No Matter How Fantastic

This is a new season of Sliders! That’s reason for celebration, no matter what! And it’s a season premiere that actually treats itself as one! We’re on a new network, the Sci-Fi Channel! There’s a new creative team! There will be a new slider, part way through the season! There’s a new edict in the writer’s room: “Make It Smart.”

These are big things! Big, exciting things! Look, it’s called “Genesis.” In the beginning, was the Word.

The Word, however, was Kromagg.

I can forgive shoddy vortexes and poopy Manta Ships, but guys, aren’t the Kromaggs supposed to be Apes, not Pigs?

So there we go. We know Sliders is an intensely nihilistic show. Not even just that, the thing gets downright sadistic. Remember “Into The Mystic”? There we were greeted with the one thing the characters wanted, when it was still a feasible goal. But it’s one thing to have made it Home and not to know it. It’s another thing to get Home, and have it taken away from you before your very eyes.

I’m not sure I really understand the nature of this Invasion (god just typing the word “invasion” makes me miss Season Two).

Quinn & Maggie, who’ve been traveling alone for three months (a pretty good nod to the fact that FOX originally wanted to air Sliders once a month as a sci-fi rom-com), finally make it back to Quinn’s Home. But it’s been overtaken by the Kromaggs, or at least a lower caste of ‘Maggs who look particularly devolved. Quinn & Maggie make it to the Chandler (I know, I know), only to find it destroyed, and Rembrandt & Wade are gone.


Not only that, but Quinn, while languishing in a Kromagg holding cell, runs into his Mom (played mercifully by Linda Henning instead of that Meltphaced Woman in Season Two). Quinn’s Mom lays some heavy shit on him: he is not from Our World. His parents put him with doubles of themselves (right? They explicitly say that they’re doubles of Quinn’s parents. So the cybervideo Quinn watches has some strangers in it because they’re younger versions of Quinn’s parents, right? That’s why they look different, but sort of similar? Right? Right? Keep this casting in mind for later, when it may or may not blow up in someone’s face), promising to return in the even that they defeated the Kromaggs.

Because it would seem that a large reason for the Kromagg Dynasty’s assault on the Multiverse is because of a deep and horrible civil war on the Tree-Housed Home World, between the regularly evolved human scientists, and the alternately evolved, but no less intelligent Kromaggs. And there’s a weapon, a secret weapon that the Sliders have to go on a journey to find. They’ve got the co-ordinates to find a part of the weapon: Quinn’s secret Brother.

OM NOM NOM (Y’all ever tried to pass an eyeball?)


There’s this show on FOX called Fringe. And if you call yourself a science fiction television fan, you already know that. You already watch it. And if you’ve seen Season Four of Sliders, you know what I’m about to talk about. Because Fringe, bless its heart, has pretty much xeroxed the Sliders playbook. But it’s upped the contrast, made things crystal clear. Made things stand out where before there was all grey.

What I’m talking about, you see, is a show’s willingness to reinvent itself. This has happened now and again in genre television over time. Doctor Who is probably the most obvious example of this, since a re-casting of the main character is written into the show’s framework. But I wouldn’t say it happens very often. Sliders’ contemporaries tried to pull this off. The X-Files killed off most of the characters in its big “mythology” it had been working on, but it never really took off, and the same ol’ coven of scary dudes ended up still running the show anyways. I also could not even count how many times The X-Files were closed and reopened, or Mulder & Scully were forced off the case, or blah blah blah nothing ever changes.

Here, we have change.


But do you know what’s going on with Fringe these days? A race of bald, super evolved humans has overtaken the Earth, enslaving the human race, getting humans to do the dirty work, dressing up as pretend Nazis, and doing strange experiments on other humans (and let’s not forget that it turned out one of the main characters was from a parallel universe).

What I’m saying is this: Sliders apparently has more influence than we thought? That’s arguable. Sliders in Season Four was playing with age-old sci-fi tropes just like it always has. But no one really remembers Sliders these days (it’s our job to be really annoying about it), so it’s high time a show tried to make the show again.

A common praise/complaint about Fringe is that it’s basically The X-Files for the 2010s. And while occasionally that’s true, the fact of the matter is that Fringe is really just the Sliders of the present day. That’s great. That’s why I love Fringe, and you should to. Because Fringe takes the vast majority of Sliders’ pratfalls and makes them work.

