“How do I break this to you… you’re a moron!” – Rimmer, to the Cat after his date.
“Oh, Rimmer. Go easy on him. Let me handle this. Cat, man, you’re a moron!” – Lister, for once, agreeing with Rimmer. Bring on the giant meteor.
Airdate: 27 October, 2016
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: While cutting across an asteroid belt to get back on course, Starbug winds up coming across a largely deserted ship. It’s crew – a mercenoid and a prisoner. After some confusion, the crew take out the mercenoid, and the prisoner is rescued. Said prisoner, Ankita, happens to be of the Cat’s species. Cat becomes smitten with the very similar prisoner – assuaging his own anxieties regarding his love life (or lack thereof) – and goes on a date with her.
Unfortunately for him, Ankita happens to be a Polymorph who intends to deposit her eggs into the Cat. Ergo, the end of the Cat’s first date results in him becoming pregnant – thus becoming the third person on board Red Dwarf to become pregnant, and the second male.
Well, here we are. The last episode of Series XI. Hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years since I began looking at this silly little sci-fi show – one that is more than the sum of its parts. And, so far Series XI has been rather solid. There’ve been no truly spectacular episodes, but I would argue that a couple of episodes have been great, and the rest, so far, have been good.
So, will Series XI continue the trend of stable quality? Will it break my expectations and be one of the most spectacular episodes of the series? Or will XI putter to the end?
Well, let’s start my analysis with the fact that this episode focuses on the Cat.
Yes, the Cat. As I mentioned in my review of “Can of Worms”, the Cat’s primary role has been to provide some level of comic relief. The downside to that is that his character development hasn’t been as front and center as it has been for other characters. Sure, he’s become (marginally) less selfish, as well as showcased his fantastic piloting skills and reflexes. However, there have been scant few attempts for episodes to focus on him. Let’s take a recap so far of episodes that could be considered (even somewhat) Cat-focused.
- “Waiting for God” – was ultimately more focused on Lister dealing with holy wars fought in his name, as well as Rimmer’s hypocrisy on the matter.
- “Back to Reality” – Beautiful as this episode was (to the point where I consider it, on an objective if not subjective, level, the best ever Red Dwarf), Duane Dibbley was just one of four alter-egos for the Red Dwarf crew. Sure, Duane did a lot to flesh out Cat’s own insecurities, but it was treated more comically compared to the Brothers Doyle or Jake Bullet.
- “Emohawk: Polymorph II” – Duane really comes back in the second half (thanks to the eponymous creature), used for fanservice only to see an equally warped Rimmer attempt to kill him in an act of Ace-esque heroism. What a guy.
- “Identity Within” – an attempt to give Cat pathos and expand on his more lustful side. Never produced, because “Duct Soup” was apparently considered a better script. (No, I don’t know what the BBC Two Commissioner had for lunch that day.)
- “Back in the Red III” – Not only did he take up the Duane Dibbley persona (which he loathed), but tried to get the crew off the Dwarf with a dance sequence involving Blue Midget. All littered amongst a cavalcade of puns.
- “Give and Take” – pegged for a Kidney donation. Time travel then happened, saving him from a Kidney donation. Plus, the doctor in charge wasn’t trained for DNA rewriting.
“Can of Worms” tries to rectify that by focusing on the Cat finding his perfect mate – in effect, a stripped down version of “Identity Within”. Yet, while “Identity Within” was scrapped so Doug Naylor could make Kryten into a whiny, petulant child and give the audience a non-medical form of NyQuil, this episode winds up being… rather good. Surprisingly good, in fact, given the relative lack of attention to the character in previous episodes.
While it was touched upon in the aforementioned “Back to Reality”, this episode starts by looking at Cat’s own insecurities. We all think of the Cat as the source of bravado, of flamboyant brilliance and unflappability. Once he remembers that his own view of himself as the greatest lover on the ship is but a fantasy, he suddenly becomes more anxious, more paranoid. He thrives on his status, and without it, he feels like he’s the butt of the joke. The fact that a Polymorph (Ankita) appeals to his ego by being exactly like him is no coincidence – by appealing to his lust for love, ego, and flamboyance, she is able to lure him into her trap – impregnating him with Polymorph eggs.
- Am I the only one that got a weird terrorist-esque vibe from Kryten’s description of the Mercenoids? I mean, free upgrades in Silicon Heaven? Y’know the trope of terrorists committing heinous acts in the name of their God to get the touch of virgins in heaven?
- The fact that Rimmer has a tape telling himself that he is attractive really speaks levels to just how pathetic he is. “All I wanted is to love, and to have been loved.”
- Interesting that the Cat doesn’t know what a Caesarian is, given that Rimmer demonstrated quite well in “Parallel Universe”.
- Downloading the brain? Ah, “Bodyswap” throwback. Flash drive instead of tape backup? Ah, the 80s were a strange decade. Vinyl records competing with new forms of music media, strange hair, sprite-based videogames, electronic-styled pop music storming up the charts, pop culture figures being elected President, a rise in nationalism, a conservative woman as the British PM…
Favorite Scene: The Cat’s euphoria mixing with the others realizing that he’s pregnant with Polymorphs.