Total Recall: Sliders “Invasion”

This week is a special week for Sliders Total Recall as we’re looking at the Emmy nominated “Invasion”, an absolutely fantastic episode with amazing ideas that could have been a massive game changer but was ultimately put on the back burner until it was resurrected during the dark later seasons and was one of the factors that probably destroyed the show.

The Sliders arrive on an Earth that is seemingly deserted, it’s super quiet and there’s bizarre graffiti all over proclaiming that “The End is Here” and “Kromaggs Rule”.  Checking to see when the window to slide will open, Quinn sees that something is causing interference with the timer.  Quinn pinpoints the location of the interference as coming from the northwest and the gang heads in that direction to find the source.  Arriving at an abandoned amusement park, an ominous sound is coming from somewhere nearby, making Wade and Remy nervous but Quinn is determined to find the source of the interference.  Suddenly, a strange ship appears and seems to be heading toward the group to attack them.  Quinn points the timer at the ship and activates it, causing the ship to crash.  Quinn explains that the timer and the ship where pulsing at the same frequency and turning on the timer was like turning on a laptop in an airplane.  The group goes to investigate the crash and Quinn and Arturo are fascinated by the possibility of exploring an alien craft.  They examine some nearby debris and learn the ship is made of organic metal.  Wade and Remy are eager to leave but Quinn and Arturo are too wrapped up in learning more about the ship and they go inside to investigate, even when a possible escape mental patient tells them that the Kromagg conquerers will not be pleased and they will be punished.

Heading inside the ship, the scientific duo learn that the Kromaggs breathe the same sort of atmosphere that we do and they get their first look at a Kromagg when they find the body of the pilot.  Arturo removes a strange device from the creature’s wrist and sets off some sort of alarm.  The pair quickly reunite with Wade and Remy and they quickly run away to slide out.  A pair of Kromagg soldiers gives chase but the gang manages to slide out.  Before sliding, Quinn and Wade see a Kromagg ship warp in from a similar wormhole and Quinn realizes their sliders as well.

The gang ends up in New Versailles, part of New France, and try to figure out what to do about this horrible new threat.  Wade says they have to warn every Earth they travel to but Arturo says it might be difficult without proof.  He also hypothesizes that since the Kromaggs are sliders, they are probably not aliens but creatures from an Earth where evolution went differently.  After eating and dealing with a jackass French waitress, the group finds out that Arturo still has the device he took from the Kromagg pilot.  He claims it’s the only physical evidence of the Kromaggs but is puzzled why it’s blinking red.  The gang quickly gets their answer when a Kromagg ship arrives and knocks out the Sliders with some sort of energy beam.

The group wakes up on board the Kromagg ship, unable to move due to some sort of gravitational restraints.  They are welcomed by Mary, who claims to be the telepathic interpreter for the Kromaggs.  She tells the sliders they are being transported to Earth 113, a Kromagg outpost, where they will be debriefed. She also says that the ship they destroyed was part of a peace keeping operation and that her Earth was taken over by the Kromaggs and was introduced to fantastic new technology and ways of life.  Earth 113 is, in actuality, a barren prison planet where the Sliders are subjected to all sorts of bizarre interrogation methods.  Rembrandt is reunited with his father, who claims that their Earth was taken over by the Kromaggs but it’s peaceful and they’ve been given all sorts of advancements.  Remy’s father also claims that he and Remy’s sister are among the lucky folks who are being transported to the Kromagg homeworld.  If Remy tells the Kromaggs the coordinates of Earth Prime and how the timer works, he may be able to go with them.  Remy refuses and realizes it’s a Kromagg trick because he never had a sister.

Arturo meanwhile, is given all sorts of promises by the Kromaggs but refuses and returns to his cell to find Remy.  However, the Remy he talks to is just a hypnotic suggestion and the real Remy arrives a short time afterward.  The pair also talk to a nearby prisoner in solitary where they learn that the real purpose of this planet is to be a source of slave labor and food (Kromaggs have a taste for human eyes).

Wade, meanwhile, is strapped into some sort of interrogation chair and submitted to an onslaught of questions, which she either doesn’t know the answer to or refuses to answer.  Quinn gets off fairly easy when Mary takes him to a peaceful garden where she goes to get privacy from the Kromaggs.  She tells Quinn that the Kromaggs came from a jungle planet that was ravaged by tribal warfare.  The Kromaggs discovered sliding and were shocked to find world after world conquered by homo sapiens.  The warring tribes united against humanity and set out to conquer every alternate world.  Mary tells Quinn she was uplifted by his defiance of the Kromaggs but he is scheduled to be transported to the Kromagg homeworld to be tortured and killed and his friends will be killed on 113.  She says goodbye but also slips Quinn some sort of keycard.

Reuniting with the others, Quinn uses the key to disable their cell’s force field and the group flees to find the timer and escape.  Wade tried to help the prisoner in solitary (who turns out to be a version of Bennish) but his eyes have been taken and he freaks out that since he can’t leave, no one can, and calls for the guards which sets off the alarm.  The group fights their way through the prison and Quinn sabotages some sliding equipment.  The group gets cornered in a hallway but Mary arrives, killing the guards and bringing the timer, but is wounded in the process.  The group has 83 minutes to slide but they have to slide from New France.  Mary says she opened up a portal that will take them back there but dies from her wound.   The group arrives back in New France, determined to get home and warn their Earth about the Kromaggs.

In a twist ending, it’s revealed that the Kromaggs were unable to learn the coordinates for Earth Prime but they implanted a tracking device in one of the Sliders.  The Kromaggs will track the group and attack if they are able to return home.  It’s also revealed that Mary is not dead, not a Kromagg servant but another prisoner, and that she is allowed one hour of freedom in garden for her part in the Kromagg plan.

“Invasion” is definitely in the top 5 as far as Sliders episode go.  The design of the Kromaggs and their ships and facility were extremely unique.  I really like the idea of recurring villains but it does kind of clash with the formula of Sliders “Earth of the Week” plots although it might be fun to see how the Sliders would have to figure out how to foil the Kromaggs based on whatever Earth they landed on.  On the other hand, it would detract from their exploration of social and culturally different Earths (this will soon start going away FYI).  They would have a recurring villain in season three, and when we get there, you’ll it didn’t really work.  The Kromaggs returned in Season Four of Sliders but by then the show was a mess and they got wrapped up in it but the less said about the later seasons of Sliders, the better.  Oh, one last thing for this week, in case you were wondering, Quinn was the one who had the homing device planted in him.

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