Like, as bad as that dude that was also a Porcupine looked on Fringe, shitty effects like this would not pass.

But look. For all my postulation that Sliders is in need of a massive overhaul if it ever expected to get off its ass and be a good show again, I never thought that it would actually pull it off. Obviously, it’s not perfect, more than it doesn’t, it sticks the landing it’s aiming for. There’s an awful lot going on in this episode. It’s basically a brand new Pilot for a brand new show. And while I could gripe about things like “budget” and “how bad the Manta Ship looks” and “Marta in general,” and “Jerry O’Connell’s face sometimes,” I’m not going to. (Especially when the token used to prove that it was their Wade who’s been taken is a necklace that we never actually saw a close up of for the entire time she wore it. I honestly didn’t know Wade’s weird little necklace was her name. It’s really very cute.)

Because for the first time in so long, there’s a real sense of momentum to the show. There’s a story arc now that we can truly be invested in. I mean, sure, “Rickman” killed Arturo, but that arc was swallowed completely by Maggie (and a ton of mediocrity). It revolved around her in a way that separated the ‘arc’ from our characters. Since we’re never actually going to root for them to get Home (unless we want the show the end, remember), we’re just waiting for Maggie to finish up her ‘revenge’ arc and leave.

“Finished? You are now!” is A) not a funny joke to make whilst punching a dude. B) Not really a sensical thing anyways? C) Not funny in general.

But Maggie is who we’re stuck with. And it is a truly wonderful thing that the new writing team understands that having a show with Maggie as one of the three (!) leads would be unwatchable. She’s unwatchable. At least the way she was when we last saw her.

So does the new blood succeed in toning down my arch-nemesis? More than they don’t. It certainly helps that her screen time isn’t spent antagonizing Wade. She does antagonize Marta & Otis (and to a certain extent, Rembrandt), but in each of those cases, she has a definable, understandable, and most importantly, believable reason. The so-called ‘rebels’ aren’t trained by the military (I don’t know who Marta is. A cook? A barmaid? Like, where did she come from?). Marta, I guess, has done okay. But judging how little time it takes for Otis to get a hole blown through him, I’m not sure I really trust the team to put up much of a fight.


If anything, that weakness just adds more momentum. They’ve got to liberate their Home. They certainly can’t leave it in the hands of these fools! Plus, Marta’s hair was just too perfectly feathered for her to lead a revolution.


Anyways, Maggie. She’s softer, if by softer you mean “almost crying while still being sort of mean.” But she only delivers hard truths when it’s necessary. I mean, which is worse, telling they’ve got to wait an hour before rescuing Quinn? Or Rembrandt clocking Quinn because he wants to go back to save his Maybe Mother?

“Maggie, Q-Ball’s drooling again!”

I don’t want to waste time in this entry talking about the so-called “Jerry Face” that “plagues” Season Four. I know what you’re talking about. I can see it sometimes. But right now, it’s not really the most egregious sin the episode commits. I can believe Quinn can be completely numbed from all the dark revelations he learns in this episode.

But what I can’t really ignore is what they ‘do’ with Wade. You know what, though? Putting Wade in a “breeding camp” isn’t offensive. It’s horrible, and I deplore it (and if we’re aware of the behind the scenes shenanigans of David Peckinpah saying “I thought it was a funny place to put her,” then yes, it’s offensive), and I miss Wade, forever and ever amen. But it isn’t the most offensive part of the episode. It isn’t the most oddly tone deaf. Even though we’re told about the “breeding camps” from a social retard named Trevor Blue who is a “hacker” who eats melted cheez-whiz. Even though the words “be my Love Monkey” pass his non-existant lips.

(No, the most tone-deaf and offensive part of the episode is when two African American Kromagg Sympathizer Civilian Goons tell Quinn that the “Masters at the Slave Colony will get your mind right, boi.” That’s awkward. That takes you out of the episode.)

Like, so awkward. What is the dude on the left looking at?

Because for all the griping the fans give the show for committing Wade to such an awful fate (and I am not trying to say that her fate isn’t terrible, or that “forced Ape-Rape” is no big deal. Because that shit is always a big deal, and the fact that there are only dudes in charge of this show only makes that decision more suspect), it’s serving to give our remaining characters more to care about. It’s a fire lit under their asses. It’s impetus for War.

