There’s one thing you need to know about “This Slide of Paradise,” and that is it’s Sliders’ season 3 finale. Not only do Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Maggie think they’re going home, this is supposed to be the amazing hour of television that keeps viewers interested and eager to watch another season. Please keep this in mind as I walk you through this half-assed Dr. Moreau rip-off.
We begin with the Sliders sliding — well, more just falling, really — into the ocean near a beach. Is this an excuse to get Jerry O’Connell to take his shirt off and Kari Wuhrer to wear a wet white top? I would not presume to guess.
After discovering they’re on an Earth where an earthquake put much of California underwater (leaving several islands), they use their Timer and see they have 26 hours with which to find the evil, brain tissue-stealing Col. Rickman before the next portal opens (Rickman killed John Rhys-Davies' character earlier in the season). The group immediately noticed they’re being watched by what appears to be a lead singer in an ‘80s hair metal band who keeps growling; Quinn’s big plan is to ignore it.
Shockingly, ignoring the creature doesn’t work, but luckily the creature’s primary attack is run up to Jerry O’Connell and then jump on his back. Maggie easily knocks him unconscious by beating him senseless with a rock.
Meanwhile, Rickman (above) — whose brain-tissue-stealing stems from some sort of fungus in his brain that requires new tissue to work, somehow — is stealing said brain tissue through the extremely unexpected method of drawing blood through someone’s neck and then injecting it into his own neck. Because he takes on a little of the physical characteristics of those whose brains he injects, and because he’s been stealing from the creatures — who are revealed to be human-animal hybrids, in that they all look like actors putting on a local community theater version of Cats — Richman’s got himself some fangs and eyebrow prosthetics. At any rate, Rickman’s big plan is to team up with hybrids to attack the mysterious Dr. Vargas, since he’s a pure-blood human with sweet, pure-blood human brain tissue, but once he learns the Sliders have arrived, he wants them instead.
As the Sliders traverse the island, they are continually attacked by the hybrids, whose attacks continue to consist solely of running at them and trying to jump on them. This is until they meet Allasandra, a more human hybrid in that she speaks well and is wearing a sexy red dress, even though her animal hybrid seems to be some kind of skunk/leopard combo. She tells them about Dr. Vargas and his compound, while fending off various hybrids with her poison dart gun (if the hybrids stay still after being shot, they do live; it’s one of those motion-activated poisons, obviously).
Everything’s going pretty well until the nimble, catlike Allasandra twists her ankle and then seems very determined to walk on her own even though she can’t. Despite her protestations, Rembrandt picks her up and carries her. This is when Quinn notices he’s dropped the Timer, which is literally the only important thing any of them carry, as it tells when and where they can slide next. And yet the group just abandons it in their rush to get to Moreau’s — er, Vargas’ compound.
The compound is guarded by an electric fence, which is to say a regular fence with a switch nearby that forces any actors touching the fence to shake uncontrollably when it's thrown. Once inside, the quartet is met by Dr. Vargas, played by the vastly overqualified Michael York (of Logan’s Run and Austin Powers fame). York does his best upper-class creep, shiftily making sure his visitors aren’t from the government, promising them poison dart guns so they can find their Timer, and then forcing Allasandra to walk to the house on her own as if it’s actually a battle of wills and not an actual physical impossibility. Rembrandt doesn’t take to kindly to this, and carries her inside Vargas’ house. Of course, Wade asks where the hybrids came from, and that’s York’s cue to take them to his laboratory.
Inside the house, Rembrandt uses that time-honored cure for a sprained ankle of putting her foot in a bowl of water. He brings another bowl of water to “warm it up” but Allessandra is thirsty, so she drinks the water out of the bowl… like a cat! Because she’s a cat person! Oh ho, what a comedy of errors! Allasandra asks if Rembrandt has a mate, and it should be noted that at this point Rembrandt’s furry fetish is officially a thing.
Inside the lab, Vargas explains that he’s been injecting his own DNA into various animals. The good ones he keeps, the bad ones he leaves outside the compound. No one comments who there are literally only two Hybrids inside the compound, and dozens outside. Vargas explains he uses the hybrids for his experiments to find a cure for cancer, although no one asks to see the math behind this rather curious claim.
Vargas shows them Michael, a young hybrid who manages to say “Doctor” and then bites Vargas when he tries to pet him. This immediately causes Vargas to pull out the old “I CREATED YOU I CAN DESTROY YOU TOO” chestnut, and the team begins to feel there might just be something off about this Dr. Vargas character.
Later that night, Allessandra sneaks into Rembrandt's bed to wake him up, telling him that he and his friends need to leave because Vargas means them harm. Vargas’ other assistant manages to sneak them a gun, turns off the fence, and they’re off! But it’s not long before the hybrids begin their “run at you and jump on you” assault; unfortunately, the gun only holds a mere three shots, which Quinn uses in the span of about half a second. Almost immediately, the many, many other hybrids toss a net casually over Quinn, Maggie and Wade; Quinn tells Rembrandt to go back to the compound and see if he can find a dart gun with more than three rounds in it.
