With tears [?rage] in my eyes.
I watch the last vestige of innocence [?the old days] thrown off a cliff.
There’s an idea floating at the bottom of these that the biggest failing of this adventure is the fact that it imbues such pessimism upon a journey which should be so full of wonder.
But into the ether goes the wonder.
I’ve thrown the idea that I’m watching this show with fresh eyes out the window [?off a cliff]. Because I know better. I know that this 45 span is the last time I’ll ever get to spend time with Wade. And for some reason, it colors the whole episode. It colors it in grey.
Not that there’s much color [?interest] to begin with. Wade barely figures into the hour. Of course, that’s because no one knew [?cared] at the time that she wasn’t coming back. At the time this episode aired, no one really knew if the show was going to come back at all.
And it didn’t, not really. Every season of this show is effectively the end [?murder] of what came before it. And it’s never easy. It’s never pleasant. We had a death [?expulsion] in the middle of this season. It wasn’t easy then. It isn’t easy now.
Sabrina & Kari didn’t get along on set.
Wade & Maggie don’t get along on the show.
Kari teased Sabrina to the point of tears.
Maggie teases Wade to the point of tears.
Sabrina tells David Peckinpah “It’s Me or Her.”
Quinn throws her into the vortex.
Peckinpah looks Sabrina in the eyes and says “it’s her.”
Quinn doesn’t even bother to look back as he throws her away.
Every week since Arturo’s death the show has cast off more and more of what it used to be. Quinn becomes an action hero. Wade is marginalized in favor of the new girl. The new girl takes off what little clothes she wears. The show crosses the line from “acceptably corny” to “insulting schlock.” The show, which always had a dark side, veers into the darkness.
I’m not sure when the show stopped being fun. Oh, sure there were bits here and there. But most of them revolved around Wade. And here we are, in the season finale, and we barely see her at all. She’s been replaced. Arturo’s been replaced.
Wade is relegated to the background, forced to stare as Quinn finally seals the deal and shares a super-awkward kiss with Maggie.
Wade’s in the background. Not in our view, of course. Who would want to have their “hurrah” moment ruined by that shrew? But like all kisses, a kiss must end, and we pull back to see our Wade smiling simply. I wouldn’t say she smiles sadly. She’s obviously long past caring about Quinn in that way. You could probably say and be correct that she’s past caring about Quinn in any way.
Why should she? Sure, he showed the tiniest amount of care for her in “Stoker,” [?of all places] but since then he’s gone right back to the new normal: act like Wade’s not even in the room [?can’t look her in the eye], and try to warm up the sexual tension between him and Maggie [?guess I’ll go eat worms].
But she’s not really thinking of Quinn & Maggie anyways, and that’s why she’s smiling. She’s about to go home.
Remember all the times I’ve capitalized that word here? It always came with a caution. If they make it Home, then that’s it.
It’s the end.
But I’m not prepared for it.
Wade is prepared. She sees Rembrandt and beams with love [?relief]. No doubt because he’s the only person left on the team who even treats her like a human being. He’ll pay attention to her, treat her like a friend. Arturo was like a father, but Rembrandt is more of a brother. Her last moment as a character in this episode [?as an actress on this show] is beaming at her newfound brother.
It’s a strange fact that she’ll finally get home, but that it won’t be like she imagined it. Let’s say they got home at the end of the Pilot. Her and Quinn would probably go out. It wouldn’t last very long. Quinn would probably ruin it by being so awkward. But they’d still be friends. Not great friends. They’d see each other occasionally (Quinn being still fired and all). Maybe at mutual friends’ parties, get-togethers. I don’t know. It’d be cordial. They’d have the subtlest of sexual tension. Never acted on.
But it’s hard to see Quinn and Wade maintaining any kind of relationship at this point [?he’s an asshole]. His priorities have shifted. And sure, that’s a fact of life. People change.
And that’s basically been the theme of this entire season. Friends drift apart. People shift their ideologies, their personalities. They grow up. They grow older. And they die. But you can’t slow it down. Life continues, unrelenting. You can’t just press pause, rewind, and say “I want just one more day like this.” It’s impossible.
Part of living is learning to deal with this. And that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be so sad.
Unless you don’t have something anchoring your life. If you don’t have a Home. Maybe that’s what all this unpleasantness [?moroseness][?depression][?despair] has all been about? Is this show just postulating that if you don’t have a place to call Home, then you’ll spend your life lost?
