I had a blast watching this episode.
But that’s kind of a problem, isn’t it? Isn’t this episode the kind that we, as intelligent science fiction television program fans, supposed to hate? It’s flashy and action-packed. The alternate history is really lacking. Wade drives a van through the vortex. But I still had a good time. Why?
This episode begs the question, more than any other before it, “what do we want out of this show?” We know what we don’t want— basically, we just don’t want “Time Again & World.” By which I mean: a ‘political espionage thriller’ genre just doesn’t graft well onto the bones of this show (until Season 5, when somehow it does graft well).
Here’s the thing: a show’s longevity sometimes is dictated by how well it can subvert it’s status quo. Take The X-Files: ostensibly a paranormal cop show. But tune in on a different week, and it could be a comedy, or a baseball show, or a near musical. And, give or take, that shimmying genre was always welcome. And it was always still the same show.
So far in Sliders season two, we’re starting to see the same approach. Throw some shit at a wall, see what sticks. You want a prison break episode? Cool. You want a political espionage thriller? Cool. You want a western? You want a 50s throwback? You want a gangster film? You want DINOSAURS?
But there’s a problem with that. Sliders still doesn’t know what kind of show it wants to be. There’s no status quo to upset. There’s no ground to shake. There’s a strong concept, but since we don’t really know how we want to apply that concept, we have mishmash, we have soup. We have no ‘show’ to look forward to, really. Just a ‘good idea,’ applied haphazardly.
“Love Gods” is no less haphazard. As I said, the alt-history is more or less ridiculous. A virus in the gulf war launched from Iraq designed to destroy the Male Population? Okay, sure. That virus wiped out most of the world’s Dudes, except for Australia? Okay, sure. Just kidding— WHAT? That doesn’t make any sort of geographical sense.
And then the plotting of the episode? Ridiculous. Let’s recap—
Slide in: Dudes captured. Dudes conspire to break out. Dudes break out. Dudes hide. Dudes recaptured (but separately). Dudes conspire to reunite. Dudes recaptured (but on purpose). Quinn bonks a MILF. Dudes reunite (but wait, how?) Wade drives a van into the Vortex. Preggers MILF stares at Framed Polaroid of Quinn.
Right, so this episode is (on paper) ridiculous. And sure, if you think about it for more than a second, every bit of plotting falls apart. I’m not even going to say that it held my attention for the entire 44 minutes. In fact, and this is a drag, but it was more or less any scene with Wade that dragged the episode down. The scenes with Quinn and his MILF (and again, sorry, but that’s basically all we’re given here [albeit semi-tastefully]) were engaging— they had an emotional undercurrent. But Wade’s scenes all smacked of a forced attempt to make Wade seem more independent and resourceful. Which is fine, but if you’re going to do that, make sure that her ‘plan’ makes sense. It was full of twists and turns and deception and counter-deception. Maybe I blinked and missed the one line that made it make sense. But I doubt it.
And then she drives a van into the vortex.
Okay, okay. I know. I’m really focusing on that part. But it’s exceedingly ridiculous. After all the times that Arturo whines about “the vortex not being able to contain more than four people,” she fucking drives a huge-ass VAN through it? That’s not only filled with three out of the four sliders, but also TWO EXTRA PEOPLE? And then Quinn FOLLOWS THE VAN ON FOOT?
That’s fucking stupid.
And of course, what about those two extra passengers in the van? The lovers who risked everything to be together?
Are you really curious? Because they’re never mentioned again.
So, once again, an episode is tied up extremely lazily, using the implied ‘reset button’ as an excuse to leave any and all loose ends dangling like Jim Morrison’s dick in Florida. And especially coming after “El Sid,” it’s just insult to injury. PLEASE STOP BRINGING PEOPLE THROUGH THE VORTEX IF YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO TALK ABOUT THEM EVER AGAIN. You’re making me never want to watch this show again.
Still— contrary to all that (hyperbole) above, I enjoyed this episode. Why? Three reasons.
One: Rembrandt’s “it’s like a Buffet of Love” line, and Rembrandt’s “the moustache stays” line (he is in drag at this point- don’t ask why).
Two: Quinn’s sub-sub-sub plot with the MILF, actually dealing honestly with the implications that Quinn would sire a child he would never know, despite the fact that morally it’s kind of the right thing to do.
Three: When the team is hiding from the Bureau of Repopulation in the attic at one point, they are found out in the most clever and hilarious way. I still can’t believe that they had the gall to use this joke, and that this joke actually worked. See, they’re a bunch of escaped men hiding in a world with no men, right? So how are they found out?
GENIUS! That’s so genius! That’s fucking incredible! I thought that was incredible the first time I saw it (when I was like, 11 or 12), and I still think it’s incredible. That gag is enough for this episode to get a free pass.
Okay, almost a free pass.
Returning to the original question of this entry: what do we want out of this show? This episode isn’t the answer at all. But it’s a part of it. If this episode does anything, it shows that there is a place for humor on the show. We just aren’t yet clear on where that humor is supposed to go, or how it’s really supposed to be used. But I think we can all agree that we want, like, one more hour of attention paid to the alternate-history.
And also, no more vans being driven into the Vortex.
Next Week: Yee-haw! It’s “The Good, The Bad, & The Wealthy.”
[I’m going to start actually advertising the next episode I’ll be watching, in case you want to watch along with me!]