Welcome to the season finale for season one of Sliders. It’s got an interesting concept but, as you’ll see later, the end is a mess when taken in the grand scheme of things.
Kicking things off, the gang slides into a back alley of San Fransisco and makes friends with a dog that Wade quickly adopts and names Henry. Venturing out into the city, the group discovers that San Fransisco feels like a small town, everyone is extremely helpful and nice, prices for things are incredibly cheap and there are cars that you can just take whenever you want. I should mention that episode marks the first, and possibly last, time that Wade’s diary comes up. In a voice over she explains that she wants to start documenting the places they visit. I wonder if Fox thought people were too stupid to understand what was going on on the Earths that the gang visited. Anyway, the real thing that sets this Earth apart from Earth Prime is the Lottery. You can go up to an ATM like kiosk and take out as much money as you want. The more money you take out, the more entries you get in the lottery drawing. Wade and Rembrandt decide to take advantage and take $1000 and $5000 respectively while Arturo takes a more cautious $5. Before the title sequence a bystander ominously comments that, “You gotta love high rollers, may they rest in peace.”
The gang packs a picnic lunch and heads to the park. Reading a magazine, Quinn learns that the entire population of this Earth is only 500 million and San Fransisco’s population is only 100,000. Arturo hypothesizes that this explains the lack of pollution, poverty and crime, as there’s less stress on resources so everyone has more than enough. Wanting to take advantage of the laid back attitude Rembrandt and Arturo go fishing while Quinn and Wade go horseback riding. Quinn doesn’t take to it as easily as sliding and takes a nasty tumble off his horse. He’s fine and he and Wade have a discussion about whether or not they should stay here, with Wade declaring that it’s basically paradise.
Back at the hotel later, the gang eats mostly Rembrandt’s catch and watches the lottery drawing. Wade is the second winner announced and the group is ecstatic. The next morning the group takes a limo over to a fancier hotel where a big gala ball will be held later that night for all the lottery winners. Wade not only receives $5 million but also a “white card” that she can show to any merchant and get whatever she wants for free. She quickly takes it and goes on a shopping spree at Gucci, Cartier and gets a BMW. While looking at dresses for the ball, the gang meets another lottery winner, Julianne, who Rembrandt, of course, falls for. Quinn gets fed up with looking at dresses and heads off, saying that something isn’t right about getting thousands of dollars and then, if you’re really lucky, winning the big bucks. Wade, Arturo and Rembrandt, with Julianne, head to the ball where Wade is swept off her feet by another lottery winner, Ryan. Rembrandt charms the socks off Julianne as well. Quinn returns to find a group of protesters outside the hotel. Reading one of their brochures, the truth of this world is finally revealed. The lottery is population control and all the “winners” are scheduled to be killed the next day. Arturo comes to this same revelation when talking to the lottery commissioner. Unfortunately for Wade, she’s being constantly monitored so escape is next to impossible. Rembrandt asks Quinn and Arturo if they can slide with Julianne and they reluctantly say they’ll work out if they can. Wade goes for a walk with Ryan and tries to convince him to come along as well but he refuses as tampering with the lottery is the biggest crime you can commit on this Earth. Those that do get the horrible sounding “process”, where you’re apparently tortured before getting killed.
Rembrandt, meanwhile, tries to explain to Julianne about sliding and she seemingly accepts it but she calls the lottery police, who arrest Rembrandt for trying to subvert the lottery. Julianne insists that he watches her die so he won’t be so scared of death. She drinks some sort of poison and quickly fades away. Rembrandt, however, doesn’t get to go as peacefully as he’s being sent downtown to get the process. Quinn and Arturo give chase, leaving Wade with the timer and insisting that if they don’t get back in time, she has to slide or they’ll kill her. At the Municipal Processing Facility, a group of protesters (who are constantly called “right to lifers” throughout the episode) are gathered around and Quinn riles them up enough to start rioting around the police van Rembrandt is in. Arturo breaks the back window and the trio tries to drive off. One of the protesters gets in the way though and Quinn swerves and manages to hit what looks like one of the only other cars in the parking lot. The guys have to hoof it back to hotel, just barely making it back with under a minute to go. Wade and Ryan are waiting for them, with Ryan having saved Wade from the lottery commissioner and a cop. All five (and Henry) slide just before the cops break down the doors. Arriving safely on another Earth, Ryan is psyched about his first slide but the excitement quickly fades when Quinn collapses with what looks like a critical gunshot wound.
I mentioned at the top that the end of this episode is kind of a mess. As you’ll find out next week, almost nothing that the cliffhanger ending sets up matters going into season two. Ryan just gets left on another Earth, Henry disappears and Quinn gets shot in the shoulder and is perfectly fine. I’m wondering if they got some network notes near the end of the season that they hastily tried to work in. The core concept of the episode is still pretty interesting and it’s still relevant as the population continues to increase at a rapid rate. We kick off season two with the fantasy/magic based “Into the Mystic”.