Episode 2 – Samsara
We begin with Lister and Rimmer in their quarters playing a game of Mynopoly, which is a board game that is played very close to a certain 20th Century property buying game. When Rimmer finds he can’t cheat his way to victory by constantly rerolling the dice he gives up and goes to bed. Meanwhile, Kryten and the Cat have retrieved an escape pod that was floating past the ship.
Unfortunately, both occupants of the escape pod have been dead for so long that they have been reduced to dust. They came from a ship called the S.S. Samsara which they think crashed into an ocean moon. The search is on as the crew go down into the depths of the water world and gain entrance to the sunken vessel. Meanwhile, we get a flashback of the two dead officers that were found in the escape pod. While they lived on the Samsara, they were both married to other people and were having an affair with each other.
The Red Dwarf crew discovers that the entire crew of the Samsara were all killed by a massive heat flash. The derelict ship comes to life along with a special computer system that can somehow hand out Karma. Good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished. But when Lister does a good deed and almost dies for it, they begin to wonder if something on this ship is amiss. Then he and the Cat get locked in a dark room and have no choice but to wait for Kryten and Rimmer to save them. As long as the ship stops rocking on the ocean ledge it sat on, they would be OK.
In another flashback, the two officers from the Samsara are told about the Karma Drive and thanks to their affair registering as immoral in the computer, both officers risk losing their jobs. Back in the present, Kryten and Rimmer discover that the Karma Drive is programmed to work in reverse. Good deeds give bad karma. The crew of the Samsara was killed when the computer found everyone on board being so nice to each other it had no other choice but to hand out the worst karma possible and kill them all, hence the heat blast. That’s a terrifying thought if you think about it.
In the next flashback scene, it’s revealed that the two lovers reprogrammed the Karma Drive on purpose so they could have their adulterous fling and they wouldn’t get punished for it. Now that everyone knows what’s going on, they can make their way safely back to the ship. Roll Credits. Not the best episode of the series as there wasn’t much of a plot to it. The entire episode suffers because of the ending. The crew discovers what happened and how the Karma Drive was involved and that’s it, end of the episode. Some really good ideas presented in not much more than an episode-long info dump. But it still had it’s laughs and isn’t unwatchable, just a bit disappointing.
Episode 3 – Give and Take
While Rimmer finds himself having an argument with a stubborn elevator, the ship finds a derelict space station that looks ripe for the scavenging. They have five hours to loot the place before the station drifts into the path of an asteroid storm and is destroyed. So they suit up and make way to find whatever treasure they can get their mitts on.
While searching around, Lister and the Cat find a long dead corpse. Whoever it was died of a knife in the back, but the DNA on the knife handle matches the DNA of the dead guy. Lister searches for clues. Kryten accesses the stations computer and tells Rimmer about Asclepius, a medical robot aboard the ship that can perform any procedure on a human and do it perfectly. They come across a droid that looks like something out of an old black & white Doctor Who episode. Kryten and Rimmer assume this is Asclepius. The robot greets them and seems a friendly little bot. Asteroids are already starting to hit the space station, so it’s time they got out of there. Kryten asks the robot to come with them and the robot agrees. Then we discover that if only Kryten or Rimmer had taken a look at the back of the robot, they would discover that this was not Asclepius, but Snacky the automated snack dispenser.
Lister and the Cat have the misfortune of meeting the real Asclepius. This one definitely is a robot doctor, it’s also intent on killing its patients and comes after them. They try to run but the evil bot knocks them out. Kryten and Rimmer walk in on Asclepius operating on Lister and the Cat. Good thing Kryten and Rimmer remembered the bazooka guns. They didn’t destroy the robot but backed him off to the point they ran back to Starbug and got away. The space station is hit full-force by the asteroid storm and is destroyed along with everything on it, homicidal robots included.
Back on Red Dwarf, Lister is in the medical bay. Asclepius had succeeded in extracting Lister’s kidneys but to his detriment, they jar they were in was destroyed by a stray bazookoid blast during the gunfight. So where are they going to find fresh human kidneys three million years into deep space? And most importantly, how is he not dead? Kryten tells him about the experimental microchip in his bloodstream that performs the same functions as kidneys. When it gives out, he dies, but there’s no telling how long until that happens. The only way he can have his kidneys replaced is if the Cat gives up one of his and that will need its DNA rewritten, a task that Asclepius would have no problem doing. Trying to get Cat to give someone anything is difficult, trying to get him to donate an organ is a feat that is all but impossible. The only way to convince Cat to undergo the surgery is to convince him he is the one who needs a kidney instead of Lister.
Now that they have the Cat’s agreement to have his kidney removed, they only need the genius medic robot who can rewrite the DNA to make it work in a human. They still think it’s Snacky, but the little droid finally tells the truth about who he is. They can’t use the Cat’s kidneys, but all is not lost. The Dwarf crew figure out how to reconfigure the ship’s stasis booths to go back in time so they can take Lister’s kidneys in the past, let younger Lister have the special chip in him to keep him alive and bring the kidneys to present-day Lister, and Kryten can handle the actual surgery part. They are able to pull the operation off and swap the Listers around without causing a time paradox. At the end, Lister is saved with his new kidney, and Rimmer goes back to arguing with elevators.
Give and Take was the better of the two episodes reviewed here. I have to be honest, Red Dwarf isn’t as great as it used to be. Although the effects and CGI have greatly improved over the years, the actors are as good as ever, slipping right back into their characters like a comfortable pair of old shoes. It’s the writing that is lacking in this series. Some of the jokes are forced and a small few just fall flat, and as in the case with episode Samsara, the plots could have been a little more developed. However, this is still Red Dwarf, and I still love it. Check back next week for Episodes four, five, and six!