At this point in this project, you can all probably imagine exactly what I’m going to take issue with this week. And while you are completely right, I’m going to table that for a second, and tackle a much lesser gripe that I still see thrown around the conventional fan arguments.
So Rembrandt, upon hearing that Wade is maybe still alive, excitedly demands of Quinn that they go looking for her. He replies “I’m not sure we have the time.” Which, yeah, isn’t the best way he could have phrased that. But I’d argue that he really meant to. And plus, they do try to find her. But they don’t have her serial number.
That little hiccup, though, is actually one of the only believably convenient bit of plotting in the entire episode. Because why would the Kromaggs keep human names? They don’t care about humans.
But can I just go through what else is wrong with this?
I’m sorry, but I’m very much sick of a Kromagg-Centric episode that involves a subcommander being insulted by another ranking officer. Literally every time we’ve seen a Kromagg, that’s what their side of the episode has hinged on. Why? Obviously the Kromaggs can’t be too powerful, or it will strain believability. But the show, for too long, has been going out of its way to defang the ‘Maggs. That, mixed with the limited amount of Magg-Masks, has ended up making the Kromagg Dynasty look like a parody of itself. A sitcom, a soap opera. Red Dwarf that isn’t trying to be funny.
So, before I dig at what (by this point) you all know to be inevitable, let me lay out some weird things that rankle at me—
Does everyone call interdimensional travel “sliding?” Somehow, I doubt it.
If they’re really trying to lay low, why don’t they actually just lay low, instead of saying “let’s lay low— and also split up and go look for some fucking Kromaggs.”
Oh hey, Maggie mentioned Steven! Finally, we can— oh. Scene’s over.
Anyways, I know that you really want me to lay into the part where they drive a Hummer through the Vortex. But I won’t lay into that. What I’ll actually lay into is the fact that they drive into the vortex with a Hummer, and then act like it’s no big deal. Wouldn’t you be screaming, laughing? Mentioning it? They just drive out from behind a building. Like it ain’t no thing.
Why does there need to be a Hummer? Why can’t they just run? Wouldn’t that have been cheaper?
Look, once again, I’m having to ignore the majority of what I watched in favor of looking at what almost was. The bare bones of this episode’s plot is genius— it’s absolutely the episode that needed to be made. By accident, they opened an entire awful can of worms the show wasn’t ready for. I understand the need to make Wade’s departure both believable and shocking. But “forced rape,” obviously, was too much. It was too much not only because of the horror it subjected to the character who deserved it least. But also because “rape” isn’t an issue that Sliders can tackle. Not because it shouldn’t tackle it, or that it isn’t worth tackling. But Sliders, being written by a bunch of tonedeaf bros, can’t handle it. That’s why it’s there in the first place.
In a way, Wade’s “rape” is the blow which cripples the show. It can’t really recover from that wound. But “Mother & Child,” at least in the first ten minutes, seems like it will be a salve. “The Dying Fields” was also an episode that attempted to tie up the loose end of the “breeding camp” idea, but it answered the wrong question. We, as human beings, don’t really care about “what would come out of a human and Kromagg if they had sex.” We care about the implications of the act, and what that act does to people.
Granted, “Mother & Child” barely deals with “the act.” It focuses more on the “Child” half of the equation, dealing with the consequences of the life sprung from awful circumstance. But even then, that’s barely true. The Child doesn’t even have a name until the last five minutes of the episode, and even then it is named in relation to what’s actually the glaring problem of this episode.
Which is, of course, that the “Mother” is completely tossed to the wayside in order to deal with how the “Fathers” deal with the “Child.” And yes, it’s certainly more complex because lo and behold there are two Fathers and now we have to watch them pull out rulers. The episode is effectively stolen from Christina, as her choices are pulled out from under her by all of the men in her life. Her Father, Jonathan, pulls back from her emotionally as soon as he sees a Humagg baby in her arms. Sure, he’s guilty of creating the virus that will effectively murder his grandson, but he’s also the man who created the antidote. He’s forced to reveal that information— and not even because his own daughter asks him to— it’s because of a direct threat to his life.
Couple that with the Subcommander, the Kromagg who “risks it all” and “violates his orders” to “save his child.” And while he’s at first an antagonist, the episode spends a significant chunk of its runtime trying to subvert our expectations of him. He’s set up as, as I mentioned earlier, as yet another in a long line of idiotic subcommanders. But as soon as he “commandeers a sliding device” he becomes a different character. I word it that way because there is literally no part of the episode telegraphing this ‘revelation.’
That’s all well and good (not). But there are two things wrong with it. First, a sizable chunk of the episode is devoted to a THRILLING sequence where the Kromagg impersonates Jonathan and shows off how good a psychic he is by fooling everyone in the CIA (which is in Los Angeles now of course). It’s a fine sequence, with some interesting ideas of switching between our characters in disguise or not (and good ammunition for the people who disagreed with my assessment that the show is devoid of memorable direction). But in the end, it’s fundamentally skewered by the fact that it’s a Kromagg who is spearheading this operation. We don’t care about Kromaggs.
