"Look, will you wake up?! The system is so set up that you cannot possibly pay back the debt."My favourite part of this episode is probably all of the commentary on financial systems, particularly how debt is exploited, and how marketing ties into the addiction - and these dynamics are probably at their busiest and most insidious at Christmas. There's a ton of good information here, and it's not all fiction from a parallel universe either. Arturo hits an archetypal nail on the head with his line about a system designed to produce slavery and foreclose on real property and other assets, while creating a fictional sense of fairness through currencies and other measurements to get people to go along with it. Though the example presented in the episode may not be complex enough to believably fool a society long term (and maybe you just can't cover all that in a 45-minute episode while balancing everything else a good episode should have), it presents a very good surface model of some very real underlying problems in society. See our article on "Monetary Reform" to get a bigger idea of how similar ideas are playing out on the largest scale on OUR Earth.
Another favourite element here is the fact that our regular characters get a lot of good material in this one. Wade is most notably well served, in what is probably her best episode yet. After two and a half years, we FINALLY get to meet her family and see them get major roles in a story! One wonders why it took so long. Chase Masterson, perhaps best known to sci-fi fans as Leeta the often recurring employee of Quark's bar on Deep Space Nine, is superbly cast as Wade's sister Kelly, bearing a good resemblance to Sabrina Lloyd and falling into a believable sibling rapport with her. Wade's father is definitely taller and skinnier than the extra who briefly appeared in "Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome" (story no. 18), but of course he is much more definitive here. This is a most welcome exploration of Wade and family, and it is done particularly well here.
Arturo is also VERY well served in this story, as we get to see such an incredibly good and wise side of him as he deals with children while dressed up as Santa Claus. We also learn so many gems of his character's backstory from WWII England, including details from his family that we've never had before. This is very good stuff. John Rhys-Davies really delivers a superb performance in this episode, and is incredibly and powerfully moving. He deserves an Emmy award here for sure.
Rembrandt has a very critical little side-plot to himself here, demonstrating how easily debt can creep up on someone. It's very nicely done, and dovetails into the main plot in ways that truly enhance the larger picture being painted. Awesome! Quinn plays an important supporting role in most of these three other character stories, which is a great balance since he was so central to the other two top stories of the season so far.
There's a bit of great eye-candy in this story as the mall is revealed, which is a moment not to be missed. The wormhole also receives ample justice, but other than that, it's the story that grabs most, which is as it should be.
Danny Lux's score is also quite excellent and enjoyable. There are a lot of lively cues for the action and suspense scenes, plus some really emotional pieces for the quieter, more sentimental scenes. There seems to be just enough melody to hit the right tone, while letting the music melt into the background and keep the situation with the characters first and foremost in viewers' minds. The Star Trek spin-offs of this era could well take lessons from the way "Sliders" was being scored - this is the way to do it.
"Wade, we are getting home."
This exchange was one of the most memorable of the episode and has
stuck with me ever since. It is in fact extremely dangerous,
to highlight in such a poignant way one of the major growing problems
of the show at this time. "Sliders" was still locked in
"Gilligan's Island Syndrome", doomed to never be able to return home,
lest the show be finished and every member of the production suddenly
be out of work. Sure, there had been some awesome groundwork laid
for expanding the long-term arcs of the show beyond that of returning
home, with the Kromaggs of
"Invasion" (story no. 22) and
Logan St. Clair of "Double Cross" (story no. 23),
but these characters were still one-offs at this time, and already another
half a season had gone by in which nothing had been done with them.
Series development felt stagnant, and episodes were becoming more and more
hit and miss as to their level of engagement and worthiness to take up
their audience's time.
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.