I’m Afraid of Death (Luck of the Draw).

We’re here! We’ve made it! Okay, I’ve made it. It’s the end of the first season of Sliders. (And this is a pretty good time to tell you that I’m probably going to take a two-week break before Season Two begins.)  But this whirlwind is pretty crazy, and it’s never really a place I thought I’d ever end up. Which is funny, because I don’t think it was that clear that the production team thought they’d end up there, either. Sliders was never loved in it’s first season (or ever, but that’s for later). The show was constantly on the verge of being cancelled. This danger of hard work being squandered, instead of leading to some blasé work, instead led to a triumphant hour of television.

And how does it start? With Wade narrating a diary she’s decided to keep! And finding a dog! They’ve slid into a world that keeps tabs on it’s population— there are only 500,000 people on the whole planet! And this lack of anyone makes it a bit of a paradise. Naturally, it’s an appealing world to make a new home on.

An Extreme Dawg.

Now, you’d have a really, really hard job of convincing anyone that this first season of Sliders has had a unified ‘plot-arc,’ other than the premise of the show in general (they’re looking for home. Next week: they’re still looking for home). But theres’ still been more and more throughout these last episodes of the strain of switching realities every day or so. The characters are starting to be fed up with it. Or if not fed up, than at least just realistic.

Arturo was fighting (albeit piggishly) for something he ‘believed in’ in “The Weaker Sex,” and gave thought to staying on that world. He wanted to reinforce his pro-dude message. Remmy wanted to stay on Remmy-World because of course he would, he loves himself and found a world where everyone loved him back.

Quinn has never wanted to stay. Chalk it up to guilt, or optimism, or stubbornness, but he always is totally adamant about ‘getting home,’ which even 9 episodes in, is starting to seem like something that will never, ever happen.

If you had to choose, Quinn would be called the ‘leader’ of the group. Part of this is because of Real World reasons: Jerry O’Connell is the ‘star’ of the show— the first billed —the ‘sex symbol’— the key to the demographic— the guy the network likes the show for (as much as they try to put Wade in belly-shirts).

In terms of how the show works, ‘in-universe,’ Quinn has to be the leader because (and Rembrandt will back me up on this one) this is all his fault. He got them into this mess, and he’s really still the only person who can realistically get them out of it. Quinn’s a wild mix of guilt and determination. They’ve got to get home so he can forgive himself.

The sequence of them picking out which huge blanket to get at Target was sadly edited from broadcast.

So it hurts even more that the pluckiest Slider, Wade Welles, happy wanderer, should be so willing to give up the journey. She’s not hopeless, she’s just trying to be realistic. And who can blame her, really? It’s been months since they’ve been home. When you add up al the time they’ve spent on the adventure, it’s a bit of a shock to realize how long they’ve been gone. The cracks are growing, starting to show. For the first time, they aren’t immediately threatened in the first hour of being on a world. It only makes sense that they should hang on to it.

"You have the most remarkable eyes, my boy."

Before I go into why exactly they shouldn’t hold on to this world, I want to talk more about he scene that contains the “let’s stay here” discussion. It comes after a mildly funny sequence where Quinn & Wade go horse riding, and Quinn bumps his head on a log. Quinn tries to make a move on Wade, and she totally and immediately shuts him down. “I thought we said we weren’t going to do this,” she says, to which Quinn replies “when did we decide that?” And it’s true— they’ve never discussed each other so clearly before.

I'd never thought I'd be an advocate of "Not Making Out."

But this decision is actually just Wade being super smart and mature— a football field’s length of growth from the girl in the pilot who “should get her head examined.” She knows full well that the relationship between the four of them is the most important thing in their lives. Not only the most important, but basically the only thing they have left of home. If Quinn & Wade tried to date (which, honestly, how could that ever work when they always have to share a room with two older dudes?), it would inevitably fall apart (relationship pessimist, here), and the whole group would be unbalanced.

Now it's a crush based on Respect instead of Belly Shirts.