And we especially don’t care about this one. Because, at the end of the day, he’s there because of rape. He screams and pleads that Christine’s child is “his,” and she, somehow, denies this, saying that just because he supplied his genetic makeup doesn’t make him the father. But also we’re talking about a child born in a Breeding Camp. “Breeding” isn’t just something that happens. We’re given every indication that she carried this child to term. It wasn’t just grown. Otherwise why would they even need the humans at all?
So we’re asked— for just a second, and its eventually upturned, but still— we’re asked to consider the side of the Kromagg. Does he also have a claim towards this child? After all, it’s his idea to get the antidote. He’s trying to save “his” child. Of course, he betrays everyone in order to get the antidote back to his own world (Why, though? What does it matter— he’ll clearly just be executed anyways), but he’s still trying to steal the child. And he’s trying to steal it because he thinks it’s his.
And through this, Christine does nothing. No decision is made by her. She simpers and cries and wishes that her Daddy understood her. Then her Daddy marches right into a lazer gun and dies. And she names her child after her Daddy. Because Daddys are the most important thing in the world.
So here we had a good idea for an episode— to put back the female perspective onto a show that is so genderblind it exists in its own black hole. But it can’t do so, again because of the “boy’s club” of writers the show has. Of course it couldn’t write an episode that treated a woman with respect. Who would have written it? There isn’t anyone who could anymore. The perspective is gone.
“Wait,” you say. “You never talked about Wade, your favorite character, the soul of the show so callously tossed aside!” To which I say “yeah, but the episode didn’t really talk about her either.”
Look, I watched this episode. I wasn’t annoyed, like last time. I got through it just fine. But I misremembered the ending. It’s literally been over a decade since I’ve seen this (and most of the episodes from here on out). In my mind, I’m confused at the death of Jonathan.
I realize that “wow, how cruel is it of the sliders to leave Christine on a world where no one knows her or trusts her, all alone with an infant freak-child?”
Then I think that actually no— that’s the right choice. It’s the first moment of autonomy that Christine is granted in the entire episode. It’s the first moment that isn’t completely defined by the men surrounding her (Maggie spends the most time with Christine, but no action or meaningful discussion comes from it).
But then I am flabbergasted and appalled by what happens. Because they throw the baby in an extra padded snuggy and take her with them.
Look, I’ll forgive the Hummer through the Vortex. But remember how many times the joke of “Rembrandt always hits Arturo really hard coming out of the Vortex” was made? So many times. Because the vortex is actually sort of dangerous. And I’m sorry, but that baby would fucking die. If they threw an infant in the Vortex, it would not come out.
Also, c’mon— they give Christine a ten second warning about “the people over there might not respect you,” and she’s like “cool, no biggie guys.”
And of course, we’ll never see her again. We don’t even see her in a new world. Episode over, move on. Forget all you’ve seen. Now that we’ve finally dealt with all that messy rape business, we can move on and never mention that “Wade” girl ever again. The Sliders saved the day! They left two corpses on the front lawn, and abandoned yet another person in their ridiculous and selfish trip through the multiverse.
Look, I’m sorry, you can’t spend 40 minutes attempting to make me care about a character and then not even give me the actual emotional payoff of her character arc— for this to work, we need to see Christine on that new world, at peace with her child.
For this to work, we need Christine to be an actually realized character, with emotions outside of “SAVE MY POOR BABY.”
For this to work, we need to realize that you can’t just throw people in rape camps and have them act like it’s no biggie.
For this to work, we—
—no, you know what? There’s no way this could have worked. Not on this show. Which isn’t even true— the show’s already airing concurrently with Buffy, a show that deals with actual issues of real people and women in respectful and thoughtful ways, while not ‘sacrificing’ any of its core tenets of being a ‘genre’ show. But at this point, comparing the two seems like a joke. Mainly because Sliders is a joke. It’s just not a funny one.
And this is an episode that I actually got all the way through. I still made my way through it. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe it’s because the like, ten minutes that Rembrandt is in this (though also, why the hell is he, of all people, sidelined in this episode?), he steals the show with an attempt at acting. Or maybe it’s Quinn’s surprised and regretful face when he accidentally rips the Kromagg’s oxygen tube out and effectively murders him. But then, why would we be regretful? It’s a Kromagg. You just watched him murder a man. His daughter is weeping openly at his corpse. Why do you look so sad?
It’s a two-second shot, but it really floored me. It was a glimpse back to the Quinn of “The Good, The Bad, & The Wealthy.” The Quinn who was destroyed by guilt when he believed he’d killed a man. We haven’t seen that Quinn since, instead coming to accept that the gun-toting, lady-killing machine with the schoolboy’s haircut and leather sweater vest is the same person. For just one moment, I saw the character I fell in love with so long ago.
But then, is that enough to keep me watching a show? If I wasn’t who I was, if I wasn’t so invested in seeing this through, then no. If I was a viewer of this in 1998, then no. I doubt it. At this point, you’re still better off watching The X-Files.
