‘Sleeping Dog’ Recap & Ending, Explained: What Did Atlas Do That Gave Him So Much Trauma?

Netflix is back with an original German 6-part series based on a Hebrew show titled The Exchange Principle. Each episode is one hour long with a lot going on, and sometimes the details are too much to handle. Read our full review to know more if you haven’t seen it yet! Sleeping Dog follows a rundown cop who has left his family and is living as a homeless person after going through a terrible traumatic incident. When we begin the series, it has been eight months since Atlas left his wife and daughter, and he’s regaining certain memories about a trial that may have gone way wrong. He begins to question his involvement and unravel a much larger mystery.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Sleeping Dog’?

A man named Mussa Basher is found dead in his prison cell. It appears he has slit his wrists with a blade. Mussa Basher comes from a large Arabic clan living in Germany. According to Mussa’s family, he was falsely accused, and Abou, Mussa’s brother, is out to avenge his brother’s death. He visits the cop, Mike Atlas, who was the reason Mussa was in prison and blames him for everything. Mike looks confused, and it seems he has little memory of what went down all those months back when Mussa was arrested. Abou burns down Mike’s caravan, where he’s been living alone for the last eight months, and he’s left to fend for himself in the streets. At the same time, we see Mike’s old team in action. He’s been replaced by a black woman named Britney, who works with Zari and Roland, Mike’s old colleagues and best friends. We see them team up and do some detective activities, but Britney, accidentally kicks down a door in a toddler’s face, leaving the rookie devastated by her actions. We see Zari and Roland take her side, and soon things begin to look up, but Britney also finds herself dreaming about the girl whose mother had died and who had nobody to support her.


At the same time, Jule Andergast, who works at the DA’s office, is tasked with writing up the report on Mussa’s suicide. She finds a tattoo on his chest in Arabic and decides to look further into it. This leads her through a chain of events, making it clear that Mussa was, in fact, framed. Mussa was in prison for the murder of an important judge of the state named Herres. At the time, Atlas had found strands of Mussa’s hair near Herres’ car, where his body was found, the murder weapon, a 9mm pistol was found in Mussa’s glove compartment, making it clear he was the murderer. But for eight months, Mussa had been pleading innocence and then committed suicide. Things weren’t adding up. Mike and his team were a team called the KDD, an on-call criminal squad. Their involvement had been crucial in Mussa’s arrest, and Jule ends up being face-to-face with him coincidentally. Atlas becomes desperate to know why he would put an innocent man in jail and breaks into the DA’s office using Jule’s ID card to get the Herres file. At the same time, a new member named Tom is appointed at the LKA, which is an independent law agency in Germany. These agencies are one step above the police as well, and Tom and Jule begin a friendship and investigation together.

During her research, Jule finds a man named Idris Kouri who was supposed to testify and give Mussa an alibi, but the evidence was found before that, and Idris was never brought to court. In some videos of Mussa in prison, she looks at his visitors for a week before his death and sees Idris talking to Mussa, and then a few days later, a private investigator named Joachim Jürgens. The next day, Mussa was found dead, meaning whatever he said had possibly triggered Mussa. Jule and Atlas both go looking for Idris, but his father tells them both that he has gone back to Agadir. Jule leaves her card with Idris’ father, who throws it in the trash, but a fellow worker picks it up and gives her a call. He assures Jule that he’ll arrange a meeting with Idris. Unfortunately, it’s too late because, by the time they get to him, Idris is found dead, shot in the head with the same 9mm point-blank shot as the Judge. While this is Jule’s first body, it will not be the last in this case.


What Does The Tattoo On Mussa’s Chest Signify?

Idris also had a similar tattoo on his chest that matched Mussa’s, but the words looked slightly different. Idris’ friend, who was helping Jule out, was actually friends with both of them since childhood. He tells Jule that the tattoo on Mussa read Idris, and the tattoo on Idris read Mussa because they were lovers. The alibi that Idris was going to give Mussa was that they were together all night on the day of Judge Herres’ death, but Idris was threatened by some cops to be outed to his father as a homosexual, so he decided to go to Agadir. The week before Mussa killed himself, Idris came back because he could not bear the brunt of leaving his love to rot in prison. He showed him his tattoo to prove his love and possibly promised Mussa that he would testify. Eventually, Idris was killed, and the blame could only be put on Abou Basher, Mussa’s brother, out of resentment. Jule doesn’t believe this story at all, and neither does Tom, but the KDD finds a gun in Abou’s girlfriend’s house as evidence against Abou.

