I could certainly tell the difference. (Pilot, Part Two)

Yes, I know. The Pilot of Sliders is actually a feature-length episode, and not a two-parter. But there are reasons for splitting in to two. One is that my post on the first half was so fucking long that if I tried to do the whole thing in one go, I’d have broken the internet.

The other reason is that the second half of Sliders is actually a point for point, scene for scene, act for act outline of how most episodes will play out. I hadn’t noticed this until I mentally mapped out the plots for the halves. The second half is more like sliders by numbers than half the episodes of the first season.

In any case, Quinn has yet to come out of the Vortex. In fact, he never comes out, and the rest of the team mourns his loss for five more seasons.

Just kidding! He comes out, like, two seconds after Wade was crying about it.

If he really put his arm out like that, it would be SO broken.

Quinn sticks his landing like a champ and everyone is so relieved! Wade is still a little teary, though, the cutie. Quinn sees this this and actually says “what’s with the tears, you hit your head or something?” To which Wade actually replies “yeah, maybe I should get it examined.” These two idiots are perfect for each other.

Rembrandt, being a man who is devoted to his work, wants to get to Candlestick Park in enough time to sing the anthem. But he’s in a bind, because his Caddy is still on Ice World! What a drag! Now he’s got something to bring up every five minutes to make Quinn feel bad.

Eventually you will be merged with a fraternal double and I will regret this moment.

Rembrandt settles for a taxi, Wade goes to phone her parents, and Quinn & Arturo, being loners, I guess (so much for Quinn being a Number One Son), go for a walk. They’re having a nice chat about the interdimension and how Quinn is a little bummed out about being home. Arturo reminds him (and us, unfortunately) about the CG tornado they were almost killed (or whatever) by. Quinn is unfazed by the tornado, but he is fazed by the fact that they’re in a park instead of the basement. Arturo posits that it’s probably what Alt-Quinn was trying to tell him, which is a pretty paper thin guess as to a really important piece of sliding advice would be. But before Quinn can say “yeah, it was probably more important than that,” Arturo is himself fazed by this:

It's even the same hack sculptor on this world!

It’s Lenin! Ho boy! Y’know what this means? More wacky sliding adventures are to come, because our Bros are definitely NOT HOME YET. Meanwhile, Wade tries to make a phone call, but the phone company is a bunch of NARCS and tell her she’s in violation of something and that they’re sending some goons to her booth. She’s confused by this, but probably would have been less confused had she looked at the booth before entering it:

More like NARC's NARCophone and NARCograph.

Rembrandt is also not doing so well. He’s run into a toll booth! (Not to mention the fact that his cab driver, Pavel or “Pay-Vell,” as Remmy calls him [oof], doesn’t speak English [and also they turn on the Radio and they’re playing the Russian National Anthem {to which Remmy says “Must be playing a Canadian team” <which turns out to be the first instance of Canadian jokes on Sliders, which make sense in the first two seasons that are filmed in Canada, but stops making sense once production moves to LA.>}])

Anyways, the Toll Booth. Pavel asks Remmy for money for the toll, and Remmy’s like, “aight, I’ll flash the mean green!” Pavel runs out of the cab. He’s like, freaking out about Remmy’s mean green:

I am, like, freaking out about this mean green.

Which prompts the narc in the tool booth to call her fellow narcs on Remmy:

Some crazy Alderman is totally getting re-elected for this.

Rembrandt gets a pretty great line when he melts into the back seat: “y’all wanted exact change, is that it?” By great line, I mean, not so great, but kind of funny. I would probably have already soaked Pavel’s cab in urine if I had four billion machine guns pointed at me. Rembrandt, in his cowardice, proves to be more of a man than I.

In another part of this zany red-state, Quinn, Arturo, and Wade are seeing some crazy things. Look, here’s the sleeping hobo from part one!

In this world, I AM Campus Security!

