If you hooked Season Three of Sliders up to a heart rate monitor you would see that it’s an erratic series of highs and lows before flat lining at the end. After the extreme low of the previous episode, this week we have one of my personal favorite Sliders episodes with “The Guardian”
The episode opens with Arturo under going a full body scan for some unknown reason. Quinn finds him when Arturo leaves the hospital and Quinn tells Arturo he accidentally listened to a voicemail for Arturo about his appointment. Arturo confesses to Quinn that he has a terminal illness that is untreatable and that he may have as little as a month or as much as a year left to live. Arturo seems determined to stay on their current Earth for his remaining time but Quinn convinces him to keep sliding. Arturo relents but tells Quinn to keep his condition a secret from Wade and Rembrandt.
The gang slides out and arrives on their next Earth in precise, gentle fashion; managing to stay on their feet instead of the usual getting thrown out of the wormhole. Arturo hypothesizes their fantastic landing must have something to do the gravity of the Earth their on. The gang is also pleasantly surprised to find that they are back in San Fransisco for the first time since Logan St. Clair messed with the timer. However, the world seems to be stuck in a time loop to the mid 80’s as a section of the city that was destroyed in a 1989 earthquake is still standing, there are brand new 80’s cars and people are wearing 80’s clothes. Things get even weirder when Quinn suddenly takes off to run into a nearby cemetary where a funeral is occurring. Quinn tells the others that the funeral is his father’s and that 12 year old Quinn is in attendance with his mother. Quinn also reunites with his ridiculously hot homeroom teacher, Heather Hanley, and clumsily comes up with the fake name of Jim Hall and claims he’s a friend of the family.
The gang checks into their usual hotel room and Arturo explains that they must be on a world that prove’s Dutch physicist Van Meer’s theory that there could a parallel Earth that completes a solar revolution in the same time period but spins faster on it’s axis, resulting in it seeming like the 80’s but still being “present day” 1996. Quinn runs off claiming there’s something he has to do while the rest of the gang go get pizza from a pizzeria that burned down years ago.
Meanwhile, Young Quinn is working on some sort of electronics in his basement and angrily dismisses his mother’s offer of food. He decides to take their dog, Bopper, out for a walk but Mrs. Mallory left the gate open and Bopper ran off. Quinn runs off to look for him but our Quinn arrives a short time later with Bopper, since he knew that he was going to run off. Quinn introduces himself as Jim to his mom and tells her that he and her husband Michael were friends who met to play chess in the park during their lunch breaks. Quinn asks if young Quinn is around and when he finds out he isn’t, he agrees to come back soon and meet him.
Quinn meets his younger double the next day when he rescues him from a group of bullies and then runs off. Young Quinn follows Quinn back to the hotel and Quinn tells him he’ll walk him home. Arturo warns Quinn not to get involved but Quinn is determined to help Young Quinn. Quinn brings Y. Quinn back home and finds Ms. Hanley there as well, who was worried about Y. Quinn’s frequent fights. Quinn tells Ms. Hanley the only way for Y. Quinn to be free of the bullies is for him to stand up to them.
Meanwhile, The Professor is celebrating a new zest for life by renting a Rolls Royce and taking Wade and Rembrandt to a 49ers game. The trio is heading for the opera next and ask Quinn to come but he’s still dead set on helping Y. Quinn with his bully problem. Arturo finds Quinn at the school after the opera and manages to hold Quinn back from interfering with the next fight, saying that if Quinn interferes, Y. Quinn might not grow up into as fine a man as Quinn has become. Fortunately, as in Quinn’s past, Ms. Hanley stops the fight. Quinn thanks her for doing it later and asks her out to dinner to talk about Y. Quinn. Quinn asks Heather to look out for Y. Quinn and says that he is so involved because something similar happened to him when he was Quinn’s age. Quinn also discovers one of the benefits of “time travel” by making out with Heather after dinner. Quinn visits Y. Quinn after his date and tells him he’s going to help him stand up to the bullies by giving him some boxing lessons.
The trio of Arturo, Wade and Rembrandt, meanwhile, get into a wacky adventure at a biker bar where Arturo attempts to pick up a biker babe named Ambrosia but ends up punching out her boyfriend when he angrily notices Arturo’s flirting. The trio meets up with Quinn at the park where he’s giving Y. Quinn some more boxing training and they try to talk him out of it again but Quinn won’t have it. Arturo finally relents that perhaps by helping Y. Quinn by giving him boxing lessons, Quinn is being a positive force in his life and helping him deal with the pain of losing his father. Arturo then heads out to invent bungie jumping with Wade and Rembrandt.
The day of the slide and the traumatic fight that Quinn was trying to ready Y. Quinn for arrives and the other are horrified to see Y. Quinn armed with a bat. Fortunately, Y. Quinn doesn’t use the bat and instead manages to beat up both of the bullies who were tormenting him. Quinn explains that he actually used the bat and pretty much destroyed the leg of one of his bullies for life and that he regretted it for the rest of his life. Now Y. Quinn will be able to stand up for himself and use his hands instead of a weapon. Mrs. Mallory comes to pick up Y. Quinn and she thanks Quinn for all his help and lets on that she knows Quinn isn’t really Jim Hall. Quinn says goodbye to Heather as well, who is severely disappointed that Quinn is seemingly leaving for good. She runs after him after he leaves and sees him just about to enter the wormhole. He tells her that his name is Quinn and then slides off.
Overall this episode is a great mix of a fantastic character piece for Quinn mixed with the fun subplot of Arturo attempting to live life to the fullest. The show also figured out a clever way to put their own spin on time travel and it was a great return to some of the earlier episodes of Sliders that were full of scientific jargon about different quantum physics theories and ideas. I would say this is probably the last great episode of Sliders as next week we begin the show’s slow descent into movie homage worlds with the Nightmare on Elm Street inspired “The Dream Masters”.