Wade knows that can’t happen, and it’s clearly insulting to her that it wouldn’t even occur to Quinn. So blind is he in his assertion that they’ll get home that he can’t pay attention to the plain truths that Wade is throwing in his face: that they might never get home, and they should start planning for that possibility.

Okay, but the Belly Shirts don't hurt.

I’m just going to come right out and say that this is the best episode of Sliders (sorry, “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome” fans!). It’s not the best alternate world— I’d probably give that honor to “Eggheads.” But this episode is the best plotted, for starters. It’s the only episode this season that gives everyone something to do. Quinn gets to run around feeling ignored and gets to try to save the day. Arturo gets to be smart and paternal but still has meaningful things to add. Rembrandt gets a “Remmy gets laid” story that actually has gravitas. And Wade’s the out-and-out star of the hour.

It's hard to make a mullet look glamourous, but I think homegirl does it good.

The episode goes so smoothly from the first third of “should we stay in this utopia” to the final two of “oh shit Wade’s in trouble DYSTOPIA DYSTOPIA!” that you don’t even notice the transition, even though the vibes are so different that they might as well be completely different episodes.

Yes, this is a Dog jumping through the Vortex. INTERNET, MAKE IT HAPPEN.

So let’s get into the last two-thirds. It turns out the fabulous Lottery that Wade wins that gives you infinite riches and limos and other rich white people dreams is actually another form of population control— at the end of Wade’s shopping spree, they’re going to have her “make way.” SHE GON’ DIE.

He is literally eating his words about this Idyllic World. Literally eating them. Literally. NOM NOM.

Even though the episode shifts at that point (which I should certainly add is beautifully foreshadowed by the conversations Arturo has with the man in charge of Wade’s Lottery win— the man feels as though his job makes him a hypocrite because he’s afraid of death, to which Arturo ponders and admits confusion), it doesn’t turn into some clumsy action schlock like, say, “Fever” or the “Pilot.” There’s still a good amount of quiet suspense that bursts into a bit of action right at the end. But then there’s Rembrandt’s scenes with Julianne, who is more than happy to die for the Lottery— for the betterment of the world.

Okay, these scenes are actually sort of weird.

Remmy is truly heartbreaking to watch as he gets frustratedly torn apart by the fact that he just can’t understand the way this universe works. He can’t wrap his mind around choosing to die.

Options for Death Room: Plain Beige, Rose Petals (Few), Rose Petals (A Ton), Blue Lazer.

Arturo has some small, powerful scenes where he solemnly contemplates this world’s ways. He abhors murder, but is it really murder on this world? The lottery is a thing of choice— if you aren’t comfortable with ‘making way,’ then don’t play it. The only reason that Wade’s in danger is because they didn’t understand what they were getting into— not because of some grand problem with the structure of the universe. There’s no fascistic government that’s trying to kill Wade, it was just an accident on her part.As a scientist, and kind of just as a human, Arturo can’t help but want to agree with the ways of this world.

Also not hurting: the light-up Ice Swans in the background.

Quinn, of course, tries to be a hero and save everyone all the time. But at this point in the show, he just isn’t equipped to do so. He’s no action hero, he’s no MacGuyver, he’s no Walter White (as in he can’t use science well enough to save the day, not as in ‘he’s going to run over two of the lottery goons and shoot one of them in the head’). He’s still just a grad student who’s really smart. But it’s not going to be enough.

Would it really hurt him to put something other than a Parka on? Oh, it would? He's allergic? Oh.

So in the final minutes of the episode, of the season, and of what was almost the entire show, we get the beginning of a huge shift in dynamic. We have the team is the most palpable sense of danger they’ve been in since the pilot. Sliding has started to lose the fun, the wonder.

Where's Martia Covarrubias when you need 'er?

The team reluctantly agrees to let Wade take a fellow doomed Lottery winner, Alex Krychek (okay, his name is Ryan, but whatever) with them on the Slide. A new slider! Quinn’s obviously jealous, but knows he can’t stop them from taking him because it would effectively be murder. He’s excited to have made the slide— his first slide!— but he’s still an outsider. Our four sliders have been doing it for so long. There’s a great sense of relief that they’ve made it, but they’re still unsure of what to make of the new guy.

