Red Dwarf review: Series II Episode 3: Thanks for the Memory

Airdate: 20 September 1988

Synopsis: After finding a planetoid with a breathable atmosphere, the crew decide to celebrate Rimmer’s Death-day. Completely inebriated from the party, back on the ship, Rimmer tells Lister about his single sexual experience, with the ship’s female boxing champion Yvonne McGruder. He regrets putting his career first, because it cost him a love life. When they wake up, the crew find out the following:

  • Four days have passed;
  • The legs of Cat and Lister are broken;
  • The star charts have changed;
  • The puzzle that Lister was solving had mysteriously been solved;
  • Four pages are not in Lister’s diary;
  • The ships black box is missing.

They trace the black box’s signal to a barren airless moon, where they first find what appears to be a giant footprint and then come across a gravestone reading “To the memory of the memory of Lise Yates” – Lister reveals that Lise Yates was one of his ex-girlfriends back on Earth. The black box is buried in the shallow grave marked by the headstone — the rest of the episode consists of them watching the videos of what happened over the missing days.

The black box shows that after Rimmer confided in Lister, Lister felt sorry for Rimmer and decided to do something about it. Lister and Cat went to the hologram simulation suite — where Rimmer’s hologram is generated — and Lister uploaded his own memory of the eight months he was going out with Lise Yates into Rimmer’s memory. Rimmer woke in a jubilant mood from what he thought was a magical eight months of his life, but he found a number of things confusing. For instance, why did he suddenly move to Liverpool and become a total slob? Why did he need his Appendix removed — twice?! And most of all, why did he leave Lise to “play the field” and resist her urgings for him to get a career and settle down, when that is what Rimmer wanted all his life? Altogether, Rimmer seemed to appreciate his apparent relationship with Lise much more than Lister ever did, and Lister came to realize how foolish he actually was in breaking up with her.

Rimmer’s happiness was short-lived as he discovered the letters that Lise wrote to Lister during those eight months. Lister told him that he didn’t go out with Lise and that it was just an implanted memory. Rimmer was distraught at the knowledge that the only woman he ever loved actually loved Lister, and is unwilling to cope with his pain any more, despite Lister’s urging that he shouldn’t go through life without experiencing love. Eventually Lister agreed to erase all their memories of the past four days, which would eliminate Rimmer’s memory of Lise. They buried the black box on the barren moon underneath the gravestone, and in the process Cat and Lister drop the gravestone on the ground — leaving a large footprint-like indent — and then drop it again onto their feet. Back on Red Dwarf with their broken legs in plaster casts, Lister ripped the pages out of his diary for the last 4 days, and as they left the sleeping quarters to erase their memories he put in the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Review: The first time this aired, viewers held this in a low light, ranking it 19th out of 30 available episodes. In the 2012 survey, this episode got 5th place out of 61 episodes. The same thing happened with me. The first time I watched this episode, I thought that the comedy was too light. Then, I watched it again. The comedy is still light, but there is more than enough drama to make up for it.

This episode takes some time out to develop Lister for a change. We learn that he once had a girlfriend that he never appreciated. He realizes that he should have treated Lise better and not taken his relationship for granted. Lister is developed out from being just a slob (like we saw in previous episodes), and becomes much more of a human being.

Naturally, Rimmer gets TONS of development. While “Better Than Life” made him more sympathetic, this episode makes him completely sympathetic. In fact, there is little trace of his jerkassery in this episode. This episode makes you feel bad for him. “Stasis Leak” will pull viewers in to remind us that he is still a selfish coward, but this episode is still brilliant for developing Rimmer.

Again, the humor is light, but that is a minor criticism.

Favorite Scene: The initial reveal that four days had been skipped. Hysterical.

Score: 9.

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