Red Dwarf has been lost entirely at this point, leaving morale on the floor for the Starbug crew. Rimmer holds a "morale meeting", which is a thinly-veiled excuse to angrily state how much he hates the others. Their situation is finally starting to get to them.
Thankfully, they're distracting by the auto-pilot. They're heading straight into a cloud of stellar fog, and they're barely in for thirty seconds before there's a jolt that knocks Lister out. They take him in for medical treatment, only to discover to their shock that Lister's innards are entirely mechanical - he's a droid! Kryten feels betrayed that the human he looked up to is in fact an earlier model with his memories altered, not to mention the fact he's been doing a subordinate's laundry for four years, so he lumbers Lister with the laundry and cooking and takes his seat in the cockpit. However, as they resume their journey, they experience another jolt. Kryten uses the database to discover that the stellar fog is being used to create "unreality pockets" in space to protect a Space Corps derelict. So Lister's not a droid. Whoops.
With the status quo restored, they continue onwards to find the derelict, but the unreality pockets continue to disorient and freak them out. With three day's travel ahead of them, Kryten installs a temporary stasis-seal on both deep sleep units so they can get through safely. When they arrive, they discover the ship is from the twenty-eighth century and is capable of time travel. The crew died during an excursion to the 20th century, so they sent the ship into deep space to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. And those hands happen to be our "heroes".
They install the drive into Starbug's engines, but they soon find that while they can travel in time, they can not travel in space, so they're still marooned in deep space, just in a different century. They return to their time, only to be immediately hailed by another Starbug - it's them from the future! Kryten sends the others to the mid-section so they won't learn their futures, while he plans to erase his memory. Unfortunately, the news of Lister's fate strikes him so badly that he can't help but accidentally let slip that something has happened to him.
Lister, Rimmer and Cat are locked in the ops room, but Lister rigs the security cameras to the medi-scan so they can witness their arrival. They are not thrilled by what they see. Rimmer is morbidly obese, Cat is going bald, Kryten is wearing a leisure suit, toupee and fake eyebrows, and Lister is just a brain in a jar! Kryten has dinner with their doppelgangers, but all are disgusted to learn that their future selves live a totally depraved lifestyle - only wanting to sample the best of everything history had to offer, all four display disturbingly blase attitudes about the fact they're now good friends with people like Herman Goering and the Hitlers.
Having seen enough, Lister blasts his way out of the ops room and orders their future to vamoose. The future selves retreat to their Starbug, but it isn't long before they start firing a laser at them, and they send a threatening message. They have no intention to live without the Time Drive, so either cough up the data they need to fix theirs, or they'll blow them up, killing them all in the process.
Caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, Rimmer asks if they stand a chance. Kryten confirms they don't.
For once, all are in agreement, and they fight back. They get off a few good shots, but in the heat of battle, Lister's console explodes, and he's killed instantly. Rimmer then learns that the hull is about to go, and a second later, Cat's controls blow up in his face, and he's killed, too. Kryten offers a beacon of hope announcing, "But there may be a - " Sadly, his station blows up, and he's killed as well. Wrought with emotion, Rimmer begs Kryten to finish his sentence, but then, he works it out for himself. He leaves the cockpit, snatches up a bazookoid and charges into the crumbling corridors. Even a support beam collapsing on him doesn't stop him.
He makes it to the Time Drive. Levels the bazookoid. Loads. Fires. It explodes.
At the exact same moment, a shot from the future crew destroys our Starbug. As in completely destroys it. When the debris clears, there's absolutely nothing left. You'd never know there'd been anything there...
TO BE CONTINUED note
Tropes in this episode include:
- All Up to You: Each of the main characters are killed by their future selves until the only one left is the cowardly Rimmer, who must save the day all by himself... and remarkably, shows the cojones to do so.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The episode (and the season) ends with our heroes dead and Starbug destroyed. And it would be four years before the cliffhanger was resolved.
- Bottle Episode: The episode is nearly entirely confined to Starbug, and features only the main four cast members. Although they do also play the Dwarfers' future selves.
- Brain in a Jar: This is the ultimate fate of Lister in the future. However this is initially kept a secret from present-day Lister, and present-day Kryten, the Secret-Keeper, is on the point of tears when he finds out, leading Lister to believe that he had been killed instead.
