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Recap / Red Dwarf Season II Parallel Universe

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This episode has something to do with a parallel universe... but let's face it, this is what you really came to see, isn't it?

Airdate: 11 October, 1988

Whiling away the hours yet again, Lister and Rimmer watch the Cat as he sorts through his dream recorder (at one point, coming across a music video of the three), trying to find a particular dream involving him, three girls and a family-sized tub of banana yoghurt. This prompts Rimmer to proclaim the Cat has no respect for women, which leads to Lister and Rimmer having a conversation about Rimmer's love life - or lack thereof. In particular they focus on Rimmer's insistence that his books on pickup lines and hypnotising girls are perfectly valid, indeed essential, approaches to dating. Lister reacts to this with derision and disgust, respectively, declaring Rimmer a misogynist who thinks of women as aliens that need to be conquered.

Holly suddenly appears on the monitor, claiming he has a new invention; the Holly Hop Drive, which will theoretically let the ship teleport across space and cross the vast distance separating them from Earth. Intrigued, the Dwarfers go to the drive room to test it out. Though it looks less than impressive ("It's just a box with Start and Stop on it!"), and they aren't exactly reassured when Holly, upon claiming that one mistake in his 14 billion calculations could kill them all, promptly forgets the 7 in his count down ("I've always had a bit of a blind spot with sevens!"), they continue with testing the drive.


At first, it seems to have failed. However, they detect a second Red Dwarf approaching. Computer contact is initiated and they discover that the Holly Hop Drive has sent them into another dimension, an alternate of their own universe. Hilly, Debra Lister, Arlene Rimmer; all of them are female counterparts to the Boys from the Dwarf. As it turns out, in this universe, history is parallel, with females being the dominant gender (Nellie Armstrong went on the moon, Wilma Shakespeare wrote "Rachel III" and "Taming of the Shrimp", "masculinists" burned their jockstraps in the 60s). The Cat is excited about meeting his own female counterpart, but, for some reason, his counterpart is an also-male Dog: smelly, slobbish, flea-infested headbanger/grungepunk.

With Holly and Hilly declaring it'll take about 17 hours for the Holly Hop Drive to be repaired so they can return to their own world (during which Holly and Hilly fall in love), the Boys from the Dwarf make themselves comfortable, ending up at a disco party with their counterparts. While the two Listers get on well enough, and Cat's disdain for Dog is ignored by the canine humanoid, Rimmer is quite unnerved because his female counterpart starts coming onto him — and quite aggressively. ("Come on, give us a snog! I promise I won't try and take off your underpants!") Eventually, it drives him back to the male's Red Dwarf, while Deb and Dave stay behind to keep on drinking.


The next morning, the two Listers wake up in Arlene Rimmer's bed together, piecing together that, yes, they did have drunken sex the night before. As the two Rimmers naturally arrive to gloat and taunt, a certain disturbing factoid is revealed: in this dimension, it is the men who fall pregnant from sex, and neither of the Listers used protection. Dave is horrified at this fact and distraught at Deb's insensitivity to the subject. ("Sorry? That's it? Sorry? Wham, bam, thank you, mister?") However, Holly (covered in lipstick) informs the crew that the hop drive is fixed, and that if the male crew don't leave now, they'll be trapped. Back in his own reality, Lister is reminded about the kids that they saw during the future echoes, all while taking a pregnancy test... which gets a positive result.

