Red Dwarf Review: Series V, Episode 4: "Quarantine"

Think your bunkmate is bad? Try living with this guy.

Airdate: 12 March, 1992

Synopsis: The crew land on an ice planet to rescue Dr. Lanstrom, a holo-researcher. This would require Rimmer to be turned off. The trio realize that Dr. Langstrom has a holo-virus that drives her insane… yet also researched “good” viruses that provide good luck and happiness. Meanwhile, finally driven over the edge, Rimmer acquires the Space Corps Directives book thanks to Kryten, and begins using it against the crew, forcing them in a 1-bunk quarantine with no entertainment… in the hope that they destroy themselves. However, Rimmer manages to still catch a holo-virus… thanks to the holo-virus being transmitted over the radio.

Review: Certainly, this episode is one of those “reminder” episodes that Red Dwarf likes to utilise; that Lister is technically the only real crew member on board ship, that Kryten still is generally of little value when compared to his contemporaries, and, most importantly, that for all life threw at him, Rimmer is a smeghead.

On that last point, we are thrust straight into his neurosis at the beginning. It’s a constant cycle; nobody likes him, so he’s a smeghead, causing nobody to like him, causing him to act like a smeghead. Again, nobody liking him is not a justification for Rimmer’s behavior. He more or less uses his revenge by turning his crew member’s flaws against him. Kryten’s desire to quote Space Corps Directives gets Rimmer a nifty Book ‘O Directives, causing him to trap the crew in quarantine, use every technicality and loophole in the book, borderline torturing the crew, and getting the crew to turn on each other. The Holo-virus he gets simply exaggerates his behavior to comically sick levels.

The trio getting trapped in Quarantine also shows that their hatred of Rimmer is the closest they have in common. Lister is a total slob who really didn’t mature past his early teenage years, the Cat is more egocentric than Rimmer and will not confess to anything that could put him in a negative light, and Kryten is neurotic and will do anything to the letter. The three are basically the three faces of Rimmer: the immaturity, the ego, and the neurosis. Yet, they all hate him. Is it because Rimmer is a smeghead? Or is it because they strive to not sink to Rimmer’s smegish levels and use attacks on him as a means of defense?

Oh, crap. I over-analyzed a sitcom where Rimmer contacts a holo-virus, causing him to pull out and converse with a stuffed penguin puppet!

That seems to be what many people seem to remember this episode for; holo-virus infected Rimmer. That, my geeky friends, is just one of the many funny scenes this episode possesses. While the first half is a bit dry, once we go into Quarantine, damn near every joke connects. Rundown?

  • This dialog:
    • Rimmer: “I think that requires two hours of W.O.O.”
    • Lister: “Well, what’s W.O.O?” “
    • The Cat: (in a very dry manner) “You had to ask.”
    • Rimmer: “With… out… oxygen! No oxygen for two hours! That’ll teach you to be breadbaskets!”
  • The lineup of meals served in quarantine (sprouts are a bit involved), as well as the entertainment (which is impressively bad).
  • The revival of “smee hee”.
  • The use of the luck virus.
  • “You know what happens when you call me tetchy!” So Lister writes it.
Just… fantastic! The drier first half keeps it from achieving “best episode”, but it still deserves the praise it gets.
Favorite Scene: Can’t I just say anything shown past “Rimmer orders the crew in quarantine?”
Least Favorite Scene: I don’t think that Dr. Lanstrom chasing the crew was particularly funny.

Score: 9

Update: The title should read Episode 4, not Episode 2. Sorry.

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