Red Dwarf Review: Series IV, Episode 4: "White Hole"

 Airdate: 7 March, 1991

Synopsis: Kryten manages to create a device to repair Holly’s intelligence, at the cost of a decreased lifespan. The device works… too well. In fact, Holly, while brilliant, only has the lifespan of 3 minutes, so she has to shut herself down. Once Holly goes, so does the ship. Rimmer refuses to sacrifice his life to try and increase the lifespan for everybody, so the crew are stuck, waiting to die with no power nor heat.

While trying to move supplies from one part of the ship to another (which now takes hours), Rimmer and Kryten encounter a strange time phenomenon. Kryten deduces that this is the fault of a white hole, which spits out time. Holly is briefly reactivated to give a plan: shoot a bomb into the sun, knocking it into the white hole. Lister, however, decides to use his pool-playing skills to fire the bomb, and chooses another planet. The planets bounce against one another, and a sun plugs up the white hole… eliminating the events that happened in the episode.

Review: This episode marks something of a watershed moment in the character of Holly. The producers argued that the character was written out because they ran out of ideas for her. Nowhere is it clearer than in this episode. Initially, it seems that Holly will be the center of the episode, with the IQ increase and all that. However, once it’s revealed that Holly has to shut down, the episode jerks to another “Boys from the Dwarf” episode, with Holly barely mentioned, spitting out a plan, and having Lister deviate from her plan.

However, this episode is not hurt by this. Rather, this is my second favorite episode from the fourth series. The plot manages to combine brilliant sci-fi with killer comedy (they have to plug up a white hole by playing billiards). There was not a lot in the way of character development. However, in my Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments list, I cited the scene where Rimmer refuses to sacrifice his life for the good of the crew as an indicator that, despite his desire to lead, he lacks the components to lead.

The comedy in this episode was hysterical. I had previously mentioned that Talkie Toaster is much funnier here. This is actually a good example of the concept of Flanderization, where a single trait of a character consumes most of the character. In this case, Talkie Toaster went from a mere annoying git to a bread-obsessed annoying git. Granted, he does try and justify it (“It’s my raison d’etre- ‘I toast, therefore I am!’).

The Cat gets quite a few brilliant lines, such as this one.

Rimmer: (to the Cat) You’d sacrifice your life for the good of the crew?

The Cat: No. I’d sacrifice YOUR life for the good of the crew!

Kryten manages to end the episode by finally telling Rimmer that he is a complete and utter smeghead. Best. Red Dwarf. Ending. Ever.

Oh, and do I have to mention “What is it” and the pool with planets scenes?

Favorite Scene: Talkie. Toaster.

Least Favorite Scene: Don’t make me choose… alright! The scene where Lister and Cat have to go back to basics was the least funny. Still a decent scene, but a bit more filler.

Score: 9.

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