Points for enthusiasm!

Which is precisely when Quinn doubles over.

The all run over to him, Krychek confused, and everyone else in crisis mode. Wade gets down next to Quinn, and pulls out a hand covered in blood—Quinn’s blood.

Wade Welles— poetry major, part-time computer saleswoman, happiest of the happy wanderers— lets out the most blood-curdling scream of terror and anguish with every ounce of her soul.

Cut to black.

And that’s how we end the first season of Sliders.

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I’m A Tear Jerk (The King is Back).

We’ve been over my problems with so-called “Comedy” episodes of Sliders. Last week’s episode was, I guess, supposed to be a ‘comedy’ episode, but it was saddled with too good of a ‘smart’ concept, and the attempts at humor dragged it down to a terrible slog.

I don’t know if it was my mood or what, but let me give you a mild spoiler and tell you that I enjoyed this episode immensely. The lesson being that so far, Sliders hasn’t done a great job of mixing humor and seriousness yet. It’s all-or-nothing. Middle-ground episodes can’t pull it together.

So let’s talk about the episode. There isn’t much to say about the parallel history. Jim Morrison is still dead. DEVO is still a band, and they ostensibly still wrote “Whip It.” There’s still a King of Rock N Roll.

Before I go further, let’s stop for a second and talk about one of the show’s big problems thus far: Rembrandt.

"Purple Hawaii" is no one's favorite song.

So far, our man Remmy’s been our go-to comic relief character, putting a mildly outdated ‘funny black dude’ kind of stereotypical humor into the show. Which he gets a pass for, since he’s more fleshed out as a character than, say, Wade is (poor Wade). He’s had some good moments (and if it seems like I’m framing Remmy’s role as funny man in a bad light, I don’t mean to— he is truly hilarious at times, and Cleavant Derricks has an impeccable amount of comic chops) but he hasn’t had a solo outing to truly shine in. He had some moments in “Weaker Sex” and “Summer of Love,” but they were B-plots, and they were both basically about “Rembrandt getting laid, wow!” Which is fine, gotta nut somehow (yikes), but I want more from this character!

And by "more" I don't mean "more of this kind of face."

And more we/I will get. Remember when I said the parallel world in this episode sitll has a King of Rock N Roll? Well, it ain’t Elvis.

It’s Rembrandt Brown.

For as big a deal as Rembrandt seems to be, this concert is decidedly low-budget.

To make things even more fun: on this world, like Elvis on ours, Remmy’s double ‘died tragically.’ So when OUr-Remmy shows up on this world, hijinks ensue. And by hijinks, I mean that hungry zombies eat Remmy’s shirt:

Another god-awful shirt bites the dust.

And later, the Pavarotti’s:

Another shred of dignity bites the dust.

The episode is basically setpiece after setpiece of “funny fame-is-dangerous” moments, and Cleavant Derricks nails them every time— which isn’t to say the rest of the cast doesn’t ace their moments as well. The bit where Remmy refers to everyone else as his “entourage” is excellent, and the same goes for Arturo’s “Pavarotti” scene:

The middle of the episode has a detour into tension, as Rembrandt is kidnapped by an ex-Spinning Topp (Rembrandt’s old band, guys, don’t you remember?!?), Maurice Fish. These scenes start funny, and the Fish character looks like a clown, but there’s a subtle escalation to these scenes that make them more terrifying as they go on. By the time Maurice does his song & dance routine for Remmy, it’s kind of actually really, really scary. Likewise the line “I usually use this for my legs, but it’ll do your neck just fine” is really haunting.

Watch my lips as they move. Are they not striking up close?

Of course, he escapes, and of course, there’s a big concert blowout at the end of the episode. Rembrandt gets a taste of the limelight he’s always wanted. His faux-colonel-Tom-Parker figure, Captain Jack Brim, relays to Remmy the setlist, and it’s appropriately hilarious:

•Tears in my ‘Fro

•Love Explosion

•Cry Like A Man

•Explosion of Love

•I’m A Tear Jerk

•Head Butt Me

•Weeping Wall of Tears

•Who Stole My Woman?