But these people are already lost. They’ve already been Home, and they cast it aside. Like so many other worlds. Cast aside, just like Quinn casts Arturo’s memory away with finality. Just like Quinn pushes Wade & Remmy through a foreign vortex. It’s supposed to be a valiant effort on his part. But it’s so rushed. Everything is so rushed.
It takes seconds to reduce this group to splinters.
I can’t watch this happen [?but Quinn doesn’t, so you have to]
This isn’t the end [?for Quinn, it truly is]
I don’t want this entry to be the last time I talk about Wade in the present tense.
And that’s the thing. I know this isn’t the last time Wade is ever mentioned on the show. But it’s the last time we see Sabrina Lloyd. And it pains me to have this be the post where I talk about all that she’s given to the show, and all that will be lost in her absence.
Not only because Wade is truly my favorite character on the show. Not only because I really love Sabrina Lloyd and think she’s terrific at what she does. But because we’ve actually hit the lowest we can go [?the absolute rock bottom]. Forget “Paradise Lost.”
This is truly the most inane, insulting, infuriating, indescribably insanely irritating hour of television I’ve ever seen.
This is the worst episode of the series thus far. And it’s here that I say goodbye to Wade?
No— I’ll save that. I will drag all of you through this river of shit so you know how bad this dungheap is.
Hey all right, we’re going to a sweet island! What happened to LA? A nice island must mean some beach babes, right?
Since when was the Vortex such an asshole? It just decides to throw them into the ocean? It’s as if even the Timer is so sick of these jerks whining to each other all the time that it’s started to enter the fray and teach these bitch-faces who’s the boss. But you know there could have been a way to describe this, in-show. After all, the World we’re stuck on for a day (or is it two days? three? I tell you, I pay so little attention to things like that that if I notice timing errors, you know you’re really blowing it) is supposed to be wracked by Earthquakes.
Right? That’s the one-line explanation we get in the form of a question. “Maybe it was the Big One.” Yeah, so maybe the Timer threw the sliders out where it expected land to be? Is that how the Geographic Stabilizer works?
Who knows, because the real reason the timer spat them out in the sea is this:
Oh, whoops. I meant this:
Every week I’ve been claiming that this is the definitive moment where the “classic” Sliders style dies an ugly death. But I’m pretty sure that a slow-motion sex romp through the ocean is the true moment where anyone who was a fan of “Luck of the Draw” will never tune in again. Remember, way back at the beginning of this season? I said something to the effect of “by the end of the season, shitty episodes like this will be the new normal.” Season One and Two will be the outliers. Schlock is “the usual.”
And this is the moment. We’ve achieved the majority.
Which reminds me of my plan for this entry. Because I am truly masochistic, I re-watched “Double Cross” right before watching this episode. It’s the first time I’ve gone out of order since starting this project. I’ve never re-watched, I’ve never skipped ahead. I’m pretending that it’s 1997 and I haven’t recorded any of these episodes for posterity.
So I’m not lying when I say that I’ve forgotten how far the show has come on its journey to ruination. It’s incredible. It’s night and day. And I know some of you don’t think “Double Cross” is a hot episode, but I’m pretty convinced of its brilliance. Especially if the last episode you’d seen was “Dinoslide.” And I was totally all about “Dinoslide.” But it still can’t hold a candle to “Double Cross.”
“Double Cross” had interesting characters. Actual action. Drama. Tension. Mystery. Things to say.
What is “This Slide of Paradise” saying? That power corrupts? That racism is bad? That science is evil? Let’s take any of these ideas and rip them apart.
So in this episode we’ve got the Fabulous Michael York as Dr. Vargas [?Moreau], who has spent his time in a jungle plantation creating human-animal hybrids in order to create the perfect being. Said perfect being will also somehow be genomed into curing cancer. Or something.
So first off, his plan is weird. Making deformed Circus Folk is the perfect way to cure disease? How does that work? Also, where does he get all these humans? It’s not really stated that he grows these people from test-tubes. But maybe he does, I don’t know. The episode doesn’t tell us.
But it isn’t Vargas’ power that corrupted him. He was clearly crazy to begin with.
