The boys from the Dwarf discover a portal which allows them to travel back in time three million years, to before the accident which wiped out the rest of the crew. Lister wants to use the opportunity to solve the mystery of a photograph he has found of himself marrying Kristine Kochanski, something which never actually happened. Meanwhile, Rimmer wants to use the opportunity to save his own skin - literally - but there is only one working stasis booth, and his past self is badly tripping out on drugs.
The episode begins with a black-and-white flashback to three million years earlier, to before the crew of Red Dwarf was wiped out by the radiation leak. Called into Captain Hollister's office, a nonchalant Dave Lister is due a reprimand as his bunkmate and superior Arnold Rimmer, at stiff attention, explains to the captain what has occurred, whilst the captain gets increasingly irritated by Rimmer's extended complaining.
Rimmer explains in detail how on the morning of 26th February, Lister had offered to cook him breakfast, which unknown to Rimmer contained a consignment of smuggled hallucinogenic fungi, Titan Mushrooms. Rimmer then went "on a voyage to trip-out city", and turned up to morning inspection parade naked except for a pair of mock-leather driving gloves and some blue swimming goggles. Under the influence of this psychedelic breakfast he went on to attack two senior officers, believing them to be giraffes who were armed and dangerous.
Lister, with his feet up on the captain's desk, is asked if this is true. Lister confirms it is, and he did it because he thought "it would be a laugh". The captain sentences Lister to two weeks of Punishment Detail, which infuriates Rimmer, who believes that the penalty for a crime of this nature should be fifteen years imprisonment in the ship brig. The captain says that two weeks PD is enough, and Rimmer gets annoyed, telling the captain that he has "his head right up his big fat arse." He also sticks a pencil up the captain's nose, and rips up and eats a photograph of the captain's wife, claiming it to be a publicity shot for Planet of the Apes.
Outside in the corridor, Lister and Rimmer get cups of tea from a vending machine and Rimmer complains about how he himself now has eight weeks of PD. Lister tries to apologise, saying that he got the mushrooms from a locker which must have belonged to Headbanger Harris, and he dare not say anything since he does not want to get anybody in trouble. After Lister fetches the space suits from their sleeping quarters, Rimmer is momentarily alone, during which he sees a holographic version himself, complete with a "H" on the forehead, rise up out of the table. Staring at what he believes to be another hallucination, the other Rimmer tells him that he has come from the future by means of a "stasis leak" on Floor 16 to save him. Rimmer looks at his coffee suspiciously, thinking that Lister has doped him again, and wanders off.
The episode then jumps forward three million years, to our present, and Rimmer enters the sleeping quarters to find Lister reading Rimmer's diary. Rimmer is annoyed, especially since Lister has been reading the "best bits" to the Cat (such as Rimmer's love letters to Carol McCauley). Rimmer says that he has read Lister's diary, which is full of puerile nonsense about Lister's old crush Kristine Kochanski, but at least Rimmer "had the decency to do it sneakily behind your back". Lister tells Rimmer that he has been going through Rimmer's diary for a reason - after searching through Kochanski's quarters, Lister had found a photograph of himself marrying her, something which never happened in reality of outside of his plan. Lister then deduces that they must somehow go back in time for this to occur, and reminds Rimmer of the entry in this diary in which he writes about seeing his own head pop up through the table and say that he came from the future to save his (Rimmer's) life which Rimmer himself (in the diary entry) took to be an hallucination.
Holly interrupts on the monitor to ask "what is going down in Groove Town". Lister asks Holly what a "stasis leak" is, but Holly does not know. Rimmer bemoans that Holly is supposed to have an I.Q. of 6,000 yet never knows anything, but Holly retorts that it is only the same as 12,000 car park attendants. Lister, Rimmer and the Cat then decide to investigate what the "future Rimmer" had said in Rimmer's diary, and begin to make their way down to Floor 16, where "future Rimmer" said the stasis leak was. Since that is 2,567 floors away, the are forced to take one of the Xpress Lifts, which Lister despises due to the fact that these journeys take a long time, coupled with his claustrophobia. It doesn't help when a recorded video of the Lift Hostess begins playing, offering them a viewing of Gone with the Wind and cyanide capsules should anything go wrong.
Arriving on Floor 16 three hours later, the trio fall out of the lift with apparent jet-lag, with the Cat clutching his stomach and complaining about how the food container tasted better than the chicken. Walking down the corridor, they see an old stasis booth apparently malfunctioning, and next to it an eerie, humming blue glow surrounded by white smoke. Lister says that it must be the stasis leak, and walks into the blue glow, emerging into an adjacent showering room - although to his shock it is full of miners, very much alive, and shaving. Returning back through the glow before he is noticed, he tells Rimmer and the Cat that it is safe, and they all go through.