It may seem like a huge about face for me to say I’m excited (or at the very least allowing) for Wade to be gone (really, though, the fact that an all-male production team forces even off-screen rape on a character is very, very troubling to me the more I think about it— having to use that word every time you talk about Sliders is awful).

All of this is used as another reason to get ready for the oncoming season. It’s here where the “Seeing it for the 1st time” routine is very important. Put yourself in the shoes of 1998. You don’t know what’s coming next. How could you? All the pieces are in place for a true renewal. Is this episode great? No, it’s not great. But I do want to know what comes next. Just that simple fact is so much better than anything we saw in Season Three.

Even the fact that “Genesis”‘ actual plot is paper thin isn’t a deterrent. Other than the long winded infodump sequences, the plot is still firmly in “capture/escape/recapture/reescape” territory. But at least there’s more reason to care this time. And plus, we don’t ever see the fucking cave set. Ever. Bring me dingy, poorly lit tunnels any day.


Yet even though Sliders’ track record for following up on promised ideas is pretty dismal, we’ve got to keep out eye on the 1998 vibe. What we’ve got here is impetus for the journey. But in terms of a season to television at this point in history, what we’ve got is just a framework on which to hang the rest of the season. That’s the difference between then and now in terms of TV. If Fringe was being made in 1998, it would look exactly like this (actually, Fringe was being made in 1998, it was just called The X-Files then). Likewise with Sliders in the year 2012.

But there’s no real reason to hang the show for this. The show’s done the same thing before. “Double Cross”  gave us a viable excuse for LA sunshine. That was framework. It’s the same with the Pilot, or “Summer of Love,” or hell, every show ever of all time. But we can’t be angry at the show because we are pretty sure we won’t be fighting Kromaggs next week. That just wasn’t how it was done then. We wouldn’t have expected that. Plus, if the show became “Battle for Earth Prime” every week, could we really still call it Sliders?

Cry like a (Grown-Ass) Man.

Here’s the real reason we love this show, why it manages to stick with us for so long. It’s not really the sci-fi trappings. It’s the scene where Quinn & Maggie rescue Rembrandt. Cleavant Derricks eradicates the last shreds of his roots as the “token black guy” and proves himself to be up for a true challenge. Rembrandt is a survivor now. He’s finally managed to do what Wade never could: become defined as a character.

That’s the triumph of the hour.

Now let’s see what comes next.


Next week: Oh Lord, I am so baked (Prophets & Loss).

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8 responses to “No Matter How Fantastic (Genesis).”

  1. pete5125 says:

    Got to say Genesis was a mixed bag, I was a Sliders fan, but being a fan you had to say yeah it was a cool show, where they took a remote control to make a wormhole to go to another earth where history was somewhat altered…then your friend would say but ….”Waite one second, I watched it last year, and they went to a zombie world, did a rip-off of Tremors, ripped-off Twister, but they never had enough money to do any of these movies that they where ripping off….Yeah but now their on SCI-FI Channel not FOX, FOX made them do that stupid crap..

    Well in my circle of friends The Kromaggs sold the show to my friends, they like Star Trek and saw them as Sliders version of the Klingon…hey the episode as it was had problems and ideas I hated as a fan of the show, the pay-off could be great if doe well and it was a better episode then most of season# 3, I didn’t like the new Maggie, have to say bitch Maggie had grown on me…can’t believe they didn’t do more to rescue Quinn’s family or Rembrandt’s family or friends, they had a timer that could backtrack…also the new wormhole should of been addressed (I remember Peckinpah said that the new wormhole saved him most of the budget cut).

    Gotta go may put more thoughts later…season #4 should make for some fun reviews, I will say though I hate the Chandler much more than you hate the cave set, and at least they didn’t dedicate an episode to the cave the way they did to the Chandler.

    • Ian says:

      If there was an episode that was dedicated to the cave, I would probably be rid of most of my problems with the cave. If they’d gone full meta with it, and made some wild story about the cave’s significance to the Universe, and set some meaningful and exciting story in it, I would be thrilled.

      That’s the problem with watching the last two seasons out of order. It makes “The Alternateville Horror,” which by itself is a pretty great episodes, into just another episode that’s set ENTIRELY inside the Chandler.

