Maggie is enjoying a tropical drink on a lounge chair and Rembrandt is getting a massage. At a nearby table, Quinn tutors Colin on advanced physics concepts. When Maggie tells Quinn and Colin to relax a little, Quinn tells his friend that time’s up on this world: they’re about to slide. Rembrandt and Maggie grouch a little while they change, but Quinn offers a startling revelation: he’s discovered the coordinates to Kromagg Prime. By using a decryption algorithm, Quinn found the coordinates in Colin’s microdot, which he’d thought to be damaged. Entering the coordinates, Colin punches the vortex open, and the four slide.
The world they arrive on, however, leaves little to be desired in the way of habitability. The air is stale, and broken conduits and electrical surges sit on the side of the path. Wires hang from the ceiling. Rembrandt looks out the window and notices a barren, methane-filled landscape, and the Earth has two natural satellites.
A voice beckons them over to a visual readout station. Quinn and Colin are surprised to see an image of their father, who promptly relates the story of how they came to be trapped there. It seems Michael Mallory built the Slidecage, a mammoth building, on a parallel world and programmed it to detect any people trying to travel to the Earth Prime and shunt them into this prison. Mallory apologizes to the humans who would be trapped here, as the Slidecage was intended only to trap Kromaggs that tried to travel to Kromagg Prime.
The four begin thinking of ways to get out of the Slidecage when they encounter a battle between the Kromaggs and humans that have been trapped here. In the battle, Rembrandt is taken hostage by the Kromaggs, so Quinn, Colin and Maggie follow the humans to their living quarters, where they are promptly held down and questioned. When Maggie questions the judgment of Janie, the woman in charge, she is pushed out of the airlock and into the methane. Quinn is beaten unconscious, and Colin is placed in a central computer area.
When Quinn regains consciousness, he’s told that Maggie’s death was for the good of the humans and that Quinn should focus his hatred on the Kromaggs now, since he’s trapped here for the rest of his life. Quinn is then placed with Colin.
Meanwhile, Rembrandt is brought into the Kromagg camp and interrogated by Kolitar, the leader of the Kromagg faction trapped in the Slidecage. Kolitar feels a Kromagg secret buried deep inside Rembrandt’s consciousness, and tries to get to it. Kolitar’s son Kaldeen watches with interest.
Maggie is brought in from the methane by a man named Thomas Beecham, but she is unconscious.
Quinn and Colin figure out that the code implanted in the microdot is the same decryption technology keeping the main operations of the Slidecage being accessed. Quinn opens a ventilation duct and he and Colin pass into the outside atmosphere, but find themselves back inside one of the tunnels of the Slidecage.
Kolitar tries unsuccessfully to get the information from Rembrandt and imprisons him again. Kaldeen comes down and talks with Rembrandt about Rembrandt’s mother, as Kaldeen never had one.
Maggie regains consciousness and Thomas tells her how he came to be in the Slidecage and how he rescued her. Showing her his access to the security monitors, Maggie is fascinated by the possibility of seeing her friends on the monitor. Thomas tries to tell her that a life inside the wall is the best for her because of its safety, but when Maggie sees Quinn and Colin on screen, she insists on leaving Thomas’ home. Maggie and Thomas bump into Quinn in the tunnels but are immediately captured by the humans, who seems more than a little angry that Quinn, Colin and Maggie aren’t where they should be: captured or dead. Quinn says he knows how to get everyone off the Slidecage.
Rembrandt is set free by Kaldeen, but Rembrandt removes the cloth that hides Kaldeen’s identity, and it is revealed that Kaldeen is actually human. Rembrandt tries to escape, but the Kromaggs overpower him and Kolitar gets to the secret in his brain: he is to kill Quinn after the Slidecage opens so that the Kromaggs can invade and recapture their Earth Prime. Suddenly, Quinn is escorted in and tells Kolitar that if he can have access to the Slidecage equipment, which is in Kromagg territory, he can get them out of here. Kolitar agrees, but only after agreeing to relinquish custody of Kaldeen to the Sliders.
Maggie and Colin are delighted to she Rembrandt again, and after a bitten confrontation between Quinn and Janie about leaving the Kromaggs here, everyone makes their way into the Slidecage mechanism. Quinn and Colin work on the device and find that it has somehow been injured, and if they open the way to Kromagg Prime, they cannot shut it. Disappointed, Quinn works on using the slide signature in each person’s body to return them to the last world they were on.
Kolitar suggests to Rembrandt that he attack Quinn with a knife, and he does. Only the interference of Kaldeen, whose human name is Jules Konig, keeps the knife from killing Quinn. Kaldeen helps release Rembrandt of the guilt, and Rembrandt wakes from his hypnosis, knowing nothing about the attempt on Quinn’s life.
