Stasis leaK

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Lister reads through Rimmer's diary, discovering not only secret love letters to television stars, but also an entry about seeing his own head appear on a table and tell him how he can save his life, while Lister finds a photograph of himself and Kochanski at a wedding. It turns out to be a result of a stasis leak that allows them to venture back to the preserved ship, prompting Lister to try and rescue Kochanski, Rimmer to save himself, and the Cat to get as close to a woman as he possibly can.

Lister finds an alternate version of himself as Kochanski's husband who claims he'll achieve this in five years time, while Rimmer's plan doesn't end well since at that point in time, he's after having consumed a hallucinogenic breakfast...


CAT: What is it?
RIMMER: It's a... rent in the space-time continuum.
CAT: What is it?
LISTER: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.
CAT: What is it?
RIMMER: It's a singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.
CAT: What is it?
LISTER: It's a hole back into the past.
CAT: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?

LISTER: Why do women always leave me for total smegheads? Why do they dump me for men who wear turtleneck sweaters and smoke a pipe - I mean, natural yoghurt eaters! Reliable, sensible, dependable, and lots of other words that end in "ible"! I bet he's obsessed with house prices and spends half his life in antique fairs looking for bargains and drinkin' wine! It's never beer, is it, it's always wine! "What do you want on your corn flakes, darlin'?" "Oh, I'll have some wine, please!" Smeg...!
CAT: ... you can all that just from a photograph?!


An episode with great potential, as the basic concept of returning to an 'archived' pre-accident Red Dwarf is ripe with ideas to explore and antics to get up to, but I personally felt that the episode didn't explore it very much at all, and the pacing seemed kind of odd. Despite the titular element wasting no time in appearing, the characters don't get utilizing it to its full extent until about two thirds of the episode are gone, most of the time spent until then figuring out the limitations of it and how they should make use of it. And then, when they do use it, it's not really anything new. Still, it's got some decent scenes.

See, the chance for the characters to revisit the old ship is a fun idea; the first episode of series 1 spent half its runtime there, and then there were several flashbacks to it throughout the following episodes, but the characters never got the opportunity to see their old crew again; okay, it wouldn't really achieve much since Rimmer had no chums, Lister is made interesting because of his interaction with Rimmer, and the Cat would just be there to lust over women, but you get what I'm saying, right?

Although it's not emphasised at all, if you think about it it's kinda sad seeing the ship again, bristling with activity, as they arrive two weeks before the accident hit - thus, the people there only have two weeks before they die, and thus it's kinda cute to see Lister react to warmly to seeing Petersen again. Of course, after that they don't get interacting with anyone much, since their goal is to try and get either Kochanski or Rimmer into the stasis pod; it's nice for them to actually have a goal rather than just traipsing around the place with no real intention, but it essentially means they rush along without any time for the writing to make the most of the situation.

Lister's goal is, of course, to get Kochanski into a stasis pod, but it turns out she's on planet leave, so they make their way to her hotel (I'll tackle that oddity later!) which is an amusing sequence, with another instance of chuckle-worthy machine humour with the talking suitcase. It also contains the Cat's rather brainless behaviour amidst Lister's struggles with his initial depression over thinking he was the groom, followed up by his future self absolutely loving the discombobulated reactions of his past self to the situation.

Almost like the previous episode where Rimmer's attitude took a U-turn after his perceived relationship with Lise Yates, it's interesting how Lister becomes a bit of a dick after finally getting what he wants; okay, I admit he's talking to his past self and an old friend so it's more just the typical laddish behaviour of being an asshole to your friends in the name of good fun, but still. I don't know if it was intended, but Lister's warning not to see Run For Your Wife is a sly little piece of foreshadowing for series 3's Backwards; it's probably a different year and he obviously didn't mention he'd be in a backwards universe, but it's the same basic fact, right?

