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Recap / Red Dwarf Season IV Justice

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A man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defence counsel.
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Kryten enters the medical deck, bringing attention and breakfast to Lister, who is laid up with yet another bizarre future-illness. In this case, Space Mumps, a disease that causes his head to swell up with grotesque pustulent blisters and growths. Lister thanks Kryten for his care, lamenting at the absence of Rimmer and Cat. Kryten explains that both of them have had other things on their mind; Rimmer has just returned from a ten-day hike through the engine deck with some of the skutters and is even now loading up the slide projector with pictures from his trip (something that Lister reacts to with horror), while Cat has been distracted by the escape pod containing what evidence suggests is a woman that they just picked up.

Naturally, Lister immediately goes to investigate the pod, where he shares some banter with Cat before they realise the pod's stasis release process hasn't been activated and switch it on. Rimmer and Kryten arrive too late to stop them, with Rimmer explaining that the release was left off on purpose because, according to the black box, the pod came from a prison ship that was the scene of a riot that left only two survivors; a guard and a prisoner. Thus, there's a 50% chance the person inside the pod is not the female guard Barbara Bellini, but instead the surviving prisoner. Once they learn that the prison ship was carrying a cargo of 40 Simulants — psychotic, kill-crazed combat droids — Lister and Cat are forced to agree that finding some way to identify who was in there first would have been better.

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With no way to stop the release, or to identify who's inside, as well as being unwilling to risk murdering an innocent woman should it be Barbara inside, they hit upon the plan of going to the penal colony station where the original prison ship was heading; that way, if it is a simulant in the pod, they can trap him there and leave.

The penal colony, Justice World, is still functioning, despite its age, and the group board with no problems. While the initial mind probe to detect crimes scares Lister, he gets through without a problem. Unfortunately for Rimmer, the Justice World computer declares he is guilty of 1167 counts of 2nd-degree murder, courtesy of causing the radiation leak that wiped out the crew of Red Dwarf. And in the light of him being a hologram, each murder piles up with a minimum of eight years each, to be served consecutively, making a total sentence of 9328 years incarceration.

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Kryten, however, manages to convince the Justice Computer to give Rimmer a retrial. There, he presents an eloquent defense for Rimmer that ultimately convinces the computer that Rimmer is not guilty of the crime by virtue of being A: so egotistical that he would blame himself for the accident despite the fact he was nowhere near important enough to be held guilty, and/or B: so incompetent that the real blame lies with whoever was stupid enough to appoint him to such a vital task in the first place.

Unfortunately, the trial took so long that the pod has opened by the time the crew get back to it — and the contents are one angry simulant. The Dwarfers flee into the Justice Zone section of the colony, the simulant close on their heels. While Lister manages to sneak up on the simulant, the droid's pleas that he is willing to talk (and Lister's own disgust at both the idea of shooting him in the back and Rimmer's eagerness to do so) persuade him to go and talk to the cybernetic killer.

Unfortunately, the droid was lying and attacks Lister with a concealed pistol and knife. Unfortunately for the simulant, the Justice Zone's effects mean that it is he who takes the damage; realizing this, Lister gets the simulant to smash himself repeatedly in the head and then strangle himself into submission.

Once the simulant is dealt with, the Dwarfers fly away while Lister starts passionately ranting about the nature of justice and free will to his fellows. Who promptly watch in dispassion as he falls down an open hatch before sealing it up and leaving him.