Thomas says goodbye to Maggie, saying he’s not much of a people person. Kaldeen cannot leave, as he was born in the Slidecage and has no slide signature. Quinn pushes the button and everyone leaves the Slidecage behind.
A tropical paradise where the pace of living is more relaxed than usual and hedonism is compulsory.
A barren and toxic Earth with two moons is host to an impressive structure that captures all who try to reach Kromagg Prime.
Seventeen years ago, after the Kromagg/Human war came to an end, the scientists of Kromagg Prime, led by Michael Mallory, devised a way to prevent a Kromagg invasion in the unlikely event they would return. The result: the Slidecage.
Built on a parallel universe where the earth developed a toxic atmosphere similar to Venus and where there are two moons, the Slidecage is a huge prison with 73 disparate levels and 2300 tunnels. The mechanism of the Slidecage scans the interdimension, and when it detects a group of travelers about to access Kromagg Prime, intercepts the wormhole and brings them here. A dampening field prevents sliding out.
Humans from Kromagg Prime who were off world were also shunted here after the Slidecage was activated. Kromaggs who went on scouting missions for the Dynasty have also been trapped here. In the past 17 years, the humans and Kromaggs have fought bitterly within the walls of the Slidecage.
The genesis of “Slidecage” came in a bit of inspiration when another Universal property, the TV show Timecop, was cancelled.
“While I was on the set of World Killer, I heard that the series Timecop had just been cancelled,” explains writer and producer Marc Scott Zicree. “Their standing sets were on the next soundstage over. I went over to Stage 16 and saw these incredible futuristic sets. On the spot, I thought up the story for “Slidecage” to utilize these sets. I then went back to my office and told my assistant to get me those sets.
“They were just going to tear down these great futuristic sets,” he adds. “I walked around them and came up with the storyline. The costumes came from 12 Monkeys andWaterworld.
“So the episode looks like a feature film, the sets alone cost $500,000.” All adding up to high-quality production values on a low, low budget.
“The budget is lower, but we can still do FX and action and alternate worlds; we don’t feel limited or constrained at all. You just have to be very inventive.”
· · ·
Does the lower budget and smaller amount of FX hamper the series?
“You don’t want the tail wagging the dog; you want the FX to support the story,” says Zicree. “For instance, in ‘Slidecage,’ they get to a place they can’t slide out of, this labyrinth structure on an alternate Earth where the atmosphere is radically different and you can’t go outside. So it’s basically the prisoners running the prison, and there are Kromaggs, there are humans and it’s very nasty. They’re wandering around trying to figure out where they are, they look out a window and see an alien terrain. That will be a computer-generated image, but it serves the story, which is about a group of characters in this pressure cooker situation. Then you always look for how does this open up our characters, and how do we explore them in a new way?
“Actually, I was glad we didn’t have a huge FX budget, because I think that can be a crutch,” he adds. “My real interest in Sliders was exploring who these people were, what they felt, how they cared about each other.”
· · ·
“You’re gonna find out that we’re going back to two seasons ago when we first ran into the Kromaggs, and when we finally escape, one of us has been implanted with information,” Cleavant Derricks explains. “That information will not materialize until this particular episode. The diehard fans who are with us will know what I’m talking about when I say that we’re going back to the beginning. Everyone left thinking it may have been the Professor and it may have been Quinn, but we’re going to find out that it was Rembrandt.”
· · ·
So what’s the deal with Thomas, and how could he possibly know about Beauty and the Beast when he’s been trapped in the Slidecage for over a decade? Little throwaway lines like that were written by Marc Zicree for the original actor for the role — Armin Shimerman (who played Pascal on the show).
“The character in the walls was originally going to be played by my friend Armin Shimerman,” notes Zicree. “Armin agreed to do the role, but my episode of Deep Space Nine (Far Beyond the Stars) was shooting that same week and — as he played Quark — he was unavailable.”
The role was recast with Kelly Connell. As for the problem of losing your guest star to another show which you also wrote? “It’s a good problem to have,” jokes Zicree.
|Marc Scott Zicree
|The Alternateville Horror
The science fiction element of “Slidecage” is the strongest we’ve seen on the show in some time. The high concept parallel world “roach motel” makes for a fun exercise by putting the Sliders in a pressure cooker situation, and is a much better follow-up to the Kromaggs than what we saw in “Common Ground.”
Quinn and Colin learn the coordinates to their home world, but find the route home is blocked by the Slidecage - a huge labyrinth that keeps anyone - human or Kromagg - from making it to Kromagg Prime.