Balance of poweR

\ Summary | Highlights | Review | Commentary highlights | Other comments | Fanbase opinions /


Lister gets increasingly sick of having Rimmer as his only real company, not to mention the constant orders he gets from his so-called superior, and desires to see Kristine Kochanski once again. Rimmer has hidden the hologram discs, and even if Lister did know where they were he wouldn't allow her to be loaded, fearing Lister would never load him up again.

Lister proceeds to take the chef's exam in an attempt to officially rank higher than Rimmer, much to the hologram's dismay, who tries in desperation to make him cancel the exam. Not even making himself appear like Kochanski changes the situation, and Lister passes the exam successfully.


LISTER: Do you remember Kristine Kochanski?
RIMMER: Navigation officer? Yes, I remember her. Snooty cow. She used to look down on me. She used to call me "Rimmer."
LISTER: ... everybody called you "Rimmer."
RIMMER: Well, it's the way she said it, though. Rimmer. Rimmer, to rhyme with "scum."

LISTER: How about Kristine Kochanski? You could've brought Kristine back!
HOLLY: Your entire life, your shared conversations with her totalled a hundred and twenty three words.
HOLLY: In terms of wordage, you shared a better relationship with your rubber plant.
LISTER: I know, but Rimmer!
HOLLY: He's the person you knew best, over fourteen million words in all.
LISTER: Holly, over seven million of those were me telling him to smeg off, and the other seven million were him putting me on report for telling him to smeg off.
HOLLY: Jean-Paul Sartre said hell was being locked forever in a room with your friends.
LISTER: Holly, all his mates were French.


A decent episode. The plot practically takes a backseat in favour of Rimmer being a complete and utter asshole for the whole episode, and that's what makes it so fun. The events of the episode, if we assume continuity is actually important, do seem a little mundane in comparison to what just happened previously - they've just witnessed Lister's future self speak to them and seen one of his sons die, and only now they're getting around to cataloguing the supplies?

Of course, this episode was originally second and Future Echoes would have been episode 4, but things got shuffled around for the broadcast order; and it's for the best, I believe. While this episode is enjoyable, the story isn't quite as captivating as the bizarre and mysterious events taking place in the last one, so to shuffle this one to later was a wise move, I believe.

One brief scene I'm particularly fond of is Lister sitting alone in the ship's disco: the lights are out and no activity is taking place, as he reminisces to before the accident, where he recalls having good times with his friends and, of course, screwing over Rimmer for no reason but his own amusement.

It's a scene that's mostly there to demonstrate Lister's contempt for Rimmer even before he was stranded in space with him, and also for the memory drugs that Lister would later use during his exam, but I love it just for the... poignant scene with Lister sitting alone. He had plans to live life and enjoy himself, and now he's left to drift aimlessly in space with the man he hates most in life, permanently doomed to an awkward odd couple relationship rather than having a proper social life.

Of course, what Holly says about "being locked in a room with your friends," it could almost have been more tragic for Lister to be stuck with one of his best friends and having to come to the realisation that they're flawed and unlikeable in a lot of ways; with Rimmer, pssh, he was always a smeghead, so nothing changes.

I'm describing it pretty horribly, but it's a vibe I feel later series mostly forgot about - I think the introduction of Kryten in series 3 made everything appear that much more optimistic, but before then despite the comedy, there was this feeling of the characters having to find joy in the smallest things since their lives were essentially doomed. Hence, of course, Lister revelling so much in getting back at Rimmer.

And Rimmer... hoo boy, Rimmer! He's the life and soul of this very episode, simply because, sure, he was a bit of a dick in the previous episodes, but to an almost tolerable extent, perhaps. Here, he's an out-and-out asshole, using every opportunity he can to be a true bastard towards Lister - the "black card" bunk scene is ripe with it, particularly his delayed dismissal of Lister's suggestion, and later on his pathetic plea for Lister to cancel his exam, trying to weasel his way into claiming they're the most bosom of buddies, yet still denying him any of his personal desires for happiness.

