I have zero faith that the show can reorient itself to something remotely resembling ‘good television’ before the end of the season.
I’ve lost the luxury of believing in miracles.
I have never been so excited about being wrong.
Now, generally, I’d throw in a disclaimer like “well, I mean, this isn’t good, but…” or something similar. Not so here. But I will say that I never thought I’d look back on something like “Electric Twister Acid Test” with fond affection for the ‘good old days.’ Because back then, I meant it when I said I was enjoying the hell out of Season Three.
We basically got a new show. One that wasn’t afraid to kick ass and show a little skin while at the same time making an attempt to infuse a little bit of thought in between the popcorn. It wasn’t always a success, but it looked good, it felt good. There was some real sunshine to it.
But like any day, the sun had to set, and we’ve been mired in the dreary night for months now.
So when I say that I was wrong about my lack of faith in the show to re-orient, I’m not saying that “Dinoslide” is as good as “Eggheads.” Hell, it’s not as good as “In Dino Veritas.” But my god it has a sense of respect for the audience, the characters, the show, sliding, just about everything that’s been missing.
Because that’s the real aggravation of the last episodes. It’s hard to feel entertained after watching them, sure. But more and more I come out of the hour feeling so thoroughly insulted that it’s hard for me to get excited about queueing up the next episode. Then all of the sudden, an about face into taste. And from the hands of Peckinpah himself, no less! It begs the question of who we really have to blame for the show-ruining shenanigans, if the best episode of the post-Arturo run comes from the guy we’re supposed to blame for all that’s wrong with the show.
But even just the fact that it’s more respectful to the audience isn’t the crux of it’s goodness. “Dinoslide,” suddenly, is a full return to the secret plot-arc of Season Three— the destructive nature of sliding.
The question that ran through the first two seasons was one of responsibility. Do we have the right to change these worlds? Should we act as a force of “good?” Is that why we’re on this journey? The team operated, no matter how often it was discussed, under the assumption that it was their duty to affect change upon the worlds they visited.
Frankly, this approach is irresponsible. It relies on a judgement system that can only apply to them and them alone. Applying the standards of their Home World to the Multiverse is a hugely selfish act. It’s xenophobic approach to a life of infinite possibility. The Multiverse knows this, and repeatedly fed the Sliders with evidence that their approach was wrong. And after “As Time Goes By,” through this bizarre season, there is a shift.
The sliders no longer act as the all-knowing force of good they once were. Now, they’re merely reactive. In “Rules of the Game,” they scoffed at the heavens, bemoaning the cruelties of that world— and then proceeded to do exactly as they were told. Same goes for “The Fire Within”— imagine that story if it was in Season Two: it’d all be about overthrowing the oil barrons and freeing the union.
Certainly, a part of that is a reflection of the FOX Intervention. But it also reflects the shift in personality that we’ve been seeing throughout this season. The sliders are becoming lethargic, apathetic to the journey. They’ve become reactive (if that) instead of active. But it’s still through the mindset of their Home World. So now they make an easy declaration of “this world is bad,” and leave it at that. But sliding has also endowed the team with a gross haughtiness that’s hard to stomach. The whole “you wanna sliiiiide, it’s the only way to surviiiiive” mindset has started to come off as bitchy.
This is most clear between Malcolm & Rembrandt’s interactions. Undoubtedly Rembrandt means well, but he’s forcing his own values of “safety” and “responsibility” whenever he’s with him. But Malcolm’s grown up a lot on this world. He’s adapted to what turned out to be an exceedingly harsh environment. Rembrandt, while trying to be ‘fatherly,’ ultimately belittles Malcolm with his concern. Rembrandt tries to instill a sense of morality in Malcolm after they watch a man being eaten alive. But Malcolm’s reaction (he chides the eaten man on his stupidity for letting ‘Rex catch him) is completely valid on his World, in his circumstances. (Worth mentioning: Malcolm speaks of a native friend who taught him how to hunt. It’s the unspoken that plays heavy here— if Malcolm had a native friend, he had to watch that friend die from a disease that came from Malcolm.)
Not to mention that it’s Rembrandt’s dismissal of Malcolm’s independence that gets everyone in trouble. If Remmy kept an open mind to this surrogate son of his, the entire last act would be avoided, and everything would be okay.
Except it wouldn’t, because the damage to this world has already been done. The indigenous population of the New World was completely decimated by the diseases of Pulsar World. Which begs the question of how often this has happened. As Arturo once said, “different worlds, different immunities.” It’s not totally inconceivable that sliding leaves a wake of plagued and dying worlds.
Which again, begs the question of the responsibilities inherent to sliding. If the simple act of sliding causes such death, then one of two things needs to happen. Either they stop sliding and stem the flow of carnage; or they can fight against the Multiverse, and try to offset the balance of terror by changing what they can for the better.
But again, who is to say what “better” is? Is the New World better off without the Dinosaurs? I guess it is now, but before a hundred interdimensional conquistadors came in and disrupted the ecological balance, the world operated just fine.
The Pulsarites take this brutal change with a studied sadness. A regret mixed with apathy— there was nothing we could do! They offered their medicines, but their superstition got in the way. So in a way, one must tip a hat to the Pulsarites for not forcing their morals & miracle cures on the native peoples. But it doesn’t matter, because they’re all dead anyways. Even the Pulsarites don’t seem to be long for the New World. The non-soldier types seem like they’d survive just a little bit longer, what with that one dude pointing a gun at his head and all.
And then, of course, there’s Rickman. There’s only one more episode after this one. And yet the whole “Rickman arc” still is a toothless beast. A steamless train. For such an important ‘mission,’ he doesn’t actually show up on the show much, and every time he does, it ends up with the same result: Maggie makes a stupid mistake, blames it on Quinn, and Rickman escapes. I suppose there’s the slightest bit of momentum with Rickman, in that he’s I guess a little bit more desperate for Brain Fluid? And that also his syringe is magic?
But again, there’s only one more episode after this. And again, it’s pointless to ask for continuity when FOX has mandated the opposite. I can only imagine how infuriated they must be by realizing that after killing Arturo, they can’t air the episodes in any order they please (“Last of Eden” notwithstanding). But here we are, and there’s no momentum into the finale. The episode, like so many others this season, simply ends.
Is that going to be the end of this series? Will this ‘journey’ simply fade away? Snap out of existence when its time is up? How can a show that’s has such little concern for itself hope to satisfyingly end?
Truth be told, it can’t. Not as it is. I know I’ve said this in basically every entry for the last half year, but the show can’t continue as it is here. As good (or at least better) as “Dinoslide” is, it still isn’t a good direction for the show to go in. There’s no sense of future here. Even Rembrandt acknowledges this. When he says goodbye to Malcolm, they both fully accept the fact that they probably won’t see each other ever again. Even though Rembrandt is fully capable of doing so. The show won’t accept that relationship. And despite the fact that the relationship isn’t exactly thrilling, the fact that it is possible now is something that shouldn’t be ignored. But you know that it’s going to be completely dismissed.
This is the last time Rembrandt will ever mention the name “Malcolm.” It makes you wonder how long it will be until they never mention the name “Arturo.” It makes you wonder what will happen if any more of the group is lost.
Will they, too, cease?
Next Week: the thrilling (read: not thrilling) conclusion (read: whatever) to Season Three. Quick, let’s take our clothes off before we freeze! (This Slide of Paradise).