Episode 4 – Officer Rimmer
While cruising around in Starbug, and having an odd conversation about dreams, they come across a derelict ship. On this ship is a bio-printer, a device capable of 3D printing a human being. These printed people are fully grown but will only live until their mission is complete. As this one is printing a person there is a paper jam and the system gets stuck. Starbug scans for life and fins a population of a Half. After the printer jam clears, the life scan rises to 1. Thanks to the printer jam, Captain Herring has been printed out with the top half of his face stretched to the top of his head.
Captain Herring radios the Starbug for help, their ships separated by an asteroid storm. If the Captain’s ship is hit by an asteroid, it will go nuclear and take out Starbug with it. Rimmer decides to launch a mining torpedo at the ship, claiming it was the only option. Lister demands he tell the Captain what’s about to happen, but Rimmer doesn’t want to. While they argue, the missile is deflected by an asteroid. It still hits the Captain’s ship but not directly so it spins away from the asteroid field and towards safety.
The Captain congratulates Rimmer for his heroic maneuver and promotes him to Officer. After all those years stuck in deep space with Lister, Kryten, and the Cat, Rimmer is finally getting what he’s desired ever since childhood, rank. During the first season, there was a small plot arc revolving around Rimmer outranking Dave Lister, and throughout the series, we keep hearing how much Rimmer’s entire family considered him an abject failure because he never made rank while they were still alive.
The crew is on the way to pick up the captain, and Kryten has received the information and forms that need to be signed concerning Rimmer’s promotion. Rimmer decides to have, what he considers, a small presentation for the event. He wants a lavish dinner complete with gun salutes and an hour-long tribute to himself. So this hasn’t gone to his head at all.
With Rimmer now in charge of everything, he begins making life miserable for everyone else. For starters, all sports TV channels are Officer Only. Lister and the crew can watch the Knitting Channel. Rimmer even gives himself an executive ‘Officer’s Elevator.’ Lister wants to talk to the Captain about reversing Rimmer’s promotion, but there was one thing about 3D printed people he did not know. A 3D printed person does not have a long life-span they are brought to life to complete a mission. After that, they crumble up and expire. Just as Lister, Kryten, and Cat find the captain, he had just finished transferring all the cargo over from his ship to Red Dwarf therefor completing his mission. Captain Herring bravely meets his demise and the Red Dwarf crew are left with Officer Rimmer in charge of everything.
Going into full-bore dictator mode, Rimmer wants to 3D print the rest of the Nautilus’ crew, but only those who rank below him. Kryten tries to talk him out of it, but it does no good. Lister searches the database to print out someone who can demote Rimmer. Cat just wants to print out a date. When the database gets ‘mysteriously’ deleted, Rimmer demands a crew to command. Kryten explains that all they would need is some fresh DNA to make a copy of. Naturally, Rimmer decides to make fifty copies of himself. But that’s not good enough for Rimmer and he wants more copies of himself.
He goes crazy and overloads the printer causing a massive writhing clump of misprinted Rimmers. The Rimmer-monster is on the loose absorbing all the Rimmer-copies. The original Rimmer promises Lister that he will give up his rank in order to be saved. Lister and Cat are able to corner the monster and blow it up, but the credits roll before we can see the outcome. Not sure why they ended the episode so abruptly. Lister fires his gun at the monster and that’s it. Episode 5 is not a continuation and it is never mentioned again in this series. I’m chalking this up to the production going over run-time and making a sloppy edit so we have an unnecessarily confusing ending.
Episode 5 – Krysis
Kryten has reached his mid-life crisis. He’s lost his love of life. Cleaning, mopping, doing the dishes and laundry have lost all its luster. He’s contemplating his own existence and even doubting the existence of Silicon Heaven. With today being his birthday, the impact of his life has hit him hard. So what does a service droid do to bring the spark back into life? He gets himself a shiny new red outer shell with all new features and upgrades. They all try to help Kryten feel better about himself.
Lister’s plan is to find the Nova 5, the ship they originally found Kryten on, or a ship similar to it that would have the same type of droid on it in order to show Kryten how much he has advanced over the years. They find a ship, the Nova 3, with a still active droid on board named Butler.
Although the Nova 3 ships were around long before the Nova 5 ships, it doesn’t mean the service droids couldn’t have style. Butler, the Nova 3 service droid is just why you would expect from a butler. He is a rather prim and proper machine, well spoken and polite whereas Kryten, as much as we love him, is a lowly toilet scrubber in comparison. Butler paints pictures, writes novels and composes concertos. The most Kryten ever writes is to-do lists. Butler makes it clear that he has no intentions of leaving his ship, but he would hang out with the Red Dwarf crew for a while.
While Butler joins the crew in Starbug, they are attacked by six GELF ships. GELF stands for Genetically Engineered LifeForm, created on Earth. Some GELF tribes are friendly, most are not. These are decidedly one of the are nots. The Starbug is close enough for the GELFs to attack, but the leader announces himself and appears on Starbug’s cockpit screen. Seems that this leader and Butler are old friends, and because of that, the GELF will safely escort Starbug back to Red Dwarf instead of blowing them up. Butler takes his leave and nobody has to fight anyone.