As night falls (like, really, really quickly, I might add), they come to a busy part of town. By busy I mean that every car is on fire and people are being slaughtered in the streets. Seriously, people are being gunned down! The Sliders take that one with an inappropriate amount of stride, I feel. They are like, so chill about street-side executions. Also, old ladies are thrown into cars without reason! The commie thugs who throw old ladies into cars though are pretty sloppy about it, though. This guys lets his imposing (beige) trenchcoat hang out of the car:

Either he doesn't give a fuck, or he DOESN'T give a FUCK.

Okay, maybe the Sliders aren’t that chill about public executions, but the Professor is without a doubt in the mood for food. The dude has serious munchies, and he’s like “DAWG GOTTA EAT.”

Wade is flabbergasted at the offer to 'nibble on his sausage.'

But Arturo pulls a Rembrandt (which somehow I feel is going to be a phrase I use kind of often in the future) and gives this long-hair the Mean Green. The Long-Hair is like “bro, no dice,” and hands him the …Rad Red? Whatever, he hands him this:

No, sir, I do not want a flyer for your Rave.

That money looks really dumb. But Arturo thinks it’s pretty cool, which I guess shows on his face plainly, because Long-Hair is like “dawg, come with.” Wade is also concerned that these bros are about to be up in her BIZ because of her Phone Booth Kerfuffle:

We are about to be up in your BIZ because of your Phone Booth Kerfuffle.

(I should add that the above screencap came from before Arturo handled his sausage, which means that those NARCs were munching on sausage, saw the Sliders bee-lining for the sausage cart, got way out of the way of them, then started chasing them again. Instead of just, y’know, waiting for them to buy a sausage and then arresting them. This is why communism failed.)

It’s pretty funny that Wade says “It’s the phone company. I disobeyed their commands and now they’re after me,” and everyone else doesn’t think that’s the silliest thing anyone could ever say ever. But no matter, they’re on the run now!

If I had a nickel for every time these chumps were on the run...

Take notice of the whitish blur in the top-right corner. That’s Arturo’s sausage, that he tossed away with a groan! Comedic genius. No, I’m serious.

Anyways, the Sliders escape the clutches of the EVIL PHONE COMPANY by hiding behind some stuff:

Stuff. Works every time.

Having evaded the EVIL PHONE COMPANY (I capitalize this because of its ridiculousness), Long-Hair takes the Sliders to… nothing!

Not a show-er...

Just kidding! He flips a switch, and voila:

...but a grow-er.

He keeps referring to Wade as “Commander,” which is weird, because Wade is obviously just a Computer Store Worker and hopeless romantic (towards Quinn, at least) and will always be so no matter what Universe they are in. Or something. But who cares about that, when there’s actually a REVOLUTION:

Or just some stoners. With guns.

And when I say REVOLUTION, I actually mean “a few people with guns and computers. In a… abandoned sewer? Bunker? Underground… thing?” They’re rag-tag! That’s charming! I’m rooting for them! I love America! Fuck Russia! Was this episode written in the 80s? Isn’t the Cold War over? I guess not for this stallion:

AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

Yes, that is a dude with an american flag bandana around his neck making out with Wade. Hardcore Making Out with Wade. Quinn looks like he’s worried about her. Which is probably because Quinn has A) never made out with anyone, B) has the secret hots for Wade, and C) has never even seen anyone making out anyways. After making out with Wade FOR-EVER, the lead black dude says “Welcome to the Revolution,” which is a pretty awesome thing to say to some people after making out with one of their friends for an hour.

But seriously, they have such stunned expressions! They look more shocked that this strapping african-american fellow would MO Huge with Wade than they looked at the sight of urban squalor and fascism! Which is pretty funny, considering Communism is supposed to be the Left, and Fascism the Right, but all the things we see in this episode clearly fall in to the classic sci-fi trope of “fascistic dystopia.” I mean, there’s a difference between political fascism/communism and, I don’t know, governmental fascism/communism? I mean governmental in the ‘what we do to our citizens’ kind of way. This “Soviet World” just seems a little confused to me, is all. But I digress.

Quinn & Arturo are strung up by the wrists. In the morning (I guess), a babe in an American Flag shirt and High-Waisted Pants (good to know it’s still the 90s in Soviet World) cuts them loose and brings them to Wilkins (our strapping young black dude who was making out with Wade). Wilkins is wearing the best shirt ever of all time:

Seriously, if someone wants to search Etsy for this...

