After the nanobots rebuild Red Dwarf, Dave Lister and friends crash land Starbug on board and discover that the original crew have been revived. They are arrested for flying Starbug without the necessary rank or qualifications and put on trial.
Dave Lister (Craig Charles), Kristine Kochanski (Chloë Annett), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) and the Cat (Danny John-Jules) are brought before a board of enquiry, and Captain Frank Hollister (Mac McDonald) requests their permission to use psychotropic testing during their trial. The four agree and Captain Hollister asks them to sign a letter of consent each and place them in envelopes provided. Later Kryten is taken away for a physical examination and, due to his lack of a penis, is classified as a woman. They also offer Kryten a deal; if he agrees to undergo a system restoration then the charges against him will be dropped. Kryten does not want to say yes, but can not say no to superior officers. Kochanski tells Kryten to imagine the officers sitting on the toilet to help him. Kryten finds it works, then imagines Kochanski sitting on a toilet for his own amusement.
Later, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) with the information he has gotten out of the confidential crew files, visits Captain Hollister's office with a report detailing the dangers of loose drive plates. Hollister is impressed by the in-depth report, and Rimmer, using information from confidential reports Lister gave him previously, continues by giving Hollister one of his favourite foods snaffled from the cargo deck and some pile cream. Rimmer even has blueberry muffins just like Martha used to make.
Hollister gives Rimmer an envelope and asks him to post it. Rimmer seals the envelope before noticing that it is addressed to him. Hollister tells Rimmer that he is inviting him to the captain's table that evening (the first time since gazpacho soup). Rimmer can not believe how well the scheme is working and visits Lister in his cell. However Rimmer has decided to end the deal to help Lister escape, and has copied the confidential reports meaning Lister does not have to supply him with the information. Rimmer then tells Lister that he has the positive viruses and intends to use them. He leaves, but does not realise that Lister has managed to expose himself to the luck virus, which he uses to guess the codes needed to escape the cell.
Kryten is asked for his decision regarding getting his corrupted systems repaired, and the mechanoid still can not say no. In order to give him the courage, he steals a security guard's gun and, taking Kochanski's advice way to seriously, forces the superior officers present to sit on toilets. Amused by this, Kryten finally refuses to have his systems restored... however his actions have caused the crew to decide to proceed anyway. Afterwards, Kryten has been returned to his old ways of servitude and politeness. Lister breaks Kochanski out of her quarters and, while in the lift, decides to make the most of the opportunity to try out the sexual magnetism virus on himself. Although it works at first and Kochanski practically throws herself at her ex-boyfriend, she returns to normal after a few seconds and Lister realises that the positive viruses cancel each other out. Later, after getting the Cat released, the three look for Kryten so they can all escape only to discover that he does not recognise them and has returned to his factory settings. Lister, Kochanski and the Cat start looking for a new disguise, since the Cat refuses to wear his over his normal clothes. Suddenly Cat hits on a great idea... with black mop heads and fake teeth with overbites they can pretend to be the Dibbley family.
At dinner, Rimmer has taken the sexual magnetism virus in a very large dose and charms everyone. While the women look at him adoringly, Rimmer impresses Hollister with his theories on future echoes and universes where time runs backward. Rimmer soon finds the sexual magnetism virus is not so great, as every time he gets up to fetch refreshments a female guest follows him and forces him to have sex with her, successively wearing him down further and further and forcing encounters with those he would prefer not to be with.
Lister, Kochanski and Cat are bluffing their way past the crew with their geeky disguises and claims to be computer programmers, when they run into Kryten again who begins to recognise them. Knowing that recognising them will cause him to feel happy while also exposing them to the danger of being discovered, Kryten feels ambivalence, an emotion he had been trying to master before. This undoes the system restoration and he turns back to normal. The four continue their escape from the ship.
After yet another sexual encounter, Hollister discusses the psychotropic testing he's conducting on the others and reveals that Lister and co merely believe they are escaping when in fact they are really in artificial reality where their actions are being monitored. Rimmer, who realises that Lister could end up mentioning the deal they had regarding the confidential files and land him in a heap of trouble, excuses himself and scrambles to the AR suite. On his journey, he decides to try and regain some of his self-control and stops off at the dental practice and injects his groin with anaesthetic. It spreads to his left leg, however, and he is forced to hobble to the AR suite while the female crew still admire him.
The following deleted scenes were not restored in the hour-long, "Xtended" version of the episode, but are available for viewing on the Series VIII DVD:
- The original version of the scene in Hollister's office did not include the famous, extra-long Rimmer Salute. It was re-shot, in part, to better begin what became "Back in the Red II". The original version has Rimmer being even more weaselly. Hollister asks Rimmer to take his nose out of the captain's behind, as Rimmer tells him that he will tell his grandchildren about being in the office, and is standing on the actual carpet that Hollister himself stands on. Since Rimmer has access to the crew's confidential files, Rimmer also knows it is Hollister's anniversary to his wife Martha Rimmer presents the captain with a cake to mark the occasion. It is a tangerine sponge cake, just like Martha used to make, and it makes the captain emotional.
- Two extensions to the scene where Kryten sits with Kris Kochanski on her bed in her bunk, and discusses the fact that he's been reclassified as a woman. Kryten reveals that his new name is "Kristen", which he thinks sounds like the title of an Ed Wood movie. When he says that he has no "meat and two veg", to which Kris replies that she knew it was "a meal with loads of calories". Kris says that, as a woman, Kryten will now have to start being selfless, overprotective, never stop working, and constantly complain about guys' poor aim round the toilet bowl. She then realises he's already nearly there.
Notes of special interest about the episode.
Interesting, funny or relevant dialogue in the episode.
- With Kryten having been defaulted to his factory settings, posh English accent and all, it was considered that David Ross could make a return. In the end Robert Llewellyn impersonated the accent.
- Mac McDonald reprised his Captain Hollister character.
- Andy Taylor played Counsellor McClaren, the ship's psychiatrist.
- Karl Glenn Stimpson played MP Thornton.
- Kika Mirylees appeared as CMO Karen Newton.
The David Bowie song "Space Oddity" is referenced in this episode as when the cat was struggling to come up with an ident to say to the ground controller, Lister whispered "Major Tom".
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