Friday, 9 November 2012

Review: Red Dwarf 10.6: The Beginning

Dat Simulant Ship.
Red Dwarf - Series X, Story Six - The Beginning

The Beginning made me both very happy and very, very sad. On the one hand, it was an interestingly made and action-packed finale that had a lot of nice idea and exploited well all of the characterisations at play. On the other, it took a fundamental part of what makes Red Dwarf what it is and completely removed it, finishing the process started in Trojan and completely and utterly ruining Arnold Rimmers character. There has to be a Series XI, if only to give the show a proper conclusion, but I will be very annoyed if this betrayel of his character has large effects on the series.
     A visit by strangely racist archetype Roguey Hoagie, a rogue droid obsessed with his destablisiation ray and duals across space and time, leaves the ship vulnerable to attack from a group of Rogue Simulants who are intent on revenge and destruction. While the crew escape on Blue Midget, they accept that they are going to die; Rimmer plays a last holo-message from his father, who tells him that he is in fact the son of their incompetant gardener Dungo; thus, compared to his family's accomplishments, Rimmer is a hero. This inspires Rimmer to find a way to destroy the Simulants, which he does as his first act as a Common Man.
     The essence of the Rimmer/Lister dynamic is most adequately described in Series II's Thanks For The Memory. There, a drunk Rimmer explains the problem; Lister is a complete and total bum - a waster whose instinctive intelligence is left behind, and yet his life has gone relatively well by his own standards. On the other hand, Rimmer has desperately tried his entire life to be the model of sophistication and power, driven by his high-acheiving family and their pressure on him. Despite this, he is incompetant, snide and, by his own standards, completely worthless. The battle has always been between a man who thinks he should be better and man who is better but doesn't care. As of now... Rimmer and Lister are on a level playing field. And that sucks.
     The episode, however, wasn't terrible and it had a lot of great moments. I enjoyed the perception of the Simulants as a dictatorial society run by a snide Dominator, as well as the scene wherin he deliberately implies that one of his generals should commit Seppuku before informing him to simply polish the blade. Elsewhere, and there was a cheeky reference to the ending of Only The Good..., which despite being something I'd wished to forget, at least allowed Dwarf some humility. (If still not explaining whether this Rimmer is the Original or the Duplicate.)
Hoagie The Roguey
     The Beginning left Red Dwarf's future uncertain. Perhaps instead of a sneaky reference to the pilot episode, The End, The Beginning tells of a new era in Red Dwarf's history - a NuDwarf of sorts. Whether that's something I want, or something the world needs, is to be decided. But for now I can say that this series has been... ok. It's been as good as I expected it to be, and despite its many failures it's good to see Red Dwarf back on our screens with a new spirit and ideas.


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