Rimmer, meanwhile, tries to convince his past self to go into stasis, unfortunately after he unintentionally consumed some hallucinogenic , prompting him to believe his future self's pleas are just wacky nonsense. The past self's exaggerated reactions to everything are great, Captain Hollister entering in a chicken suit only raises the greatness, giving us some great lines ("Well, we have a bit of a problem there, don't we? I don't take orders from poultry."), and Rimmer's second attempt to convince him is a great way to end the episode, where all the various Listers and Rimmers enter and confuse matters - I particularly love the random entrance of the Rimmer from the double-double future.

It does raise a few questions about the science of the stasis leak, and you kinda wonder why Rimmer, if he knew about this in his diary, didn't try a different approach, but maybe the way time works is that he's doomed to do whatever he did but hasn't done yet.

So, yeah, stasis. The hotel scene makes for a nice change of scenery and has some good moments, but it does puzzle me. I admit I don't know the science of stasis, but I basically see stasis as the metaphysical equivalent of putting something in a block of ice for a million years and then thawing it out. Except, y'know, time is encased inside. It suggests that, being a leak, it's existed up until three million years later, so three million years of the ship's "history" is preserved, and that's comprehensible.

But I see stasis as something that can't be modified; they could get people back, sure, but future versions wouldn't change it (since it's an archival of time as is) and it's obviously restricted to just the ship, so them going to that hotel on another planet is kinda wacky. A stasis pod I can wrap my head around, because it's basically just a sci-fi block of ice - what's inside won't change at all until it's opened, but a stasis leak really complicates matters; it has archived Red Dwarf, but does that mean it also archives all the space it has travelled through, and all the areas the Blue Midgets and other vessels have travelled to?

Of course, my belief that it's an archival of time "as is" seems to imply that time travel modifies it later; Lister hasn't gone into the past to marry Kochanski as of the present (the timeline shown in the show), so seeing him in the past is the only indicator that that will happen, so, technically, has that...? MY HEAD HURTS. Not to mention that I could be using this time to speculate crap in a better episode!

But, yeah, the basic story feels kinda limited (they've got the whole ship to see again, and they just go back to the bunkroom and a hotel?), so how does the rest of the episode before that fare? Well, not too bad. The opening is great, with Rimmer reading his professionally-written report of his "voyage to trip-out city" to Captain Hollister, which really shows how petty Rimmer can be when he wants to.

The image of hologram Rimmer's head rising from the table is a great way to get the story rolling, and makes as a fabulous hook to keep watching. Likewise, Lister reading Rimmer's diary makes for a good chuckle (particularly his love letters and rather blunt descriptions of her features), but Lister finding the photograph of Kochanski's wedding with him as the groom is a great way to give Lister a valid reason to take part (though even without it he was likely going to get Kochanski back anyway); admittedly they do force the plot to go the directions it went, so my complaints that it didn't explore the past Red Dwarf more are kinda unfounded, but still.

The lift scene is also a decent laugh, and makes for an amusing view of how most sci-fi goes overboard in emphasising what a pessimistic and unpleasant place it'll be, even in the simple realm of going up and down elevators.

The episode certainly isn't bad, but it admittedly feels a little weak, and despite the rich concept of being able to see the ship again when it was still active, not much is really done with it, instead preferring a retread of Rimmer meets Rimmer material (it's good material though!) and Lister seeking Kochanski.

There's some good gags, for sure (I'm particularly partial to the Cat covering the eyes of the Marilyn Monroe poster while saying "Don't look, baby, I'll drive you crazy!"), but the story isn't exactly gripping and the concept feels a little wasted. If I recall correctly, it's the last time we ever see the pre-accident ship until series 8, and although it ain't bad, I can't help but feel it could've gotten a more vivid and interesting visit. It's still a decent watch (you could certainly be watching worse), but I might actually have to be blunt and say that I feel it's the weakest of this series.

Commentary highlightS

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Fanbase opinionS

General consensus seems to view this episode in a more positive light; I'm probably seeing it too much from the sci-fi potential angle and not the comedy angle, but it's said this is one of the funniest episodes of the early series, and one commentator says it's the closest a story comes to being farcical in the series. I don't see how, since there really isn't enough time spent on the character plots to emit that vibe, but what do I know? The Japanese poll ranks it at number five in this series, with 11.9% of the vote.