After Butler goes home, Kryten is sitting back wondering how he could ever make himself better than Butler. Suddenly, the power boards in Starbug begin to fail, they find a landing spot and it’s not going to take too long to get there. What they find when they arrive is nothing short of mind-blowing. They find a space station with a computer designed to communicate with the Universe itself. The Universe begins to talk, and if I didn’t know better, I would say that they gave the Universe a voice that sounds suspiciously like an impression of Morgan Freeman. In this scene, the show confirms something that has only been hinted at throughout Red Dwarf’s entire run. Earth is the only planet in the universe that has ever has life on it. All of the droids and robots, all of the many good and evil tribes of GELFs that have spread out into space and evolved on their own and every derelict spaceship that the crew has ever found all have their origins on good old planet Earth.
In the end, Kryten calls up Butler to gloat that he has met the Universe before his new rival did. Butler then tells him that he and the Universe are old friends and that he made sure Starbug would have found the space station anyway. Kryten grumbles while everyone else laughs.
Episode 6 – Can of Worms
In the final episode of Series 11, Kryten had rigged up a Personality Tuck Machine. I suppose the Tuck comes from the expression ‘tummy tuck’ except that it’s doing it to your personality. It can completely change someone’s personality and even remake them into a new person, mentally. Kryten convinces Rimmer to plug himself into the machine. Rimmer can’t wait to become a new man, until he learns there’s a little bit of pain involved and runs away. He should have opted for the cowardectomy.
As Starbug is out scouting a location, Lister is asleep in the cockpit with every alarm and siren going off around him. The rest of the crew burst him and wake him up. They are way off course, and Lister’s nap was to blame for it. Lister put all the blame on the massive Sunday lunch he had. The fact that it is now Monday does not help his cause. In order to get back to Red Dwarf, they have to cross an asteroid field populated by a tribe of Vampiric GELF who are said to feast on the blood of virgins. The Cat starts to worry and is reluctant to even go into the asteroid field. He hates to admit he’s a virgin. He tries to prop himself up, inventing a few girlfriend cats he has back on Red Dwarf.
It was established way back in Series One that the Cat was the last of his kind just as Lister is that last of his. Rimmer looks like a human but is a hard-light hologram and doesn’t count. (Seriously guys, go watch the first series if you haven’t already.) So the Cat is in fact a virgin, no matter what he says.
Starbug pickes up the trace of a ship. This is a transport ship with one Mercenoid (a very nasty cyborg) and one prisoner. The Merceniod is apparently on a suicide dive into a black hole. The Dwarf crew set out to rescue the prisoner. Lister has a plan and asks Rimemr for the use of his dictaphone. While Lister, Kryten and Cat descend into the transport ship, Rimmer stays on Starbug and relays any new information he finds. All ships logs and the black box have been wiped clean.
They find Mercenoid who refuses to cut a deal with them and would much rather kill them all. Lister sets down the dictaphone which plays all it’s messages while they escape. Lister had prerecorded a few generic lines in order to lure the Mercenoid away from them. After those messages are over we get to hear a recording of Rimmer telling himself how great and wonderful he is. The ruse works and they kill the Mercenoid. Now to find the prisoner who seems to be a female Cat.
The Cats quickly get acquainted with each other and agree to meet later for dinner.
Then the bad news sets in. Kryten discovers that their new crewmate is not a cat, she is not Felis Sapiens. She is a polymorph, a shape-shifter. For those of you familiar with the show know how much trouble that means for the crew. They are dangerous and deadly, and the Cat is about to go on a date with one. The polymorph is carrying eggs that she will deposit into her victim. Think of John Hurt in Alien but with a laugh track.
After the ‘date’ concludes, the Cat can’t wait to tell his buds everything in vivid detail. Including the tube that grew out of the alien and deposited it’s eggs down the Cat’s throat. He explains it as if it was a night of ecstasy, as the rest of the crew see that Cat is in serious trouble. When those eggs hatch, the polymorph’s offspring will leave Cat’s body through any available orifice. They try to explain everything to Cat, first by explaining he’s a moron, second by explaining he is still a moron, and third by telling him he actually had sex with a nasty shape-shifting polymorph. Cat’s response: “It still counts!”
After copulation, the polymorph dies. They take Cat to the medical bay and give him an ultrasound. Cat is pregnant with eight polymorph eggs. The only way to save him is by having an immediate C-section but the baby morphlings sense this and turn into tumors that will kill the Cat if extracted. Cat has no alternative but to give birth naturally. In the case of polymorph babies, by shooting out of every available orifice.
After the baby polymorphs are born, they insist on taking the shape of very cute things so the crew will have second thoughts about flushing them out of the airlock. Cat agrees to take care of the situation, but disappears with the morphlings. The problem is that all polymorphs can sense emotions, so they know when they’re being tracked. But if Lister uses the Personality Tuck Machine, it can take away all his emotions so he can track the morphlings undetected.
They go down into the lower decks to search. Lister kills two polymorphs who have taken the shape of Cat leaving only six polymorphs left. The rest of the polymorphs take the shape of Lister, Kryten and Rimmer, two of each. No one know who is who. A classic trope of which twin is the evil one exacerbated, but there is no way of telling who is who. Until the Cat comes along and starts shooting everyone. Luckily he kills only the polymorphs, stating that a mother always knows her kids.
The day is saved and the episode, along with Series 11, is over. These latest six episodes were better than I thought they would be, even when the writing lacked in places. To bring a show like this back after another hiatus can be risky, but with some well-thought scripts, and some excellent CGI, along with the actual sets which were built in vivid detail, this series isn’t the best, but it still tops the Back to Earth series.
The good news is that Series 12 has already been announced and there will be a fifth member of the crew joining them, but more on that later.