Also, Jack Brim is terrifying:

This episode is all about people's terrifying eyes.

So Remmy starts the show, but Alt-Remmy gets wind of the Million-dollars-a-song deal, and busts into Remmy’s tepid version of “Tears in my Fro” to rip it up with some rock and roll. He spoils it for Our-Remmy by announcing that he’s just another Rembrandt impersonator (of which there are so many on this world), and he’s forced to take the Slide with the tail between his gold lamé tails.

DOUBLE THE TEARS.

Like I said, this episode is funny, and it is also really good. But it’s not perfect. For starters, there’s Wade. Again. I watched this episode with a friend, and these are her words on the subject: “I don’t really have any idea who the woman is.” And she’s right. We still don’t know anything about Wade, and there’s only one episode left in the season (whoa).

All that said, there are some really pleasant (but irrelevant) background moments with her. Things like her checking out Quinn in a bath towel (it’s a sweeter moment than you’d think), or any one of the many small looks/glances that Sabrina Lloyd packs a ton of feeling/emotion into. If you pay attention, it’s clear that this woman has the chops to deliver, the show just won’t give her the chance.

Quoth Wade Welles, "Damn, boiiii."

Plus, when Remmy decides he’s going to stay on this world (I didn’t mention it last week, but Arturo makes a similar decision in that episode. We’ll discuss this phenomenon in the finale), her reaction is very intense and wonderfully heartfelt. And why shouldn’t it be? These four people are the only friends they have in the universe(s). They’re the only constants in their lives. So if one of them has to leave, it changes everything. It unbalances everything in their lives. And you can see all of that on Wade’s face. It’s small, but wonderful.

The sound you are hearing is the sound of my heart breaking.

Another thing that holds back the episode is a casting choice. It turns out that Cleavant Derricks has a twin brother! Which sounds great! It’s a budget saver, it’s so easy. Except for the fact that this twin brother looks and sounds nothing like Cleavant!

NOPE.

So we have a stranger without Cleavant Derricks’ face and a voice clumsily dubbed over in post. It all leads to a kind of uncomfortable “they all look the same to me” vibe, since anyone in their right mind wouldn’t think for a second that this dude looks like Rembrandt Brown. Plus, at the end of the episode, they forget (I guess?) to dub in Cleavant’s voice, so there’s a strange man with a strange voice hanging out with them, and they’re still like “hey, Rembrandt!”

But at least he stole Bowie's coat from 1974.

The last thing that takes this episode down a peg is the fact htat there’s no lesson. Nothing is learned. Alt-Remmy tries to warn Our-Remmy about the perils of fame, but Our-Rem doesn’t listen. And at the end of the episode, Remmy gets the dream taken away from him (again), but he’s only disappointed. Nothing happens to him to make him say “maybe I should be grateful for how my life is today.” Even though he almost got gutted by a lunatic whose life he had inadvertently ruined, at the end of the day, he’s no different than he was at the beginning of the episode.

I think I actually own that same shirt...

Not to mention the fact that Maurice Fish is basically just a violent Rembrandt. He’s just as obsessed with ‘career’ and ‘what could have been,’ and blames everyone but himself for his lack of success. He just prefers straight razors to AIDS ribbons.

Which is a waste of an opportunity. This show should be all about seeing your life reflected differently, and learning something about how all your decisions shape your life. Sliders could be a brilliant show about human nature if it wanted to be. It just doesn’t yet want to be.

But still, there’s entertainment to be had. This episode delivers exactly what it set out to do— we’re here to be entertained, and Rembrandt Brown, the Cryin’ Man, the King of Rock n Roll, is the man for the job.

Long Live the King.

There goes next season's budget!

Next week: Birth Control in a Can (and the end of season one!!!)

Into This Cosmic Mess (The Weaker Sex).

Let me recap the teaser for this episode.

Arturo buys a pretzel:

I did try the Pretzel...

But then President Clinton comes on the television:

This is even funnier in 2011.

And Arturo drops his Pretzel:

...but I did not inhale.

Sha-bamp-a-da-bwowrrr.

