Red Dwarf: S03E03: Polymorph
This episode is just wonderful. It introduces us to one of the more interesting cultures in Red Dwarf, the Polymorph. As the show opens, we hear a recording of a warning on a container drifting in space…..
“Danger, do not attempt to open this box. The creature inside is extremely hostile. It feeds off the human psyche, seeks out the deranged, the unbalanced and the emotionally crippled.” (~we see a hole in the container and also a hole in the hull of Red Dwarf – whatever it is – got in!~) The ugly rat shaped creature with big teeth, scurries around and stops when it sees a mirror. Taken aback by its ugliness, it changes shape into a white bunny-rabbit.
In the sleeping quarters we see Lister prepare a meal as Kryten enters to vacuum the floor. “Not now,” says Lister, “I’m cooking“. But Kryten has already fastened a large hose pipe device to his groin and begins vacuuming the floor. Lister watches in amazement.
Cat enters and is both pleased to see that Lister has taken the trouble to cook them a meal, but is slightly concerned that the cooking utensils are the ships medical instruments. For instance, he is expected to use a scalpel instead of a knife. The last straw for Cat is when Lister asks if he wants some Lemon Juice squeezed from a large syringe used for artificially inseminating cows! He leaves with the words, “this isn’t a meal, it’s an autopsy!…. do you think I ain’t got nothin better to do than watch you serve chicken chaser in a stool bucket?”
Lister takes a swig of wine from…. Erm (~Believe me, you don’t want to know~), when suddenly a ball bounces into the room. He catches it and places it on the table next to his plate and goes outside to find who threw it. The ball changes into a kebab on his plate.
Meanwhile, Rimmer is running a few of his old home movies. one in particular is of his three brothers tying him up and pouring ants over his face (~with brothers like that, who needs enemies!~) Kryten joins him to find that Rimmeris laughing along. “Ok I was the butt of the occasional practical joke, but nothing sinister… just the usual boyhood pranks – you know.”
His viewing pleasure is interrupted by the delectable Holly, “I don’t want to panic you Arn’, (~aww isn’t she nice~) but it does appear that there’s a very tiny possibility that there in all likelihood may possibly be another lifeform on-board.” Rimmeris sceptical mentioning the last occasion where she thought that there was another lifeform on board. It turned out to be one of Lister’s socks! He wonders off to investigate.
The next scene was a cracker! Lister is enjoying his mean, he’s eaten one of the kebabs and he shakes some pepper onto the other as he tells Kryten (who has returned to continue his vacuuming) about his culinary creation and in particular, how hot and spicy it is. Lister suddenly notices the kebab move and a second later, his meal is wrapped round his throat! “Do you seriously like them that hot!?” Kryten shouts as Lister struggles to stop the kebab from strangling him. Suddenly it scurries under a cabinet. Lister can’t find it and picks up a pair of his red boxer shorts. He is only wearing a dressing gown and needs to dress so that he can investigate this further. He puts on the boxer shorts (they are of course the Polymorph).
“There’s something very weird going on…. Ahhhh!!!” he shouts as his boxers get tighter. “Oh no, my boxers are getting smaller… help me… PLEASE!!” He falls back writhing on the floor. Kryten rushes over to help him and sits on his legs trying to get his shorts off. Kryten’s groin pipe flails around helplessly while he clutches frantically at Lister’s shorts.
At this point Rimmer walks in and watches in a sort of mild shock as Kryten pulls off a pair of shorts that would have been too small for actionman! “Well, I can’t say I’m totally shocked,” he says, “You’ll bonk anything wont you Lister?”
The boxer shorts turn into a snake, a 10 foot python! “Ahhhh!” says Lister as the snake jumps on him. He manages to put the snake into a large box and close the lid. “I hate snakes, they are my second biggest fear.”
“What’s your first?” asks Rimmer as Lister opens the box ready to catch it. The snake however has turned into a creature that best resembles the ‘alien’ from the film… erm… Alien.
“That is!” Replies Lister helplessly. The monsters fleshy tongue zips out and attaches itself to Lister’s forehead. Lister falls unconscious.
Rimmer reports that as far as they can tell, Lister is ok, but the creature changed again and escaped down the corridor. Holly tells them how the creature is from Earth, the result of a genetic experiment that went wrong. It was an attempt to create the ultimate warrior, a mutant that could change its shape to deceive its enemies. The Polymorph is however, insane! It feeds off people’s negative emotions, fear, anger, guilt, and paranoia. It is a sort of emotional vampire that changes shape to provoke a negative response from its victim and then sucks it out of them.
“So Lister has no fear…. So what are we going to do?” wonders Rimmer.
Lister wakes and sits up saying, “Well I suggest we get out there and twat it!” (~twat is an English colloquialism that in this case, means a violent force – like a punch. only in the English language could you have one word with such different meanings!~) “I could have had it! You all saw,” continues Lister, “It took me by surprise!”