Rembrandt returns to find Vargas has clocked Allasandra in the noggin; the sad Allessandra sadly says Vargas is allowed to beat her, but understandably Rembrandt is having exactly zero of this shit. Rembrandt immediately forgets about his friends and goes to beat the crap out of Vargas, who tries to explain to Rembrandt why it’s so very important that Allasandra serve him unequivocally, as if Rembrandt’s just not getting it, which is admittedly pretty funny. Vargas calls Allasandra to his side, and she explains that Vargas bred the hybrids to serve him. Let me just quote the following exchange:
Rembrandt: You said you created them for medical reasons!
Vargas: Yes, but I wasn’t making any progress.
Rembrandt: And now you turn them into slaves?!
Vargas: Not slaves! Humans! A new species of life bred to be docile beyond reason!
The fact that this docileness is primarily so the hybrids have to obey his every whim and that essentially makes them slaves escapes him. Anyways, Vargas says Rembrandt can have the guns he needs to rescue his friends if he gives him some DNA. Rembrandt says guns first; Vargas agrees, not so subtly hinting that if Rembrandt doesn’t make good, Allasandra will pay.
You’d think being captured by Rickman and hybrids would be a bad thing, but it turns out Rickman has found their Timer, so it’s actually pretty convenient. Quinn, Wade and Maggie are held in a bamboo prison cell in the Hybrid HQ where Rickman starts yammering about how he’s going to take their brain tissue, then reveals that he and Maggie used to be “lovers,”and then gets ready to borrow some brain tissue from Wade until a hybrid announces Dr. Vargas has arrived.
Turns out Vargas is just distracting Rickman so Rembrandt can sneak in the back way and free them, recovering both their Timer and stealing Rickman’s (seriously, get a belt-hook or something, people). When Rickman finds both them and his Timer gone, he howls in frustration and it’s very, very silly.
The portal home opens in 40 minutes; Rembrandt decides to use ihe remaining time to rescue Allessandra. He sneaks into Vargas’ compound and finds his beloved skunk-leopard woman, only to be almost immediately caught by Vargas. Vargas feels that Rembrandt’s DNA is too strongwilled to make a good specimen, so he decides to crossbreed him with a cute little bunny which he strokes like he just completed Supervillainy 101.
Meanwhile, Rickman is leading the hybrids in an all out attack on Vargas’ compound. How do they pass the electric fence, you ask? I’m glad you did, because the answer is that Rickman throws a dwarf onto the fence which somehow shorts it out. The hybrids break through just before Vargas is going to inject Rembrandt with bunny DNA (in the neck, which is the body’s USB slot), of course. In the confusion, Allessandra frees Rembrandt and then refuses to go with him, making this whole thing a wasted trip; meanwhile Vargas confronts the hybrids, they kill him, and then everybody starts breaking the shit in the lab.
At the cliffs, Quinn and Maggie says a tearful goodbye (mostly with their tongues) since Maggie cannot breathe the air on Earth Prime. But as the final portal opens, Rickman and the hybrids attack! Quinn pushes Rembrandt and Wade through so he can help protect Maggie, who confronts the hybrids with her own attack... which also consists solely running at them and jumping on them.
Speaking of jumping, Rickman jumps for the portal — unfortunately, it closes just before he gets there, meaning Rickman dives headfirst off a very tall cliff. This is actually how Sliders’ main villain dies, people — he jumps off a cliff like a Looney Tunes character. (A shiny nickel to anyone who can get me a gif of this.)
On the run, Quinn and Maggie open another portal to Earth Prime, where they feel that Maggie’s being unable to breath is a more manageable problem than a few extras from Cats. Unfortunately, once they pass though, Maggie very quickly discovers she can breathe… and obviously they’re not on Earth Prime. They’ve slid randomly into some future-looking Earth, and Quinn has absolutely no idea how to get home. He takes it pretty well, considering, displaying absolutely no emotion whatsoever that he may never return to his friends, family, or universe — almost if Jerry O’Connell were not a particularly skilled actor or something. See you next season, everybody!
What Did We Learn?
• Leopard-skunk people are the noblest and sexiest of animal people.
• Why do Dr. Moreaus always end up on islands? I’d like to see “The Ranch of Dr. Moreau.” “The Westchester Co-op Apartment of Dr. Moreau.” “The Pride Parade of Dr. Moreau.” Shake it up a little, Moreaus.
• I doubt Sliders has a fight choreographer, but I’d like to think there was one, and whenever the writers or director asked him to stage a scene, he’d just tell the actors to run and jump on someone, then go back to drinking.
• The show doesn’t outright say it, but Allessandra clearly hints that Vargas is boning her, so that’s pretty gross.
• At one point, Kari Wuhrer spits in Rickman’s face, and Rickman just licks it off — that's him doing it above, actually. I imagine there are a great many people who would pay to have Kari Wuhrer spit in their face.
• Credit for all these images should go to Ian McDuffie of the Sliders fansite Earth Prime, who took the episode's stupidest screencaps so I didn't have to.