Arturo is so pissed at him for making him sleep funny! He calls him a ‘blistering idiot!’ That, I’m pretty sure, is the first time Arturo has called someone that. It will, by no means, be the last. Anyways, the Resistance is all “we didn’t believe you were from an alternate universe, because why would we that’s ridiculous,” but then in the next sentence they’re like “but anyways now we do believe you,” and Arturo is like “actually, I think that’s ridiculous,” but the Resistance tells him that their Wade (or I guess Alt-Wade) is a totally huge big deal commander. Wade is impressed with herself:

Look guys! I got my braces off!

They inform our heroes (HA!) that Wade’s being held prisoner at a converted college campus now prison. Which, of course, is being run by none other than Alt-TURO. (As in, a double of the Professor.) Arturo is very stuffy when he hears this:

Seriously, if you look up "stuffy" in the dictionary...

Quinn, being nosy, asks Wilkins how he realized Wade wasn’t Alt-Wade. Wilkins, giving Wade the most obvious “I am looking you up and down obviously because I don’t have to look you up and down because I have seen your whole body without clothes on,” and says “Wade is my commanding officer, and my lover.” Quinn dies inside a little, but then Wilkins says “the two may look identical, but I could certainly tell the difference,” and Quinn dies all the way inside.

Apparently this is a Sexual Revolution now instead of an American Revolution.

Okay, whatever. Quinn is a child. But then they get into the HISTORY. After the curly haired resistance fighter tells Arturo their sob story about how he used to be a surgeon and Wilkins was an airline pilot (snicker snicker), he let’s out some funny line about “it’s liberty or death for all of us.” Arturo, to avoid laughing in his face, asks him how America got this way.

Have you seen my sausage? It fits easily into my hand, like this...

So, Soviet World Alternate History:

•We lost the Korean War

•This leads to Russia successfully invading China.

•Then Europe, then South America.

•Because of this, America becomes Economically isolated from everywhere else in the World. The Red Half of the World had access to technology and wealth, while America had no money to do anything with, and collapsed in on itself.

•Funny how the last thing is sort of happening to America right now without any sort of Red Scare involved.

Arturo remarks to erryone about how that’s a real-world example of Our World’s Domino Theory:

Guys, let's get a pizza.

While Arturo is having that heady discussion, Wade is watching Primetime Television:

Yeah, we're rapping with pillow cases! Yeah!

That rap group has great lines like “because the in-di-vi-du-al is EVIL.” Thrilling. Anyways, they change the channel, and that’s how we find out how Rembrandt is doing!

Rembrandt has finally made it as a TV STAH.

He’s being put to trial on the PEOPLE’S COURT. Get it? The People’s Court! It’s like how The Rock used to have all those signature moves like “The People’s Elbow” and “The People’s Eyebrow” and they had these vaguely communist undertones but there was nothing at all vaguely communist about The Rock, and how that analogy to The Rock’s signature moves is similar to how calling a show The People’s Court also has vaguely communist undertones but otherwise is not really that communist.

Anyways, this sequence is pretty funny (I mean, come on: “Comrade Wapner!”). It’s things like this that make me agree with the “Humor” angle on Sliders. The little things about our culture that can be shifted a little bit to make a funny like poke. The “Comrade Rap” was a failure in this. That was similar to the Radio Jock from Part One, where it seemed like the bit was written after reading about shock radio. That rap was written like someone who had seen the fake raps about science on Bill Nye and thought that A) that was actual Rap Music, and B) that Bill Nye was actually a primetime television show.

The People’s Court, though, is a spot on inversion of reality. It also puts Rembrandt in a position where his confused anxiety kind of comic relief makes sense. At this point, if Remmy is in a dramatic, serious situation, it’s going to read wrong, because he’s overacting his way through it. But in something like The People’s Court, he’s perfect. He fits with the material.