Standing in the shower, Lister and Rimmer theorise what could have caused the stasis leak, and struggle to explain it to the Cat. Lister supposes that, since a stasis booth freezes time, a stasis field leak must preserve whatever it has leaked into, and it has leaked into the shower room. From a date on the way, they reliase that it three weeks before the accident which wiped out the crew, and that Red Dwarf must still be in Earth's Solar System. A man then tries to enter the shower and is surprised to see Lister, Rimmer and the Cat there. Lister says to him that it is the "Annual General Meeting of the Agoraphobics' Society", and closes the curtain.
Rimmer wonders whether it would be possible to bring anybody back to their own time through the stasis leak - namely, himself - and they decide to try an experiment. Lister picks up a bar of soap, and they walk back though the stasis leak. However, the soap has turned into three-million-year-old dust when they emerge on the other side. The Cat quips that it would be an excellent idea to try and bring Rimmer back through the stasis leak if it would turn him into dust.
Back in their own time, Lister and Rimmer have a long discussion back in the bunkroom. Lister says that he is going to go through the stasis leak and stay in the past, even at the cost of his own life, so that he can spend three weeks with Kochanski. Rimmer is scared of being left alone, and implores Lister to stay in the name of friendship, even though Lister reminds him that they don't like each other. Lister says about how people move on, and as an example tells Rimmer about Duncan, his best friend during childhood and who taught him how to put mirrors on his shoes so that he could look up girls skirts. Duncan had to move away to Spain due to a bank job his father had pulled, but Lister was reminded of Duncan every time he looked at his shoes. Rimmer decries his own luck and gives Lister his own story - at how a pet lemming he once had bit his finger and wouldn't let go, and so Rimmer had to smash its brains out against his favourite helicopter wallpaper.
When Lister mentions that there is another functional spare stasis booth (his past self being in the other one), Rimmer declares that he is going to get his past self into it, so that he won't die. He even hopes that this will create two versions of himself; an alive one and a hologram one. Lister then resolves to get to Kochanski first, and get her into the stasis booth before Rimmer so that Kochanski will survive the radiation leak. Rimmer decides to get a head start and sneaks out in the night to the stasis leak.
In the morning, Lister decides to take the Holly Watch (containing his own future version of Holly) and the Cat along with him into the past for help. Holly doesn't like being a watch, dangling about all sideways and upside down. Holly also begs Lister not to put his hands in his pockets, since he is terrified of a fluffy liquorice allsort in there. The Cat wants to wear a glittering silver tuxedo to what will be his first meeting with human women, and Lister has trouble trying to get the Cat to wear old, stained overalls so that he will be inconspicuous. Going back through the stasis leak, Lister embarrassingly bumps into a naked man in the shower. Lister asks if he ordered a kiss-a-gram, then runs off, awaiting the Cat. The Cat appears and asks if he saw a short human with pigtails pass through. The Cat awkwardly glances down before he leaves, telling him that it is the personality that counts.
Soon after, Lister and the Cat emerge from an elevator into a corridor outside the docking port, where Lister sees his old drinking buddy Olaf Petersen carrying heavy cases for two women returning from planet leave, and telling them that he is very good in bed. Lister runs over to Petersen and is ecstatic to see his old friend, who he hasn't seen in years from his point of view, although Petersen had seen him only that morning for breakfast. Lister says that he he has missed him, calling him a smelly-arsed smegger, and kisses him. Petersen wanders off, telling Lister that he will kill him for ruining his chances. Lister is then forced to keep the Cat from following women around, since the Cat has never seen women before.
In the meantime, future Rimmer passes by past Rimmer and past Lister, as they talk beside a vending machine about their recent sentence to Punishment Detail. Future Rimmer then goes into the sleeping quarters, and waits for his past self to enter. Coming up through the table, he tries to tell his past self to go into stasis, but his past self is having none of it, thinking that his future self is a "mushroom". Future Rimmer hides as Captain Hollister enters to try and make amends with past Rimmer, and tell him that he is going to cancel his Punishment Detail. However, the captain is wearing a chicken suit that he has donned for a fancy dress party that night, and Rimmer believes that he is seeing another hallucination. After giving the captain numerous insults, threatening to put an onion up his bottom, kicking him in the groin and throwing green paint all over the captain, Rimmer ends up with eight years PD from the furious captain.
Lister and the Cat go to Kris Kochanski's quarters, but only her roommate is there, who tells them that Kochanski is on planet leave on Ganymede. Lister is forced to pull the Cat away from her. Off-screen, Lister and the Cat take a shuttle down to the moon and track Kochanski to a luxury hotel there, the Ganymede Holiday Inn. Whilst the Cat avoids a talking suitcase and attacks a women with a fire extinguisher who is wearing fur (which the Cat takes to be a live animal), Lister determines the room number where Kochanski is from the mechanoid receptionist.