Racism is Bad:
So Rembrandt, the undefeated Casanova of the group, inexplicably falls in love with a Cat Woman. And I don’t mean like, a sexy burglar in a catsuit. I mean he falls in love with a Cat-Woman hybrid. She’s probably five years old, and is ready to lick him all over. Rembrandt is oddly not disgusted by her, even when she licks up water from a bowl with her mouth.
YES I WILL AGREE WITH YOU ON HOW SEXY THAT IS. I don’t understand this at all. I mean, we have an easy reason bludgeoned in our faces: Vargas is a parallel of the White Master, and Allessandra is a parellel of the Black Slave.
Which makes me cringe with embarrassment just to type that. I mean, you’ve got to avoid a heavy hand with something as huge as Racism and Slavery if you want to have any hope of actually saying something about it. But here, it’s so glaring as to be forgettable. Until Remmy’s Cat Woman more or less just says “I’ve never seen a Black Man before.” Which I guess is all the reason Rembrandt needs to try to rescue [?make out] with her.
Science is Evil:
So we get an easy “mad scientist” trope here. Vargas true plan for the Manimals/Huminals/Cirque de Soleil Understudies is to make the perfect slave. Which, yeah man, that’s evil. But making it such an easily eeevvviiilll motive removes any sense of tension from the story. It boils the character down to less than a sentence. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if Vargas really was trying to cure cancer, but was driven insane by his failures? There would be a chance for redemption, then. But here, “redemption” is too big a word for the show. Too many syllables.
Then he gets eaten. Great.
But all of this is so one-note that it ends up with a mantra of Science is Evil. Which, in its lazy way, is sort of the perfect byline for Season Three. In almost every episode, we’ve had an instance of someone using Science as a means of pure Evil.
“Double Cross”— Sliding used to raid dimensions of resources.
“Rules of the Game”— cyborgs and robot dogs and laser guns used to kill people in sport.
“Electric Twister Acid Test”—Tornadoes made into killing machines.
“State of the Art”— Robots destroy Humanity.
“Seasons Greedings”— Subliminal Advertising.
“Murder Most Foul”— brainwashing to hide a murder.
“The Last of Eden”— lazy inventors make a shoddy universe.
“Sole Survivors”— a diet pill destroys Humanity.
“The Breeder”— forced organ donation.
That’s basically half the season. And let’s not forget “Dinoslide,” in which sliding brought about a plague-induced genocide.
With plots like these, we’re basically positing that Humanity shouldn’t bother with inventing anything. The dangers are too high. It’s like the show wants us to believe that the 50s world of “Gillian of the Spirits” is actually the ideal, perfect world. Which is just so far from true.
But here we are, and the body count amassed due to Quinn’s little “spin around the universe” is mind-blowing. Sure, he’s saved lives. Sliding has saved lives. “Last Days.” “Fever.” “The Exodus.” Sure, the Pulsarites ended up committing genocide, but they honestly didn’t mean to, and they tried to help the only way they could. But the deaths keep on coming. Pretty much every episode has one. Not to mention the entire universe that ceased to be in “As Time Goes By.”
But who cares about the whole universe? They lost Arturo.
…who? Quinn, in the last five minutes of the episode, begins what looks like it’s going to be a truly emotional farewell. Maggie says “you got your crew home.” To which Quinn replies, “Not the whole crew…”
And in that one split second of a hesitation, a single tear forms in all of our eyes. And then—
“…you’re one of us now, Maggie.”
The afore-mentioned single tear slides back into our eyes.
Lest we forget that this season actually ended up with an actual, not-just-implied, honest to goodness story arc. For all Wade (complicatedly, blessedly, rightfully) complained about killing him, they are still chasing the man that murdered Arturo [?who?].
And even in all my fire when I described Rickman as a meteor, a comet of brutal change, a chameleon of evil— there’s still no comparison for this. This man, who once was Roger Daltrey, for christ’s sake, is now a feral loony foaming at the mouth. He can’t even spit out a line without imbuing it with an anti-Shakespearean false gravitas. I’ll lay it all out here:
“Haven’t you heard? I change my mind everyday.”
Which brings me to the most egregious sin this episode commits. Never, and I mean never— not even including “Paradise Lost,” “State of the Art,” “Slither,” “Stoker,” “The Fire Within,” and the Crown Prince of Shit, “Time Again and World,” have I seen a script so foul [?nigh-unfilmable].
