The last daY

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A mail pod arrives at the ship containing a message from the company that produced Kryten, announcing his shutdown in 24 hours. Lister is embittered at this callous disregard for a mechanoid's life, moreso at the beliefs Kryten is programmed with to take his death in stride, and throws a large drunken party to make his last day go out with a bang.

The vaguely-defined "shutdown" is actually the arrival of a new mechanoid to replace Kryten, who has gone insane over the millions of years trying to find the ship and tries to kill everyone, but Kryten, armed with the power of persuasion, defeats the newer model.


LISTER: How do we stop it? Isn't there something we can do?
KRYTEN: I'm afraid not, sir. All mechanoids are supplied with a built-in expiry date. Well, if we lasted forever, how would the manufacturers sell the latest models?
LISTER: I can't believe it.
KRYTEN: Oh, don't be distressed, sir. I've lived a long and relatively interesting life. The only truly terrible thing is that, as my adopted owner, you have to die with me.
LISTER: ... you what?!
KRYTEN: Joke. Deadpan mode.

RIMMER: Maybe I should talk to him. Maybe he needs a bit of counselling.
RIMMER: I used to be in the Samaritans.
LISTER: I know. For one morning.
RIMMER: I couldn't take any more!
LISTER: I don't blame you. You spoke to five people, and they all committed suicide. I wouldn't mind, but one was a wrong number! He only phoned up for the cricket scores!
RIMMER: Well, it's hardly my fault that everyone chose that morning to throw themselves off buildings! Made the papers, you know. "Lemming Sunday," they called it.


The third series comes to an end, and once again, it's a memorable episode - possibly the strongest one so far. It's interesting how Kryten has only had a mere six episodes for the audience to get acquainted with him, having very little input on two of those episodes, yet for someone who's still a new kid on the block in terms of screen presence, the events of this episode well and truly cement his position in the show and as a fan favourite.

He hasn't had a lot of highlight in this series, especially since his close friendship with Lister hadn't been explored yet, but you can see the roots of it taking place simply with their idle banter in the first couple of minutes. Lister's dislike of the master-servant relationship is taken further in series 4, but even the friendship they have now is enough to make the audience care for him. It's probably the first time where Kryten is actually spoken to casually and not just for means to advance the plot, and it contains a few good gags, most notably Lister eating his breakfast out of his hat.

And then they receive a message that Kryten is to shut himself down in 24 hours, solely because he's an outdated model. Lister is quite pissed off about that, but Kryten, obviously having been aware of this and programmed to deal with it, sees it as the natural order of things.

I've always long been interested in the concept of treating a mechanical construction as a living creature with emotions and feelings, and it's probably because the subject is so variable - in reality all we've got are microwaves and a few decision-making programs in businesses, but in sci-fi it seems everything has got artificial intelligence to some degree, and Red Dwarf is a particularly egregious example; even friggin' vending machines and toilets have personalities and attitudes that extend beyond basic operational behaviour.

Kryten is little more than a service mechanoid whose main goal is to clean up and look after people, so the manufacturers could have just given him the barebones features... yet he's somehow got knowledge of the whole universe, knows all manner of impractical procedures, and, let's face it, he really is just a mildly obsessive human with a condom for a head. Meanwhile, Rimmer doesn't care terribly much about it and continues to see Kryten as only a mechanical slave. Food for thought.

What particularly drives Lister mad is how Kryten has been programmed to believe in "silicon heaven," which is a particularly nasty twist added to the idea of pre-scripted operational failure. As I said, if Kryten were little more than a very simple service mechanoid, he probably wouldn't even have enough personality to question how or why he was to be shut down.

Instead they are led to believe they are working towards a spiritual cause, to live happily and carefree without duties after they have expired. I've no personal experience with media that explores the idea much (or explores it in a non-crappy manner), but Mega Man 9 handled it in a particularly sloppy manner: Whoops, despite being fully operational with no real need for being replaced, robots are going to be destroyed! Cue robot rampage. At least Kryten believes he's getting the better end of the stick by being replaced, and he's hardly capable of rampaging to a deadly degree anyway.

