Total Recall: Sliders “The Dream Masters”

This week Sliders begins it’s slide into “movie homage of the week” territory with a pretty straight forward take on Nightmare on Elm Street but it’s still pretty fun, especially with creepily nerdy guest star Zack Ward.

The gang arrives on their latest Earth in a great mood after spending some time on a world that seems to have Mardi Gras everywhere, all the time.  Their good mood is quickly lost however when Quinn almost gets hit by a guy on a bike.  The biker crashes into a roller blader and an argument ensues that ends when the biker shows off a pentagram on his hand, causing the blader to immediately start apologizing and begging forgiveness.  The biker presses the pentagram up to the blader’s face and it appears to briefly burn into his skin.  The blader attempts to run away but collapses in front of the Sliders and starts having a seizure and choking.  The gang tries to help but the man dies.  Quinn calls over a bike cop but when she sees who is involved, she rules it a suicide and tells the Sliders to forget it.  The biker, who we learn is named Gerald, seems to take an interest in Wade and attempts to sleazily hit on her but he punches him in the crotch and Quinn steps in to make him move on.  Gerald claims he’ll see Wade in her dreams and slinks off.

At the gang’s hotel, they learn from the bartender that Gerald and those like him are called the Dream Masters and they invade people’s dreams and kill them.  Everyone on this Earth is terrified of them and no one is willing to stand up to them.  Rembrandt and Quinn decide to visit the Dream Masters at their hangout to get them to back off while Arturo and Wade head up to the room.  Wade is afraid to go to sleep but Arturo manages to convince her that he’ll be right in the next room if anything happens.  She decides to get some coffee just in case and finds out there’s a long wait for it to be delivered to their room so she goes down to the bar for some.  Gerald approaches and creepily mentions that he finds Wade’s resistance stimulating.  Wade tells him to back off but Gerald manages to touch her leg with his pentagram hand before Wade runs off. Rembrandt and Quinn tell a couple of Dream Masters to tell Gerald to back off and that they’ll only be in town for a few days but they aren’t impressed and threaten to invade Rembrandt and Quinn’s dreams as well.

Meanwhile back at the hotel, Wade has a dream where she runs out into the street outside the hotel and sees Gerald and two other Dream Masters approaching her.  She sees Arturo and Rembrant beckoning her to slide in a nearby alley but when she runs over, a barb wire fence slams down, trapping her.  Quinn and the others float off into the portal, leaving Wade to try and scale the fence.  She cuts her hand badly and falls off.  In the real world, the guys find Wade out on the street, bleeding badly from a cut on her wrist.  Arturo cleans the wound and is shocked to find that there is no cut.  The guys manage to wake Wade up and decide to take shifts to keep her awake.  Rembrandt gets the first shift while Quinn and Arturo try to find some help in dealing with Gerald.  They find Officer Webber, the bike cop from the day before, who at first refuses to help but has a change of heart and gives them the address of a shelter for victims of the Dream Masters.

Quinn and Arturo head to the shelter and find Dr. Olivia Lujan.  She and her husband are at the forefront of trying to fight the Dream Masters but Dr. Lujan’s husband, Edward, was attacked by the Dream Masters and put into a coma.  Dr. Lujan tells Quinn and Arturo that a man named Vincent Cardoza was a university scientist who began experimenting with psychotropic drugs that allowed him to enter people’s dreams.  Edward found out and managed to get Cardoza kicked out but he and a group of students continued the experiments and became the Dream Masters.  After taking out Dr. Lujan, any resistance to the Dream Masters halted as everyone became too afraid.  Olivia thinks they might still have a chance to save Wade as she’s in Stage Two of the three Stage attack.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Gerald manges to intercept the coffee and liver (which according to Rembrandt is a Navy remedy to stay awake) that is being delivered to Wade.  He drugs the coffee by corrupting some sugar cubes and Rembrandt and Wade both pass out.  Wade has a dream where she is in the hotel room but Gerald materializes through the door and chases her into the bathroom.  Every faucet in the bathroom starts pouring out blood and the mirror explodes, cutting Wade in a dozen places.  Olivia, Quinn and Arturo arrive and manage to wake her up with adrenaline but she is still in critical condition.  Arturo is severely disappointed in Rembrandt since it appears he fell asleep at the wheel.

At the Dream Masters hangout,  Cardoza arrives to see how his favorite student, Gerald, is doing.  Gerald tells him about Wade and invites him to observe the final dream.  Gerald puts Wade into an elevator and makes it fall a dozen stories.  Back at the shelter, Wade’s heart stops but Olivia manages to jump it back with a defibrillator, unknown to Gerald but Cardoza sensed that Wade was at the shelter and is displeased that Gerald would give her the chance to be rescued.  Gerald promises to do better and gathers all the Dream Masters for a final assault on Wade.

Back at the shelter, Arturo and Quinn learn from Edward’s notes that he had a plan to fight the Dream Masters by using the psychotropic drugs they use to fight them in the dream world.  Quinn sneaks into the Dream Masters club and manages to get scrapings from a Master he knocks out.  Olivia synthesizes a syringe of the drug and Quinn, Arturo and Rembrandt all prepare to enter Wade’s dream and stop the Dream Masters.  The guys find Wade in the dream but get broken up by Gerald and the others, who try to kill them with their fears.  Arturo and Rembrandt manage to fight off the manifestations by remembering it’s a dream but surprisingly Quinn succumbs to a pit of quicksand and has to be revived by Olivia.  Quinn tells her to put him back in because he saw Edward and realized that they have to fight the Dream Master together as a group.  Quinn reunites with the others in the Dream World for a final showdown.  Rembrandt manages to manifest a .45 pistol and shoots one of Gerald goons.  Gerald and his other goon produce a bunch of throwing knives but the Sliders are unaffected.  Gerald decides to end it with a fireball but Quinn manages to catch it and throw it back, burning Gerald and forcing him out of the dream.  In the real world, Gerald angrily stalks out of the Dream Masters conference room with his sleeve on fire.

Back at the shelter, the Sliders all wake back up and they are surprised to find that Edward and the other coma patients have woken up as well, since the hold the Dream Masters had on them was finally broken.  Quinn and the others decide to take a well deserved nap before sliding out.

So overall, it’s an OK an episode of Sliders that is definitely on the upper end of the many “movie world of the week” episodes that we’ll be getting to later in the season.  Some of the dream stuff has a good Nightmare on Elm Street vibe, especially the bathroom dream that Wade has and Zack Ward is good as a creepily skeevy nerd villain.  The whole “Wade in danger” plot had been used a bunch of times before this episode so it’s kind of redudant and done much better in episodes like “Fever”.  Next week we get the Slider take on a combination of Waterworld/Mad Max with “Desert Storm”.

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