Seriously. This thing is beyond turkey. It manages to destroy all meaning. It corrupts language. A word like “pacing” can’t be leveled to it. A word like “dialogue” is inaccurate. And don’t even mention “satisfying,” or even more dreaded, “conclusion.”
None of these words apply to this Horse’s Ass.
Roughly two thirds of the dialogue is spent on Zingers. Wade, in particular, seems not to speak unless she has some sort of snappy comeback. “Trust us, we’re not even registered to vote.” Maggie, too, has a pretty rough time of it. Her dialogue isn’t even written for a human being with normal cadence. Not to say that Kari Wurher’s cadence was ever something she nailed. “As nice as this place seems to be with your electric fences, warm hospitality and interesting array of wildlife, we don’t want to stay” is a line that no human would ever say aloud.
You see, there’s a difference between the written word and the spoken word. This is the crucial aspect of our language that the script forgets. Maggie’s quip looks great on paper [?no it doesn’t], but actually have it come out of a human’s mouth, and it turns to ash. Kari loses breath. And who wouldn’t?
“I created you, I can destroy you too… tut-tut.”
“Go to hell.” “Can’t you see? I’m already there.”
“Get your stinkin’ paw off me.”
“Looks like something out of a science fiction movie.”
No it doesn’t, Rembrandt. Unless you mean the science fiction movie you filmed in 3rd grade gifted class. A fourth-wall grazing line like that can only work if you then point out the fact that you’re doing so in the context of what you’re grazing. If Wade had said, “Rembrandt, you use a dope-ass universal remote to travel through alternate dimensions,” then fine.
OH, AND SPEAKING OF THE DOPE-ASS UNIVERSAL REMOTE. This episode includes the two most brain-dead acts of stupidity any character on this show has ever committed. First, when Allessandra trips and sprains her ankle (ON A GODDAMN TWIG), Quinn somehow drops the Timer. The team is running for maybe five minutes when Quinn realizes it. The rest of the team convinces him that he can go back and get it. This is the most important item in their lives. As Wade says [?needlessly], “if you miss the Slide, you’re never getting home.” Well, you can’t slide without a timer. And they leave it on the fucking ground. Naturally, Rickman grabs it. Because this jungle is only has a diameter of twelve feet.
Likewise, Rickman gets distracted by throwing a midget on an electric fence (which is actually how you turn off an electric fence, btw), and leaves both his and Quinn’s timer on a rock. Perfectly. Right next to each other. Lit beautifully, in case they didn’t see it. On a pedestal.
It’s things like this that just go too far. They tug on our consciousness and ask too much of us. The show thus far has assumed too little of its audience. That’s bad enough, and doesn’t make me want to watch the show. But “This Slide of Paradise” assumes too little of itself. Is this what the supposed “budget mismanagement” that went on behind-the-scenes entails (and seriously guys— to any who know— I’ve read about Peckinpah making bad money decisions, but are there any concrete examples)? Does it mean that there’s literally no money to pay anyone for a rewrite? But isn’t that included under the title of “showrunner?” Isn’t the person in charge of the show supposed to look over the scripts? Did anyone read this? Did Nan Hagan?
Nan Hagan— not Josef Anderson, who for years I had assumed wrote this episode. But no— it’s the person who wrote “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome,” not the person who wrote “The Last of Eden.” And in so many ways this episode is a sequel-of-stupidity to “Eden.”
And can we now have this moment to talk about how stupid it is to title episodes with shitty Sliding puns? “This Slide of Paradise” isn’t actually the worst of these— that honor probably goes to “The Other Slide of Darkness.” This episode’s title actually makes sense as a sentence. It even applies to the episode, as ostensibly the next slide will be the slide home. “Other Slide” is ridiculous because it’s just throwing the word ‘slide’ into it. “Dinoslide” is another good example of this.
But look, you can’t argue that these titles aren’t indicative of what’s inside. They’re as stupid as the hour they name.
Okay, so let’s just throw around some extra stupid parts of the episode:
-Vargas’ guns only have three darts. Why? Why not just a full clip? There are obviously a billion manimals (I’m just going to assume that every person on Earth is a manimal, because why not?), wouldn’t you want a little more protection?
-Daniel is retarded. What? Allessandra said it first!
-Ceres’ little “talking dance.” Dude is like, contractually obligated to bob his head before finishing a sentence.
