Body swaP

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In an attempt to stop the self destruct system (which turns out to be a false alarm), Lister briefly has the brain of a senior office injected into his body. This gives Rimmer inspiration to acquire a human body by such means, borrowing Lister's under the claim of getting him fit and healthy. He proceeds to binge and indulge slobbily, and when threatened with having the human body taken away from him, makes a run for it; he's eventually caught, but everyone still suffers for it.


RIMMER: You've reached that age, Listy. When you're younger you can eat what you like, drink what you like and still climb into your 26 inch waist trousers and zip them closed. Then you reach that age - 24, 25 - your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag, and then without any warning at all, you're suddenly a fat bastard.


Once again, the opening scene is fantastic, dropping us into a situation with a great sense of drama and danger without having to bludgeon the audience over the head with a monster attack or something - a rampant Skutter has rewired everything haphazardly and they're in danger of doing unpleasant actions from the wrong facilities. Thus, they accidentally activate the self destruct system simply by using a vending machine.

Okay, the tension is very short lived until the self destruct sequence starts, but Holly's bickering about what to do is amusing and the risky procedure of trying to dupe the process is a nice bit of sci-fi. You know they can't kill the crew because it's not even ten minutes in, but it's a very interesting scene with some rather bizarre technology. The Cat accidentally dropping Lister's brain in his coffee cup is one of those throwaway gags that I just love, and the female-mind-in-Lister's-body trying to cope with the mind change in the midst of being blown to bits is fantastic. It's a brilliantly-crafted farce, piling more and more tension on until the whole thing ends up to be a dud - they never had a bomb. Great stuff.

This episode brings back vibes of series 1 where Rimmer was desperate for a human body or at least some kind of superiority over Lister - he kind of dropped that, but his long-winded complaint about Lister's weight and health is amusing, especially with the ridiculously exaggerated descriptions. The idea of the two swapping bodies under the hope of Lister losing weight is a rather interesting idea, and one could almost see a market for it in reality; why spend effort losing weight when someone else can do that effort for you, at the expense of you using a loaner body for a while? Of course, this is Rimmer we're talking about, and the episode clearly shows that he cannot be trusted with anything, nor should his promises be believed.

One could argue, dude, how does a mind swap give them different voices? One could also argue, dude, where's the fun in having their original voices? Seeing the opposite voices come out of their mouths is inherently amusing, accompanied with the ridiculously out-of-character acts like Lister sawing off his dreadlocks and wearing the "Captain Emerald" uniform, as well as Rimmer with Lister's hang-loose attitude.

Then, of course, topping it off with their newfound changes in their swapped bodies from Rimmer being a greedy, slothful bastard (though what else is new?) to Lister being incessantly grumpy and frustrated with the abuse of his body. To make a tangential comparison to Polymorph, seeing the characters go through rather different attitudes or personalities always entertains me.

Also, "jozxyqk" is a great term. A completely throwaway thirty second scene, but the world is a better place with its inclusion.

It's kind of interesting how obsessed Rimmer gets with owning the body and the sensation of food and drink again. It's clearly been shown since the start of the series that holograms can drink and shower simply by asking Holly, and the end of this series would show that they can even get drunk, but I guess simply by the fact it is mere digital emulations of those sensations that it pales in comparison to the real deal.

In theory, there was nothing stopping Rimmer from binging and being a fat git while he was a hologram (except maybe being switched off, I guess), as later series would even show that despite being indestructible, holograms could still change and even contract illnesses, but I guess it is simply having all his former power back again. Besides, if he were possessing the body of the last human, even if he upped Lister's slobbiness and scummy behaviour up to higher levels he wouldn't be called out on it because, hey, he's the last human, he deserves respect!

His attempt to pass a girdle off as a "hernia prevention kit" is brilliant, especially with the claim that the dangly parts for stockings are for carrying weights around. It's increasingly pathetic when he resorts to gorging on late night meals beneath the bed sheets, and it must be completely devastating for Lister especially when he gets his body back; it's bad enough to observe it from the outside, but then entering his body again and having the sensation of being fatter, unhealthier and a pair of lungs like a cheese grater is not at all fun.

Rimmer trying to pass it off as not his fault just makes it even worse - yes, Lister was hardly in the best shape to begin with, but badmouthing the body he had to use as his sole means of enjoying food again is certainly a major dick move on his part.

And then he friggin' steals Lister's body while he's asleep! It's, dare I say it, a beautiful demonstration of just how selfish and backstabbing Rimmer can be, especially when he's got a loyal mechanoid toadie to do his dirty work for him, and the fact he even flees in Blue Midget simply so he can enjoy his gorging in peace and threatening to kill himself is just... Christ, there's no way to describe it, is there? Rimmer's a bastard, yes, but this is like major ass-dickery.

The Cat's comparison to lending a garbage truck driver your Rolls Royce is very apt, especially when everyone is very familiar with what a total smeghead Rimmer is. It's bad enough him just fleeing in a ship with Lister's body, but Rimmer actually going to such dangerous extents as to fly in the perilous rocky planetoid shows just how loopy he is, and also makes for a rather entertaining chase scene. The set is wonderful, and the slow-motion camera makes those crashes look so fantastic. I may critique the later series for how they emphasise action over story, but they did allow for some beautiful small-scale sets and action for the ships, which I truly admire.

Even after being caught, Rimmer still gets the last laugh, and it's amazing just how much of a victory this episode is for him. He riles up Lister further by pretending he lost his arm in the crash, but even once Lister is back to his usual body he's the one who has the repercussions - he's the one left with the injuries and put on a miniscule diet for six months, only for Rimmer to forcibly swap bodies with the Cat and pig out in his body. It's quite possibly the most bastardly Rimmer has ever been to his comrades, and it's a good thing the mind swap is never seen again or else he would be having a merry old time being a bastard.

The episode admittedly isn't really the most memorable for me - it and Timeslides seem to be the two episodes of this series I always forget about, but there's a certain charm about this one; it's certainly not a bad episode, but it's probably the one with the least laughs, though it's definitely got a very entertaining premise. The frequent bunk scenes seem to give a series 1/2 about it.

Commentary highlightS

[coming soon!]

Fanbase opinionS

I can hardly find any well-written opinions about this episode! Most comments I've seen about it are on Star Trek forums, so I guess the body swapping concept appeals to them. I'm totally talking out of my ass, man. This one is the second worst of this series according to the Japanese poll.