Minutes after an Asian man is beaten and thrown into a black van for being a migrant, the Sliders make their way out of an alley after a rough slide. Passing by a newsstand, Rembrandt picks up a newspaper that talks about the upcoming presidential election with California Governor Schick.
While Rembrandt walks down the street looking for any R&B gigs he could perform at, the same black van pulls up and grabs Rembrandt. Colin, Quinn and Maggie give chase in a stolen delivery truck, but a sanitation truck inadvertently stops their pursuit. Quinn and Colin try and tell the driver to move, but closer inspection reveals something not quite human: a synthetic looking person with no mouth and no ability to respond to what the Sliders say.
Rembrandt is taken to a compound known as the Repatriation Center, where he is admitted and shoved in a barracks with a large group of other minorities. There he meets Harold, another black man in his early 60s who has lived in the center for several years. Rembrandt comments that Schick is a regular Hitler, but Harold doesn’t know who that is. When Rembrandt voices his desire to escape, Harold tells him not to try, as it’s not possible. When people are scheduled to be shipped out, Rembrandt goes with them with an iron bar tucked in his jacket, and makes an escape attempt, but the head guard of the facility, Beck, incapacitates him. Harold keeps Rembrandt from being processed after the attack.
Back at the Chandler, Colin, Maggie and Quinn ask the concierge Vanessa if Rembrandt has checked in. She tells them no, and that as soon as they find him to leave the state or there’ll be trouble. Just then Vanessa’s son Kirk walks in with the men who captured Rembrandt, wearing their uniform as well. Vanessa begs Kirk not to hang out with those men, but Kirk won’t hear of it. Quinn decides to infiltrate the group of Stompers, as they’re called, and try and figure out where Rembrandt was taken. In the conversation, Ralph, head of the Stompers, calls Quinn’s bluff and a fist fight breaks out. When Vanessa tries to break up the fight, Kirk accidentally hits her with a chair, giving her a serious concussion. Kirk, Quinn, Colin and Maggie take her to the hospital.
At the internment camp, Harold tries to acclimate Rembrandt to his surroundings, including his new job of sorting clothes taken from the migrants. Rembrandt is disgusted with Harold’s complacency to the situation. Harold explains that he marched at Selma and fought in other various civil rights crusades. But times have changed, Harold warns. Rembrandt walks away.
In the hospital, Vanessa learns that a blood workup on her was taken and she breaks down, telling Kirk she wished she had told him. Kirk asks her what, but she passes out. The doctor receives the blood workup and it’s discovered that Vanessa and Kirk aren’t racially pure. The four of them leave the building after the Racial police are called. Down on the street, the Sliders try to convince Kirk to help them lead them to where Rembrandt is held, but Kirk blames them for his miseries. Quinn chastises Kirk’s newfound humility and tells him that whatever happens to his friend will happen to Vanessa. Kirk agrees.
At the compound, Rembrandt watches as Vanessa is led inside and taken to Processing.
Later that night, Quinn, Maggie, Colin and Kirk break into the compound and free Rembrandt. Rembrandt then leads them all to Processing, where they find Vanessa. They discover that the Eddies, the automatons that do the day labor in the area, are actually people that have been mutilated and stripped of their identity. Vanessa is partially mutilated. In the escape, Harold helps liberate them at the cost of his own life.
Back at the Chandler, Kirk flies into a rage and swears to kill Governor Schick so that his madness can end. He runs upstairs, grabs a gun and goes out the window. The Sliders and Vanessa follow him to a rally that Schick is holding in City Square. Rembrandt, Maggie and Vanessa head inside the broadcast booth and take it over while Quinn and Colin search for Kirk. When they find him, they convince him not to kill Schick. Suddenly, Rembrandt comes onscreen and exposes Schick’s economic recovery plan as barbaric, showing Vanessa as the intermediate step between humanity and bondage. Schick’s supporters are outraged, and the Sliders plus Kirk and Vanessa slide to the next world which looks to be populated mostly on black people. The Sliders drop Kirk and Vanessa here to fix Vanessa and to allow the two of them to start a new life.
California’s Proposition system has taken a turn for the worse on a world where members from any non-white race are rounded up and either converted into a slave labor force or shipped out of the country.
A world that at a glance seems to be populated entirely by black people.
Cleavant Derricks and Henry G. Sanders really shine in their intense discussions about race and civil rights.
The nationalist fervor that spread throughout most of Western Europe during the later half of the 19th century for some reason didn’t come to pass on this earth. As a result, Adolph Hitler’s cry for a pure Aryan Germany was never heard, and likewise, World War II never came to be.
The civil rights movement proceeded normally in the United States.
However, in 1996, Proposition 286, the Racial Repatriation Act sponsored by California Governor Schick was approved by the voters and minorities began to be rounded up. Economic recovery facilitators, also known as “Stompers,” used violent force to capture and detain these people.
By 1997, Schick had announced his presidency and upped the number of migrants to be detained. DNA blood tests could be run to determine racial purity, and anyone not 100% racially pure (i.e. Caucasian) was rounded up immediately and sent out of country or processed into mindless “Eddies,” zero-cost slave labor deployed by the state every day.
Looking back over the past few years of Sliders, Derricks finds it easy to choose a favorite episode: “California Reich.”
“That one was special,” smiles Derricks. “I really got a chance to express myself as an actor on an issue that is close to a lot of us at this time. I was so grateful to have that opportunity.”
|Written by||Scott Smith Miller|
|Directed by||Robert M, Williams, Jr.|
|Music by||Danny Lux|
|Edited by||Stewart Schill|
|Next:||The Dying Fields|
“California Reich” reinforces Cleavant Derricks’ acting chops as he tackles the issue of racism in America. I just wish it had been tackled better.
The group arrives on an Earth where California has been taken over by racists, who capture Rembrandt and place him in a prison camp used to turn non-whites into faceless slaves.