Okay, so there’s a certain amount of ‘free/gimme’ ideas inherent to Sliders. We’ve already gone through most of them— that being variations of the “foreign government in power” alternate history. This week, it’s probably the most obvious idea in the ‘alternate history’ playbook: instead of patriarch, it’s matriarch. Ladies’ choice. Except it’s not choice, it’s law. Or something.

This sculpture is still so dumb on this world.

So we have a tricky episode. It’s a concept that’s probably the most controversial, the easiest to end up being accidentally offensive. Women are the dominant gender, Men are second-class citizens. This whole thing could very easily wind up in a ‘let’s make fun of stereotypes’ mishmash of pratfalls and name-calling.

And, unfortunately, it sort of does.

Before I get into that, there’s a couple of things I have to point out. For one, this is the first time since starting this project where I remember enjoying an episode much, much more than I actually did. “The Weaker Sex” isn’t a really weak episode, but it’s nothing compared to “Eggheads,” or hell, even the second half of the Pilot.

"Easy Cheese" is too apt a metaphor for this episode.

You all know how much I’ve been griping about how little Wade gets to do in the show. Now, here we have an episode that’s basically written for her, what should be the first real showcase of the character. Wade’s finally getting off the couch!

And she does get off the couch, but none of it is on screen. She spends the entire episode off frame, working for the Mayor of San Francisco’s re-election campaign. If she’s ever on-screen, she’s only serving to remind us that she’s a woman. Like, seriously. I think she even says “I’m a woman.” That’s a line of dialogue.

This is why no one lets Wade read the Almanac.

I’ll recap a bit of plot so to illustrate my point: the main plot of this episode deals with Aturo engaging in a campaign to become the first ever male mayor of San Fran. It flies against everything Arturo always preaches about non-involvement, which Wade repeatedly tells him. Wade’s role in this episode is pretty clearly supposed to be antagonistic. It never really seems like we’re supposed to agree with her— if we were, the episode wouldn’t devote basically its entire running time to Arturo.

So she becomes a shrill talking head, calling Arturo a sexist nutjob, a patriarchal anarchist, a morally corrupt ne’er-do-gooder. An idiot. Morally reprehensible.

Which would be fine, except for the fact that, in this episode, Arturo is ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

Is it really a good idea to tap a newspaper with a lit Cigar?

So in theory, this is Wade’s golden moment. She’s the voice of reason here. Aturo really doesn’t have any right to upset the status quo on this world. He’s upset that he’s second-fiddle for once, and this opens up a greater issue with his character: we understand how he feels tread-upon by life. What with Quinn being smarter than him, and all of his doubles having all these things like Power and Love that he’s never had (or has had taken away from him), we’re supposed to think of him as some martyr for Science, or some kind of Walter White kind of tread-upon could-have-been.

But all of that is no reason for him to try to destroy the very fabric of the universe! It’s my understanding that we’re supposed to think of him, and this episode, as comic relief. And it’s true, the episode does a very good job of skewering political ads and elections in general. But honestly, what Arturo is doing isn’t funny. And even if John Rhys-Davies is playing it for laughs, he still comes off as a ruthless asshole.

Albeit a ruthless asshole that just shat himself.

And that’s before we even get into how the episode actually deals with every other human. Let’s start small, with poor Rembrandt’s storyline. Which basically amounts to “Rembrandt gets laid, then later stops getting laid.” The episode is trying to be funny and say “look! when women have the same amount of power as men, they become the same kind of sexist abusive manipulative slobs that men are!”

THAT IS SO LAZY.

Not so lazy: this woman's hair.

But anyways, this episode is assuming that every last man on earth is a sexist, abusive, manipulative slob, which is fine, I guess, a lot of them are (and I know it’s poking fun at the stereotype of a macho man, but it goes either too far, or not far enough, and misses the mark, muddling the ideas even further).

