Netflix’s Sleeping Dog includes a trio of best friends, but it’s not a teen rom-com; it’s a German cop-thriller and a whodunit mystery, with a cop named Mike Atlas in the center of it all. Mike has been through a traumatic incident, and this has led to PTSD with loss of memory. As Mike unravels the truth within, he also notices that his friends may not have been his friends after all. This sounds pretty dramatic, but that’s how the show is, and although we can argue that their love for each other doesn’t falter, we can say that personal goals changed up the dynamic of the trio enough to ruin their friendship for good. When the show begins, we know that Atlas is really close to Zari and Roland, but after moving out of the house and essentially quitting his job, they drift apart. It seems as if Roland is the baby of the group, so Zari and Atlas tend to keep things from him or give him details at the last moment. When Roland finds the dead body of the old man in the first episode and yells that he’s knee-deep in Grandpa and almost undresses in public, Zari gets him to focus on more pressing matters and remain sane. Zari is the one who holds everyone together, Roland is the one who depends on everyone, and Atlas is the most independent of the three.
Family Changes Everything
Atlas is the only one of the three who has a family of his own, and Zari is extremely jealous of this. On the other hand, Roland finds family in his colleagues, so with Mike in bad shape, he feels like he has to take care of everything. When Atlas is lost and alone, instead of supporting his friend, Zari gets closer to Atlas’ wife and daughter, almost trying to replace him by taking advantage of their vulnerability. When Britney asks Zari what the two of them mean to him, he says Roland is a brother to him, but Atlas is just a friend. This comes off very cold for Zari because, until then, he seemed to pretend to be very concerned about Atlas. Of course, by the end of the show, he realizes his mistakes and apologizes to Atlas for everything he’s put him through, but by then, it’s too late. Roland, on the other hand, wants to save what they have, and this pushes him to do the wrong things and cover up all their mistakes so that there’s no disruption to what they have.
Atlas is the main focus of the show. He forgets the big mistake he’s made that traumatized him and caused him to move away from his family. Atlas returns to consciousness by digging up the dirt in his past and taking responsibility for all his wrongdoing. He’s keen on redemption, and if that means cutting ties, he’s willing to do that. Still, when he realizes Zari might take his own life after losing everything he worked hard to achieve, he rushes to save him. Atlas is the righteous of the three. Even while on drugs, he wants to call the authorities when he crashes into a homeless man, killing him. Zari is focused on the impact of that on their careers, so he chooses to hide the truth from the authorities. In reality, if they had admitted to the accident, it would’ve only been Atlas in trouble, and ironically, that would’ve meant a promotion for Zari. But at the time, because their bond was so strong, Zari chose to save them both. Or it was his fear of letting the authorities know that he got Zari on drugs and made him drive while he was under the influence.
Endearingly named Zari, Luca is the glue of the team. He looks out for everyone but soon becomes greedy for a higher position. His corrupt nature begins the big disaster that is the Judge’s murder and everything that follows. He was the one who gave Mike pills when he was too stressed from the crimes he was seeing and didn’t take him to the hospital. After Lenni talks to him, he wants to take Mike to a therapist, but why not when he needs it at first? Zari even finds a partner in Steck, who is also power-hungry, and they’re both so drawn to getting promotions that they’re blinded to the mistakes they’re making along the way. It is Zari who presses the guys not to call the authorities after Mike hits the homeless man, leading Roland to think whoever finds out about it must be eliminated.
The baby of the group is also the executioner. He’s the first to get his hands dirty or put his feet in “grandpa.” Considering Roland does most of the dirty work, he may have felt obliged to kill the people who figured out the truth about the three of them and the homeless man. It’s strange that he never approached the other two men before taking this drastic step, though, but maybe it’s a sign that he knew it would be a big mistake. Roland’s goal is only to have things remain as they are because the other two are his safe spaces. It’s strange that even though they received the promotion, things would’ve changed eventually. Maybe Roland just didn’t want them to get into any trouble.
If it weren’t for the pills Zari had given Mike, nothing would’ve changed, and everyone’s wishes would’ve come true. It makes sense the show is called Sleeping Dog because we could take it metaphorically for the little bit of jealousy in Zari, Roland’s dependency, or even Atlas’ trust in his friends, all of which shattered their friendship. If those feelings hadn’t awoken in them, they wouldn’t have been so desperate to save the day when the terrorist attack happened and instead would have saved it because they were too drunk and Atlas too drugged. We can assume that Roland may have let Zari take the fall if he had confessed and then shot himself. As always, it’s a case of telling many lies in order to hide one, but in this case, the lies include the deaths of many innocent people. Choosing your friends wisely is our ultimate takeaway.