The Breeder

"You know, when I first started sliding all I saw was adventure. Now all I seem to see is death." — Wade, which prompts a defensive response from Quinn.

Review by Matt Hutaff


C
Average

Two stars for “The Breeder?” While Matt makes the case for television perfection, Mike balances the scales with a flat zero. Here’s two separate reviews defining why each thought the episode a masterpiece… or a tragedy.

Matt Hutaff

I have just witnessed the finest hour of television ever made, and it is “The Breeder.”

Sure, people enjoy guilty pleasures all the time — they’re stupid, fun, and occasionally harmless. But “The Breeder” is not a guilty pleasure; it is an onslaught of awesome in a way most Sliders fans will not appreciate. They look at the flimsy plot, hackneyed characterizations, and terrible direction and decry this episode as another in a string of low points during this troubled season. They couldn’t be more wrong.

From the opening sequence with alien parasites and Quinn’s dodgy stroll into the vortex to the heart-pounding final showdown where Doctor Sylvius (Dawnn Lewis) becomes an evil symbiote, the action does not let down. You’ve got sex, sincere talks about the nature of class struggle, a gay Elston Diggs (Lester Barrie), crazy animatronics, flying humans, on-site cryogenic suspended animation, and Back to the Future 4. Honestly, what else do you need?

A plot? “The Breeder” delivers in spades. The writers provide an allegory on the woes of commercialized medicine by introducing the Sliders to a world where people are seen as little more than walking organ banks. The thought of enforcing the health of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the lower rungs of the social ladder is deeply disturbing; that Sylvius would pursue the symbiote as an alternative shows the desperation some have in stopping attacks against those who should have the freedom to choose whether to donate part of them to someone in need.

This leads to a well-executed confrontation between Rembrandt and Quinn. During a search for Maggie, Quinn shrugs off an abduction as just the way that world works. After all, what can he do as an individual? Rembrandt charges Quinn with the realization that every world has multiple strata in their society, using his poor upbringing as counterbalance to Quinn’s comfortable middle-class life. While they’re both from Earth Prime, they too, in a sense, come from different worlds. Quinn’s acknowledgment of their differences and similarities punctuates a series of potent scenes between the two of them.

All of this is mere prelude, however. The main storyline — Maggie’s infestation by an otherworldly parasite — becomes a battle of wills over whether she merits consideration by the Sliders. Do they make the effort to save her from the effects of a symbiote she is not responsible for? In a telling scene with Wade playing devil’s advocate, the three remaining original Sliders concede that even though events have thrust Maggie upon them, she should not be left to her fate.

With the search on, we experience an adrenaline rush of adventure. Maggie-as-symbiote is a merciless killer with paranormal abilities, and the Sliders have only a short window of opportunity to rescue her. And in response to negative fan reaction that the Sliders always leave a world better than when they entered it, this episode deviates from formula and condemns Sylvius and her world to invasion. It’s the kind of ending you’d normally see in an episode of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. The closing shot expresses without words that the world they’ve left behind is hosed — which always makes for good entertainment.

Some may argue that “The Breeder” is a slap-dash “homage” to the popular horror film Species. To that I say: wasn’t Fever an homage to Outbreak? Every story has been told a thousand times. The Sliders crew, in having the symbiote attack HMOs and other corrupt medical facilities, reinvent the story. And they do it with a serious amount of T&A.

It’s simply marvelous.

There’s a lot to “The Breeder.” A casual fan might look upon it as a lesser work, but when you consider it closely, it has all the elements a true Sliders fan would expect from their favorite show.

· · ·

A rebuttal by Mike Truman

This is [censored] terrible.

I’m having trouble finding a place to start, because all I keep coming back round to is the same phrase: This is really [censored] terrible.

Is this what we’re reduced to? Scene by scene reproductions of B-grade feature films? There are so many movies produced each year — and we choose to rip off Species?! Could we have done Quiz Show instead? That was a pretty good movie; I think it even got nominated for an Academy Award. I know no one clings to walls in it, and admittedly there’s not much flesh, but still — good movie!

