Four people walk into a room. What do they see?
They see themselves.
Who are these people?
They see a mirror, what do they see?
They see themselves. They see some kind of truth.
Four people walk into a dream. What do they find there?
They find themselves, they find what they buried there. Nothing—
Why did they bury it in a dream? They didn’t— they aren’t real
Why did they hide behind a mirror?
The sliders find whatever the writers want them to. There aren’t any rules to this show anymore, literally anything can happen. Why isn’t that exciting?
Why did they walk into a room?
Why don’t I care anymore?
Four people in a forest, one hears a scream. If they weren’t there, would anyone have heard the scream? Would the scream have happened? Would they have happened? Would have happened? Would happened? Would? Happened? Happen? Happy?
I believe in coincidence. I once stood a girl up on a date. Later I ran into her at an auction. I spilled a beer on her and drunkenly apologized for standing her up. Then I ran into her on a train and got off in a hurry at the next stop without explaining that I had to go to work. I ran into her again the next week, and we laughed about how we kept running into each other. We started to talk, actually.
Now we’re in love.
I met another girlfriend of mine on an airplane. Sometimes, life is a Hugh Grant movie. Sometimes it’s terrible. Sometimes you play the lottery every day of your life and you never win. Sometimes you trip and just happen to hit your head on an upturned stone and die. I don’t know. Things happen. I used to love some show called Sliders. Now I don’t. That’s funny.
Four people walk into a familiar space. A remnant of a time long passed, when things were different. Is this doing for The Fucking Cave Set what “The Alternateville Horror” did for the Chandler? Making a character out of a location? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.They weren’t better. They were, but they weren’t. That’s the disconnect. What does all that sappy crap about my love life have to do with Sliders? Nothing. But it’s real life. It’s the way that life subtly works you into the place you need to be, when you least expect it. On Sliders, that rule doesn’t exist. “Let’s move these people where they need to be… in order to experience the most horrible things that could possibly happen to someone, and then maneuver them into making horrible decisions, being horrible, unhappy people.” That’s the question— were things ever happy? Were they ever content? Is the idea that the best times a group of people had all took place inside the same familiar space so outlandish? What does outlandish mean anymore? Anything is possible— that’s said at the begin. Or it was.
Watching this depresses me. It takes an important part of my childhood and slaps it. Watching Sliders today is effectively telling my younger self that I was Wrong. That nothing I trusted was true. This wasn’t a good show. And yet still, I loved it. But for seemingly all the wrong reasons. At this point, what was good about it to begin with? The show now demands me to ask that question. I have fallen out of love with this.
And yet here I am still, watching an episode that not even its own creators can claim is good. Funny how things work out.
Four people walk into a room, and fall out of the world.
“The Chasm” is a play. It’s structured like one, it
has acts, different sets of focus. Its set is about as cheap as one. One you see performed by an independent theater company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Actors who want more, struggling to keep their bitterness showing through in roles that don’t demand it.
One is a blank. Behind the blanket, what is there? There’s that slow-burning rage. Rage against life itself, the injustices of it. It’s no wonder he takes the growing injustices of this three-hour-span with a blank face— it is part and parcel of what life is for him.
His “brother” says “go on without him.” This is the first time we’ve heard this. We should take it seriously. No amount of magic can distract from the simple truth of his “brother’s” guilt. And so the Blank Man spouts nonsense at him— “what about finding our home?” His “brother” is “over it.” As, sort of, are we. “This too will pass,” he repeats, over and over and over. A broken record of care. But he is correct— at the end of this 44 minute span, this will pass. It will end. Four people walk out of a room, and cease to exist. In another week, they’ll walk back into another room, and exist again.
I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll try to overact.
The blank is immune to being Chosen. No one chose him. No one needs him. He is immune to transference, as he is devoid of emotion. There is nothing to talk about.
A spectre, not even haunting.
