The episode begins with Kryten restoring everyone's favourite chirpy breakfast companion, Talkie Toaster, from his previous condition of being in several thousand pieces scattered around the place after an "accident" involving him, Lister, a lump hammer, and the waste disposal unit. After much labour establishing that no-one wants any bread, toast, waffles, or anything possibly bread related, Kryten reveals why he brought the little smegger back: The toaster's a guinea pig for an experiment to restore Holly's IQ.
The experiment is tested, and it appears to work. Holly's a certified genius again. Once it's established that she also does not want any toast, currents, muffins or anything of the like, the Toaster raises a good question: If she's supposed to have an IQ of 6000, why did the read-out say 12000'? Holly quickly realises something's gone a little wrong. She is much smarter, but she's also only got a few minutes to live. She promptly switches herself off... and entirety of Red Dwarf goes with.
The Boyz, after using Kryten as a makeshift battering ram to get through the fifty-four doors between them and Holly, try turning her back on. Holly switches herself off again. A back-and-forth ensues as Rimmer tries to figure out what's going on, not getting Holly's explanation of "lifespan reduced, three minutes remaining, switch me back off" until she explains more slowly. The smeghead.
So, Lister and the Cat have to try and live without Holly, and anything electrical. It's slow going, powering everything and anything they've got by cycling. Or more accurately, by Lister cycling so that the Cat can have his heated blanket for his nap-time.
Meanwhile, as Rimmer and Kryten fetch more supplies from the cargo deck, they find things getting a little weird: Their appearances get distorted and stretched. From Rimmer's point of view, Kryten's talking slowly. From Kryten's, Rimmer sounds like a chipmunk. The Boyz take a look to find out what's going on. Turns out they're drifting towards a swirly energy thing.
Kryten surmises that a white hole is, as the name suggests, the opposite of a black hole. Where a black hole sucks in matter, a white hole spits it out, which is why everything's getting so weird.
Kryten surmises that a white hole is, as the name suggests, the opposite of a black hole. Where a white hole sucks in matter, a white hole spits it out, which is why everything's getting so weird. ... like, for example, conversations repeating, and skipping about randomly. Though it'd help if the Cat stopped asking "what is it". Eventually, they manage to momentarily reactive Holly, who comes up with a plan: Plug the hole. Using a planet.
Rimmer is pretty dubious about the idea of using Lister to effectively play pool with planets, but he's outvoted. Kryten has to obey a human over a hologram, and the Cat just hates him. Lister is pretty confident he can do it anyway, with one or two... or more cans of lager for courage. This does not do anything for Rimmer's confidence, despite Lister's assurances he's not pished and he won't mish.
Lister, pished-ness indeterminate, takes the shot. Rimmer watches in horror as his shot apparently misses... and hits another planet nearby... which swings around and hits the original, sending it into the white hole.
- Lister: SHE RIDES!
Yep, Lister not only played pool with a planet, he played a trick-shot with a planet. Rimmer is appropriately incredulous that he apparently intended this all along. Holly comes back on, having reverted back to her normal stupid self. As Kryten explains, with the white hole plugged, the time it was spewing out has stopped existing (yeah, just go with it). And as the episode's events never happened, they'll have no memory of them, because of course, they never happened. So, as time resets itself, Kryten takes the opportunity to tell Rimmer that he is the most obnoxious, trumped-up, farty little smeghead it has ever been his misfortune to encounter!
This episode contains examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: After having to be used as a battering ram through 53 doors, a dazed Kryten responds to Lister asking if he's okay with "I'm fine, thank you, Susan."
- Battering Ram: After the ship's power gets shut off..Lister: Look, they're only interior doors. They're only a light alloy. Maybe we could get through them if we use a battering ram. All we need is something, say, I dunno, six foot long, fairly sturdy, with a flat top.
(everyone grins at Kryten)
Kryten: 53 doors?! You can't be serious!
