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Red Dwarf is faced with a plethora of black holes to navigate through, forcing the crew to split up and evacuate and rendezvous later, though Lister and Rimmer's ship is struck by an asteroid and crashes on a remote ice planet. Lister is given no choice but to burn their possessions, eat dog food and engage in conversation with Rimmer, undergoing some strenuous times before they're rescued, but not without an exchange of emotion between the two.


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Let me just say it: the beginning is positively brilliant. There's no faffing around with build-up or having some unrelated fluff scenes before the threat shows up, it simply starts with Red Dwarf being surrounded by black holes with the characters already in the process of packing and evacuating. Holly's explanation is brilliant ("the thing about space - your typical space colour..."), and seeing Rimmer's valuable possessions and his casual demonstrations of being a stingy, selfish git is subsequently great.

I know I've said before about how Kryten's addition to the show added a certain extra element to it which, admittedly, mostly made Holly rather redundant, but he's essentially the driving force for the story between Rimmer and Lister to work. If this story took place in the previous series before Kryten came aboard, the three of them would have just stuck together and stayed in one ship (it's not like it would've done them any favours to split up, would it?), but evening the crew out with a fourth person gives them the opportunity to split up for a sensible reason.

The first two series had everyone sticking together (minus the usual times where the Cat would be elsewhere so Rimmer and Lister could have their bunk scenes) but this and the previous episode show how fun it can be to split the gang up, and I am very thankful for it in this episode.

The discussions between the two really highlight their differing priorities and interests - I mean, it was pretty bloody obvious beforehand, but even simple things like how they think about themselves or the way they recall the time they first lost their virginity, it shows how Lister is your typical guy with the average expectations of life, while Rimmer has to think of some poncy and sophisticated excuse behind his natural human desires ("And why is it, whenever I'm with a large group of women, I have this overwhelming urge to bathe them in warm olive oil?").

Their virginity spiel is great, especially with how differently they approach the subject - to Lister it's just casual conversation while Rimmer skims around the subject and instead spends more time talking about his brother's car than the actual intercourse. The buttock crevice line is great. Also, I can't help but find it particularly amusing how despite outright loathing each other, the two of them would apparently still hang out even when they went on planet leave, judging by how Rimmer left Lister to take care of a bar fight he started.

I don't think I've ever really commented on it before, but the model shots for Red Dwarf have been consistently brilliant from my perspective, and from this series onwards they now take Starbug to various new and exotic places with some beautiful small-scale effects going on - the crashing on the ice planet is great, and the exterior shots of the barren wasteland is remarkably immersive; it's hard to tell when they switch between a model set and real footage, if they do use real footage, that is!

Not to mention that it's where the aforementioned setting comes in - the two people who hate each other with undying loathing now trapped with no obvious means of rescue. Hilarity ensues! It's even better how only one of them has the risk of death and the more apathetic of the two is essentially unfazed by the situation.

I can't help but wonder why there's dog food on Starbug if Red Dwarf has a strict quarantine against animals. If I may say so, the scene of Lister eating the dog food is fantastically shot. It's a simple gag, but it really captures the feeling of unpleasantness and nausea right to a T!

Rimmer's angst about Lister burning the books to keep warm is a part of the episode I can't help but love. Three million years in the future, quite possibly the only copies left of those literature in the entire universe (that they know of, at least), a link in history to times many, many millennia ago, and for the sake of one man's safety, they are cast to the flames as mere firewood. For an art fag like me, that's pretty horrendous!

We all know about how Shakespeare wasn't considered that great back in his day and other plays were considered more high calibre, but now he's remembered and they're forgotten, but I've frequently pondered what if some other guy was even better than him, but his or her works didn't make it through to our era intact. There's so much literature and art we know of, but probably countless masterpieces that were never seen by anyone other than their authors or artists.

Of course, my little pet peeve is only loosely related to the subject at hand - as Lister says, in a cultured society they are considered art, but in a primitive society where they need all the resources they can to stay alive, any work of art on a combustible medium is just little more than firewood.

Rimmer is very angsty about Lister so much as damaging his chest and the antique toy soldier models, and both consider them a link to their pasts and histories; Rimmer's chest and Lister's guitar were the only possessions they've kept with them since their adolescence, and even in a cruel and unforgiving situation where they need all they can get to stay alive, they still desire to hold onto them for as long as they can. Rimmer may be antsy about how valuable his possessions are, but due to the fact he's three million years in the future it's not like there are any convenient antique dealers where he can make a profit off them or whatever, but they're still important to them.

Of course, Lister screws over Rimmer in the name of being selfish, resulting in a really brilliant farce-like scene where Rimmer is so adamant about burning all his possessions under the belief that Lister wasn't being a conniving git. The entire episode relies on the contrast between the two and their attitude, it's beautiful seeing the two grow so close over the events that had taken place, and the fact they lasted long enough to be rescued just shows how far it got them, but seeing Lister sheepishly take his hidden guitar out of the closet in full sight of a watching Rimmer is just wonderfully awkward.

Holly's explanation for the black holes makes the episode that much brilliant and ties it all together - Lister and Rimmer work towards liking each other and have all their effort destroyed by Lister valuing his guitar over his friend, and ultimately the whole thing was pointless because Holly can't use a scanner-scope properly, after they went to all the trouble of their elaborate evacuation. Oh well!

It's a fairly simplistic story, but this episode is a brilliant change of pace; it has the basic elements of an adventure story, but it's ultimately a great characterisation piece with some brilliant jokes and interaction between the two characters. Series 3 is recognised for being some great stories and mixing things up in terms of style and setting, and this episode is a prime example. The cast have even commented how it would make a great stage performance, and I wholeheartedly agree. One of the more memorable episodes of the series, if just for how it gives us more insight into the characters.

Commentary highlightS

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Fanbase opinionS

Quite often seen as one of the best episodes in the whole series. Not just of series 3, but the whole damn show - and it's no surprise. People love the character humour in the show and this episode is rife with it, not to mention the memorable gags and character development between the starring duo. The Japanese don't seem quite as enamoured if that poll is anything to go by, as Marooned is ranked at number 4.