A vengeful spirit. A ghost of christmas past. Passed. He finds the wound, reopens it, pushes through it, jumps through it. Invokes the forbidden name. You abandoned Wade. More ghosts! A man’s psyche cannot be built on ghosts, but here lies Rembrandt Brown. The transference destroys him, destroys his mind. This old friend of ours is more wracked with guilt than we’d thought. And the invocation of the forbidden name of Wade carries with it a new revelation— how did Rembrandt abandon her? That’s sort of new, isn’t it? Wasn’t he forced to? But any thought of this is forgotten by the slap in the face that even mentioning her name has become. To Rembrandt, and to us.
Wade’s ghost inhabits this mind, fills it, consumes it. But naturally we ignore her, we focus on the Outside Threat, the Dynasty. And this invokes a different beast, it touches upon the Meta. The Dynasty controls you, it is said. But central to this are two truths that apply to something bigger, grander. One, the Dynasty has invaded this show as much as it has invaded any of the Worlds within it. Think of it— they invade “our” world, “our” show. They disrupted what was once the natural order. They corrupt it, make it do things it doesn’t want to do. This show has become a slave to the Dynasty.
Naturally, we would spend more time talking about Kromagg influence. The strangest decision “Slidecage” made was to have the characters tell Rembrandt about his “mind control.” He honestly didn’t need to know that. I mean, yes— they shouldn’t keep secrets— but there’s a time and a place, isn’t there? That wasn’t it. They told him— why whywhywhywhwyelse but to destroy him a little more?
Don’t forget to forget Wade, while you’re at it.
The second truth is simpler: Rembrandt is the show.
All of the torment within this walking box of sorrow is too much. He rages, runs, jumps. He tries to makes us believe in his guilt the same way we always believe in him.
Yet, in the end, his guilt manifests as no more than this:
At last, the truth. Remember “Virtual Slide,” where we did get the truth, but it was caked in being false. Then, the aggressive ghost said “we can deal with this later” (and for once, he’s right— we’ll deal with it next week). But here we deal with another side of that coin.
We deal with loneliness. Something that’s always brushed against the edges of this story (as a whole). The fact that when you fall out of the world, you leave everything behind. Remember “Into The Mystic”? At the end, they find Home, but enough is changed that they do not recognize it as Home. It is just another world. Yet that’s the thing— that would happen no matter what. Even if that Gate wasn’t oiled, it still wouldn’t be Home anymore. It would be close. But it wouldn’t be the real thing.
Now take that idea and amplify it by infinity, because Maggie doesn’t even have the luxury of finding a close approximation. Her world is gone. It is dead. We watched it explode, burn bright, shimmer, and die. She knows this. She left the lifeless body of her husband to burn with it. Here, finally, she admits it— he was the best thing to happen to her. She spent their entire relationship denying that. When we met her, she was at the worst of it, but she had more to worry about— it is understandable to put your relationship problems aside when you are forced to stare at the End of the World.
But she dealt with the End of the World. She never dealt with the End of her World. Not really.
And here she’s surrounded by vengeful spirits and empty vessels. The vengeful spirit takes her to a white room, for no other reason than to torment her. Why? What is the use of this torture? The way the transference works means that the Vengeful Spirit (who once had a name… what was it, Q—no) must stay away from Maggie in order to keep her sane. Think of that. If he gets close to her, he will destroy her spirit with an onslaught of emotions.
If he gets close to her, she’ll die, basically. Die from feeling.
I had a relative who they said “died of a broken heart.” Really they just drank themselves to death.
Sure, fine. Whatever.
But to return to the Ghost in the White Room, isn’t there something so horribly apt about this? The fact that Quinn’s (there it is) very presence causes sadness? Isn’t this a microcosm of the problem of this entire adventure? If you get close to this person, you will die. Arturo. Wade. Soon to be everyone else. He will make you fall out of the world. But in doing so, you die. The adventure is murder. The spin around the universe will tear you apart.
“That is so cool,” she said, long ago.
And then she died.