- Call-Back: When Holly's I.Q. is boosted, it's shown that her IQ actually is six like she had Queeg claim it was. That, or its accidentally brought down first.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Lister said the accident involved "Me, the Toaster, the waste-disposal unit and a 15-pound lumphammer". It was actually first-degree toastercide.
- Drunken Master: Lister claims it makes his pool skills better, though Rimmer is understandably dubious. He does manage to make the shot.
- Dumb Blonde: Female Holly has, by the opening of the episode, degraded to the point of being far stupider than her male counterpart. She's even shown needing to audibly bonk her head against the viewscreen in order to count. Possibly justified by a brief comment by the Cat indicating that she was damaged in a recent ion storm, but said line is delivered as an echoey, hard-to-make-out voiceover during an exterior shot of the ship, so it's easy to miss.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Lister fires a shot to knock a planet into a white hole but misses... only to hit another planet, which collides with another planet, which plugs the hole. He then claims this was a "trick shot".
- This also happens in the second novel. With disastrous consequences.
- Flanderization: This episode created the idea that Talkie Toaster is a fanatical bread-obsessed lunatic, when in the first two seasons he had been more of a snarky bit-part character. That said, Retcon is involved, as Lister claims that this is how he's always been, relegating his saner earlier portrayal to a case of Early Installment Weirdness.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: The crew try experimental techniques which increases Holly's intelligence by reducing her life span. Both Holly and Charlie start with an IQ of 68.
- Gilligan Cut: "53 doors?! You can't be serious!"
- Gone Horribly Right: The procedure to restore Holly's IQ works... but it works too well. It makes her many times smarter than she was before the drive plate accident, but it reduces her lifespan to a mere handful of minutes.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Lister manages to perform a trick shot with planets.
- Insistent Terminology: Lister claims what happened to the toast was an "accident", which involved him, the toaster, a waste disposal unit and a lump hammer. The toaster declares it was "first degree toaster-cide".
- Memory Wipe Exploitation: The Dwarfers have to deal with the opposite of a black hole, a celestial phenomenon leaking time into the universe. Having dealt with the anomaly, they realise that the timeline they're in will shortly erase itself, leaving them with no memory of what happened. Kryten takes the opportunity to insult Rimmer.
- Kryten: And as these events never happened, we'll have no memory of them. In which case, Mr. Rimmer, sir, I should like to take this opportunity to say that you are the most obnoxious, trumped-up, farty little smeghead that has ever been my misfortune to encounter!
- Mundane Wish: At one point, the crew discuss when in history they would choose to live if they had a time machine. Kryten chooses... a week last Tuesday.Lister: ...Why?Kryten: Don't you remember? I did all the laundry, and then we watched TV. Wow, we won't see the like of those sorts of days again.
- My Skull Runneth Over: Holly finds a way to boost her intelligence and undo three million years of "computer senility". Overclocking it, she gets an IQ of 12,368 (over her original IQ of 6,000) at the cost of reduced run-time: about 3 and a half minutes.
- Negative Space Wedgie: The titular White Hole, a polar opposite to the Black Hole, which expels time and space in a continuous flow into the universe.
- Noodle Implements: The accident involving Lister, the toaster, the waste disposal and the fourteen pound lump-hammer. Whatever happened, it resulted in the toaster in fourteen seperate pieces in the garbage hold.
- Phrase Catcher: A hyperintelligent Holly, irritated by Rimmer's inability to get what she's saying, declares him a smeghead.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A short but wonderfully succinct one addressed from Kryten to Rimmer closes the episode, as he takes advantage of the fact that time is being reshuffled as an excuse to bypass his usual profanity filters:Kryten: You are the most obnoxious, trumped-up, farty little smeghead it has ever been my misfortune to encounter!
- Screen Tap: Holly now apparently has to bang her head on the screen to count.
- Shown Their Work: Turns out that white holes are real.
- Skewed Priorities: When Holly reaches supergenius levels of intelligence, the toaster wastes time asking if she, a computer, wants something bread related to eat.
- Troll: The "it's a white hole" scene isn't helped by the Cat deliberately asking what's going on again just to mess with everyone.
- Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: See above under Battering Ram.