Through all of this, Mike’s wife, Lenni, finds herself leaning on Zari more and more in the absence of her husband. Zari helps her out and gives her company when he can, and Tinka, Atlas’ daughter absolutely despises the situation. Tinka gets a call from her father, who is working with Jule to help her crack Idris’ case. Through him, she’s able to find out what the Private investigator, Jürgens, told Mussa, making a breakthrough in the case and believing in Mussa’s innocence.


Do Jürgen And Mike Atlas Meet?

The PI Jürgen is involved in this case because he was hired by a woman who claimed she was Judge Herres’ wife to investigate his private matters. She wanted to know if he was having an affair, but Jürgen had found no such evidence and handed over his photos and all evidence she needed to prove Herres’ clean image. Soon after, he found out that the Judge had been killed, but he had not thought much of it. Later, though, at a bar, he found the woman who had paid him for the job was an escort, and Herres’ real wife was much older. This made Jürgen curious, and he decided to meet Atlas to give him some images that he had of Herres that could help him. This led Jürgen to meet Mussa and find out the truth about his innocence. He then realized that Herres was about to be appointed to a better position, which made Jürgen more suspicious of the woman who hired him. Jule then meets up with the escort and learns that it was one of her special clients who made her hire Jürgen. This client was actually a married man that Jule saw romantically, and she connected the dots, realizing that he wanted the position that Herres’ was going to get, so he was digging up dirt on him. This still doesn’t give them a solution to who killed Herres, though.

Because Mike has no phone, he calls people through random numbers, and so Jürgen tries to get a hold of Mike through both Jule and his daughter Tinka. Jule uses the opportunity to meet Jürgen herself and calls him to a spot, pretending Atlas will be there. Ironically, Jürgen believed it was the Russians who were trying to take over his country and kill anybody coming close to the Herres case. Jürgen is paranoid about the fact that these people are after him because he has the photos he took of Herres, but Jule can’t seem to understand why those photos are important. Before Jürgen can answer her, he’s shot dead right in front of her while they’re sitting in the same car. Jule runs away without having seen the killer’s face. Alas, Jürgen isn’t able to meet Mike in person, but earlier, he had pretended to kidnap Tinka to lure Mike out. He had told Tinka that he was an old friend of her dad’s. But when he was chatting with Mike, gun in hand, Zari showed up at the same spot, thanks to a call from Lenni, leaving Jürgen with no choice but to drive away with Tinka. With enough distance between them, he had given her something in her hand for her father. The photographs- on a thumb drive.


The Homeless And Atlas’ Pills?

The whole mess started for Atlas when he began taking drugs for the stress he was getting after seeing all the crime in the city. It was Zari who had put him on the numbing pills, but Atlas had quickly become addicted and was using them during the day and at odd times. On the last Christmas, Mike had taken the pill while with Zari and Roland, who were drinking on their day off. When they found out about a terrorist attack at a Church, they decided to go help out, even if it was their off day. Mike was the only sober one, so they made him drive, but he ended up hitting a homeless man called Polyphemus on the way. Mike had wanted to call the authorities immediately, but Zari had stopped him because of the terrorist attack, and instead, they had taken the man’s body and placed him in the Church where the attack had happened. The guilt is what made Mike forget what happened and leave home. Ultimately, this led to a chain reaction of events ruining the lives of many families.

When Atlas finds a homeless girl around the same age as his daughter, he ends up staying with her in a shelter, where he puts up all the things he finds about the case. He has taken a liking to her and brings her the muffins that she likes, and in return, she doesn’t disturb his work. She uses the pills that Mike had been taking one day, and this jogs Mike’s memory a little piece by piece until he remembers it all at once.