No? Damn.

For those of you unacquainted with Species, the villain is an alien/human hybrid. The creature may look human but is essentially a monster. Naturally, the writers thought of Maggie.

Poor Kari Wuhrer is dragged around in a bathrobe trying to seduce any and everything because she had the misfortune of being struck by a flying pancake — hey, that’s what they look like. Trouble is, Maggie is still 100% human. She may have a parasite life form controlling her, but it wouldn’t give her Spider-Man’s abilities. If her human body fell four stories, she should still break her legs. Probably even die. Not Maggie though. She’s suddenly bullet proof. Let’s hear it for symbiosis.

My God, this is [censored] awful.

Kari’s not alone in her disgrace; the other three Sliders are also forced to make jerks out of themselves through terrible dialogue and humiliating scenes. Assisted by Dr. Sylvius, they try to capture MetaMaggie before she unleashes this horror on the dimwitted, I mean, unwitting (damn these typos!) public.

Everything comes off flat. Rembrandt launches into a tirade against Quinn over discrimination for almost no reason. No worries though; they resolve their manufactured conflict when Quinn tells Rembrandt he’ll listen to him from now on. Mighty gracious of you, Q-Ball!

Except he doesn’t listen to Rembrandt. With both him and Wade screaming at him to abandon Maggie, he risks his life and the slide to save her. End result? Maggie is saved, but the parasite escapes and dooms the dimension — not that anyone cares.

And speaking of not caring, nice editing job at the start of the episode! Obviously, the actors aren’t jumping into a real vortex. They leap, hit their marks, and then hope when the CGI is added it is done well enough they don’t look like idiots. I guess Jerry O’Connell must have parked in someone else’s spot that week — take a good look when Quinn dives for the vortex. He lands — and then visibly walks off screen. Wow, movie magic!

You know, as bad as I feel watching this, imagine how Wuhrer felt. Here she is, she’s new to the show, her first big series, and they hand her this. “Yeah, we asked John Rhys-Davies if he was interested, but…” As if. This script only exists because of her. Essentially, this is what they think of her — a body, nothing more.

It makes you wonder about the real parasites.

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4 responses to “Review: The Breeder”

  1. Splub Splubbington says:

    I thought the episode was good.

  2. Thurisaz says:

    4 stars? Really? Kari Wuhrer’s performance alone is enough to take off at least one star.

  3. intangirble says:

    I’m actually with Matt. I heard all the furore about this episode, went in expecting another “The Dream Masters” only with more cleavage, and… was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it.

    Yes, Kari is being treated like a piece of meat here, and we could have done without it. But other than that… this episode works. As a recent introduction to the team, we’re not as emotionally invested in Maggie as we are in the others, so she makes a good “monster”. The oppression dialogues felt a little forced, but for a 90s sci-fi show to address racism so directly without making a Very Special Episode out of it is pretty awesome. The alt-world is handled with surprising subtlety and depth: Sylvius’ motives aren’t hokey like those of so many of the villains we’ve been seeing, but a complex mix of personal gain and a genuine lesser-of-two-evils sentiment, like people in real life have.

    Honestly, “the lesser of two evils” could be said to be the theme of this episode. And it’s one that’s becoming increasingly relevant to the show as a whole, so it’s good that they bring it up now.

    Case in point: Wade really hits the nail on the head when she says the words I’ve been waiting for her to say ever since Quinn started fawning over Maggie and disproportionately risking his life for her: “you have two people here you owe a greater responsibility to”. She’s been dancing around that one for a while, and it’s nice to have her finally come out with it. The tension between Wade and Quinn is believable in this episode, with each of them having their own fair points to bring up.

    Plus, if nothing else, you have to admit Wade’s “all I seem to see is death” line is a strong one. It really brings home how much she’s changed since they started out. Again, it’s one of those things that other episodes touched on obliquely, but in this one she gets to say it, and it’s satisfying.

  4. NDJ says:

    There’s a difference between homage and rip off and this was a rip off. Zero stars!

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