"We're home now. We're not going anywhere." — Colin. Guess again, sucker.
Review by Mike Truman
To my growing horror, I have watched season four come off the rails almost as completely and despairingly as the third season’s miserable march through monster of the week plots and half-dead guest “stars.” Citing a need for a fresh start, Sliders has asked me to accept and endure many things; I have swallowed the premise that our home earth has been destroyed and Quinn is not really one of us. I have bought that he has a brother. I have grit my teeth and bared it as Wade was sent to a Kromagg rape camp. I sat through The Chasm. I watched Charlie O’Connell run. For all this, I want a payoff, a huge payoff that justifies the last ten weeks of steadily diminishing returns provided me. Instead, I’m given a poorly constructed midseason episode that can’t even fill the time allotted to it. It boggles the mind.
We open with the worst teaser of the series to date. I’ll forgive the vortex opening on the wrong side, Jerry O’Connell missing his mark and landing back in the vortex, and even the giant hand trying to pull Maggie back in. This is the kind of minor league production I’ve grown accustomed to; it’s what comes next that I can’t quite fathom. Our team ends up lazing around in an off the beat motel complaining about how boring it is. That’s our teaser. In this episode, you will be bored. I can’t wait to get back from commercial.
What can I say? The teaser may be pathetic, but you can’t call it a liar. The listlessness continues throughout the first act as we play on computers, read pulp novels, and stake out phone booths. The source of all this action is Rembrandt’s discovery of a book that seems to detail the war between Quinn’s world and the Kromaggs, cleverly disguised as Gromaks. (Or is it Gormaks? If the actors can’t get it straight, you can’t expect me to, either.) While Colin’s busy deciphering the anagram, the others determine only a refugee of that war could know such details. This is someone they might want to contact.
Because computers are all knowing and everyone lives in or around Los Angeles, the four track down author Isaac Clark (Jerry Hardin) and his beautiful halfwit daughter Catherine (Kristanna Loken.) We’re then treated to an entire act of scintillating exposition, where we learn some mundane details about Isaac, Catherine, and that Quinn and Colin figured out how to bypass the Slidecage. Wait, Quinn and Colin figured out how to bypass the Slidecage? When did this happen?! Are you trying to tell me we could have gone to their home world for weeks? The Chasm didn’t have to happen? You bastards!
Clark corrects their coordinates and off we go! Finally, we’re going to get some action! Let’s get that weapon from Quinn’s parents and do what we set out to do — liberate Earth Prime!
Well… we could do that, but that’s sort of expensive and might require lots of CGI and you know, effort. Writer Bill Dial’s got a much better idea. Instead, let’s just walk away and abandon everyone we ever knew. That’s Quinn’s heartless choice.
Borrowing from Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome, the boys celebrate their reunion with their parents (John Walcutt and Marnie McPhail) over champagne. After gushing about Rembrandt’s enduring loyalty, Quinn shows his by declaring his part in the mission is over. If Rembrandt wants to try and go save what’s-her-name, he won’t get in the way, but he’s staying put. Maggie too abandons the cause and decides to stick around on the offhand chance she’ll get to make it with Quinn. Colin? I don’t know, probably off admiring a fountain pen.
Just like that, in the closing act of the season, the premise they labored so hard to create over the first half of the season is abandoned, and Quinn’s likeability is cratered. Up until now, I’ve let Quinn’s decision not to pursue Wade go because of the needs of the many — freeing an entire world from the clutches of the Kromaggs — outweigh the needs of the one. No more; it was all a selfish ploy to escape his own burdens. We’d been building toward this with both The Chasm and Roads Taken, this temptation to give up and start anew with Maggie, but I never thought he’d do it. Foolish me.
Rembrandt is shockingly okay with this. Rather than seething with outrage, he politely asks for design plans to build his own weapon against the Kromaggs. I don’t know. Perhaps Rembrandt is so numb from this horrible betrayal he can’t process it. Fortunately for the now vindictive viewer, Isaac’s a liar; this isn’t Quinn and Colin’s homeworld at all. He rigged the co-ordinates to take them to his homeworld, where the humans are the bad guys and the Kromaggs have suffered a holocaust.
Wait a second. Clark’s description of them in his book matches the Kromaggs we all know and hate. But on his world, the Kromaggs are docile and peaceful. So what possessed him to write a story where they are the villains? As Homer Simpson would say, “Urge to kill… rising.”
Now that he’s been found out, Clark takes umbrage with Rembrandt when he accuses him of using them. He provided the co-ordinates, didn’t he? Um… no. Quinn already had the coordinates to his home world. It was the Slidecage that was stopping him. When Quinn brought up that problem, Clark had never heard of it. So if Quinn had the coordinates and beat the Slidecage, what did Clark contribute? Nothing.
Quinn’s parents come at them packing heat, and the four escape in the longest, most uneventful chase scene ever captured on film. Ever so slowly, our crew make their getaway through the streets and finally on to a moving train. Here’s la piece de resistance — Quinn, supposed genius, aims the vortex off the back of a moving train. Go ahead. Read that again. Let it sink in. Off the back of a moving train. The vortex ought to be a quarter of a mile behind them while the four quickly watch it disappear. But not the magic Season Four vortex! It somehow keeps pace with the train!
So ends the fourth season of Sliders. I am so angry right now I can say without any hyperbole that I don’t care if the show returns for a fifth. All the promise and excitement that opened this season was systematically undercut until we reached this appalling conclusion. We deserved better. The only thing “Revelations” reveals is how gullible I was to think that this season would be any different from the last one.
|Previously: Review: Roads Taken||Next: Review: The Unstuck Man|