Lister is devastated to see the room is a honeymoon suite with a "do not disturb sign", meaning Kris has just got married. Lister then believes that the man who married Kochanski must be the man stood next to them in the photograph, instead of himself. Holly tries to console Lister by telling him about his own previous failed love affairs. Kochanski then appears out of the honeymoon suite, and invites them in. Inside, Lister discovers a bearded version of himself from five years into the future (the one from the photograph), who has found another way to go back in time and married Kris. Present Lister then realises that he doesn't have to try getting her into the other stasis booth, and leaves happily to go back to his own time knowing it is his destiny to find Kris again and marry her. As they leave to go back to Red Dwarf, the Cat reveals he has stolen their bottle of champagne.
The present Lister and Cat return to their past quarters to collect the present Rimmer, who is still hiding inside the table. Past Lister is sleeping soundly in his bunk, and past Rimmer is awake but trying to recover from his mushroom-induced ordeal. Shocked by the appearance of more duplicates, he believes them to be a new hallucination and tries to remain calm. However, a third group of Dwarfers appear - their future selves from the time where Lister and Kochanski are married, including future Lister and Kochanski in the doorway, and a future mustachioed Rimmer appearing from the wash basin. Overwhelmed by the arrival of these duplicates, the past Rimmer, still believing he is hallucinating, snaps and yells for them to go away.
- Additional dialogue regarding Holly's computer senility was cut for time. To try prove he is not feeble-minded, Holly attempts to impress the Boys from the Dwarf with his archaic knowledge of 20-century British football.
- The shower set was eventually replaced with location footage - in which nobody ever saw the extra's bottom when the Dwarfers appear in the past. The original shot can be seen on the DVD, which includes more mocking of the guy in the shower's manhood.
- Two extended dialogues - an extended version of Lister's 'already married' lament is followed by his excuse for being in a hotel corridor when discovered by Kochanski; that he is collecting room numbers in the same manner as a train spotter. Both dialogues were trimmed for broadcast.
- We learn that Red Dwarf has at least 2,500 decks, and it takes long enough for a lift to descend to Level 16 that it's treated similar to an airline flight, with an in-service meal, a showing of Gone With the Wind, and cyanide cyanide pills to take if the lift fails, which will result in certain death. Having so many levels makes it impractical for the ship to have only 169 crewmembers (per earlier episodes); later, the crew count will be retconned and increased tenfold to 1,169 in the Series IV episode "Justice".
- Another later retcon would apply to the time period of Red Dwarf. In this episode, a digital clock reads the date (on the older version of the ship) to be 22nd March, 2077. This was done merely to signify that the Dwarfers had successfully travelled back in time three million years. However, later episodes would explain that Red Dwarf left Earth's Solar System in the more realistic later 2100s. For example, Lister's "birthdate" was said to be sometime in 2155 ("Ouroboros").
- This is the final ever appearance of Lister's best friend Olaf Petersen, although Petersen is heavily mentioned in later series, especially Series VII, Series VIII, and Series X.
- This is the last appearance of the captain of Red Dwarf, Captain Frank Hollister in the earlier series, who is seen in the episode during a flashback. This would be the last appearance of Captain Hollister until he and the rest of the crew are resurrected in the flesh by the nanobots in the first episode of Series VIII.
- This is the first appearance of a pre-accident Red Dwarf since the Series I episode "Balance of Power". A pre-accident Red Dwarf would not be seen again until a flashback in the Series VII episode "Ouroboros".
- In the flashback scene to before the accident, Captain Hollister orders Lister to two weeks Punishment Detail painting the outside of the ship for giving Rimmer Titan Mushrooms - a pointless exercise in an absolute-zero vacuum. Lister is seen doing this in the opening to episodes in Series I and Series II.
- The events on the old Red Dwarf take place approximately three weeks before the radiation leak. Since no reference is made to Frankenstein, this suggests Lister obtained her after the "Titan Mushrooms" incident.
- Rimmer says he's been dead for 3 years at this point, indicating 3 years has passed since the events of "The End", and a year after the events of Kryten in which its indicated 2 years had passed.
- Future Lister - the one who has married Kochanski - has some advice for his past self and says: "three years from now, you'll go through a cosmic storm and end up in a parallel universe. You'll materialise on an exact replica of Earth in the year 1989. You'll want to go to the theatre. Whatever you do, don't go and see "Run For Your Wife." It is possible that this was intended to be a reference to the Time Hole and HtraE in the episode "Backwards" (although that was a version of Earth in the year 1993). "Backwards" is a later episode which would open up Series III.