I suppose we should discuss the ‘revelation’ that is ‘revelated’ [?bludgeoned] in this episode. That being the fact that Rickman and Maggie once had an affair. This news doesn’t surprise me. Nothing surprises me at this point. And it’s not like the ‘revelation’ is played for any sort of gravitas. It happens in the last act (I guess, it’s not like there’s any sense of momentum in this story), and the information isn’t really used.
But since I’m here, and I’m me, and I hate Maggie, and I’ve decided to be cruel to you and write a billion words about this crock of shit, LET’S DISCUSS THIS SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS.
I suppose we can read this as reasoning behind Maggie’s instantaneous attraction to all men everywhere all the time. I mean, here we are, completely ignoring the fact that Maggie was married. STEVEN JENSEN, I MISS YOU. Maggie doesn’t miss him. Arturo probably would miss him. But he’s dead. Steven’s dead, too. The team is having a contest to see who can mention Steven/Arturo the least.
When would this affair have taken place? How long was Maggie stationed in a Military Base [?swank hotel] with Rickman? And why did she do it? We don’t know. We’ll never know. I mean, she grounded herself. That probably doesn’t look good to most military commanders, cripple hubby or no (also, taken with Maggie’s “I’ve never been a team player” comment, which sounds pretty weird for a Air Force Pilot to say, she probably wasn’t very respected anyways). Did Maggie sleep with Rickman in order to make sure she’d still have a decent, respectable position in the Military?
Remember when Sliders was the kind of show that could actually ask that kind of question about a character?
And so the third season of Sliders careens off a cliff. Or, it careens near a cliff, then stops. Having killed the majority of the guest stars, the team, having picked Rickman’s timer off of its pedestal, walk casually towards a cliff. They’re going home [?Home], but there’s no reason to get excited. Rembrandt casually informs everyone that he’s going to go save Allessandra. Not even Wade can muster any sort of “don’t go” enthusiasm. Quinn says “yeah, dude. No biggie. Bring a mutant cat woman home with you.”
Actually, he doesn’t say anything.
These people [?ghosts], as they wait on this cliff for Rembrandt to completely fail at his complex mission of “convince a Catwoman to bone me,” aren’t friends anymore. They are strangers to each other. One of them is dead. Another’s grown distant in his guilt. One was never welcome.
And then there’s Wade.
Rembrandt strolls casually up to the group again. Wade is overjoyed to see him. There’s not much ceremony to the slide this time. There’s no real doubt, either, that it will take them home. There’s no “Damn You.” There’s no “All the Things We’ve Seen.” There’s… nothing.
There’s one last stab at tension. Rickman and some nameless mutants stroll up and growl. They posture. Quinn postures, too. He refuses to leave Maggie’s side. Despite the fact that the journey home [?Home] will kill her. So blind is he in his ‘love’ that he’ll casually murder a woman in his quest for absolution.
Wade & Rembrandt, the people who deserve the most respect from Quinn. The people who deserve to get Home. They are casually tossed into the Vortex, in an act of ‘valor’ on Quinn’s part.
The last we see of them— their last words here, are “whoa!”
We don’t see them make it Home. We are left to assume they did, but it’s clear where the priorities are. The show has finally succeeded in getting rid of the chaff— the excess— the unnecessary bits.
Rickman, in a final act of destruction, throws himself off a cliff, screaming the scream of the tortured. His silence is deafening. We are allowed one second of Maggie’s face, as her mission, her revenge, her life, is popped hideously on the rocks below.
Easily, Quinn & Maggie make the slide.
But the Multiverse wakes up from its slumber, and twists the knife in Quinn one last time. He doesn’t deserve his Home. If he’s decided that Maggie, of all people, is what he will call ‘home,’ then so be it. They can live together, in their imagined future, alone. Without the chaff— the excess— the unnecessary bits.
My heart, for what it’s worth, is left to the Ether.
It’s now that I have no choice but to commit to what I don’t want to do. Like I said earlier, in the interim between this awful, destructive season, and the next, those who know best decide that it’s Kari Wurher who should be on the show, not Sabrina Lloyd. I don’t need to tell you that I disagree with this notion.
But here I am, about to tell you, remind you —not convince you— that Wade was the heart of this show. Oh, sure. That heart will be replaced. The Crown of Humanity will hang wonderfully atop the head of the Crying Man.
But with this casual toss off a cliff into the Ether, the last of the Happy Wanderers is gone.
I’ll miss you.
Next week: nothingness (a holiday.)
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