      Also, I hate the word “Chandler.” There’s no word that sounded more like “Chancellor?” Ugh.

      • pete5125 says:

        you are correct “The Alternateville Horror” was a good episode but the crap fest that introduced me to Mr. Chandler himself in “Data World” was the episode I was referring to, (granted that was an episode so bad it is good)…and I’m pretty sure you get your Cave episode dream in the Chasm, granted they are not stuck their they just jump to their suicidal deaths at seeing its grand return in season#5, and then go hang around “The Hill Valley” set for the rest of the episode….I don’t know if I would be able to sit on that grass again after having The Tremors worm chaise me when I stepped in the grass…oh well sorry spoiling episodes to come…by the way great reviews look forward to seeing them weekly.

        Also, that line about the “Chandler” where Quinn goes out of his way to sell something that according to their time line has been almost a year prior (6 months after Exodus and 3 month sliding after Paradise Lost) only to say they always stayed in the Chandler, could he not of said odd is this the same place I thought it had a different name, oh well someone must of bought it….for some reason that and the bad special effect of the wormhole(which my wife a lady that has seen about 4 episodes, commented hey the new wormhole looks cool looks more 3-D)

      • ireactions says:

        > If there was an episode that

        > was dedicated to the cave,

        > I would probably be rid of most
        > of my problems with the cave. If
        > they’d gone full meta with it, and
        > made some wild story about the
        > cave’s significance to the Universe,
        > and set some meaningful and
        > exciting story in it, I would be thrilled.

        Well…. accidents do happen! 😉

        Watching FRINGE this week — and the reaction to Etta’s death is very muted. I don’t mean Peter and Olivia are walking around cheerfully like they aren’t living in an invaded world and they didn’t just see their beloved child die. I mean there aren’t histrionics or maudlin displays. Peter isn’t screaming and raging — he just looks haunted as he goes about his day. Olivia isn’t sobbing or unable to get out of bed — she just looks bereft. Stunned. Lost.

        I feel like “Genesis” found it too complicated to address how horrifying it must have been for Quinn to see home invaded and his mother and Wade taken away, so outside of some isolated angsting, the show quickly backed off. Next week, it’ll be like these experiences haven’t touched Quinn at all. And if they didn’t want to have Quinn and Rembrandt weeping over Wade every week, they could have done what FRINGE is doing and gone for the low-key approach.

  2. ireactions says:

    “Genesis” is where SLIDERS is reborn as a series divorced from relatable human experience. Our characters become people with backstories and purposes so convoluted and difficult to explain that they repel the audience. “Genesis” also raises massive issues that the simplistic scripting is incapable of addressing with the necessary emotion or complexity.

    Having home invaded by the Kromaggs instantly turns Quinn and Rembrandt into aliens from an alien world. They were originally an awkward college student and an over-the-hill musician — normal people — thrust into an extraordinary situation. Now they are refugees from a subjugated parallel Earth and have no connection to any existence the audience knows. They have become characters who can only exist in the hyper-fantastic context of a science fiction series. With Maggie also being a refugee, SLIDERS is now populated by characters who have no connection to reality. There’s no way for the audience to look at these characters as anything other than fictional constructs now.

    “Genesis” claims our world has been invaded by the Kromaggs, but the invasion is never presented in any context that relates to the world we know. It’s the Universal backlot that’s in flames, not our home Earth, and the world in “Genesis,” as you point out, only contains characters who serve as plot functions. Marta has no backstory, no humanity; Trevor is the sort of hacker who only exists in hackneyed science fiction that needs plot devices like him; Otis exists to be a casualty. It’s impossible to believe these people could exist in any world any one of us could think of as home; they could only ever exist in unimaginative science fiction that runs on the escape-capture formula.

    “Genesis” presents all of the above to give reasons for the remaining cast to continue random sliding after finding home, but none of the reasons make sense. They have a timer that can take them back to previous worlds; they could gather weapons, resources and allies on other Earths to use towards liberating home. Instead, they slide off with no intention of returning unless by some non-existent chance, they just happen to randomly slide onto Kromagg Prime. SLIDERS is unable to engage with the Kromagg invasion beyond running through some action sequences before simply ignoring it, as well as ignoring all the trauma and grief and emotional fallout of home having become an alien battleground.