What Is Tom’s Role In All Of This?

Jule finds trust in Tom because he’s the only one who seems to believe in her ideas. Even Steck, the person who is a mentor and somehow a replacement for her mother, isn’t as interested in Jule’s opinion. She tries to get him to open Herres’ case, which he doesn’t do, but he tries his best to investigate Idris’ case properly. When Jürgen was killed, she called him to rescue her, and he told her to hide it from the cops for the time being. This made her skeptical of Tom, but she agreed anyway. When they went back to the scene, the car and Jürgen were both missing, meaning whoever killed the man had gotten rid of the body. Some days later, the car and the body were found in the water, and Tom’s instincts were shaping up to be right.

Tom was investigating Steck and the KDD because Herres was his mentor. Herres was suspicious of how the KDD was able to get a hold of the gangs, like the Basher’s, so easily and decided to open an investigation into them. In order to get closer to the scene, Tom had come to check on Steck and, in turn, had found out all he needed with the help of Jule. Jule doesn’t believe Steck is at fault at first, but soon she realizes her Herres file is missing and admits to herself that there is something shady about her boss. Tom was on Steck and Mike’s team now, but before he could nail them, he was shot too. 


The Clinic 

When Zari realizes that Mike is coming back to his senses, he decides to forcefully take him to a clinic. By this time, Mike knows that he’s a culprit, but he doesn’t remember exactly what he’s done. At the clinic, Mike is given some medication, and his blood is taken. While he speaks to the doctor, Mike is hit with the whole truth, and he escapes because he’s not forced to be there by law. Zari tries to figure out if Atlas is out through Lenni. He’s desperate to make sure that Mike doesn’t open his mouth about them because he wouldn’t get his promotion at the LKA. 

‘Sleeping Dog’ Ending Explained: Who Killed Everybody? 

The first thing Atlas does after getting out is tell Tinka his whole truth. He tells her about the accident and how he was on drugs. He is ready to take full responsibility for killing the man and everything else that ensued. Zari realizes everything is over for him when he finds out that Tom had dug up all the files on them earlier. He decides to make a confession tape and overdose on the same pills he got his friend addicted to followed by shooting himself in the head. Ultimately, he doesn’t shoot himself, and so Mike is able to save him from the overdose. At the same time, we’re left wondering: if he killed Tom, why would he make a confession tape? He could’ve just let him live and watch everything play out against him. This is because it wasn’t him who killed Tom, Herres, or Idris; it was Roland. The third person of the lot, who wasn’t as competent or quick as the other two, was still a big part of their team, and he loved his colleagues like brothers. We can see that the only thing Roland ever cared about was his work, and when he realized that it was going to disappear in a blink of an eye, he did everything in his power to change it, not just for himself but his friends too. The pictures Jürgen had taken were of Herres talking to Zari, and Mike was also in some of them, but it was Roland who took matters into his own hands, shot Herres, and blamed it on the Bashers, making his team the best of the lot.


Even if Steck wasn’t directly involved in the murders, she was so bent on pressing charges against the Bashers that she didn’t see what was wrong in lying about it. She was even racist towards them, and this was the reason Jule could go against her. Steck attempts to kill Jule in her apartment, but Mike and Zari make it in time to save her. She is the one to bash him in the head at the last moment, saving herself and anyone else who could’ve died because of this case. Even though Steck’s office blame Roland as the sole perpetrator, everyone begins to eye Steck as a racist DA who wanted to peg crimes on criminal gangs, whether they were involved or not. Mike is able to return to his family, while both he and Zari get probation for their crimes, thanks to Roland taking the hit for all the crimes. They are able to give Polyphemus a proper send-off, and Mike is on his path to redemption. On the other hand, Zari finally recognizes his greed and chooses to take his boat out of port with Steck on it as a new beginning for both of them. Jule is finally free to do things as she pleases and become as good or even better than her mother and the work she does, making her proud. Even though she’s alone after Tom is dead, Jule has a whole life ahead of her to look forward to, unlike Roland, who may continue to be alone forever.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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