Tropes Include:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Arlene Rimmer is this to Arnold Rimmer, who somehow never does realise that this is exactly what he does to women and the same sort of reaction he induces in them. Despite Lister blatantly spelling this out to him.
  • Aborted Arc: The events of Lister's pregnancy were intended to be the basis of an episode called "Dad", but it was cancelled due to Rob Grant, who did not have children at the time, feeling he couldn't relate to the story. The next episode opens with everything explained away in a text crawl that goes by too fast to be read without pausing. (About a third of "Dad" was written before being abandoned, and can be seen performed by Chris Barrie on "The Bodysnatcher Collection").
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mentioned by Arnold after Arlene questions why Deb and Dave wound make love to themselves.
    "Why break the habit of a lifetime?"
  • Aside Glance: Cat does this when he first meets the Dog.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Rimmer mentions a date he once had, who apparently got a little confused and tried to climb out the bathroom window. Seeing as he spent the whole evening making fun of her nose (in a very misguided attempt to break the ice), it never occurred to him that she was trying to get away.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Lister's desire to have a family backfires horribly on him.
  • Bedmate Reveal: When Deb and Dave wake up in bed together.
    "I can remember betting you that I could climb the disco wall using only my lips!"
  • Call-Back: The ending of the series I episode "Future Echoes", where the present-Dwarfers saw a future Lister with two newly delivered twin boys, is brought up at the end of this episode, with Rimmer suggesting that Lister himself gave birth to the babies from that future echo. He turns out to be right.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: Arlene Rimmer tries to get Arnold Rimmer to watch some man-on-man gay porn in the sincere belief that this will get him "in the mood". This is because, due to the Lady Land nature of the parallel universe, the belief "all guys like lesbian porn" has been reversed to "all girls like gay porn".
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Lister and Rimmer, when confronted with their amorous Opposite Sex Clones, are both repelled by the way they try to court them (Arlene blatantly makes the move on her counterpart and even tries to hypnotise him, Deb tries to impress her counterpart with "laddish" stunts like drinking a whole sixpack and then belching Yankee Doodle Dandy), even though they both act the same way towards women they find attractive. Naturally, both Lister and Rimmer get to point out the other's hypocrisy.
    • Arlene makes blatant, indeed sexist, advances on Rimmer, even groping him. When it turns out that Deb and Dave wound up in bed together, she questions how they could contemplate making love to each other.
    • Arnold calls Cat a maladjusted person due to his outlook on women. Lister says that it's rich coming from a man whose favorite book was called "How To Pick Up Girls By Hypnosis". Rimmer doesn't deny it and states that the methods work, not picking up what is wrong with hypnotizing women.
  • The Lad-ette:
    • Deb Lister is one of the most hardcore examples ever seen. The former, in Dave's own words, likes to "get blitzed out of her brains and eat vindaloo", belched the whole of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to try and impress Dave, and spit beer in his face.
    • Arlene's less a ladette and more a very aggressive sleaze — sort of a gender-reversed version of a Casanova Wannabe. She owns man-on-man porn (which she seems to sincerely believe will turn her male counterpart on), describes Arnold as nothing more than a piece of "tottie", tries to hypnotize him, attempts to use pathetic pickup lines on him, blatantly gropes him, and irritably describes him as "frigid" when he refuses to be seduced.
  • Lady Land: The alternate universe feels kind of like this; not only are the genders of characters reversed and the social structure reversed to blatantly point out the sexual hypocrisy of the modern world, but even nature supports female dominance by making pregnancy a male biological fact.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Tongue Tied" is an upbeat love song that describes the metaphorical reactions of a person when they're pleased to see someone they love in gory detail.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: One more thing that's flipped around: Arlene calls Rimmer "frigid" for his lack of interest, then calls Dave a "cheap little tart" when he sleeps with his counterpart.
  • Matriarchy: A history-long Patriarchy Flip, with plenty of Hypocritical Humor from the male characters.
  • Mister Seahorse: The facts of reproduction in the alternate universe and what happens to Lister by the episode's end.
  • Not Where They Thought: After trying The Holly Hop Drive, Holly claims that they've gotten back to Earth, but the Earth is missing. The crew later finds that they haven't ended up where the Earth should be, but rather in a parallel universe where everyone's the opposite gender.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Dave's face when he finds out that he is pregnant basically screams this trope.
    • And don't forget Holly's response to the failure of the Holly Hop Drive.
      Holly: I have to admit it: I flamingoed up!
      Arnold: What?
      Holly: Well, it's like a cock-up, only much, much bigger!
    • This is almost exactly Dave's reaction when he realizes that he had drunken sex with Deb.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Dog mostly manages to maintain his Southern American accent...but he does trip up with an "agane" at one point.
  • Out-of-Character Moment:
    • Lister ends up sleeping with his female alternate universe self and when the possibility of him being pregnant is raised - in this universe men are the ones who carry the baby - the female Lister is amazingly callous and indifferent, claiming it was solely his problem and that he should have used protection. Now the episode is very clear that the female counterparts have identical personalities to the regular crew and it is impossible to imagine the regular universe Lister being so insensitive to a woman he might have gotten pregnant.
    • It's also hard to imagine Rimmer ever behaving the way his female equivalent did. In the rare occasions when he's been seen interacting with women, he's normally either been quite shy or highly respectful to their position as a superior officer (Consider "Camille" and "Holoship"). For as much of a smeg head as he can be, it's extremely difficult to imagine him ever wanting to show a woman some video of two women together to turn them on. It seems evident that the female versions actually had vastly different attitudes to their male equivalents.
  • Persecution Flip: "You're not one of those boring masculinists, are you?"
  • Screw Yourself: A weird example. Each crew pair (Deb/Dave, Arnold/Arlene, Cat/Dog, Holly/Hilly) has at least one character having the desire to and/or having sex with each other.
    • Deb and Dave get so drunk, they wind up in bed together, resulting in Dave getting pregnant.
    • Holly and Hilly fall head over heels for each other. Holly winds up with lipstick on his cheek, and after the episode's end, has a sex change operation to match Hilly's face.
    • On a more negative note, Arlene decides to try her hand at seducing Rimmer by hypnosis, and winds up downright groping him.
    • The Cat initially wants to have sex with his opposite... until he realises that his opposite is a male dog.
    • The male and female skutter wind up producing little skutters.
  • Species Equals Gender: The episode touches on this; Cat's parallel opposite is revealed to be an "evolved" dog. They're both still biologically the same gender, though.
  • Take That!: Holly suggests an alternate universe where Ringo Starr was a really good drummer.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After Holly misses the 7 in his countdown, Arnold says, in a sing-song voice "We're going to die!"
  • Tongue-Tied: The basis of the song at the beginning. Just for a quick fact, a more R&B version of the song was actually released as a single in 1993, and reached #17 on the British charts.
  • Wham Line: Arlene's line to Dave after the latter wakes up in bed with Deb.
    "I hope you get pregnant, you cheap little tart!"
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Arlene Rimmer's lewd fascination with gay male pornography is used to showcase what a pervy creep she really is.