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Entangled is the fourth episode in Series X of Red Dwarf.

It is the fifty-ninth episode overall.

Overview

Lister loses Rimmer in a game of poker to a group of Biologically Engineered Life Forms and in return gets an unwanted gift: a groinal exploder programmed to detonate in 24 hours unless Lister pays his debts. Meanwhile, Kryten and Cat become quantum entangled and do everything in perfect unison.

Summary

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The episode opens with Dave Lister (Craig Charles) walking into the Red Dwarf Drive Room, only to find something massive on little monitor two. He radios in to Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) in order to inquire about it, only for the mechanoid to inform him that it is in fact his massive oversized doner kebab as requested. Struggling to eat the massive dish, he accidentally spills a mass of tomato juice and curry sauce onto one on the consoles, setting a large fire which Lister only eventually manages to smother out with lager and more food. Satisfied, he returns to his meal, only to be interrupted by a computer notice that life-signs were detected.

Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) comes in only to smell the smoke and is horrified by Lister's actions, demanding that he henceforth follows his new regiment of health and safety protocols. Lister mocks Rimmer by noting that it was Rimmer himself who wiped out the original crew in the first place due to a lack of care and attention, but Rimmer nonetheless states that his new rules are vital to the safety of all on board ship and demands that Lister fill in an accident report form. Lister dismisses it all, more interested in seeking out the source of the readings on the monitors.

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Cat holding The Roots of Coincidence

Meanwhile, the Cat (Danny John-Jules) is on the prowl, seeking to kill a Space Weevil wandering around the deck. Kryten wheels in a experiment tray, and explains to the Cat that he was investigating the crystals from the earlier recovered quantum rod. He explains that as well as being a transportation mechanism, it also is capable of driving coincidence and synchronicity. Sure enough, the crystals start affecting the two of them, leading to them speaking in unison. Surprised, Kryten realizes, based on a book called The Roots of Coincidence by Arthur Koestler (which, coincidentally, the Cat was using in his hunt), that they have become quantum entangled and will be therefore more psychologically prone to coincidence during states of high emotion, only for them to both shout together "Space weevil!"

Kryten heads into Lister's sleeping quarters, hoping to inform him of his latest discoveries, but is shocked to find him floating outside of the ship with a jet-pack. He hastily lets him in through the main airlock, and Lister explains that he went down in Starbug to a nearby moon, and found it populated by Biologically Engineered Garbage Gobblers, or BEGGs. After asking them if they had seen Kristine Kochanski, he spent an evening with them playing poker in their watunga and getting drunk on GELF Hooch. Horrified by the apparent absence of Starbug, Kryten quickly works out that Lister has lost it in the card game, only for Lister to admit that he also lost Rimmer while trying to get the ship back. Speaking of Rimmer, Kryten hands Lister another section of accident report forms, which Lister promptly throws out the airlock.

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Lister floats outside Red Dwarf, having lost Starbug to the BEGGs on the BEGG moon.

Later on, Kryten is drying cutlery using his rear "heat outlet", only for Rimmer to walk in, gawk, and then ask about the whereabouts of Lister. He also inquires whether or not Lister has filled out the forms yet. Kryten explains what he did with them, to which Rimmer responds by demanding that he file out yet more forms due to the fact that he opened an airlock. Excited by this prospect, he heads off to inform Lister of his new obligations, after first putting up a warning form on the airlock door and leaving his box of forms behind. He finds Lister feeling repentant about losing Rimmer to the BEGGs, which Rimmer misinterprets as him being sorry for not filling out the forms, delighting the hologram. After learning the truth however he is not best pleased, although the much amused attitude of the Cat regarding the situation certainly did not help (which, as he cavalierly explains, he has no obligation to do anyhow).

