Red Dwarf Review: Series X, Episode 4: "Entangled"

Airdate: 25 October, 2012

SYMBOLISM!

Synopsis: Kryten and Cat wind up in sync due to an experiment with the quantum rod. The two are full of coincidence, say the same thing at the same time, etc. Lister, meanwhile, winds up on the wrong end of a poker game against Biologically Engineered Genetic Gobblers, losing both Starbug and Rimmer. Making matters worse? A bomb is attached to Lister’s pelvis. If he doesn’t turn over Rimmer within 24 hours, or tries to tamper with the bomb, he gets blown to bits… thus ending Rimmer’s life, as Lister’s lack of existence terminates Rimmer’s runtime. (We can also presume that the bomb could do decent damage to the ship, putting the lives of Kryten and Cat in jeopardy.)

With little hope, Lister has to go down and renegotiate a poker game. However, the Cat mentions that Lister has a tendency to choke. Thus, the BEGG’s choke to death. Literally. They eat power cords and choke on them. Kryten and Cat, thankfully, are able to use their newfound power to find the maker of the ship, a chimp who was once a forgetful scientist named Professor Edgington (Sydney Stevenson).

Review: It’s often said that “Pete” and “Back in the Red” are the worst ever Red Dwarf episodes. One of the (many) complaints against the episodes is that they had too much material for the originally planned timeslot (one for “Pete” and two for “Back in the Red”), so they were extended to an extra episode. Now, though, this gave them two much time, so they had to add tons of filler. Thus, we got the claymation crew, a wretched Kryten story, and tons and tons and tons of Rimmer and Lister walking into the damn captain’s office.

This episode shows that singular episodes with tons of material, while a bit rushed, can actually work… that is, if you pump in tons and tons of comedy, as well as a very quirky theme.

“Entangled” deals with the concept of coincidence, irony, and the antithesis. Oh, boy does it deal with it. I could go into detail about it, but that would require me posting the entire transcript of the episode.

Instead, I will say that “Entangled”‘s concept is a microcosm of the entirety of Red Dwarf, if you think about it. Red Dwarf is something of a counter to Star Trek: whereas Star Trek has a very optimistic outlook on the future of humanity, displaying civilizations as enlightened (or at least passionate), Red Dwarf has all of its characters be people who, well, let’s just say wouldn’t lead the Enterprise. Coincidently, Red Dwarf premiered mere months after Star Trek: The Next Generation, and both shows hit their stride around the same time. Series VII premiered months after Star Trek: First Contact, with both showing a more “dramatic” turn for the franchises. Series VIII, considered the worst series of Red Dwarf, aired mere months after the premiere of Star Trek: Insurrection, considered one of the weaker Star Trek movies. Both were attempts to return to what made the early years great… and didn’t work out too well.

In-universe, meanwhile, this episode’s use of coincidence is pretty good. While I do think there could’ve been a bit more creativity and variety in the coincidence jokes, whether it’s the acting, the timing, or the characters involved, almost every joke hits where it’s supposed to. Prime examples? Again, I can’t list them all… so I’ll list three of them.

  • The “report forms/lost-ya-in-a-poker-game” double conversation.
  • Cat holding Roestler’s book on Coincidence just as Kryten points out said book.
  • The only person to be traded is the one nobody cares about.
Now, what problems exist in this episode? A few. For one, the pacing makes for a bit of a weak ending. Once you get the tactic, it seems like they’re trying too hard to create tension. Secondly, if nobody will miss Rimmer, why would they aim to stop the deal from coming through?
Also, there’s a small plot hole. You see, why wouldn’t they just return Rimer to the BEGGs, disable the light bee when far enough, and activate Rimmer on a new light bee? The only thing missing would be Starbug, and it would appear that Red Dwarf still has a shuttle or two, as we saw as they were traveling to the BEGG planet!
 
Yet, this might be solved by the following in-universe explanations:
  • The ship really isn’t being maintained by a computer- a Holly, a Queeg, a Pree. Granted, we’ve seen Lister repair Kryten before, so computer repair might be in store for him. Yet, he still might not be “mature” enough to really focus on repairing the computer when it’s unnecessary. Thus, the crew might not have the ability to activate a new light bee.
  • That shuttle the crew took to the BEGG planet looked small. We know how close to insanity they got in Starbug during Series VI and VII. Using that shuttle long-term would drive them beyond spare.
Again, so far, the second-best episode of the series (surpassed only by “Lemons”). Series X is actually doing decently, if not up there with the “golden years”.
Tidbits:
  • The “C-plot” of the week? The accident report forms. Boy, Rimsie really is neurotic. Eh, at least it wasn’t as pointless as Taiwan Tony.
  • Look closely, and Professor Edgington’s glasses are upside down. It’s the little things like that which make Red Dwarf such a brilliant series.
  • This episode had a few production oddities:
    • The chimp was restricted to only a few hours on set due to regulations. The original end of the plot was Lister and Rimmer bickering like a divorced couple about how to take care of a chimp. Thank you, animal regulations!
    • Stevenson was not available at the time of the transformation from the chimp to Professor Edgington, so they got a model for that scene.
    • Also, because details were still being hammered out, the final five minutes were not taped in front of an audience- rather, a copy was shown to a studio of people.
    • Steven Wickham comes back as the BEGG chief. He previously played the Kinitawowi Chief’s Daughter in “Emohawk: Polymorph II”.
Favorite Scene: The entirety of Rimmer realizing he was gambled away in a poker game. Special mention goes to Cat spelling out his Curriculum vitae.
 
Least Favorite Scene: The ending. So much unnecessary tension!
Score: 8.5
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