Tropes Included:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: A weird example, where Kryten proves that Rimmer is such a neurotic incompetent that, really, the blame for his causing the radiation leak that wiped out the crew of Red Dwarf should be laid upon whatever dumbass actually thought to put such an ignorant screwup in charge of such a vital piece of maintenance.
  • Blatant Lies: Both the Simulant and Lister lie about being armed. Actually, the Simulant lied twice.
  • The Bore: Rimmer's slide-show about ship engines threatens to melt Kryton's intelligence circuits.
  • Brass Balls: Lister is perfectly willing to go toe to toe with a Simulant, armed with nothing more than a lead pipe, as opposed to shooting him in the back. Bear in mind that earlier in the episode, Kryten informs the crew that the Simulant is perfectly capable of surviving bazookoid fire for long enough to make balloon animals out of someone's lower intestines. The Simulant is carrying both a knife and a gun, but fortunately, the Justice Field turns his own attacks against him.
  • Covered in Gunge: One symptom for "Space Mumps" is a build up of pus underneath Lister's scalp. Lister's mumps pop like a zit covering Lister and the cat in slimy pus.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The initial plot about the escape pod is seemingly forgotten in favour of Rimmer's trial. Then it comes back around...
  • Honor Before Reason: Lister can't bring himself to shoot the simulant in the back, despite the threat he poses, instead agreeing to the simulant's request to "talk" (though he did bring along a lead pipe, just in case). Although as soon as the attacks start flying, it turns out not taking the shot actually saved Lister's life.
  • Insistent Terminology: They're not androids, they're Simulants. The key difference being an android "would never rip off a human's head and then spit down his neck".
  • In the Back: Rimmer urges Lister to shoot the Simulant in this fashion. Lister refuses to do so and confronts the guy face to face. It turns out that thanks to the Justice Field, this was a very good decision.
  • It's All My Fault: In contrast to his usual attitude, it's revealed that Rimmer blamed himself for the death of the entire Red Dwarf crew and gets charged for 1167 counts of manslaughter. He is acquitted as Kryten points out that Rimmer was clearly unqualified to repair the drive plate, being so incompetent he should have never been put in that position in the first place.
  • Killer Robot: The Simulant qualifies, for all practical purposes.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Weaponized (?) in the Justice Field, which basically instantly applies the effects of any wrongdoings you commit to you yourself (steal something, something of yours goes missing; attack someone, the blow lands on you). The intent is for this to hammer through to the inmates that they must obey the law (or else) until doing so becomes second nature for them.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: Played with. Given that Rimmer is a hologram, and thus, unable to technically die, his sentence for each count of second-degree murder is to run consecutively. Each count carries a minimum eight-year sentence - thus, for 1,167 deaths aboard the Red Dwarf, Rimmer is given a 9,328-year term.note  Rimmer even lampshades this when Lister gives him a book while visiting.
    "I'll be up for parole in another couple of ice ages."
  • Now You Tell Me: Lister didn't learn about what the Justice Field does until he started setting fire to the bedsheets. And he is not happy about it.
    Lister: Nice example, Rimmer. Nice example! You could just have explained that to me verbally!
    • And he only really gets it after he hits the Simulant over the head with a pipe, and he's the one who goes down from it.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Justice Computer. It judges the crew quite fairly since it doesn't find many crimes on them. For Kryten, a mechanoid who is incapable of committing a crime, he gets through. Cat, who doesn't seem to have committed any crimes despite his attitude, gets through. Lister, who actually had committed crimes, gets through because he was mainly a small-timer who didn't do anything completely outrageous.(Plus he was routinely caught and thus already punished.) Of course, when it comes to Rimmer, who believed that he was guilty of the deaths aboard the Red Dwarf, he gets sentenced effective immediately. The computer does sanction a re-trial to properly examine if it was a crime or not.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rimmer's trial is one big, long such speech, for the explicit purpose of convincing the Justice Computer that he sucks so badly there's no way he can be held guilty of this particular crime.
  • Shovel Strike: The Cat whacks the already-incapacitated Simulant in this way. Or rather, thanks to the Justice Field, he whacks himself.
  • Tempting Fate: Lister with his final speech about there being no justice in the universe.
  • That Was Objectionable: Rimmer repeatedly objects to his own defense counsel — and is overruled by the judge AI of the prison space station every time — because Kryten's defense strategy hinged on proving that Rimmer was too all-around incompetent to have been liable for the disaster aboard Red Dwarf that he felt guilty for.
    "A man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defense counsel!"
    • One feels he was taking advantage of the (golden) opportunity to insult Rimmer as well: Kryten can so rarely do so without violating his programming.
    • There was a limit to be reached, of course. On the third consecutive objection:
    Kryten: An incompetent vending-machine repairman with a Napoleon complex, who commanded as much respect and affection from his fellow crew members as Long John Silver’s parrot.
    Rimmer: OBJECTION!
    Justice Computer: If you object to your own counsel once more, Mr Rimmer, you’ll be in contempt.

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