Red Dwarf Review: Series IV, Episode 3: Justice

Airdate: 28 February 1991

I can feel the symbolism!

Synopsis (SPOILERS AHEAD): A pod from a prison ship lands on Red Dwarf. Unsure of whether or not the pod contains a female security guard or a simulant (which is like a mechanoid, but more human and more likely to kill humans), they go to the prison ship. Aboard the prison ship, the computer scans the crew for various crimes. Cat, Kryten, and Lister are cleared (the computer ignoring the latter’s adolescent misdemeanors.) However, Rimmer is charged with 1167 counts of second-degree murder, for failing to repair a drive plate properly aboard Red Dwarf (consequently causing that drive plate to explode and kill everybody, sans Lister and his cat). He is sentenced to prison for over 9000 years. In the Justice Zone, where Rimmer is imprisoned, it is impossible for him to commit a crime (if one tries to commit a crime, the effects are felt by the person committing the offense).

Kryten manages to convince the computer to give them a retrial. Arguing as his defense counsel, Kryten argues that the mind probe was merely used to ascertain guilt, not to ascertain the capability to commit a crime. Kryten also argues that Rimmer’s ego caused him to think that he was fully responsible for the deaths of the crew, while in reality, Rimmer was (and is) merely an egotistical, incompetent moron who should have never been held responsible for the crime in the first place. The computer ultimately rules in favor of Rimmer and Kryten.

As they try and return to Red Dwarf, the life-form in the pod escapes… and it is a simulant. While chasing the crew around the ship, the Simulant enters the Justice Zone… where offenses affect the offender. The Simulant tries to kill Lister… and winds up killing himself. Back on the ship, Lister goes on a lengthy rant about how there is no such thing as absolute justice… with the rant ending when he winds up in a manhole.

Review: One of Red Dwarf‘s greatest strengths is the psycho-analysis of Rimmer. As such, this episode is brilliant, as it really does go deep inside Rimmer’s mind. This episode asks the questions: is Rimmer responsible for his actions? Is Rimmer a good person blinded by his own ego and desire for control? Or is he really malevolent, willing to cut down anybody for his own selfish gain? This can be applied to the average Joe, much like Arnold Rimmer: do we do bad things out of malevolence, or are we good people that just made bad decisions and are clouded by our own faults? Is there such a thing as true justice?

It’s worth noting that Rimmer, in previous episodes, refuses to take responsibility for anything. Could it be that he has so much guilt for killing the crew, that he felt that he needed to relieve himself of some responsibility by putting up an egocentric aura? Or is he just an egotistical smeghead?

OK, let’s drop the philosophy for a second, and go into a full review.

The character development given to the two main leads is brilliant. This episode shows that Lister is not a bad guy by any means: he’s controlled by peer pressure. This episode also solidifies him as the show’s moral center, and the most well-rounded person aboard the ship (Rimmer’s a smeghead, the Cat is vain, and Kryten is still trying to get hold of humanity). Yet, the episode also mocks his attempts at summarizing the lesson to the crew. The development given to Rimmer is brilliant, with the smallest details in his life showing that Rimmer is a smeghead.

The simulant plot seems a bit unnecessary, just being there to move the plot forward. They could have made the entire episode about the trial. However, the simulant plot is still funny as all get out!

If I had to find one defining fault about the episode… it would have to be the Space Mumps scenes. They’re just there to pad the episode out to 28 minutes. It’s stupid and its resolution is just plain gross. They could have done without it. In fact, without the space mumps, the episode would have EASILY gained a 9.5 score. Instead, the episode only gains an 8 score: still great, but the Space Mumps knocks it down that far.

Favorite Scene: Lister’s fight with the Simulant. Just plain hysterical.

Least Favorite Scene: The smegging space mumps plotline.

Score: 8

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