That won’t be true forever. One of the best parts about the show is the growth of Rembrant Brown, not only as a character (about which, stick with this, because WOW), but of the way Cleavant Derricks gets a hold of him in an acting sense. When we get to “The King is Back” this season, you’ll see what I mean.

Anyways, Rembrandt gets sentenced to 15 years in a GULAG! (To which Rembrandt says “don’t you mean 15 dollars?”)

Note how his hair is still PERFECT.

It turns out that Remmy’s going to be held, briefly before being moved to a Gulag, in the same place where Alt-Wade is being held, briefly before being executed. Now we have a last-act plan! TOTALLY HUGE SHOOTOUT IN A SCHOOL-TURNED-PRISON!

To sneak into the School-Turned-Prison, they get our Arturo to pose as Alt-Turo:

Because of course the Resistance keeps Plus-Size Russian Officer Costumes handy at all times.

Obviously this goes well… until they get the alarm set off on them, which prompts the SHOOTOUT!

All those late night LAN games of Red Alert finally paying off...

Naturally, they get everyone out of jail easy (because that’s always the easy part). It’s just the getting out safely that’s the hard part! Wade is busy dodging bullets while this dude does that dope Two-Guns-Pow thing:

DO A BARREL ROLL

Quinn, faced with a gun in his face, pulls his Karate Skillz out of his ASS and drop kicks this guy:

FINISH HIM

He almost shoots him in the face, too (WHAT), but then pistol whips him instead. What a good guy! Then he runs around shouting “WAAADE,” which, much like Professor calling people “blistering idiots,” is something we will have to get used to.

Then this happens:

FUCK SCIENCE.

Arturo does a real barrel roll under a truck and hops in. Rembrant, being a man of sense and inaction, just opens the door. But then they drive off! Quinn finds Wade (who looks oddly perplexed at him, but that’s probably because shit is blowing up like crazy), and they go to a truck! Everyone is on a truck now! Success!

Oh, wait, it’s not success until someone stands up in a Jeep and shoots a bazooka at something.

There we go.

Now it’s a success! Everyone is so excited! (Also wouldn’t like, A BILLION soviet trucks be chasing them?! I guess not.) Quinn is so stoked! Rembrandt is so stoked! Wade is asleep:

Too much birthday.

Oh, no! She’s not asleep! Thanks to the tried and true “I pull my hand away from their back for a second and see blood,” we know that’s she’s been shot! WAAADE! NOOO!

I like my Sliders with extra Ketchup. (TIDDY BOOM!)

No jokes now, though.

Quinn just wanted to have fun. He made a wild invention, brought some friends over, and had an adventure. Sure, Ice World was a drag, and they almost died, but everyone got out of it okay. Rembrandt was pissed about the car, but that’s just a thing, anyways. Quinn just was a young man who loved Science. He brought the two people who meant the most to him along on this ride because he was proud of it. He wanted to share this amazing thing with the people he loves most (though he might not admit it to himself).

And now one of them is dead. Rembrandt, too, realizes that this trip is not only a trip, it is also very serious. All of the sudden, there’s no humor on his face:

Just sorrow.

He’s been through a lot on this ride, and done an admirable job of taking it all in, but this stops him. He crumples to the ground, in tears. Quinn is shaking back and forth, horrified that his best friend’s blood is on his hands— literally and metaphorically, after all, if he’d never pulled her away from Wilkins, she’d probably be okay.The weight of every World is on my shoulders.

But then the best thing that ever happened to Quinn happens again. He hears his name, and realizes that the greatest, most amazing part of being able to slide between dimensions, is that there’s more than one of everything:

It's deeper than just "buds," now.

It was Alt-Wade that died, not Our Wade. Which could almost be a cheap one, but it isn’t. Not here. Wade asks what’s going on, and Quinn won’t tell her. He tells her not to look, and he looks her straight in the eye and tells her that he will get her home.

You should probably get that in writing, hon.

Back at HQ, Rembrandt is singing “Amazing Grace” over the Resistance fighter’s dead bodies:

How about a little more vibrato, Remmy?