- Despite setting up a follow-on storyline for a future series, the idea of Lister in five years marrying Kochanski was not mentioned again. Coincidentally, Lister and the Red Dwarf crew would have access to time-travel technology just prior to the five-year limit after finding the Time Drive in Series Six' Out of Time, making it possible for him to have gone back and married Kochanski. Although this may have been changed due to a time alteration ("Timeslides") and a couple of major paradoxes ("The Inquisitor", "Out of Time"). Certainly by the time Kochanski becomes a crewmember in Series VII there is no reference to them having been married.
- The episode strongly implies that, as Kochanski is fully aware of the Cat and the hologram Rimmer, that in all likelihood she did not die in the Red Dwarf radiation leak since it's unlikely she would have allowed herself to die. (This would not explain why Holly identifies one of the piles of ashes as being her in RD:The End, however, though it's possible he was asked to identify any old pile of ashes as hers.) It also means that Kochanski was already married to Lister when she and "young" Lister exchanged their final words prior to his being sentenced to go into stasis.
- In "Back to Earth", Craig Charles reacted to Lister in the same way that Rimmer reacted to his future hologramatic self, both thought it was a narcotic flashback, with Rimmer it was Titan Mushrooms, with Craig Charles it was Crack Cocaine.
- The scenes in the Ganymede Holiday Inn were filmed at the real-life Midland Holiday Inn, with actual hotel guests shown in the foyer, and the confrontation scene being filmed in the real Room 008.
- Before the final scene was filmed, Clare Grogan was accidentally told she had finished her scenes and left the studio, so the Kochanski who walks in with the future Lister is actually Dona DiStefano, an Assistant Floor Manager (in a very big hat) and Clare's lines were excised from the final shooting.
- In the original version of this episode, during Holly's opening spiel he says "we saw a moon shaped exactly like Felicity Kendal's bottom". In the remastered version it is changed to "Marilyn Monroe's bottom".
- Rimmer's line "Excuse me!" is changed in the remastered version when he passes Lister and Rimmer in the past.
- Clare Grogan as Kristine Kochanski (original version)
- Mac McDonald as Captain Frank Hollister
- Mark Williams as Olaf Petersen
- Morwena Banks as Lift Hostess
- Sophie Doherty as Kochanski's roommate
- Richard Hainsworth as Medical Orderly
- Holly: Three million years from Earth, the mining ship Red Dwarf. Its crew, Dave Lister, the last human alive; Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of his dead bunkmate; and a creature who evolved from the ship's cat. Message ends. Additional: on our journey back to Earth, we have encountered many strange and bizarre things. Only last month, we came across a moon shaped exactly like Felicity Kendal's bottom. <pause> We flew around that one a couple of times.
- Xpress Lift Hostess: Welcome to Xpress Lifts, descent to floor sixteen. You will be going down two thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven floors and, for a small extra charge, you can enjoy the in-lift movie "Gone With the Wind." If you look to your right and to your left, you will notice there are no exits. In the highly unlikely event of the lift having to make a crash-landing, death is certain. Under your seats you will find a cassette for recording your last will and testament, and from above your head a bag will drop containing sedatives and cyanide capsules.
- Holly: I'm the closest thing you can get to infullable.
Holly: (nodding) Exactly.
- Cat: What IS it?
Rimmer: It's a rent in the space-time continuum.
Cat: What IS it?
Lister: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.
Cat: What IS it?
Rimmer: It's singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.
Cat: What IS it?
Lister: It's a hole back into the past.
Cat: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?
- Lister: Why do women always leave me for total smegheads? Why do they dump me for men who wear turtleneck sweaters and smoke a pipe? I mean, natural yoghurt eaters! Reliable, sensible, dependable, and lots of other words that end in "ible". I bet he's obsessed with house-prices, and spends half his life in antique fairs looking for bargains and drinking wine. It's never beer is it, its always wine! "What do you want on your cornflakes, darling?" "Oh, I'll have some wine, please!" Smeg!
Cat: You can tell all that just from a photograph?
- Holly: I was in love once. A Sinclair ZX81. They said no Holly, she's not for you. She's cheap, she's stupid and she wouldn't load. Well not for me anyway. I'm saying, Dave, is that it's better to have loved and to have lost, than to have listened to an album by Olivia Newton-John.
Cat: Why's that?
Holly: Anything's better than listening to an album by Olivia Newton-John .
- Past Rimmer: I know what you are.
Rimmer: You do?
Past Rimmer: You're a mushroom, aren't you.
- When Rimmer first comes out of the table and appears to his past self, he says "There, that wasn't too bad was it?" The second time he comes out of the table, he doesn't say this, even though the rest of the conversation is the same.
- When hologram Rimmer walks past the past Rimmer and Lister, he walks by them and turns back to look. However he does not look back in the black and white flashback section.
- Technically, when Lister discovers his future self with Kochanski, he could erase his future self from existence just by making sure he doesn't go back in time to Red Dwarf again.
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