Perhaps oddest of all is the way the writers steer this tale towards solving the Sliders' problem of returning home, because.... wait a minute, was returning home actually one of the problems that still needed to be solved here? Did we not do that at the beginning of season four? Can the timer not go back to any world it has visited since? Are we not more concerned still with liberating from the Kromaggs that world that everyone thinks is home? Which, incidentally, would be a good and satisfying thing to do whether it is home or not. Resetting the timer back to "Gilligan's Island Syndrome" mode several episodes ago with the gem replacement stunt was a really pointless dead-end move. It's just so weird how these writers continually forget what they need to do, and pile on more narrative debts without paying any off properly.
But, for what we eventually get in the episode at hand, it rivets my attention for the most part and is largely satisfying. Today's main world showcases an eye-candy vortex around its few intact city blocks, along with a bit of danger from lightning effects to keep things exciting.
Then of course there's Jay Acovone as one of our most prominent guest stars. Mind you, as written his character isn't all that brilliant and could easily end up going over the top and be really irritating in the wrong hands. But Acovone is a pro with great timing, making his scenes quite enjoyable. He seems to be popping up everywhere, Stargate SG-1, Friends, Terminator 3, ... and this is his third appearance on Sliders after season three's "Sole Survivors" and season four's "Way Out West". I certainly took pleasure in his role here, where he and Maggie have quite a humorously different dynamic than they did in either of their previous stories together.
This is primarily Diana's story, and she gets a good focus in this one. We've been waiting perhaps a bit too long to get this next chapter in her feud with Dr. Geiger, but in that respect this episode is quite fulfilling. Nicely, it is shown that she has her own issues to work out as well, and not everything is Geiger's fault.
Mallory brings a nice counter-balancing viewpoint into this mix, highlighting the fact that Geiger is still just a man underneath it all, with his good points as well as his bad, and with human frailty on top. Peter Jurasik is in fine form once more, embodying the most interesting and successful antagonist we've seen on Sliders in a long time, and the most successful one ever to appear in more than one episode. Jurasik also gets to stretch a bit here and play more than just his normal character, which is an enjoyable and fun twist.
Rembrandt and Maggie also get their fair share of important and interesting beats, as they explore the limits of this world, enjoy a bit of good character banter amongst themselves, and gain some clues as to the bigger picture. This is a good story for them as well.
Thankfully, this story is free of the questionable DNA mechanics that writer Chris Black stuffed into previous stories like "Applied Physics" and "The Return of Maggie Beckett", and I think he has greater artistic freedom with the areas of science that he does fudge along with here. However, there does seem to be too much left vague concerning the mechanics of Geiger's latest crime and the means of cleaning it all up. Exactly how do people get taken away to be his guinea pigs? Is he operating a teleport, or sneaking around on his cane in the dark to actually grab them, or is he sliding them in and out from other universes? This really should have been made more explicit, particularly so we might then understand how all those people are supposed to end up going home again at the end. Specifically, we may well wonder how Diana can flip a switch to send the entire area home, while still staying where she is long enough to catch a wormhole to somewhere else. Plus, we're still half wondering if Geiger wasn't pulling our legs with that theory, so it would be good to see that it actually did work and that those people did get home. Again, these Sliders writers aren't proving themselves all that good at resolution.
But at least it is Diana performing the final fix here, and she really does own this story in the end. All good, because she needed another adventure to call her own, to bring the rotation of main character status throughout the season into better balance. I like it.
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