And this is an episode I got all the way through.
Next Week: hack the planet (Net Worth).
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I take issue whenever they mention the “breeder camps” or rape camp. I cringe when I think of our beloved Wade there. It was Peck’s way of saying “F” you to Sabrina Lloyd and the rest of the staff refusing to man up and tell him to go screw himself. Lets talk about the breeder camps–that whole concept is just kinda stupid. One would think that a race as technoligically advanced as the Kromaggs would not have to rape humans to reproduce. They would simply extract their eggs and then some pig faced sub commander donate his sperm….
Back to this episode, there are a great many inconsistencies and storylines that insult the fans intelligence. But after such a promising start the fourth season devolved into this. I found this episode enjoyable but still flawed.
Its another on the heaping pile of ignored consequences to things the writing team thinks is ‘cool’. For every tossed off action, theres a ridiculous causal idea. Wade is in a breeding camp. Well, whats that? A place where kromaggs breed half human hybrids. Why would they do that? Well, they cant procreate themselves anymore. Why is that? Well, Quinns homeworld destroyed their ability to do so. The more you answerbthese questions, the more the show loses its moral ground. Because at the end of the day, genocide is never the answer. Were speding season four searching for a planet with no moral compass. And wade is still waiting for the next tossed off story idea to completely destroy her.
Yeah, imagine that they actually accomplished their goals, found Quinn’s home world got the genocide weapon, first used it to rescue Wade from a rape camp, and of course killed all Kromaggs on that world, so you get a hopefully non-pregnant Wade or even scarier a pregnant Wade, how is she going to feel about killing all Kromaggs, if she has a half Kromagg baby at that point, wow the moral questions?
Then to save Earth Prime you have to go to our Earth turn on a machine that kills all the Kromaggs their, even if during this time some had seen the light and had turned against the dynasty, maybe some Kromaggs where helping with an underground railroad to get humans out of Kromagg prisons (who knows). In a couple episode I’ll be asked to accept that not all Kromaggs are bad, I’ve seen an incident in almost every episode that if the Sliders can just talk to the Kromaggs that some can see that killing humans is not the way to go…but keep in mind our team is on a mission to bring back a supper weapon.
This is a very different show from seasons 1-3, would the Professor and Wade sign up for this journey, I don’t even think Rembrandt of season #1 would want to go on this mission.
> Rembrandt, upon hearing that Wade is maybe
> still alive, excitedly demands of Quinn that they
> go looking for her. He replies “I’m not sure we
> have the time.” Which, yeah, isn’t the best way
> he could have phrased that
This is one of the most hated scenes in SLIDERS fandom. Fans have accused the producers of trying to attack Sabrina Lloyd, the writers of dismissing Wade’s memory, the script being designed to act like Wade’s situation isn’t a big deal to the writers and isn’t a big deal for the characters. However, reviewing the script, the directions clearly indicate that the characters are to be “disappointed” that they can’t find Wade. Cleavant plays this as despairing agony. Jerry plays it with… nothing. The line, “I don’t know if we have enough time” is a perfectly reasonable observation, so why has fan-memory misquoted it as “We don’t have time?”
It’s Jerry’s performance. If he’d played that line with agony, fear, grief, rage, pain, panic — as he did when Quinn thought Wade had killed herself — the scene would work. If Quinn demanding Wade’s rescue from the Kromaggs had been played with vengeful fury (“You can help us or die.”), it would work. But as with “Slidecage,” Jerry doesn’t appear to be reading the scripts and he acts like Quinn thinks of Wade as a coworker who left for another job instead of as a beloved friend in a rape camp.
Jerry’s performance, aside from that brief moment where he kills the Kromagg, is seriously off in this episode. When the other actors are fearful, Jerry seems tired. When the other actors are urgent, Jerry seems sleepy.
You’re right, it could’ve been saved by a different reading of that terrible terrible line. Makes me so sad though to watch this and remember the relationship between Quinn and Wade at the end of the pilot. The show slowly but surely destroyed that relationship over the course of season 3, and the ‘don’t have time’ line in this episode was a final casual, dismissive brush off. Why Jerry didn’t see that is a mystery to me.
what is slider 98 on imdb showes a new slider episode in may??? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112167/episodes?season=6&ref_=tt_eps_sn_6
I mentioned this to IMDB last night, it’s since been removed. Apparently a user submitted hoax?
I think most people forget about the teaser to this episode when Christina tells Quinn and Maggie that she knew Wade but doesn’t know where Wade is now. By the time Quinn said that remark about not having enough time, he already knew (but Rembrandt did not) that Wade was no longer on the planet. The line about not having enough time was stupid, not mean: what difference does it make how much time you have? She’s not there.
The entire handling of the situation from this carelessly thought out line (one can only be included to invoke ire- either by the fans or by Rembrandt) to her complete removal by “Revelations” shows how little the powers that be think of fans desire to know what happened to a character they spent three years getting to know. We knew Wade wasn’t coming back- we just wanted some sincere acknowledgement of her existence.