Okay, remember when I was talking about a show needing to stretch it’s genre-legs? In the first minute, I was going to say “this isn’t what I meant.” They slide into a western-themed world: San Francisco, Texas. They find themselves in The Wall Street Saloon. The amount of Season Two episode tropes we’re going through is crazy. Bar fight. Quinn tries to intervene. Of course he does! He’s so headstrong. He’s a golden (nerd) boy!
But then the episode takes a swivel that we can’t really see coming at this point in the show. Quinn is forced to defend himself in an old-fashioned gun duel. Sliders by numbers all around. But then he actually fires the gun. And the man falls to the ground. Quinn’s jaw goes slack as it sinks in: he’s just killed a man.
Now, that’s a teaser!
We’ll be wistfully remembering this episode in the later seasons, so let’s just revel in Quinn’s guilt and mortification over killing someone. Let us also revel in the fact that said guilt is the motivation for everything Quinn does in the episode.
Usually, there’ll be either a damsel in distress or an oppressed people that guide the sliders on a quest for revolution. And while we do have a damsel here, she doesn’t do much egging on (she’s more just a walking and talking example of how all-too-often plot points on this show seem like they probably looked a lot cooler on the page). It’s more Quinn’s quest for absolution that drives the action.
The afore-mentioned damsel does somehow manage to strong-arm Rembrandt into a situation where he trades stocks via a poker game:
So more about this West-World (just kidding, robots come later). On this Earth, business negotiation and any sort of lawyering is done with a gun As in, a deal is a duel. As in, erryone be killin’ each other. Since San Fran is a part of Texas, and this gunslingin’ is ostensibly “the code of the west,” everyone is wearing Cowboy Hats and Spurs. Because of course they are!
Now, me being me, I found myself wondering how much of this Earth is actually Western-Themed. I understand that their view of the world is skewed since their first-most concern is for Quinn. he’s got problems in the lawyer/gunslinger side of things, so do they by proxy. Still, it would’ve been nice to see how the rest of the world operates. Also, why are there Old-West looking structures so close to San Fran proper? Is this a class thing? What do the poor look like on this world? Still, if you want a tagline, you got it: this is Western World. But to the credit of the show, it’s more than that. This episode is more of a morality piece, it’s more about consequence than genre-orgy.
It’s also the first time in forever where I can sort of agree with the decision to ‘fight the evils’ of the dimension. Generally when they decide to go all ‘revolutionary,’ it isn’t for much of a cause. Like, in “Prince of Wails,” what evidence did they have of that world really being worse off? The fact that that one guy almost hit Wade with his car? Likewise, there wasn’t actually anyone being actively oppressed by the government in “Time Again and World,” but Wade decided that everyone NEEDED A CONSTITUTION (seriously, why are they so into the constitution?)
I’m exaggerating, yes, but the idea of “corporate murder” is heinous enough that I can get behind Quinn making a couple of preachy speeches.
Plus, it’s not like those speeches actually change the world. There’s no “Time Again & World”-style infographic showing the whole world dropping their guns. Quinn’s pacifist showing at the climax only serves to take down one corrupt lawyer. There’s no indication that everyone who witnessed it is going to go out and Occupy Old West Wall Street (though that would be pretty funny [looking]). It’s food for thought to them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve had the thought before.
Also, even if they were going to turn around shun the workings of their society, I’m pretty sure they forgot all about it after watching four strangers open a portal through space and time and jump through it. Seriously they couldn’t have timed Quinn’s duel a little better?
C’mon guys this is so irresponsible. I feel like this is a good time to talk about what I feel is the most ignored problem on the show. For all their talk about “non-interference,” isn’t the simple act of opening a huge whole in space “interference?” And I’m not even talking about something like the ‘structural integrity’ of a universe (yet). I’m just talking about the fact that any person who watches them slide has been forever altered.
Slightly, of course, but just imagine how that would butterfly effect out.
•Person witnesses the slide. They tell their friends, who worry about their sanity and have them committed. But what if insanity wasn’t a part of their destiny, pre-slide? What if they were supposed to be President? Or an inventor? Or if they were going to cure AIDS or something?
•Also, wouldn’t the scientific communities on all these worlds freak the fuck out??? Wouldn’t they devote their energies to making their own hole in space-time, instead of devoting their energies to matters at hand?
I could go on, but don’t you see? This is just a small piece of the ramifications of Sliding. Remember “Fever?” “Different Worlds, Different Immunities?” What sort of diseases do the Sliders spread throughout the Multiverse?
Okay, enough on that tangent. “The Good, The Bad, & The Wealthy” isn’t solid gold (whiny kid actors will make sure of that every time), but it has it’s heart in the right place. If this is the kind of adventure we’re being forced to have, I’d much prefer this to “Time Again & World” (forever the butt of every joke about bad episodes [until Season 3])
Still, for an episode that probably started from a memo from FOX saying “guys, try a Western,” it’s not half-bad. It may even be half-good.
Next Week: I’m looking through you, you’re not the same! (Gillian of the Spirits).