All around, plans are being made. The Resistance may have lost a leader, but they’re stronger than ever. They’ve heard reports of other cells taking up arms around the country. It’s a small movement, but it has faith, it has conviction. And, pretty surely, all that conviction wouldn’t have really been found if it wasn’t for the Sliders. So even though they had a vague hand in a lot of death, they also inspired something that could make that death worth something.

But they can’t stay around to find out if the Resistance is successful. They’ve got a Home to get back to. But before they do that, they’ve got to have a spirited nighttime run away from a last set of NARCS:

My friends run through the dark in the alleys in the night, hey hey.

They get back to that shitty Lenin statue, but for a minute it looks like Quinn’s dope-ass cellphone isn’t going to work! But then it does:

It's really hard to look Cool when you're sliding, I guess.

YEAHHH! WORMHOLLLLEEEE:

Then you take a left past the uvula...

And they’re home! Yeah! They are so excited to be home. They’re like “now that we’re home, let’s go to Quinn’s at eat all his Mom’s food!” So they do. But first, they get to Quinn’s gate.

I may have just thought I saw a friend Die, but I am also very serious about opening this Gate.

Quinn gets real solemn and says “this gate has been squeaking since i was 12” or something. The implication is that if it squeaks, they are home, and if it doesn’t, they are not home. This is obviously the dumbest litmus test EVER. A thousand things could happen to a gate to make it not squeak! It could be the weather! It could be your gardener oiling it! UGH! But anyways, the gate squeaks, and soon they are high-fiving each other and hanging out with Quinn’s mom:

Why are there SO MANY PATTERNS in Quinn's house?

Immediately they are having a great time at dinner. They are chatting like they are old friends! They are connected by this crazy thing that just happened to them! BFFS 4EVZ!

We are NOT "BFFS 4 EVZ."

Meanwhile, Arturo pulls a Doc Brown and says “Guys, let’s destroy the Sliding Machine, I’m going to make a comparison to Einstein regretting the Atom Bomb, and also be very serious.”

And by very serious I mean very DRUNK.

Quinn, is probably thinking “Dude, that thing is in my basement and also I made it WITH MY BARE HANDS maybe we, y’know, shouldn’t destroy it?” But he actually says “but there are probably totally dope worlds without War or Cancer.”

Yeah, dude. War. Cancer. BOO YAH!

To which Arturo wisely points out that there are probably other worlds that have worse Wars and worse Cancers. Which is pretty valid. But anyways, being BFFs now, they toast to things that they dig. Quinn is pretty boring, he’s like “to wherever you are.” He clearly expects the others to follow his lead and make a complete sentence. But instead, Remmy says “and whatever your struggles,” because he’s a man concerned with the oppressed (just kidding, he only cares about himself [also, that is already becoming less true]), Wade says “to the revolution,” because she got laid (though how bad must Wilkins feel about having sex with someone who wasn’t his girlfriend the night before his real girlfriend is killed), and Arturo says “and to the end of a journey,” because he’s optimistic (and just wants these other idiots to shut up so he can drink more.)

But pretty much as soon as they finish toasting, life drops a bomb on ’em:

SHA-BAMP-A-DA-BWOWWRRR.

In case you weren’t paying attention, that’s Quinn’s dad. Quinn’s dead dad. Who is alive. And standing in front of them. Clearly not dead. Wah-wah, you’re not Home!!!

Thoughts, guys?

"Drag."

"Drag."

"Drag."

"Bummer."

Having established that they are not Home, Quinn decides that he doesn’t give a F U C K, and he’s going to R A G E.

I'mma ruin ya carpet all up wit dis GRAPE JUICE.

Fade to Black. The adventure has now begun. I’m sure the next episode will begin with Quinn apologizing to his Mom about the carpet, and Wade getting some soda water to clean it up. Rembrandt will go in the other room and tussle with Quinn’s dad, and Arturo will sit silently at the dinner table, continuing to drink himself into a stupor.

Or, y’know not. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

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One thought on “I could certainly tell the difference. (Pilot, Part Two)

  1. Canada is an easy comedy target because we just roll it it and don’t get all rioty and smashy unless it’s about a hockey game

    sort of like making Buddist jokes, it’s a safe religion to tease about

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