Rimmer demands that they go off at full speed and try and outrun the BEGGs, only for Lister to reveal that he actually did make at least one acquisition from his past excursion: a Groinal Exploder set to go off if he does not pay up on his debts within the agreed time frame (which the Cat initially thought was a fashion accessory). Lister had spent half the night trying to work out a way of deactivating it, only going so far as to surmising that it was manufactured by a group called ERRA, with Kryten agreeing that the BEGGs are far too primitive to have constructed it themselves. Realizing what else that entails, Lister decides that they should try and take advantage of their foes' low intelligence. Resolved, the crew head down to the BEGGs' moon in Blue Midget and try and dissuade them away from taking Rimmer by in return giving them the "fabled spoon of destiny", freshly dried by Kryten a few hours earlier.

Unfortunately the BEGGs prove to be brighter than they first appear and decide they prefer their "sexy light man" and "ship of green", but their chief (Steven Wickham) does offer Lister the chance of a rematch, placing both Kryten and the Cat on the line. With no other choice, Lister agrees, still believing that he will be able to outsmart them. The Cat doubts this greatly, stating that he will just choke again under the pressure. Lister denies this, saying rather that they will choke. "They'll choke?!" Kryten and Cat call out, "They won't choke!" Coincidentally, all four BEGGs begin to choke to death after attempting to consume electrical cords, leaving Lister without any other option to deactivate the groinal exploder. Realizing this, Kryten suggests that they try to utilize both the Cat and his powers of synchronicity to track down the origins of the device. By making deductions based on a randomly playing black and white film and the cover of the aforementioned book, the spacial coordinates of the ERRA space station are discovered.

Kryten explains that ERRA stands for the Erroneous Reasoning Research Academy, which was founded on the principle that great theories come from combining two incorrect ones. To aid this process, ERRA brought together the most error prone thinkers of the day, including such groups as weather reporters and television critics. Unfortunately, this premise proved to be, predictably, just as erroneous as its products. The crew land on the station and take a lift up (by pressing down) into the station's stasis deck, with Rimmer stating that he somehow feels at home here. They detect a life sign in one of the booths, and send Rimmer through the vault's walls in soft-light projection mode, coming out again with a 31 year old female brunette who is most certainly not, as Lister much hoped, Kristine Kochanski. Instead, Rimmer presents a chimpanzee (Peter Elliot) identified as Professor Irene Edgington, head of the ERRA institute and inventor of the groinal exploder.

They bring her back to Red Dwarf, and Kryten finds out that she was de-evolved into a chimp by an error, of course, in one of her own experiments into controlled evolution. Using her device properly this time (something Kryten finds ridiculously easy, confounding him as to how someone could get it so wrong), they restore Edgington (Sydney Stevenson) to her full and naked glory. Once given back her dignity but evidently not her wits, she immediately begins to take an interest in Rimmer, while also making such errors as noting Lister's skill as a "trumpet" guitarist and the "enchanting" nature of their grubby and drab sleeping quarters. Redirecting her to the matter at hand, they put her scrambled brains to work on the problem of deactivating Lister's exploder.

She explains, in an erroneous manner, that they have to hit four Greek characters in the proper order, or else activate the device's detonator. They successfully go through the first three letters by picking the ones she does not pick, but Kryten and the Cat clue into a curious synchronicity based on her given name being Irene and her nickname being Professor E, making her name Irene E or "irony". With the bomb's timer ticking down, Lister finally decides that they should just go with the clue, and this time actually accept the irony of her getting the last one right at last. With only seconds left, Kryten presses the final button, and proves once again that the powers of coincidence are on their side, setting Lister free.

Edgington and Rimmer take a stroll through a nearby corridor, debating the ethics of an immediate sexual encounter, with Rimmer strongly arguing in the idea's favour. Breaking up this erroneously tender moment, Lister comes in from outside the airlock in a space suit, only for Edgington to trip on the box of Rimmer's safety forms and fall in. Horrified, Lister and Rimmer insist that she does not make the fatal mistake of pressing the release button, but of course she never could do anything right. Despondent, Rimmer looks on helplessly as she is sucked out, while Lister picks up the box of forms and asks Rimmer if he has a pen on him with which to report this most terrible breach of crew safety.

