Red Dwarf: S04E03: Justice
Poor Lister is suffering a grotesque swelling. The result of a bad case of space mumps, Lister is suffering what looks like a large lump of melted wax on top of his head. Kryten tells him that the swelling has gone down and that he will soon be well again. Lister is upset because his friends and colleagues did not bother to visit him. Kryten tells Lister that Rimmer has been on a holiday touring the diesel decks with to of the Skutters. He also inadvertently let Lister know that there was a pod on board!
It turns out that the pod is a cryogenic pod from a crashed spaceship. It contains one female survivor (Barbara Belini). “Oh that’s just typical,” says Lister, “The first female company in three million years and I look like something that belongs up a whale’s nose.”
The crew congregates around the pod. Lister and Cat try to begin the defrost process eager to find out what the contents look like. Rimmer stops them. The black box recording from the ship says that it was a prison ship and that the only two survivors were either a psychotic murdering Simulants or one of the guards (Barbara Belini).
A Simulant by the way, is a half-human half android with super strength. Kryten tells Cat that the difference between a psychotic android and a psychotic Simulant is that the android would not rip off a human head and spit in its neck.
Lister asks the lovely Holly if there is any way of stopping the thawing process or at least finding out who or what is in the pod. Holly replies, “All you have to do is hang around here for twenty four hours. Then if you find your limbs scattered around deep space and yer neck full of saliva, you can take it as read that it probably wasn’t babs!”
Kryten makes things worse by telling them all that the Simulant is virtually indestructible. It could, for instance easily take several rounds of bazookoid and still be relatively undamaged.
Holly suggests that they use the black box to get the co-ordinates of the prison facility that the prison ship was heading for. The ship will almost certainly have facilities for Simulant type prisoners and if it’s Barbara Belini then no problem, if it’s the Simulant, the facilities will prove to be ample confinement.
They head off in Starbug, complete with the thawing pod. During the trip, Lister’s head puss, explodes all over Cat. Excepts for mucus all over himself, Lister feels great. He has made a complete recovery.
They make contact with the space prison and find that there are no people left there, but the station computer mainframe is still operational. It guides them into the docking bay and provides them with some pretty comical security boots (to make sure that they don’t go where they should not.
The computer then searches their mind for evidence of criminal activity. Lister, the Cat and Kryten are allowed security clearance, but Rimmer is charged with second degree murder, 1,167 counts. “…your wilful negligence in failing to re-seal a drive plate, resulted in the deaths of the entire crew of the Jupiter Mining Corporation vessel, Red Dwarf.” Rimmer’s boots take him to the Justice Zone, a place where it is impossible to commit any acts of criminal activity.
The prison complex is covered by a ‘Justice Field’ where it is physically impossible to commit a crime because whatever criminal act is performed, it is performed on the criminal.
If they try to steal something from someone for instance, an item of their belongings goes missing. It is the perfect deterrent. Kryten informs Rimmer and Lister that the Justice computer has sanctioned a re-trial. Kryten’s case will establish that he was innocent of murder because he was a baffoon.
During the trial, Kryten gives a splendid performance as Rimmer’s defence counsel. “The Justice computer was invented to detect guilt. Yet in the case of Arnold Judas Rimmer, the guilt it detected attaches to no crime. He held a position of little or no importance on Red Dwarf, he was a lowly grease monkey… a zero… a nothing… a piece of sputum floating in the toilet bowl of life. Yet he could never come to terms with a lifetime of under achievement, his absurdly inflated ego would never permit it. He is like the security guard on the front gate who considers himself head of the corporation. So, when the crew were wiped out by a nuclear accident, Arnold Rimmer accepted the blame. It was his ship, ergo, his fault. I ask the court, look at this man, this man who sat and failed his astro navigation exam on no less than 13 occasions, this sad man, this pathetic man, this joke of a man….. I call my first witness.”
Lister stands up and goes to a sort of witness podium. He is asked if he thinks of Rimmer as a friend. Lister answers that he thinks he’s a git. We also learn that Lister probably thinks more of Rimmer than the rest of the crew. Kryten asks if there is anyone else whom he thinks has shared any intimacy with Rimmer. “there’s only one,” replies Lister, “but she’s got a puncture!”
Lister goes on to say that Rimmer was in charge of Z Shift which basically had to maintain the food machines. Lister is excused and Kryten then goes for his closing argument.
“I ask the court one key question, would the Space Corps ever have allowed this man to be in a position of authority where he might endanger the entire crew. A man so petty and small minded that he would while away the evening sewing name labels onto his ship issue condoms. A man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defence counsel, an over zealous trumped up little squirt….. an incompetent vending machine repair man with a Napoleon complex… who had as much respect from his crew-members as long John Silver’s parrot. Who would permit this man, this joke of a man, this man who could not outwit a used tee-bag, to be in a position where he might endanger the entire crew.. who …. only a yoghurt! This man is not guilty of manslaughter, he is only guilty of being Arnold J Rimmer. That is his crime, it is also his punishment!”
The Justice machine lets Rimmer go free. “Objection!” retorts Rimmer. “I want an apology.”
Back on Starbug, they notice that the pod is opened and the occupant is not Barbara Belini as everyone hoped, but the Simulant (as we hoped). They run off the ship closely followed by the very aggressive and angry looking semi-indestructable Simulant.
They pass the Justice Field boundary and Lister confronts the Simulant. Lister is shot, but the Simulant gets the bullets in the chest. Lister is then stabbed but the Simulant gets the knife wound, Lister is stabbed again the beaten up, but again, it’s the Simulant that suffers the injury. The Justice Field will not allow any injustice to be committed. Lister puts the Simulant’s hands around his neck and the Simulant strangles himself to death.
The crew get back onto Starbug and leave for Red Dwarf. Lister, feeling rather bullish after his victory over the Simulant, suggests that the Justice Field is doomed to failure because it does not allow free will. He concludes that the good things will happen to bad people and bad things will happen to good people – it’s just the way it is. Then he falls through a manhole cover!
The episode ends there.
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