction to TOS, and in turn gets cited in Zefram Cochrane's speech in the pilot. But the truth is the same truth that European explorers found when they first stumbled across America--it was only new to them. (Although Columbus et al. soon decided that it only counted when they found it.)

they could create and mine a lot of storytelling gold out of early encounters with other civilizations yielding a bunch of different sets of principles, rules and laws that are alien (the Klingons), or exploitative (the Malurian) or just plain weird. Heck, you can even use the Vulcans - both in terms of their principles and what seems to be a very "hands-off" policy when it comes to dealing with/encountering other species. In short, they go out and find not a lawless frontier, but a confusing mix of laws, rules, and anarchy, and from that the dawning realization that it would be great to get everyone on the same page in terms of principles and ethics and guidelines.

Yes, and they will eventually get around to this, in a few seasons.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 AM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

This was okay. The interior of the Vulcan ship was good and I liked the basic plot. I continue to like the attention to linguistic problems just as a source of friction. I liked that they tried the weapons system because that's what Malcom knows, and like how Hoshi stepped up.

Given the way they've said Klingon warrior culture works, the ending doesn't make any sense to me. Archer's, "Back off or we'll [give you an honorable death in battle after you've just been deeply humiliated]" doesn't sound like a winning move. I thought he was going to say, "We don't like you but we did what we consider to be *our* duty, and that *is* something we are willing to risk our lives for, and we don't care if you like it or not." (I don't agree that they should have just let them die, I mean not as a Star Trek story.)

Maybe it should have gone that the Klingon captain makes it clear that his demand to surrender is pro forma and he was fine letting them just run away. But Archer's too much of a hothead dumbass for that, christ Archer sucks.
posted by fleacircus at 8:36 AM on October 12, 2019

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