Guest Stars

Deleted scenes

As available for viewing on the Series X DVD:

  • At the beginning of the episode, as Lister picks ups the giant kebab that Kryten has prepared for him in the Red Dwarf Drive Room, Lister intercoms Kryten that it is so big that it should come with instructions.
  • The scene wherein Lister reveals that he has lost Rimmer in a poker game with BEGGs is extended. After explaining that he had nothing else they wanted, he thought he was sure to win as he had "three fives", but Kryten reminds Lister that it isn't actually such good cards. Cat replies that's why Lister doesn't gamble much - because he isn't very good at it - and why he only normally gambles with Rimmer as a bargaining chip.
  • An extension to the scene in the BEGG Chief's hut. As the BEGG Chief asks why, if the "spoon of destiny" controls all things, Lister would be trading it, Lister says they "don't use it anymore". Rimmer pipes in, saying that it's just like his "ab-cruncher" that just sits there gathering dust, and that their interest in controlling all things has dropped off. Rimmer then remembers that he's not supposed to be talking, and is in fact meant to be acting like a babbling imbecile, and quickly goes back to his former ruse.
  • The scene in the entrance elevator going up into the ERRA Station was originally significantly longer. Most of Kryten's exposition about the ERRA Station was instead trimmed and moved to an earlier scene, in the cockpit aboard Blue Midget.
  • The scene is also significantly extended where Lister wonders if the woman in stasis could be his old girlfriend and missing Dwarfer Kristine Kochanski, since they are both the same height, hair color and age. Lister promises that, if it is Kochanski, he'll get out of the knacker attacker, clean his act up and tell her how he feels. He also ponders that if she isn't interested, he'll remind her that they have a duty to restart the human race by breeding. The Cat says that he should put his argument to her just like that. Writer Doug Naylor felt that it slowed the episode down too much. It was also part of a story arc planned prominently for Series X regarding Lister trying to find Kochanski, that was ultimately retained in the broadcast series but to a much less extent, instead trimmed to a few mentions.
  • A reference to a contemporary, topical issue at the time of broadcast was cut, as Lister likens the intelligence of the chimpanzee Irene to the President of FIFA. A similar FIFA gag would later be used in Series XI's third episode "Give & Take".

Notes

  • This episode states that Rimmer was in fact responsible for the deaths of the original Red Dwarf crew in the Cadmium II leak, which contradicts Kryten's legal defence for Rimmer in "Justice" where he stated that he simply felt guilty about it. The others may have been lying when saying Rimmer was responsible.
  • The sequence also conveniently avoids mention of what happened to the nanobot resurrected crew from Series VIII.
  • Lister also refers to 'the original crew' as the same ones who was wiped out in the radiation leak and not the nanobot resurrected crew which would obviously mean that the resurrected crew was the same crew who got wiped out & then got resurrected but Lister could've probably only been referring to them originally being wiped out in the Radiation Leak.
  • In this episode it also states that Kochanski is '31' years of age, but in Series VIII it states that she's "hurtling towards 30", making her at the time in her late 20s; in Back to Earth 'Nine Years' have passed since that extended amount of time. Still, given how fast and loose the series plays with time (six months elapse from the Dwarfers' perspective in "Lemons", for example), there's no way to tell at this point what "real time" is.
  • Every single guest character in this episode dies in a notable way, with the BEGGs choking and Edgington being sucked out an airlock, unlike in "Trojan" where Howard Rimmer dies but Sim Crawford is merely paralysed for the foreseeable. Not a single character dies in the previous episode, the only time in the series other than in "Dear Dave", with Pree being uninstalled in "Fathers & Suns"
  • Continuity is maintained with "Fathers & Suns" by only the case of Lister's guitar being directly mentioned, and not the instrument itself, as Lister had sucked that out of an airlock earlier in the series to punish himself.
  • Despite being projected by a light bee, Rimmer is able to walk through the door when he is reverted to a soft-light form; most likely, the projection unit Kryten triggered was another means of generating Rimmer's hologram without the need for the light bee.

Background Information

  • The legs that appeared when Professor Edgington was restored were actually that of a model, Sydney Stevenson having not been cast when the scene was filmed.