Also, if Arturo is supposed to be in the wrong about trying to become the first male mayor, then it would also help if we see a female character who isn’t a sexist, abusive, manipulative slob. I guess what we’re supposed to be doing is laughing at the show, saying “hey, isn’t it funny to see women acting out the sleazy roles that men usually play!” But it isn’t funny, it’s just offensive. But then Arturo is also offensive. Quinn eventually is so incensed by the current Mayor’s insulting of Arturo that he quits. But it reads more as Quinn being angry at his manhood being insulted than his friend being insulted.

So then Quinn’s just the same as every other sexist, macho man.

Arturo is running for mayor to satisfy his neverending quest for self-aggrandizement.

Rembrandt is insulted that a woman could be using him, even though he was trying to use her for her ‘record company’ connections.

For a man who seems to have a lot of sex, Rembrandt sure seems flummoxed by sexuality.

So basically, everyone on the show is kind of disgusting. Wade is the least offensive, since she’s just reacting to everyone else being disgusting. Like when she tells the dudes that she can get them jobs, they are so disappointed! They’re on a world for six weeks and they don’t have money! They all need jobs! But they were totally happy to have Wade do all the work while Rembrandt gets laid and Quinn and Aturo eat all the food. Fuck you, guys!

But Wade never has a scene where she can say “Guys, your behavior is really offensive to me.” I mean, sure, that’s all she says, but she’s always second fiddle to Arturo’s anarchist rampaging. Her character comes off like a gnat. Or a mosquito. It’s disheartening.

At least she has this powerful scene where she makes fun of Arturo for GETTING SHOT.

Oof. I’m being really tough on this episode. But that’s just because I just watched “Eggheads,” which did showcased an amazing concept executed brilliantly. This episode has just an amazing of a concept, but fucks it up so horribly, it ends up being embarrassing.

I shot the Professor of Cosmology & Ontology, but I did not shoot the Deputy.

No episode should have have its audience disappointed that an assassin failed to kill off one of your characters. But here we are.

But how cute would this be if Wade wasn't glaring at Arturo?

Better luck next week, where it’s The Return of The King.

Until the Fat Lady closes the Book (Eggheads).

“Eggheads” has a moral— the first episode to actually have one. “Last Days” pretended it had one. It brushed against the surface of ‘the dangers of nuclear power,’ but chose instead to focus on the way impeding apocalypse effects us personally. Which is fine, there’s no  problem with that— Last Days was an episode full of heart, and besides, it’s early enough tin the show’s run that it’s a benefit to spend some downtime with the characters, to get to know who they really are.

Serious Drankin'

But back to morals. Egghead is a smart episode because it uses what has already become an easy convention on Sliders (slide into a world, laugh at the difference, get in trouble because of them, leave), and actually uses that as a way to enhance the store it’s trying to tell instead of just being lazy.

The bar ran out of peanuts. Arturo so sad.

It also helps that there’s added stakes at the beginning. Presented with the notion that Alt-Quinn & Alt-Turo of ‘smart world’ have slid off this world, Quinn’s sure that they can use his double’s equipment to repair the dope-ass cellphone and get HOME. I mean, sure, that’s the same thing he though he could do in “Last Days,” but no one was shouting “YOU DONE SLID” in his face then.

YOU DONE SLID

As the episode goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that there’s no sliding machine. It’s not in Quinn’s basement, and it’s not at the university. Though there’s probably some sort of wide-reaching global conspiracy at foot, there:

TRUST NO ONE

Anyways, the episode slowly builds (using the tried-and-true method of having Rembrandt shout the obvious out loud every five minutes) the notion that the All-American Alt-Quinn isn’t who he seems to be. He’s foreclosed his house! He’s having an Estate Sale! What’s the deal? Likewise, with Alt-Turo (but more on his plot later), he’s rich! A superstar! Adored by women! But here he is, faced with divorce! An ugly one, too:

D'oh! Supoena'd again!

So by the time Quinn gets socked by a latin-spewing Angry Mob Guy, we’ve already sure: this world isn’t really that great. Arturo spells it out later for us, but it doesn’t diminish the grim truth: even though this world embraces gnosis, deifies the mind, digs brainy dudes, it still suffers from the same lack of a moral compass that our world does. In this case, it’s the similarities that are alienating, not the differences. And to be honest, that’s brilliant. The show too often presents itself as a corny action show, but when it puts it’s mind to it, it can make some great work about human nature.