“Lister, you’re talking about an eight foot armour plated alien killing machine,” says Rimmer. He listens to Lister rant about how he will subdue the creature (basically by kneeing it in the groin etc.) when Kryten administers a sedative and Lister is rendered unconscious again.
The three remaining conscious members of the crew and the delectable Holly, reason that it is best to flee the creature rather than stay and fight it. As they make their way to the ship, they come across the creature. Aiming a heat-seeking weapon against it they fire and the heat seeking missiles at it. Unfortunately it was a false alarm and the missiles chase Cat. Cat manages to escape them by trapping them (the missiles) in a transport tube. As he walks back to join the other two the creature changes shape and approaches Cat as a beautiful raven hared woman. She taps him on the shoulder and asks, “What are you looking for?”
“A mutant,” Cat informs the mutant, “it’s dangerous. It can turn into anything.” The creature follows him, complementing him with words of encouragement. She calls him smart for instance and brave. She goes on to tell him that he’s probably the most attractive man that she’s ever met and that she’d really like to make love to him!
Cat smiles broadly, “I’m sure I have a window in my schedule somewhere! Let’s see, what are you doing in say… ten seconds time.?”
“Nothing I couldn’t cancel!” Says the drop-dead-gorgeous mutant wiggling her tongue provocatively.
“Hi, I’m the Cat!” Says Cat deserving everything that’s coming to him.
“Hi, I’m the genetic mutant.” She says turning into that alien looking thing.
“Genetic who?” Asks Cat trying to comprehend what’s going on.
The Polymorph gives Cat a powerful suck on his forehead with that tongue shaped thingy.
Moments later, Kryten arrives as does Rimmer a second or so later. “According to the psyche scan, he appears to have lost an emotion….. He appears to have lost his vanity.” Says Kryten.
“It’s all your fault,” says Rimmer, “We were supposed to stick together, you let the Cat run off alone…”
“But, but, but“, says Kryten, feeling guilty. At that point Rimmer turns into the Polymorph and sucks Kryten’s Guilt from him.
The real Rimmer appears soon after and they all head back to the Medical Centre to work out what to do next. Cat has turned into a drunk and Kryten is devoid of guilt but Rimmer still seems to have his negative emotions in tact. This changes almost as soon as they enter the room. The Polymorph has managed to get there before them.
Lister wakes to find that Rimmer’s mother is lying next to him dressed in a rather unflattering nighty. As Rimmer enters he sees his mum lying next to Lister and assumes the worst. “Have you just made love to my mum!?”
“Yeah, wanna make something of it?” Lies Lister.
“It’s not yer mum, it’s the Polymorph,” says Holly urgently.
“You’ve just had my mum!” Repeats Rimmer.
“Five times!” says Rimmer’s mum, I mean the Polymorph. “He was like a wild stallion.” She adds.
“Don’t fall for it Arn’, It’s trying to make you angry!” Exclaims the lovely Holly.
The polymorph tries to get Rimmer angry, she leans over to Rimmer and says, “How energetic, I honestly thought my false teeth were going to fall out!…. and the things this boy can do with alphabetty spaghetti!” she adds.
“ALPHABETTY SPAGETTI!” exclaims Rimmer angrily.
“Arny!” Holly shouts, but it’s too late. The Polymorph sucks out Rimmer’s anger.
The creature scurries off back to the cargo bay and the four emotionally adjusted crewmembers discuss what to do about the situation. They clearly display mannerisms conducive to Rimmer without anger, Cat without vanity, Kryten without Guilt and Lister without fear!
“Listen you bunch of Tarts! It’s clobberin time! There’s a bodybag out there with scuzzball’s name on it and I’m doing up the zip. Anyone who gets in my way gets a Napalm enema!” says Lister rather forcefully.
The Cat isn’t bothered, he doesn’t think he is important enough to venture an opinion. But Kryten thinks that if he gives the creature the other three crewmembers, maybe it will leave him alone. Rimmer thinks that their committee should be named either The League Against Salivating Monsters (TLASM) or the Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society (CLITORIS).
Lister eventually persuades them to action and the all head for the Cargo Deck. They come to a small door in the cargo area and open it just as the mutant rises behind them. They forget that the heat seeking missiles are still in there and just manage to duck as the heat seekers head straight for the monster. The Polymorph is blown to smithereens!
The crew all regain their emotions and head back to the Drive Room. At this point we see that the container which held the Polymorph, has a sign marked on it…. “Contains Two”
And there the show ends. To be honest though, if you think about it. It isn’t likely that if you loose your vanity, you will turn into a drunk. Or if you loose your fear, you will turn into a Rambo style angry geezer with a death wish. I suppose, in the interests of comedy, the characters had to change significantly to be funny – hell, it worked for me!
This was our first introduction to Polymorphs. They would appear again in the next series.
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This episode review is © 1999 – 2019 Tony Fawl.
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