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • Rimmer: What’s that smell? Has there been a fire in here?
    Lister: Just a small one. I put it out with me beer.
    Rimmer: For goodness sake, Lister, that’s terrible!
    Lister: Don’t panic, I’ve got another one.
  • Rimmer: Lister, we have health and safety protocols for a reason: to safeguard the crew.
    Lister: What crew? The original crew? They all got wiped out remember?
    Rimmer: Exactly.
    Lister: By you.
    Rimmer: ...Exactly!
    Lister: When you didn't fix that drive plate properly, and that radiation leak fried them to a crisp.
    Rimmer: ......Exactly!
  • Kryten: You’re up late, sir.
    Cat: Been hunting. Trying to swat this damned space weevil. Little sucker keeps outsmarting me.
    Kryten: Well they do have an IQ of two sir
  • Kryten: He's speaking "choking to death", sir. It is very hard to translate if you are not being strangled.

Reception

Initial ratings for this episode were under a million viewers, with only 928 thousand or 4% of the total UK television audience, making it the second lowest rated episode of Series X, behind "The Beginning".

The episode received a largely positive reception in both the media and the fan community, with criticism mainly being directed at the episode's rushed pacing and overfill of ideas, particularly with regards to the ending; which is explainable given the episode's last minute rewrites.

The prominent community website Ganymede & Titan summed up the episode with "As with the previous episodes this series, misgivings about plot and guest characters can be easily mitigated by good, old fashioned genuine laughs. Logic problems aside Entangled has delivered the most interesting and idea-rich plot yet, but also by far the biggest laughs. More assured writing and ever improving performances have a gone a long way towards elevating this episode above all that came before it, and I really hope this a trend that can continue over the next two weeks and into Series XI."

References

  • Much like the previous episode, "Entangled" contains many library music cues that had been used in earlier episodes. These include a Cat theme from Series I and the oppressive dark opening theme used for Holly's episode introductions in both Series I and Series II, which plays as the crew land on the BEGGs' moon.
  • The BEGG Chief is played by Steven Wickham who previously played Lister's GELF bride Ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech in the Series VI episode "Emohawk".
  • Dialogue in this episode also clearly reminds viewers about the events that took place during the Red Dwarf pilot episode "The End".
  • Lister losing a crewmember (although it is Rimmer in this case) and also losing Starbug in a poker game with BEGGs is reminiscent of what occurred with the Brefewino in "Identity Within", the "lost episode" of Series VII, where virtually the same happens.
  • Professor E's death by being sucked out of an airlock is strangely reminiscent of the story Kryten told Lister to explain Kochanski's disappearance as was referenced in Back to Earth. His quest to find her again is mentioned several times in the episode, continuing a series plot thread.
  • The way the quantum crystals affect people's psi abilities is very similar to how the Luck Virus is described as working in the novel Last Human, and both feature a sequence where they are used to proffer up spatial coordinates.
  • Professor E being de-evolved into an ape creature is similar to what Baxter and Kill Crazy accidentally do with the time wand in "Pete, Part Two".
  • Kryten's exposition on the nature of ERRA has been described by several commentators as similar in style to the narrations of The Book in the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • The title of "Biologically Engineered" rather than the traditional "Genetically Engineered Life Form" has been a source of some consternation within the fan community, but is perfectly consistent with Doug Naylor's turncoat approach to naming conventions; the Space Corps, for example, having been referred to as both the "Starfleet" (Last Human, "Back to Earth, Part Two") and as the Space Federation ("Back in the Red, Part Three") within his solo works. For all intents and purposes it appears that GELFs and BELFs are synonymous, as stated by Steven Wickham himself.

Plot inconsistencies

  • Lister acts surprised to learn that the BEGGs can speak English, which makes it seem odd that he was able to play poker with them earlier untranslated.
    The "Universal Translator" mentioned in "Epideme" may explain this.
  • The ticker timer on the groinal exploder varies greatly throughout the episode, with it even reading "0:00" while still on the BEGG moon. Later on, during the keypad sequence, it actually ticks upwards from "6:27" to "7:58" and finally "8:24" before eventually appearing under one minute.
    Given this device was invented by Professor Edgington, this is perhaps not so surprising.

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