At a certain point, this episode should be read as a colossal joke.
It’s a joke about continuity and cynicism, and how, for Sliders, the two are more or less the same.
It’s an episode that combines all the disparate information that’s been given to us about “Quinn’s Earth.” Which makes no sense. It’s an episode that treats the people of Kromagg Prime as the Gods of Science they seem to be. Their powers are endless, aren’t they?
Last season, I wept and wept about the intense cynicism that pervaded the show. The last episode was an exorcism against said cynicism. This week, we have a sort of inverse approach. We have the show if it truly let in that kind of thought. If it bathed in nihilism. The existential ante is up as far as it can go. If you thought “The Dying Fields” was bad, then ho boy. Ain’t no such thing as “the bottom.” You can always dig deeper.
And so here we have “the end.” Not “the End,” as in the story can’t continue past this. But this is the end of Season Four’s story. That story can’t continue past this. Because Season Four’s story was always supposed to be “the liberation of Earth Prime.” “Revelations” didn’t end that story, it just denied it. Oddly enough, the only thing in the way of finishing that story was Quinn Mallory. With him gone, that story can end.
And so it does, with the most depressing of whimpers. The Superweapon that was Rembrandt’s shining ray of light, is made to be a horror. Which makes sense, considering what we know of Quinn’s “Dad.” A man who created the Slidecage is not a man who understands Peace and Understanding.
It’s odd that the laziness of the production staff that led to the neutering of the Kromaggs as a terrifying enemy also leads to making the Humans of Kromagg Prime into even more terrifying enemies. The alt-parents of “Revelations,” despite their muted neo-nazism, can’t hold a candle to these terrors. You can start at the Slidecage— a construct of pure xenophobia. You can work your way to Purgatory, where this episode takes place, and read more callous decisions. A depressing asteroid shunted out of space (which, I must say, is a fantastic idea— it’s just too far-out of a concept for this show. And yes, there have been dragons, but having an asteroid floating through hyperspace is so scientifically fantastical that it finally breaks the idea of “science” in this show), used only as a military outpost (a suicide mission, no less) to protect the most horrible thing ever created— the Voraton Device. The Salvation of Humanity.
It is entirely surprising that Sliders would ever allow our team to find this device. It is entirely unsurprising that it would turn out to be a horrible weapon that destroys the ecosystem of the Earth it was deployed on. I almost like that— desolation as salvation. But after so much horror, so many nightmares, so much death, the Voraton Twist is just too much. The last shred of hope running through this show can’t handle it. Denial collapses. It’s over.
So the Humans of Kromagg Prime win the war. And lose their Earth anyways. The way it’s described, it sounds like they had no idea that they were going to rot their Earth when they activated the Voraton.
The most unfortunate thing about all of this is that this isn’t the story we see. We see some boring war that takes up so much of the episode it makes you actively wonder what the show can’t do now because they wasted so much of the budget on this boring boom show. It’s another story that slowly collapses, gradually fading into a soft cheese of despair. The initial wary excitement turns into resolve against the Kromaggs turns into despair at the Voraton turns into resignation. Once again, a resigned “we ‘ll find a way” is the ending mood of the show. But at this point, will they really? So very casually, the show took our own world away from us, and so very casually, it tells us now that we cannot have it back. Typical Sliders. Accidentally causing an apocalypse.
So last week we saw Diana freaking out. This week, we have Diana freaking out. In and of itself, that’s fine. I agree that there should have been maybe, like, one or two more episodes between this and last week’s episode? The idea of a shell shocked Diana is not inherently bad. But so soon after “Applied Physics,” all it does is define Diana as completely unfit for the journey. Which, again, could be fine, but you can tell that’s not what the writers meant to do.
Which brings me to something that really bugged me about this episode. After Rembrandt forms a cease fire through sheer force of will (which in and of itself is completely ridiculous), they inspect the Voraton. Low-Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant comes in and starts chatting. Then one of them ( its not even worth it to remember who) goes outside and finds the eyeless corpse of Low-Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant ands goes on and on for soooo long about “but wait, if Low-Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant is dead here, then who is the Low-Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant in the bunker?”
Dude, Low-Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant is a Kromagg now. You know that. I know that. It is obvious. So obvious. Even if you havent watched Sliders before (but who is watching Season Five who hasn’t seen the show anymore?), we still know that Kromaggs can change their face because it already happened in this episode. The fact that they can’t figure out the mystery of Low- Rent Bruce Willis Sergeant’s body is insulting to both casual viewer and die-hard fan (yuk yuk). It’s padding in an episode already heavily padded. Again, more straw, more paralyzed camels.
So yes, there were better stories to be made. The could-have-been solo Rembrandt story would have been preferred, especially now, at this point in the show where everything in his life is gone, but we haven’t spent more than five minutes with him. But this is the story we have. It’s unfortunate- it’s almost good. But it just isn’t quite good enough, and ends the streak of stellar episodes after two. Which is still better than we’ve had in a while. What’s funny is that this episode is so boring and seemingly inconsequential, but also wraps up the biggest dangling plot thread this show has that isn’t named Wade.
Somehow, it seems more true to life that way. Things never pan out the way you expect.
They also rarely pan out on an asteroid warzone shunted into hyperspace either, but what do I know?
Next Week: sand, robes, vikings, CRYSTALZ (The Great Work).
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