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Total Recall: Sliders “State of the ART”

This week’s Sliders features special guest Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund and borrows ideas from the many “robots gone bad” sci fi stories, most notably Blade Runner and I,Robot.

The Sliders arrive on their latest Earth and immediately two things point to the fact that it isn’t Earth Prime.  One is the fact that the sky is purple and the other is this Earth seems completely unpopulated.  The gang spots what looks like a pile of junk on the street and Quinn examines it and determines it’s a robot.  The gang doesn’t have any time to further investigate as a hummer roars onto their street, chasing two men.  The hummer fires some sort of laser weapon and hits the two men, and also Quinn.  Arturo, Wade and Rembrandt hide behind a nearby wall as what looks like some sort of security team exits the hummer, scans the bodies and then leaves.  The gang rushes to help Quinn, who comes to seemingly unharmed.  They go to check on the other two men and are shocked to find they are both robots.  The gang takes the one robot that seems to still be functioning and Quinn and Arturo attempt to repair him.

After a few hours, Quinn and Arturo successfully restore the robot’s power and, after a quick visual readjustment, he reveals that he is called DERIC, short for Delta Model of the Emotional Response Intelligence Chip Unit.  Deric explains that he was created by James Aldohn, the father of robotics.  Aldohn created the Emotional Response Intelligence Chip that allowed the robots to experience emotion but some of the earlier models, the Alphas and Betas, suffered from an intensity issue and there were human fatalities.  Aldohn tried to recall the Alphas and Betas, but many refused to return so Aldohn sent out the Return Patrol Paul units (the security guys in the hummer) to hunt them down.  The RPPs managed to diminish the population to just over a dozen rogue robots.

The gang heads back out onto the streets but are almost immediately set upon again by a RPP unit.  The gang decides to split up and Wade, Arturo and Deric run for a nearby building while Quinn and Rembrandt run into a nearby alley.  The RPPs corner Quinn and Remy and throw them into a wall, causing Quinn to cut his lip and start bleeding, which the RPPs notice and decide that they will take them back to factory.

When the duo arrives at the factory, they are subjected to a full body scan and are then introduced to James Aldohn himself, wheelchair bound after an industrial accident but seemingly very friendly.  He explains that the situation is much more dire than Deric explained it.  Aldohn, as far as he knows, is the last human on Earth after the Alphas and Betas malfunctioned.  Robots took over most of the jobs from humans, which caused humanity to panic and start destroying robots, which then caused the robots to defend themselves.  Aldohn also introduces Quinn and Remy to his “wife”, Shauna, a copy of his human wife that is a heavily modified Alpha unit.  Aldohn insists that the guys stay for dinner and refuses to take no for an answer.  While Quinn and Remy are hustled out to the dining room, they don’t notice that a pair of capsules open and eyeless copies of themselves walk out.

Back in the city, Deric explains that if the RPPs captured Quinn and Remy, they would have logically been taken to the factory.  Wade suggests they commandeer an RPP hummer but Deric explains that they couldn’t drive it without a special palm chip.  Deric says he has a friend who has chip in her hand but they find that she is in need of extensive repairs.  Arturo goes to work and gets annoyed with Deric’s frequent comments about his work.  Wade tells Arturo to treat Deric with more respect but Arturo says that he’s just a machine.   Eventually, Arturo gets Deric’s friend, Erica, working and she agrees to drive them to the factory.  The gang ambushes an RPP unit and Arturo disables the Paul by ripping out it’s spinal column.

Back at the factory, Aldohn reveals that his ultimate goal is to transfer the mind of a human into the body of a machine and that Quinn and Remy will be his first guinea pigs.  Quinn and Rembrandt are locked in a holding room but Quinn figures out a way to restore power to the door opening button by conducting electricity from the lights to the door panel.  He and Remy bust out and arrive just in time to save the others from their evil robot versions, with the Rembrandt clone getting zapped and the Quinn one backing off.  However, before the gang can escape, Aldohn and the RPPs surround them.  With the Remy clone destroyed, Aldohn tells Quinn that he will be the one going through with the brain download.  Remy, Arturo and Wade are locked in the same holding room, only now all the power in the room is shut off.  Meanwhile, Erica and Deric are disabled by Aldohn.

Wade tells that guys that her dad taught her that if she got trapped in a room during a fire, she should look for the wall stud and then kick her way through the sheetrock.  Arturo does just that and the trio heads out to rescue Quinn.  Quinn is about to be downloaded to his robotic doppleganger but he attempts to sabotage the download by firing many parts of his brain at once.  This means singing Remy’s song “Tears in my Fro” horribly.  The gang manages to stop the download and heads outside to try and escape.  The gang gets into a brief firefight with the Pauls, during which Aldohn is hit and, in a Shymalanian twist, turns out to be a robot as well.  Shauna explains that the industrial accident that put him in a wheelchair actually killed him but she was able to download his mind into a robotic body, with some minor errors like the locomotion part of his brain not transferring, thus the wheelchair.  Shauna decides that she’ll finally let Aldohn go in peace and, after repairing him, Deric chosen as the new leader of the robots.  After leaving him instructions on how to repair Erica, the gang slides out, leaving this Earth completely uninhabited by humans.

This was actually a really fun episode of Sliders.  Robert Englund brings his usual creepy/funny energy to the episode and it’s also great to see the unusual pairings of Wade/Arturo and Quinn/Rembrandt, which barely ever happens on the show.  Next week it’s Christmas for the Sliders as they land on world where Christmas has become completely a commercial endeavor and people actually live in malls.

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