After enjoying “The Man Who Would be King” at the Revival House in San Francisco, Quinn, Maggie and Rembrandt slide into another San Francisco where everything came to a sudden halt. No people, cars left in the middle of the street, buildings in disarray. After Quinn is attacked by some dogs, the Sliders walk to the Mallory household.
Inside, Quinn is amazed to find that his double won several awards that he had tried for at home. This news discourages him as he cannot enter his the coordinates to his brother’s world into the timer by himself. Quinn also learns that his double’s mother died instead of his father. Traveling downstairs to the basement, the Sliders discover everything in disarray, the equipment destroyed and crushed. While Quinn sifts through his double’s ruined equipment, Maggie and Rembrandt head upstairs and outside to wait.
Suddenly, Alt-Quinn appears out of nowhere and grabs Maggie, demanding to know where she’s been hiding all of these years. Quinn exits his house and helps calm down his now very agitated double. Quinn asks where all the people went. Alt-Quinn explains that, while working on his anti-gravity device, the Slidewave that emanated from the machine enveloped everybody on the planet and made them vanish.
Inside the Mallory house, Alt-Quinn is relieved to see people. He recounts the years of solitude, watching old videos and listening to records just to hear a voice other than his own. He also tells the Sliders that he’s been traveling around the world for years, but he always seems to come back to his house, and that he’s glad he has. Quinn questions Alt-Quinn about the people disappearing, and Alt-Quinn says that there’s nothing he could do to fix it, that he couldn’t re-align the proper parameters so he destroyed the machinery. Rembrandt says that they might not be dead and Alt-Quinn agrees, saying that they were probably displaced in time or sent to another dimension. Quinn says that Alt-Quinn should have tested it first and says that they’re going to repair the device and try to get a bead on where everyone went. Alt-Quinn reluctantly agrees, and the group goes to the nearby electronics store.
Alt-Quinn is upset that his double is going to try and do something he can’t. Rembrandt finds a lot of the necessary parts, and Quinn finds a bioscanner that will allow him to differentiate the people that slid from this earth from the people that didn’t. Hours later, the Slidewave device completed, the four of them open a vortex to another earth and slide, taking the Slidewave device with them. They land in Quinn’s basement… again. A young child sees them slide in a goes to warn someone. When the four Sliders follow him up the basement stairs, they are met with dozens of people, including a very upset nun and her double.
The Sliders learn that three years ago, the people from Alt-Quinn’s earth suddenly appeared, effectively doubling the population of that Earth and collapsing governments around the world. A man called the Boss runs this section of San Francisco. Alt-Quinn tries to tell one of the nuns that they came from the same world as her, but that they also have the power to send them back. The nun is unimpressed by Alt-Quinn’s claim, so Alt-Quinn activates the Slidewave device, scaring someone in the house into dousing it with water and damaging the sensitive electronics.
The Sliders go to the same electronics store, only to find it heavily guarded. Maggie’s gun is confiscated, but Quinn is able to buy the parts he needs to fix the Slidewave. A ‘cop’ calls his friends to rob them, and in the ensuing chase Alt-Quinn is saved from the police by his double. Back at Quinn’s house, Maggie and Alt-Quinn talk about Alt-Quinn’s father. Maggie tells him to get over the death and start caring about other people, otherwise he’ll always be alone.
Quinn and Alt-Quinn fix the Slidewave and tell the people of Quinn’s house that they can go back whenever they want, as soon as the Slidewave has enough power. Rembrandt asks what will happen to the people who fell in love and married others from the other world, and even though Quinn says it’s a one-way trip for everybody, the nun’s double says they must go back. The Sliders enlist the aid of Roberto, a former member of the Boss’s crew who can take them to the Boss’s power plant.
Eventually, the Sliders are captured by the Boss’s crew and taken captive. The Boss learns about Alt-Quinn’s invention and thanks him, because on the other world he was a greeting card writer. There’s a discussion about destroying the Slidewave in which Alt-Quinn takes a bullet for Quinn. In the ensuing gunfire, the Sliders escape to the proper energy hookup for the Slidewave and activate it. A shimmering wave of power extends across the globe and send everyone back to the world they were from. Rembrandt sees the Boss and clocks him on across the face.
Back at the Mallory house, one of the nuns is administering aid to people that have just come back from a long bout of overpopulation. Alt-Quinn has decided to help these people and do some good for a while. Quinn offers to take him with them but Alt-Quinn declines. Quinn uses the timer which has been inputted with his brother’s earth with help from Alt-Quinn to slide.
The American Film Institute would kill to get their hands on a print of The Man Who Would be King with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable.
Very similar to Earth Prime, with one small exception: there’s no people.
The population of Empty World has been sent her by an errant Slidewave, resulting in 11 billion people scrambling to survive amidst the chaos.
While walking past a table with some family photos, Rembrandt and Maggie pause at one picture, pick it up and smirk. One can only assume it’s the same goofy photo we saw in Last Days, or something similar.
