Thursday, December 8, 2011

Red Dwarf--"Cassandra"

“Cassandra” is not necessarily a favorite of mine, but it has enough elements of the earliest series of Red Dwarf for some fond nostalgia. Un particular, there is the natural flow of the animosity between Rimmer and Lister which plays much better than in the eighth series premiere. The two characters are back to their old ways--Rimmer is the conniving, pathetic weasel, while Lister is the perpetual screw up. Funny stuff.

Lister signs the Dwarfers up for the Canaries when he mistakenly believes it to be the prison chior. In reality, the canaries are an expendable group of prisoners who undertake dangerous missions so none of the important crew are at risk. They are the canaries in the mines, so to speak. They receive an immediate assignment to investigate the derelict Silverberg, a Space Corps vessel submerged beneath an ocean with no life signs aboard. No one knows what killed them.

When brought for the mission briefing, the Dwarfers break into a song a dance routine of “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” in the hopes Capt. Hollister will accept Lister’s misunderstanding and relieve them of the assignment. It does not work.

When they arrive on the Silverberg, there is no evidence any crew was ever on board. The only thing there is the holographic disembodied head of Cassandra, an old woman who claims she can predict the future with total accuracy. Ols woman does not quite cover it. Add a century or three to Phyllis Diller and you just about have it. She proves she can predict the future with a couple minor tricks. Kryten surmises the space corps deliberately sunk an unmanned ship in order to get rid of her because knowing the future is dangerous. As if to prove the point, Cassandra informs them all Lister will die of a heart attack within thirty minutes.

Rimmer weasels his way out of death by giving his jacket with his name on it to another guy. He does die of a heart attack, but Cassandra informs the real Rimmer he is going to die, too. He will be shot by Lister while making love to Kochansky. This chamges everything as far as Rimmer is concerned, particularly when he becomes trapped with Kochansky as Cassandra predicted. Feeling sorry for Rimmer, she decides to go through with it, but Llster interrupts with the revelation Cassandra lied. Kryten figures out Cassandra planned to manipulate Kochansky into pity sex with Rimmer to punish Lister because she has foreseen he will kill her. Lister refuses to go through with it, but sticking his wadded chewing gum on the wall causes a Rube Goldberg chain reaction which does, indeed, kill Cassandra.

“Cassandra” is not a particularly great episode, but it is right at the top among eighth series offerings. There are a few big laughs, such as one of the overzealous psychopath canaries bumping his head on the doorway to the Silverberg and missing out on killing whatever creature it is assumed murdered the crew. Rimmer is back to his old self from the first couple series. It is a good episode all around that even keeps some continuity in tact--Lister mentions future echoes and how the future cannot be changed. Rimmer has read about future echoes from the files on Starbug, but since he has no experience with them like the real Rimmer, he thinks he can still change the future. Nice touch, that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

With all due respect to the Dwarfers, Stevie Wonder does “You Are the Sunshine of My Life“ best:

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