Obsession

"I'm the Cryin' Man, you think that just happens?" — Rembrandt, giving Quinn a lesson in women.

Review by Mike Truman


A-
Great

Poor Quinn. Despite being such a brilliant guy, he really has no understanding of the opposite sex. It took the end of the world for Quinn to finally wake up to the fact that Wade liked him, but since then the relationship has stalled out. Now another man arrives on the scene threatening to take Wade away from him, this time for good.

“Obsession” is the sleeper hit of the season. It simply doesn’t get its due. It not only features strong character development for both Quinn and Wade; it also has one of the most complex and well-developed plots of the series. This story actually utilizes foreshadowing!

And it has Isaac Hayes. Gold, pure gold.

We start this little romp in what feels like jolly old England with Sabrina Lloyd speaking in “shant”s and “my lord”s as she rides through the forest with her dashing beau. They profess their love for each other and he asks her to marry him. She nods yes. Just as the viewer is about to recheck the television listings to make sure FOX is in fact airing Sliders, Wade wakes up.

The true significance of the dream is concealed for the moment but it’s enough to introduce us to this episode’s protagonist/antagonist, Derek Bond. Mr. Bond is not merely a figment of Wade’s imagination. He is a real man and an extraordinary one at that. Bond is a seer. He has the ability to read minds and see into the future. How good is he? So good he can predict the opening of transdimensional portals. He is waiting for the four when they slide onto his world and he already knows their names. Before departing, he reveals to the group that he and Wade were lovers in a past life and he asks her to dinner. He also makes a cryptic remark inferring that Quinn will have his own reasons to be skeptical of Bond’s claims. Could it be jealousy?

While the four are trying to figure out what to make of Mr. Bond, Wade is nearly run over by the Prime Oracle (Hayes), the elite seer of the country. Rembrandt pushes her out of the way but is struck in the leg. He’s taken to the hospital where he meets a psychic nurse and scores a date. Good ol’ Rembrandt. But before they can leave, Arturo and Rembrandt are arrested for the murder of Wade Welles. It’s a pre-emptive arrest. They haven’t done it yet and are free to go, but the police will be watching. Oh, and the Prime Oracle is going to die inside of a day and Bond will be named his successor. Got all that? Good.

While Quinn broods, Wade goes out on her date with Bond. The Prime Oracle dies and Bond must rush off, but before he goes he proposes to Wade. This causes Quinn to go ballistic and make an ass out of himself. Wade visits Bond to turn him down, but he refuses to let her leave. Wade attempts to break out but you can’t fool a seer. He catches her and tells her to say goodbye to her friends, as she won’t be seeing them again.

Now the full dream is revealed. In their past life, Bond’s father was against their marriage. He had Wade killed. Bond swore that he would strive the rest of his life (and next lives) to acquire more power than his father and avenge her death. Now that he has it, he has become just as corrupt. Wade receives a mysterious prescription. The next thing we know she’s on the phone with Quinn, telling him she has poisoned herself. Quinn comes flying to the rescue, but he’s too late… or is he?

It turns out Rembrandt and Arturo conspired with the nurse to pull a Romeo and Juliet on Derek. The nurse gives Wade an antidote and Quinn is finally filled in on the plan. Bond would have been able to read-through any deception, so Quinn had to be kept in the dark to make it look real. Pretty crafty, all and all. There was even foreshadowing as Wade was reading “R&J” in the teaser. Derek comes for them before the slide, but he now realizes that the entire ordeal was an elaborate plan set in motion by the old Prime Oracle to teach him compassion. And so all the plot threads come together neatly. And that’s just scratching the surface of what this episode had to offer!

As the title suggests, the root of this episode is distorted love. Despite what he does, Derek is not a villain. He was just so sure that Wade was critical to his life that he was blinded from what he was doing to her. Bond never considered the idea that reading Wade’s mind was akin to rape as far as she was concerned. It turns out Mr. Suave was just as inept as Quinn when it came to dealing with her. In fact, Bond is a shadowy parallel of Quinn’s own treatment of Wade.

Quinn’s behavior throughout this episode was almost equally appalling. Jealousy does not become him; he was mean, derogatory and selfish. Like Bond, Quinn thought he knew what was best for Wade, but it was never about her interests. It was always about his own. Quinn didn’t want Wade to stay behind, pure and simple. This isn’t the first time Quinn shows his dark side when it comes to Wade. He was just as much of a jerk in Luck of the Draw, even standing Wade up for the Lottery Winners’ Ball. His possessiveness of her is almost as bad as Bond’s. Let’s face it — Wade is at Quinn’s mercy. Only he can get her home. And if you hadn’t noticed, Quinn hasn’t been trying too hard to accomplish that goal as of late.

But like Bond, Quinn sees the error of his ways too. Believing her dead, Quinn breaks down. What this means for the two of them now is yet to be seen. Hopefully Quinn has realized Wade is no more his possession than Arturo or Rembrandt. And if he needs her that badly, then perhaps he should start showing it.

The direction in this episode is fantastic. Director Colin Bucksey had a considerable challenge on his hands. One of the tricks of this episode was to make the viewer forget about certain plot developments as the show went on. Take Rembrandt’s and Arturo’s arrest. It’s critical as the two do in fact plot to kill Wade in order to save her. But the drama reaches such a pitch that you completely forget about it until all is revealed at the end. The quick cuts to Quinn throughout the episode also build up his growing resentment. His facial expressions alone eliminated the need for a lot of extraneous dialogue. The only problem I had with the filming was some of the riding scenes in the dream sequence. They look like they were shot with a camcorder.

Still, the production values were astounding considering the complexity of the plot. Even the best episodes generally screw up their timeline or fall victim to internal discontinuity, but not “Obsession.” Even the throwaway world of New India was done well. The early morning slide is also a nice touch. We usually catch the group sliding in to a world in broad daylight, but the Helix Spiral waits for no Slider. The five a.m. slides are probably just as common as the two p.m. ones and it’s nice to get a glimpse of one from time to time.

The only thing that holds this episode back from four stars is that little touch of dark comedy that puts most of the great episodes over the top. There are a few good lines here and there and I like the cartoonish look of both Rembrandt and Arturo when they have their faces pressed against the glass, but surely they could have had a bit more fun with a world of psychics.

Surprisingly, Tracy Tormé rated this episode as middle-of-the-road. Maybe he was worried people wouldn’t buy the psychic world angle, and admittedly, the alt-history is a little weak. But the brain is a tricky thing that we don’t know all of the secrets to yet and these psychics seem to be getting results. Even Arturo concedes that a world mining the moon may know a thing or two that he does not. As for how two people from different dimensions could share a past life, it’s always possible the past life came from a shared dimension that diverged later. Of course, that’s assuming you believe in the concepts of past lives at all. But Sliders has been moving towards these esoteric concepts as of late and as long as there aren’t blatant scientific errors, I’m willing to give episodes like this a shot. It all comes down to execution. Write a good episode and viewers will let these things slide; write a bad one and be chewed out mercilessly. “Obsession” was executed to near perfection and is deserving of high regard.

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