“Where there’s mystery, there’s hope.” – Quinn Mallory from season two’s episode “Time Again and World”
Hope is what I did. My first viewing left me in utter dismay, and I would say even my 20th viewing did as well of “Time Again and World”. The episode does hold a mystery. But in reality the episode is very clever and holds a very important message. Pardon the pun, but time and again I’ve heard fans say that “Time Again and World” is a train wreck of an episode that is completely confusing and poorly written. For the most part they’d be right. It takes complete concentration and then some to fully understand the episode. Even then you will still won’t understand everything. However, the more I watch, the more important this episode appears to be.
The reason the episode comes off as confusing is the writing but also the intent behind it. The episode wasn’t written to be fun or really even entertaining. It’s purpose was to send a message. On our own world John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman, or so they’d have you believe. Theories of the motive range from anything from a coup d’etat to his fear of secret societies. According to the episode after John F. Kennedy was assassinated huge portions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were expunged. They explain all the famous political prisoners are in Alcatraz, Martin Luther King Jr. Bobby Kennedy, Sam Kinison, etc. Clearly a huge political power grab was in order to control the citizens and their rights.
Cops are everywhere here in a martial law/police state like enforcement. J. Edgar Hoover was the step father of America. A kilt wearing police force on every street corner seems to be his own created Gestapo. When it comes right down to it our confusion of the episode is a bit parallel to the society itself. It a secretive and oppressed society that isn’t easily understood by outsiders. The Sliders are just as confused as we are and ask citizens in a park about Alcatraz. Their reaction to the Sliders is suspicious, wondering if they are secret police. It’s clearly a controlled society where freedoms such as speech can be met with harassment and severe punishment. Here the police are to serve and enforce, not serve and protect.
To top it off the martial law fighting Judge Nassau is seen as the “last of the fundamental Constitutionalists.” A free thinker. “Time Again and World” shows us how tyranny suppresses everything from music, privacy and freedom. Rembrandt finds out that R&B and Rock and Roll never existed on this world. You can’t even go into a night club… in the middle of the day, without policemen toting guns on the sidewalk. You’re required to give a fingerprint for staying in a hotel, and you can be arrested just for the mere knowledge of well, anything. As Quinn Mallory put it “I get the feeling they can do anything they want.”
Yes, the reason we’ve sit down is to enjoy an episode of science fiction, but occasionally the medium of tv is to prove a point. That’s not to excuse the fact that it isn’t explained in an entertaining way. Sure this episode is mediocre but it isn’t amongst the bottom feeders like “The Breeder” and “Easy Slider”. This episode is to warn us that our God given rights can and will be taken if we’re not careful. So the next time you watch “Time Again and World” keep this in mind. Trash the Bill of Rights, and Constitutional freedoms like speech, religion, bearing arms, assembly, and it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s not an unrealistic scenario. It’s a warning.