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Total Recall: Sliders “Eggheads”

I’m excited this week because we have a Sliders episode that is easily in my top 3, Eggheads.

The Sliders arrive in fairly conspicuous fashion into a seemingly normal San Fransisco but things start to feel askew pretty quickly when the local library is promoting “longer hours by popular demand”, people are rocking classical music on their boomboxes, Einstein is promoting Gap khakis and, the topper, Quinn is promoting Nike (or Nikke to avoid legal issues) on a billboard.  It turns out that this Earth places intellectuals on the same pedestal that our world places celebrities and athletes.  Quinn and Arturo are mobbed by fans looking for autographs while Rembrandt and Wade learn that everyone is so excited because they’re “The Sliders” on top of being famous.

Rembrandt and Wade manage to drag Quinn and the Professor to a taxi and the gang heads to Quinn’s house in the hopes that, since their doubles are sliders, they’ll finally be able to return to their Earth.  Curiously, Quinn’s house is for sale and there is going to be an estate sale in the near future, which is bizarre because Quinn’s double should be loaded from all his endorsements, like Wheaties (or Weeties).  The group is disappointed to find no sliding tech in Quinn’s basement but Arturo figures it must be in a lab at the university.  Quinn and Arturo then need to make the decision to either avoid all contact for the next five days until they slide or assume their double’s identities and try to find the sliding tech.  They go for the latter and head to the University of California, where Arturo is welcomed back and surprised to find that he’s the chairman of the college.  The group rummages through the alternate Arturo’s files but find nothing on sliding but Arturo does try to call his double’s house and is shocked to find a woman answering the phone.  Arturo’s secretary interrupts the search to let Quinn know that they are looking for him at practice.

It turns out that the main sport of this Earth is a game called Mindgame.  Part touch football, part Othello, part trivia show, teams have to answer questions and then try to run a ball onto one of 24 squares to try and capture them to get points.  The defending team has to try and tag a button on the ball carrier’s waist to stop them.  Quinn’s double was apparently the greatest player in the world before he vanished and now the weight of getting a championship is on Quinn’s shoulders.  Back at his house, Quinn tries to cram for the next day’s game against Harvard while Rembrandt and Wade watch a rap video about going to the library (it’s the same rap group that was rapping about communism during the pilot).

The next day, Quinn fumbles his way through the game against Harvard with questions like “Name 5 units of measure that begin with P” and others.  Another fun facet of Mindgame is that instead of, say, a tip off like in basketball, Mindgame begins with a Family Feudesque survey question.  Wade and Rembrandt watch from a bar while Arturo returns to his office, only to get served for divorce by an attactive process server.  The woman who is divorcing him is Christina, who was our Arturo’s wife before she died of an aneurysm at age 27.  Back at the arena, UCal has one final shot of winning by capturing square 21 and getting 22 points.  Quinn manages to pull out some last second heroics and captures the square, sending UCal to the finals.

The celebration is short lived however when Rembrandt, Wade and Quinn return to Quinn’s to find a group of gangsters waiting for them.  Quinn’s double accumulated $1 million in gambling debts and apparently fled to avoid paying.  His jealous teammate Wilson tipped off the local mob boss, who will absolve Quinn of his debt if he throws the championship game against MIT.  On this Earth, even the gangsters are intellectual, with boss Joey throwing out Latin and phrases like cognitive dissonance.  Quinn decides to hide in the woods until the slide, which Wade argues against because they haven’t found the sliding machine.  Arturo reasons that the sliding machine is most likely a hoax since they haven’t found any evidence of it and that their doubles are horrible people who probably just wanted an excuse to vanish.

Quinn decides not to play in the championship while Arturo tries to reconnect with Christina.  After breaking the news to his coach, Quinn is stopped by the FBI, who have him on tax evasion, point fixing and other crimes.  Quinn makes a deal with them to set up the mob at the championship.  Meanwhile, Arturo records a heartfelt video message for his double, warning him to stop and think about what he’s doing to both himself and Christina.

The night of the slide is also the night of the championship and Quinn puts on a dominating performance, almost single handedly taking over the board and running questions by himself.  Near the end of the game, he tells his coach that he’s too tired to keep playing and warns him that Wilson might try to fix the game.  He then makes a run for it with Wade and Rembrandt with the mob in hot pursuit.  The gang meets Arturo on the roof but they are cornered by the mob, who are in turn arrested by the FBI.  Arturo launches the wormhole off the roof and the gang jumps off to their next world, with Quinn getting the last word by saying the Latin version of “so long suckers”.

Again, just a fantastic, fun episode that’s loaded with great atmospheric touches like all the billboards, TV, Mindgame, references, etc.  We’re almost done with season 1 already and next week we visit Rembrandt’s paradise in “The King is Back”.

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