You can’t tell by the look and feel of each world, but they’re pretty similar to Earth Prime. Differentiation has been separated by world. However, this much can be gleaned from the episode itself: in 1995, at about the same time Quinn went sliding with Wade, Rembrandt and the Professor, Alt-Quinn’s Slidewave slid everyone from his earth onto another Earth. That earth was fully populated, causing governments to collapse from all the new citizens that felt that their place in society was being overlooked.
Aside from these and other minor differences, Empty and Full Earth are virtually identical prior to Alt-Quinn’s initialization of the Slidewave.
Al Gore was President of the United States in 1995 on Empty Earth. Rembrandt’s doppelganger was an opera singer. The Piranhas won the 1995 World Series. Tokens are used to ride the BART system in the Bay Area. VHS is the adopted standard of videocassette tape players around the world. A popular game show is the “$64,000 Pyramid,” although it’s unknown if Dick Clark is the host.
Hillary Clinton was President of the United States on this Earth until the federal government collapsed with what could be considered a legitimate immigration problem. As seen on Cubs World, the Cubs were also the dominant baseball team in the World Series that year. Small tickets with a magnetic stripe are used for BART access along with Light Rail service in San Jose. Betamax rules supreme, and “$150,000 Pyramid” is a favorite on daytime television.
“‘World Killer’ was my favorite of the scripts I wrote for Sliders, and a difficult script to write,” says Marc Scott Zicree. “Initially, Quinn’s double was too heroic and outshone Quinn. It was only on rewriting it that I hit on the notion of his irresponsibility and need to learn to accept what he caused and make it better. I liked the moral of that story very much.
“I was in on the whole process of that episode, from casting through editing. In fact, the director invited me to be on set for the entire shooting. The way we’d work was that, with each scene, the director would rehearse the actors with me watching. Then I’d huddle with the director and tell him what moments they had missed or what the intent of the scene was; then he’d go communicate that to the actors. They invariably understood and adjusted their performances. It was a great collaboration between all involved. I thought Jerry was great as both Quinns. To play the duplicate from the barren earth, I told him, ‘Just imagine him as the world’s biggest twelve year old; he always is sure he can pull something off until he falls flat on his face.'”
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“My goal with every script I write,” explains Marc Scott Zicree, “is to write a script I’ve never seen before. For instance, ‘World Killer,’ the first episode I did for Sliders, involves a world where a duplicate Quinn builds a sliding device without knowing what it does and when he throws the switch, a slide wave surges out and sends everyone else on the Earth away, so he’s the last man on Earth. He thinks he’s disintegrated everybody, so he’s been wandering around for three years as the last man on Earth, and when our guys get there, they say, ‘No no, you sent them somewhere, and now we just have to rebuild your machine and duplicate your experiment.’ They do that, and slide to another alternate Earth, where in an instant three years ago, the population doubled, so we see what that would be like, and we have to deal with the moral ramifications of whether we have the ability or the right to slide half the population back. That’s something I’ve never seen done before, and it’s also a story that requires a science fiction element.”
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When creating original episodes of the series, sometimes some interesting ideas get cut.
“There was scene that I had written for ‘World Killer’ that unfortunately got cut for time,” recalls Zicree. “I had these two nuns who were duplicates of each other because they were from two worlds that had been fused together. One nun wears a stone around her neck. Rembrandt asks, ‘Why do you wear that rock around your neck?’ and she says, ‘That’s how our Lord died, crushed under stones.’ It’s a little throwaway line, but it suggests a whole world of possibilities.
Other cut scenes include an angry Martha Stewart book and Rembrandt… as Pagliacci?
“Get to be Pavarotti and then — poof! Isn’t it a cryin’ shame?” asks the character wryly.
“Many [ideas] are in jokes that the people who get them might enjoy, but won’t really affect those who don’t get them,” claims co-executive producer Bill Dial. “In [‘World Killer’], the Sliders wind up on a world where the theater marquee behind them says the movie that’s playing is The Man Who Would Be King, starring Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. The joke is that for many years, John Huston wanted to make that movie, with that cast, but was never able to do it. But apparently, on that world, he was. We were told all along that audiences enjoyed the little differences, like the world in the pilot where red means go and green means stop — there are many things like that.”
|Written by||Marc Scott Zicree|
|Directed by||Reza Badiyi|
|Music by||Danny Lux|
|Edited by||Stewart Schill|
|Next:||Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?|
“World Killer” is a tour de force for Sliders, easily the most important and character-driven episode in years. Marc Scott Zicree has written a fantastic script, and the actors — Jerry O’Connell in particular — deliver far beyond what we’ve come to expect. Mark my words: this will go down as one of the finest hours in the show’s run.
Population control takes on a whole new meaning when the Sliders discover one of Quinn's doubles slid his world's population to another by accident.