This week is a kind of preachy but still fun episode of Sliders as the gang finds themselves in San Fransisco, Texas.
Sliding into what seems like an old west town, the gang finds their arrival seen by a dumbstruck kid. Quinn tries to explain the portal away by saying they’re a group of magicians and Arturo asks if there’s anyplace to eat nearby. The kid, whose name is Jamie Hardaway, recommends the Wall Street saloon (which specializes in nothing but steak). Arturo goes off to try and find a book store or news stand so they can figure out what’s going on with this world and Quinn, Wade and Rembrandt head into the saloon. Unlike traditional saloons however, there’s a stock ticker on the wall and everyone is dressed in suits and ties. A fight between some poker players breaks out and Quinn tries to help the victim but ends up in a duel. Surprising everyone and himself, Quinn appears to out draw and kills his aggressor.
The loser of the duel turns out to be Jed Dalton, one of the quickest guns in Texas and a lawyer for Drexler-Bullock, one of the biggest companies in Texas. Speaking of Texas, Arturo manages to find out that, on this Earth, Sam Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas and during the Civil War, Texas gobbled up almost all the land in the west and remains an independent country to the present day. The gang also figures out that corporate business is handled using Wild West methods like gun fights and poker.
Quinn is hauled downtown by the sheriff but is quickly released when Billy Rae Bledsoe, another Bullock lawyer, says that Mr. Bullock wants to meet Quinn. Jack Bullock is impressed by Quinn’s apparent gun-slinging skills and offers him a place as one of his “negotiators”. Billy Rae shows Quinn around town and the two end up getting drunk at a karaoke saloon, where Quinn’s reputation already almost gets him killed when a disgruntled Bullock gunslinger tries to draw on him but Billy Rae guns him down.
The rest of the gang checks into their usual hotel but on the way the bump into Jamie and his mom Priscilla, who was also at the the saloon earlier when Quinn had his duel. Jamie believes that Quinn arrived to help save the family computer company, which Jack Bullock is viciously trying to take over. Wade bumps into Priscilla and Jamie again the next morning when she goes out to try and find aspirin for Quinn’s hangover. Priscilla accompanies Wade back to the hotel because she needs to tell Quinn that she was the one who shot Dalton and that Bullock is nothing more than a corporate pirate. Billy Rae arrives to take Quinn for some target practice and Priscilla warns Quinn not to say anything to Bullock, or they’ll both end up dead. Priscilla then leaves to focus on protecting what’s left of her company by having her stock broker, Cliff Sutton (also the guy Quinn protected in the saloon), play in a high stakes poker game.
After showing off his terrible shooting skills, Quinn and Billy Rae head back to the office to find Bullock fuming that Quinn is apparently going to be representing Hardaway Computers. Quinn bluffs his way out by claiming it’s true and then challenging anyone who feels fast enough to duel him. No one takes him up on it, much to his relief, and Bullock also fires Billy Rae for being either dump or incompetent.
At the poker game, Cliff never arrives and so Priscilla asks if any of the gang plays poker. Rembrandt claims one of his nicknames was Crying Man Slim and agrees to sit in until they find Cliff. Priscilla tells him to just fold every hand because she barely has control left of her company. Wade, Arturo and Priscilla find Cliff, but he’s hanging from the ceiling of his hotel room in an apparent suicide, but it’s pretty clear that Bullock had him killed. Wade goes to try and get help from the sheriff but he refuses, seemingly afraid of Bullock’s pull.
Rembrandt, after hearing he’s now the go-to poker player for Hardaway, goes on a winning streak and manages to build up $400,000 in winnings. The bad news, however, is that Bullock is finally going for a hostile takeover of Hardaway and is calling in Billy “The Kid” Gates, one of the most feared gunslingers in Texas. Priscilla says she’ll give up the company since Quinn wouldn’t even be able to get his gun out of the holster before Billy took him out. Jamie is disillusioned that Quinn is apparently not a gunfighter so he steals Quinn’s gun and heads to Bullock’s office. Fortunately the gang gets there before anything happens to anyone but Quinn is locked into handling the negotiations the next day.
As is tradition, the “negotiations” take place at high noon the next day. Quinn and Billy square off but Quinn takes off his holster and refuses to duel. He instead makes a speech about how people can solve their problems nonviolently and seems to move the crowd. Billy refuses to shoot an unarmed man and Bullock, furious, draws instead but is quickly arrested by the sheriff. The gang then slides off with Quinn giving one more piece of advice to Jamie about how it takes more bravery to put down a gun then to pull the trigger.
So yeah, this episode is kind of preachy with it’s, “Guns are bad, m’kay” message but I really like how they translate the wild west into modern business with lawyers as gunslingers and stock brokers as poker players. They never really explain why there’s an old 1800’s style neighborhood on the outskirts of San Fran and they probably could have played up more of the “Texas is it’s own country” stuff but it’s still a fun episode. Next week the gang gets a major case of deja vu as they slide to multiple worlds, but keep encountering the exact same people on each world. Also I think time goes backwards on one of the worlds.