Kryten's beliefs are treated as a springboard for Lister to tackle religion - the topic of silly beliefs had already been covered before in Waiting For God in series 1, but it seemed to focus more on the terrible stuff people were doing to each other over silly arguments, whereas this example is about how Kryten is happily accepted his life of being a toady and servant under the belief that he'll ascend to a higher plane of existence at the end of the ordeal.

It's treated pretty bluntly ("his beliefs are a load of baloney!") in comparison to the less oppressive manner of series 1, though that's probably it's out of the character's hands; Kryten believes in silicon heaven solely because the manufacturer needs to market their newer wares, but Lister was directly responsible for the religion in Waiting For God by not only creating the cat people, but also leaving enough junk in his absence for them to start looking into them for messages.

Of course, like Waiting For God, the conversation is interjected with moments of Rimmer banter, such as his hilarious stint in the Samaritans and the bizarre beliefs of his parents as Advent Hoppists.

The idea of having a party for Kryten is nice; again, not everyone really respects him, but everyone is willing to give him the night of his life to make it all worthwhile for him, echoing Rimmer's death-day scene in Thanks For The Memory. The Marilyn Monroe robot kit allows for some amusing lines ("she's a robot? You're kidding!") and there's lots of wonderful drunken banter amongst the crew, such as Lister puking from the top of the Eiffel Tower and the mess being sold as a painting, and Rimmer's unfortunate midnight encounter with his uncle; everyone ribbing on Lister's parentage is amusing, even if it is part of a retcon I was never too fussed on personally, but it's worth it just for the line, "I feel a Jackson Pollock coming on."

The hangover scene is also brilliant, especially the items they randomly wake up with ("We're on a mining ship, three million years into deep space... can someone explain to me where the smeg I got this traffic cone?") and Kryten's internal diagnostic regarding his night of debauchery.

After a rather easygoing if melancholy storyline, the climax throws in a twist by the arrival of the new mechanoid which has gone space crazy over its long time looking for Kryten and wants to terminate him and the rest of the crew. It's yet another demonstration of the more action-y vibe of the series from this point onward, but it makes for some amusing scenes such as Rimmer trying to look brave in front of the psychopathic giant.

Hudzen is a great villain. He's imposingly tall, he's got a wonderfully gravelly voice, and despite being a simple service mechanoid, his basic look even without the giant gun is remarkably threatening; it's really weird seeing the actor without his makeup in comparison to the very chiselled and slick look he has here. Also, where on earth did Lister get that shotgun from?

The solution is amusing, Kryten convincing it that there's no silicon heaven and prompting it to shut down, showing some ingenuity from Kryten; he didn't shut down because he knew he was lying. The very idea that Kryten can lie adds something to the character, and that aspect is explored further in series 4.

The climax may sound like it's a cop-out, but it actually turns out pretty well - they have the closest the show can get to a fight with Hudzen, a few amusing lines and injuries here and there, and then Kryten drops the logic bomb. It's certainly more satisfying than Polymorph, where they've just spent five minutes cracking unrelated gags in another part of the ship, then the threat is blown up a few seconds afterwards.

A very memorable episode - the melancholy character-driven story feels like it's straight out of series 1 or 2, while it obviously features some great gags, and then ends on a fun action sequence. It's got a bit of something for everyone, and most importantly, it shows just how fun Kryten can be - he's more than just a mindless servant, but he's got remarkable intelligence and even unexpected cunning. He's a valuable asset to the show, and despite being a new character the audience can truly care about him. A very fun story, some fantastic gags and, of course, a wonderful finale to the third series.

Commentary highlightS

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Fanbase opinionS

Nobody really seems to hate this episode; it's either considered merely good, or one of the all-time best in the series. The aforementioned variety of elements (action, drama, comedy) seem to make it particularly endearing to most fans, and the Kryten-centric storyline is applauded. This episode steals 26.6% of the votes in the Japanese roll, ranking it as the best of series 3.