    There were many ways the fourth season could have kept the show going. Had Tracy Torme returned to the series, the show would have reunited its original cast and resumed its original format. But even without Tracy, John or Sabrina, the show could have started fresh in many different ways while still being true to its origins.

    Imagine a Season 4 premiere where we see Quinn five years after “This Slide of Paradise.” He’s sliding alone. He’s become closed off and cold to the people he meets in his travels, brutal in combat, an interdimensional nomad driven by wanderlust and isolated and alone. What happened to Maggie? It was a long time ago, maybe we’ll find out later. Rembrandt and Wade? They made it home, but for some reason, Quinn couldn’t join them. Maybe Quinn meets a new character who joins him in his travels and he reveals to her that he discovered a tracking device in his brain, inoperable, impossible to remove, waiting to send a signal to interdimensional invaders should he ever settle on any parallel Earth. Quinn Mallory can never stop sliding.

    Or maybe a Season 4 premiere where a new group of college kids from Quinn’s home Earth put together an unstable sliding machine and get lost in the multiverse, but encounter Quinn, who takes on the Professor Arturo role to a new generation of sliders.

    After the FOX cancellation and the Sci-Fi pickup, SLIDERS was in a position to either return to its roots with its original cast, or, failing that, redefine itself as something new. The creators could have done anything with this premise; done a one-man show with Jerry (which would have meant more money for guest-stars and effects and locations), introduced a new cast that could be better audience-surrogates than a fighter-pilot from a destroyed Earth, and given the state of the cast contracts, they could even have left Rembrandt and Wade safe at home, perhaps with guest-appearances later in the season to establish that they were okay.

    But what they did instead was transform SLIDERS into something like MUTANT X or Season 1 of STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION or early-80s DOCTOR WHO: a lifeless, witless science fiction series that would at best be grudgingly tolerated by science fiction fans. And with this pathetic platform, the creators then produced what was little more than a cheap imitation of SLIDERS’ earlier seasons. Four characters (but none of them relatable or believable) exploring parallel Earths (represented only in terms of formulaic science fiction tropes without satire or humour or humanity). SLIDERS came back only to once again doom itself to obscurity and irrelevance.

    • pete5125 says:

      I have to say if they would of done the pay-off at the end of the season with Collin turning out to be a Kromagg spy and that Quinn was lied to about Earthprime, this would of worked out better for me, also if we could of found out Wade had escaped, lead an escape from the Earth on the world from “Mother and Child,” another episode with a small rewrite, that could have Wade of lead a revolt, where she got a Sliding device and caused major problems for the Kromaggs and this is the reason the Kromaggs aren’t going to let Quinn and crew screw around with them anymore, one slight change in script, wouldn’t even need Wade around, the lady could tell the story of the revolt, our crew would know she was safe, it could of been because Quinn’s Mom showed up and helped to lead the revolution…who knows plot thread solved, if they find Wade in Season #5 then she could of found a Kromagg weapon etc.

      The thing is yeah your ideas are better but, Sliders needed some sort of reboot in season#4, Season#3 demanded it, and being that (The Proffessor and Wade were not returning due to the worst of reasons… Executive Producer that hates the cast) but never-the-less Sci-Fi wanted some sort of Sci-Fi element so Kromaggs would have to be involved, or an StarTrek/Wars Sci-Fi type of element….what gets me is that the next episode is a random, Season #1or 2 type episode with the Sliders running up upon a Religous world gone bad, so The new audience that just watched a group escaping from an alien invasion now just has them going about without hardly a mention of the problem at hand….and this will be the problem w/ season #4/5 is that with this episode the sliders should spend almost every moment seeing what resources that this new world has and how it could help Earth Prime, instead their are 7 or 8 episodes where they run into the Kromaggs by accident, learn nothing about Sliding, how to improve the timer, (how to save Wade, Quinn’s Earth Prime Mom, Bennish or anyone else that was part of whomever was suffering through the hands of the Kromaggs) or how to gain weapons to free Earth Prime of the Kromaggs.

      The mission was to big and the writers didn’t seem to have a end plan in mind, why is it not mentioned till the end of season #4 that Rembrandt can’t get back to Earth Prime without help from someone; why doesn’t this anger Rembrandt more, (come on, the 1st time wasn’t really Quinn’s fault but this time why would we not of tattooed or sharpie marker-ed Earth Prime coordinates on the timer, it’s crazy that finding Earth Prime again is on the long list of problems they have to face.