And then there is the Vengeful Spirit himself. Oddly, no action of his causes all the woe within this episode. He is never party to Transference. But he ends up benefitting the most. Finally, he can lay down his burdens. And recall, for all that Rembrandt has been swallowed by guilt for some unknown horror, it is Quinn who made that horror possible. After Arturo’s death, he couldn’t deny that he was the leader of the group anymore. And then he, too, fell out of the world, with the ‘news’ that he ‘has’ a ‘brother,’ and that his ‘home’ is not his Home. All these things that seem too bizarre to believe.
So at the core of this ‘person’ is nothing.
Reality seeps in again, let’s not fight it, this time:
They say this episode is the worst. Or, second worst. The first, obviously, is “Paradise Lost.” I disagree on both counts. These two episodes share the same sin— that they have nothing to do with parallel dimensions, unless you count the idea that “something scientifically preposterous” counts as the idea. But neither episode is truly the worst. My money’s still on “Time Again & World,” though something like “The Dying Fields” or, I don’t know, “Slither” is close.
The fact is, much like “The Dying Fields,” this episode is telling us something about the show. It’s telling us more about these characters than the fucking pilot episode did. And sure, the Pilot had a different goal— it had the burden of introduction. But ever so rarely has the show “checked in” on the characters. Other than maybe Rembrandt saying “I feel bad about Wade” (ha ha), and of course “Slide By Wire,” we haven’t had much for months now. Years, sort of.
So instead of an “episode,” we get all of the character beats that were missing from every single episode up until this point all rolled into one. It’s overwhelming. It’s poorly put together. It’s difficult to watch. But it’s also oddly compelling, as train wrecks always are.
So we get Colin revealing his indignant view of the world— he pretty much expects the world to abandon him. Rembrandt reveals himself to be almost as consumed by guilt as Quinn. Maggie reveals that she feels completely alone— an interesting echo of Wade’s speech in “State of the Art.” And there’s Quinn— Quinn, who Quinn who—
Who is this person? This being? This human, I suppose.
Sliding, for him, has become an inescapable prison. A pit of despair.
Remember, so long ago, when all four were happy wanderers? Two are lost. One is despondent. And this little piggy went ‘wahh wahh wahh’ all the way to Hell.
How else to describe it? It is said that those most in need of relief become the most content. Quinn is so far in the Pit that the Transference effectively removes all of his emotion, good or bad. So consumed by fear and guilt and despair. Such a sad man. I can barely watch your face as it doesn’t move.
I have pity for you.
Then, the spirits of reality, the townsfolkthe townsfolk, played as rubes, who’ll stop at nothing to protect the secret. We’re supposed to side against them the way we sided against the town in “Paradise Lost.” I think we are, anyways. The episode, be it the writing or the direction (who could tell there’s not really much of either), kind of seems to be behind the town.
And why shouldn’t it? These people aren’t actually like the people of “Paradise Lost.” The secret isn’t hurting people— sure, the Chosen are sad. But they understand their sacrifice. And plus, they don’t die— there is no murder in the Chasm. The Chasm takes you, but it keeps you. As a monument to that sacrifice. Because people are happy there. Truly happy. Isn’t that brilliant? Isn’t it amazing?
But the sliders would have you believe that happiness cannot, does not, and should not exist. Finally, they overthrow the government again. But they’re wrong. They destroy the well-being of a community that had never known sadness. They just pull the plug, without pausing to help, to explain what they did, or why.
They leave these people to cope with things they’ve never coped with before. Is it ridiculous to imagine that more than a few people probably couldn’t handle it? Is it ridiculous to accuse the sliders of causing more than a few suicides? No— not really.
What the sliders do here is tantamount to murder.
the townsfolk exist, they are aware of what is happening.
In the eyes of the ghosts we are supposed to believe in, that is their crime. Knowledge is an evil, to them. The Crone declares her knowledge of the secrets to happiness, and we are supposed to hate her for it. She defends her stance with firepower, and we are supposed to hate her for it.
Why should we agree with these vengeful spirits?
Why should we let the show get away with this?
In the end, there is only one answer:
They do this because they are jealous and bitter.
They cannot abide to see what they can never have.
They are wrong and I hate them.
Next Week: the wank bank comes to life (Roads Taken).
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