The Cynics Corner


"Sleeping Dogs"

by David E. Sluss

10 February 2002

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: Everything you already knew about the Klingons, and didn’t care to ask.


KLINGON KLAPTRAP OF THE WEEK: On the bright side, Enterprise’s portrayal of the Klingons, for better or for worse, is quite consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years. Contrast this with the show’s take on the Vulcans, who display noticeable anger, frustration, and other human emotions, behave with deceit, use contractions endlessly, and generally don’t seem much like the Vulcans we’re used to. The problem with the Klingons, of course, is that most viewers know all there is to know about them from fifteen years of semi-regular Klingon Klaptrap episodes. Other than a new Klingon ship class for Paramount to merchandize, there’s nothing fresh here. It’s pretty difficult to sympathize with Hoshi’s shock at seeing Targ carcasses and Gahk for the first time, or to feel Archer’s triumph when he figures out that the only way to reason with Klingons is to exploit their obsession with honor, unless the scenes are especially compelling, which these weren’t. As a prequel series, Enterprise is particularly susceptible to this problem, but the show often avoids it by focusing on planets and races that we have never seen or know little about (e.g. the Andorians), and I think that’s a good strategy to follow.

Continuity issues are another problem with regular Klingon appearances in this series. I noted in the review of “Broken Bow” that the Klingon first contact in that episode seemed at odds with continuity from The Next Generation, in which Picard said that a “disastrous first contact with the Klingons led to decades of war.” Every subsequent appearance by the Klingons strips away even more of the fig-leaf rationalizations that can be used to reconcile this. At this point all that can really be argued in support of continuity here are ridiculous distortions of history and language, something along the lines of declaring Commodore Perry’s opening of Japan in 1854 a proximate cause of World War II.

In short: Klingons Go Home!

MALE DEMOGRAPHIC PLOYS OF THE WEEK: First the obvious: T’Pol in a tank top in another “decontamination scene” (in a threesome, no less), with Blalock standing, walking, and sitting as if she's afraid it will burst. (Slightly) less obvious: T’Pol teaching Hoshi “calming techniques” (“That was amazing!” Hoshi says breathlessly).

EXPOSITIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The script seemed to have problems deciding what the nature of the toxin that almost did in the Klingons was. According to Phlox and Archer, the poison was in the booze which was consumed by the Klingons. But earlier, T’Pol’s report suggested that it was airborne; she said that there were high levels of carbon dioxide on the ship and signs of a “carbon dioxide based toxin” that had since “dissipated,” posing no danger to the boarding party. T’Pol’s line here was apparently doctored up fairly late in the game, because the closed captioning of the scene refers to “an airborne toxin,” but there were definitely some problems here.

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: A couple of readers suggested earlier in the season that I enroll Vaughn Armstrong in Star Trek’s Welfare Program, but I declined to do so, because despite his frequent appearances in various Trek incarnations (he is actually Star Trek’s “champion guest star” according to IMDB), he is well-cast as Admiral Forrest, who is a necessary character in the series. His throwaway appearance here as the surly Klingon Kaptain, however, has triggered Automatic Enrollment.

NEW LINGUISTICS OF THE WEEK: In general, I thought the language issues were handled well in this episode, for once. One slight problem was the fact that the Klingon officer was apparently able to read Enterprise’s name and registry number and relay that information in her distress call.

NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: Reed’s holographic target struck me as being just slightly ahead of Enterprise’s time. Some of Hoshi’s phase pistol shots hit it without going through, suggesting solidity, or at least a pretty good simulation of it; since humans don’t seem to have complete control over matter, energy, and holography just yet, this seemed a bit strange to me.

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: It’s too early for the Cy Awards, but there could be a number of nominees from this episode:

  1. Leaving the shuttle pod unguarded, unlocked, keys in the ignition when docking with an alien vessel that is known to be inhabited and with which no communications have been established.
  2. Obtaining a fairly clear shot of the stranded alien vessel on the viewscreen early on, but not bothering to run it through the Vulcan database until it’s basically too late.
  3. Allowing a Klingon officer, who already tried to steal a pod once, to accompany the captain without any guards or apparent restraints, and letting her sit behind the captain, where he can’t see her.
  4. Allowing an officer to go on an away mission while ill. Allowing him to remove his environment suit, potentially exposing the alien vessel’s inhabitants to a disease that for them could be fatal.

MISSING SCENE OF THE WEEK: It’s hard to believe there wasn’t a single shot (or even a B-story) of Porthos sleeping in this episode...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: As badly damaged as the Klingon vessel was -- we saw pieces from it breaking off, for heaven’s sake -- it’s hard to image that its only real problem after being subjected to those photon shockwaves was still the “port fusion injector,” and that this was the only thing that had to be fixed for the vessel to 1) escape the planet’s atmosphere and 2) mount a half-assed (and completely gratuitous) attack on the Enterprise.

MOST TRIVIAL NITPICK OF THE WEEK: T’Pol and company, looking for the “port fusion injector,” find it by pulling up a schematic of the ship -- which shows the vessel’s starboard side. Oops!

Previous: "Dear Doctor"
Next: "Shadows of P'Jem"
NEXT WEEK: Vulcan Klaptrap? Plus a shuttle crash.



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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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