Even that is assholish both because of the intent and how he laughed at Lister when he broke his spine in three places. The fact he stoops so low as to replace his own visual data with Kochanski's for the sole purpose of belittling Lister in an attempt to prevent him from rising in rank is just... jeez.

Even other remarks such as finding fault in the way Kochanski addressed him and insulting his own appearance under the belief his ears belong to someone else, he's just an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I try to diversify my speech as best as I can, but in all honesty, asshole is the only word I can use to describe Rimmer in this episode. He's an asshole!

Of course, it's amusing how in later episodes he would be portrayed in a more complex and self-loathing manner that could almost make him sympathetic, if it weren't for his attitude as a whole negating any potential of receiving any sympathy.

Besides being a total mega asshole, there's a running gag throughout the episode of Rimmer's visual data being glitched, which isn't particularly humourous: it leads to an entertaining scuffle battling Petersen's arm, but the rest of the gags are pretty meh. Admittedly it's nothing major, and with the casual pace of the plot they have to fill the time one way or another, but the visual gags just aren't terribly enticing, especially in comparison to the rest of the Rimmer material. Although only vaguely related, I have to say I positively love the "I'm having a woman's period" line. It's just perfect Rimmer ineptitude.

Meanwhile, other people get jokes! The Cat gets a great little scene with Rimmer where he wheels away a hoard of cigarettes, which he recognises only as "shiny things," but after a bit of bargaining he trades it all away for information on how to acquire six fish. It's a simple gag, but Danny John Jules' energetic performance always brightens up the scene.

The Skutters are also given a bit of personality as they're seen watching an old cowboy film, a gag that would be expanded further in series 2. So far they've been pretty meaningless, and admittedly they're never important or relevant in any way at all, but I just love the Skutters for some reason. Even the brief "please don't leave us with Rimmer" note in Future Echoes was an amusing display of personality, and admittedly it works much better than most of the talking machine garbage. Similarly, since the Cat is rarely important to the plot and never gets a true standalone spotlight episode in the series, I always like to pay attention to his scenes.

Lister's final comeuppance of Rimmer is satisfying, and I almost wish it was expanded further in the following episode, but given how Rimmer already explains he wouldn't respect a chef even if he was legally a higher rank, it wouldn't really have equated to much. Still, after a full half hour of assholery, it's nice for Lister to have a minor victory.

Commentary highlightS

CHRIS: See, those were the old days of two-spin salutes.
CRAIG: That was a two-spinner, yeah?
DANNY: That was before we started getting all the letters about how many spins do you do.
CHRIS: Mmm. So we had to settle on... five.
CRAIG: In series 8 you did about a hundred and eighty, didn't you?
CHRIS: In one scene!
DANNY: And then you had the double barrelled. You had the both-hander.
CHRIS: It took us hours to get this, to work up a salute, Doug was saying, "yeah, let's see a salute, Chris, how would Rimmer salute, he would salute differently." We spent, what, four days working out the salute. Well worth it, I have to add. Not as long as it was to work out Kryten's accent. Another story.
DANNY: The walk was the best bit.

DANNY: I used to love lying down on those bunks. It was annoying when, like, someone came up and said, "I have to fix up the set a bit."
CHRIS: Did you ever nod off?
CRAIG: I did, yeah! Not in the middle of the scene.
DANNY: Did you ever have a kip on there, Norm?
NORMAN: No I didn't, I wasn't ever allowed onto the set.
CHRIS: Danny, you did nod off during a scene, didn't you?
DANNY: I've actually slept on the bed, I think there was a scene going on, and I think I had a line...
CHRIS: You had the best line in the scene by the end of the scene, and you were asleep for it.
DANNY: Do you remember that?
CRAIG: But you were always like that, Dan!
DANNY: I had like one line at the end of the scene, but I had to lie down like for about, I don't know, a couple of minutes, and of course, when the line came I blew it.
NORMAN: I was never allowed onto the set because she wouldn't let me. D'you remember her? She was horrible to me.

Fanbase opinionS

Although praised for having some great character interaction, nobody ever seems too fussed about this episode. I don't see many people claiming it's terrible or fantastic, but mostly just somewhere in the middle. The Japanese poll ranks it as the second-lowest of this series.