      You know Stargate was a similar show and their bad guys kept becoming more and more of a threat yet team SG-1 had a completely different set of resources in season #5 then they did in season #1.

      What do you think if sliders could of kept Jerry and his brother around for another season could they of pulled off a descent series finally and saved the show, I wonder, I mean Jerry was only going to star in 6 of 18 his brother in all 18, Jerry Executive Producer for 18, was he that tired of the show or was the budget so small at this point that their just wouldn’t be any other way to make it work, I mean the Babylon 5 actors only showed up as favors and most likely worked close to scale, several episodes of season#5 where made for next to nothing, even with the increase in budget since Jerry was gone and his replacement couldn’t cost as much…

      • ireactions says:

        If SLIDERS had played out the original plan from Marc Scott Zicree (Colin is revealed as a Kromagg sleeper agent, Quinn’s revelations in “Genesis” turn out to be a Kromagg plot, Earth Prime in “Genesis” not being home after all) — well, I wouldn’t have *liked* it, but it would have been better. Had Zicree gotten his way, I think it would’ve been revealed as early as “Genesis” if not “Mother and Child” that Wade had escaped the Kromaggs. The whole rape camp thing — I can’t take it seriously. Wade was not sent to a rape camp. Wade just doesn’t exist in SLIDERS because Sabrina Lloyd didn’t want to be there anymore.

        > What do you think if sliders could of kept Jerry and
        > his brother around for another season

        If they had stayed, the show *would* have followed the original Zicree plan after all and done “Revelations” as it was originally intended, with Quinn getting sent back to the real Earth Prime in Episode 5.5 and returning for the series finale in 5.18. But as much as we angst about abandoned plans and unresolved plots, the problem was that the individual episodes were written, directed and performed in a lackluster fashion. “Genesis”‘ is so uncaring towards characterization and emotion. Quinn and Rembrandt see their home, the end point of their journey, turned into a devastated wasteland. They should be showing grief, rage, despair, torment, fear and agony. But all that’s absent; at best, we see Quinn and Rembrandt vaguely disappointed and then shrugging and moving on at the end.

        If this is how little the show cares about presenting the characters with believable emotional reactions, it’s not worth making. Any grand ambitions will fail if this is the ongoing attitude.

        But I think grand ambitions are misplaced with SLIDERS. Sci-Fi didn’t really have many demands regarding content aside from wanting mostly standalone episodes that fit the running length and I don’t believe the return of the Kromaggs were a Sci-Fi Channel stipulation, either.

        If there was ever a series best suited to doing *small*-scale stories, it was SLIDERS. SLIDERS does not need interdimensional wars or a lead character who is a chosen one and a pivotal figure in a massive-scale conflict. It does not need female sex robots added to the regular cast, it does not need forty tons of angst dumped on each character’s shoulders, it does not need convoluted backstories for every character, it does not need season-long conspiracy plots, it does not need a labyrinth mythology regarding the leading man’s family history. All SLIDERS needs is to have characters who can pass for ordinary thrown into alien environments set on parallel Earths. This show practically writes itself — and the Season 4 team couldn’t even manage that.

  3. Joe Hawkins says:

    Believe it or not I did not see this episode back during the initial run. I just recently watched it on the boxed DVD set. I had heard such bad things about it and when I finally watched it I was surprised. It is a pretty good episode. I did not care for the Quinn not being from our world and his having a long lost brother but I can see what Peckinpah was aiming for: he wanted to give the show a new direction..a new reason for sliding. The idea of trying to get home was fine for a couple of seasons but after a while something has to change.
    The most difficult thing about the episode is the mention of Wade being shipped off world to Kromagg rape camp. That was Peck’s way of showing his contempt for Sabrina Lloyd (and more contempt for the fans, what a douch!)
    Have her gang raped by a bunch of pig-men, Nazi wannabees.
    I did not care for the new Kromaggs either. I liked the scary, simian like creature of invasion. I also did not care for the Nazi-fied uniforms. Would have been cheaper to dress them in the black outfits of Invasion, but then they would have had to spend more on make-up. I don’t know.
    Anyway, I found the episode enjoyable and full of action. Compared to season 3 post The Guardian, Genesis is an improvement.