Bigger than Elvis.

I mean, that’s what this show kind of has to be about if it’s going to respect it’s concept. We have people travelling to worlds that are dark mirrors of our own. It’s a much better idea to have there be no real lesson to learn than to hammer one like “communism is bad” or “monarchies tax too much.” “Fever”‘s strength came from the PENICILLIN plot, not the cartoon-evil CHC. And “Eggheads” is great, because the enemy is inherent to humanity. You can’t start a rebellion against the Human Condition!

Won't stop him from trying.

More kudos to the episode come from the fact that no one tries to change anything drastic about the status quo. There’ no governmental upheaval plot, because why should there be? Who would benefit from that? The fact that this word is pretty well- off and full of intelligence makes the fact that there’s still evil and corruption more biting.

Capris in the Summer.

All that aside, the real star of this hour is Arturo. We’ve seen Remmy find an alt-ex-girlfriend (and we’ll see it again [and again]), but it’s the first time for Arturo, and it’s pretty amazing what happens. It almost seems out of character, as he becomes sullen and prone ot extremely flowery speech. See, on Our World, Arturo was hitched, but his wife died young of an aneurism. The episode takes lengths to show that Arturo’s pompous outer shell is really formed by a deep seeded pain.

Can you imagine posing for this photo?

Arturo breaks all his rules about non-interference and ‘this isn’t our world’ to go try to save his slimy double’s marriage. It’s a weird version of Wade’s “I’m connected to all my doubles” thing she said in “Last Days.” Arturo is still so, so hurt by the death of his wife that he’ll even help out a total stranger— even one he knows is a philandering pig! It’s clear to him that if he saves his double’s marriage, a part of him will regain a part of his wife. Chilling stuff.

Over-dressed Lunch.

It’s tough stuff, but John Rhys-Davies is a total soldier through it. His final “hey asshole, get it together” tape he records for his double is pretty heartbreaking.

Why would he have a monitor of the tape he's recording? And behind him, of all places.

And all this before we even get to the fact that for this episode they invented an olympic sport called MINDGAME! And it’s AWESOME! It’s like a mix of othello and like, football and dodgeball? Anyways, here’s the board:

SMART DUDEZ

You’ve got to run around and get the ball to certain squares while reciting lists of science things, or reciting Pi to fourteen places. It’s a true marvel of television that they not only invented this game, but also made it work. They make it interesting, and not clunky, somehow natural. Like, I could believe that someone could play this game on our world. I’d also watch it, too.

Great Gig in the Interdimension.

Of course, since this is Sliders, we have to have a chase scene to pad out the last ten minutes (couldn’t we have just had more Mindgame?). On the plus side, while they’re running, there is, for some reason, a huuuge bust of Albert Einstein:

ZARDOZ SPEAKS TO YOU.

YEEAAAAAH! Then they get to the roof and Arturo shoots the vortex off the side of a building:

No biggie, guys.

What? But they jump and somehow make it, because of course they do. Quinn gets one last brainy-quip by saying “so long, suckers” in Latin. Because I’m sure you can do that.

Return of the Son of Quinn's Asshole Face.

Still, I’m just scratching at the surface of how good this episode is. I didn’t even cover the rap song by MC Poindexter! So 90s! So good! There’s a reference to Carl Sagan! Rembrandt bets against Quinn! There’s this:

Breakfast of Armpits.

Is there anything bad about the episode? Well, sure, but it’s largely the same thing thats been wrong with every episode thus far: Wade & Rembrandt, and especially Wade. She gives advice now & then, and tries to be supportive, but other than that, she does her tried & true thing of sitting on a couch for most of the episode. When are we going to have a Wade-centric episode? “Last Days” made strides toward it, but at the end of the day, it reduced her to someone else who needs to make out.

Celebrating the removal of her Braces.

And y’know what else is great about this epsiode? Maybe the greatest thing? No one made out with anyone!

Score one for decency.

Or, y'know, not.

Next week: Ladies Choice.