- Cliffhanger: Season VI ends with the Dwarfers being killed by their evil future selves; the audience had to wait four smegging years to find out how they got out of it.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Rimmer, when he declares that they should fight their future selves. And, when all is lost, he figures out that he can solve the problem by destroying the Time Drive. Which he does, just before Starbug gets destroyed.
- Darker and Edgier: While the initial half of the episode is pretty silly, with Lister being revealed to be a robot (complete with emergency call-out number on the inside) and then revealed to be human, the latter half ... not so much. The Dwarfers are confronted with depraved future versions of themselves who are so outright degraded they murder three of them in quick succession.
- Dirty Old Man: The Future Dwarfers. When Kryten accuses them of giving in to their carnal desires, Future Rimmer just chuckles and says they could tell some stories about those.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Lister mentions an incident when Rimmer came upon him plucking out his nostril hairs, and tried to insert a fridge in him. While what Lister's doing is disgusting, a fridge is going pretty far.
- The Dog Bites Back: Kryten, believing Lister is an inferior mechanoid to him, takes a chance to get revenge for having to clean Lister's disgusting clothing all these years.
- Everyone Has Standards: Even Rimmer is disturbed by his corrupt future self, so when their future selves start threatening them, the usually cowardly hologram decides enough is enough and declares it's time to fight back, much the shock and delight of the others.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The crew are going through unreality pockets, making them believe different things. One makes them believe Lister is actually a droid. A droid less advanced than Kryten, and therefore lower ranking. Kryten takes advantage of this to give him humiliating orders. Then comes this exchange:Rimmer: So we just crashed through an unreality pocket?Kryten: Which created a false reality making us believe... Mr... Lister was... oh my. [cue awkward silence for a few seconds]Cat: You mean he's not a...Kryten: No.
- Fat Bastard: Future Rimmer and Future Cat.
- Fate Worse than Death: Discussed. Both the present and future crew decide to fight to the death. The future Dwarfers have superior artillery, but killing their present forms would end their existence as well, meaning almost certain mutually assured destruction. Both sides sneer at each other that they would rather go down dying than end up like their alternates.
- Future Me Scares Me: The crew meets themselves from fifteen years in the future. The future Dwarfers, having complete access to time travel, have become Drunk with Power and spend their time partying with the worst people in human history. The two sets of crew hate each other so much that they end up killing each other (with the "present" set surviving through Temporal Paradox). Even Rimmer, under most circumstances a Dirty Coward, volunteers to fight without hesitation.Rimmer: Better dead than smeg!
- Get Out!: Hearing about the Future Dwarfer's associations with the Hitlers (among other infamous figures) is enough to get Lister to force them off Starbug at bazookoid-point.
- A Glass in the Hand: Cat says of Rimmer: "You can tell he's tense by the way he scrunches up cups and throws them in the bin, and I'm not talking Styrofoam, I'm talking enamel." Of course, he is a Hard Light hologram.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Future Cat is balding.
- I Hate Past Me: The Dwarfers' future selves do not think kindly of themselves from way back when, and would rather die than be like them.Kryten: But this makes no sense. If you kill us, you cease to exist.Future Rimmer: Better that than to be like you, trapped like rats, marooned for all eternity.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Nobody wants to drink Kryten's homemade wine because it tastes disgusting. Apparently, it's brewed out of recycled urine and tastes worse than the original waste fluid it was...
- Jerkass: Rimmer's on fine form this episode. He begins the episode insulting everyone, and mocks Lister for being reduced to being a brain in a jar.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When the others are killed in the battle, Rimmer is clearly horrified and wrought with emotion, and then risks his own life - not to mention time itself - to bring them back.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Kryten's trying to say there may be a way, then BOOM, he's dead too.
- Last Stand: The present-day Dwarfers go up against their future selves, even though they stand no chance. Lister, Cat and Kryten are all killed in rapid succession, but Rimmer is inspired by Kryten's last words to take a chance and destroy the Time Drive.
- Minimalist Cast: Only the four regulars appear in the episode and they play two sets of characters.
- Missing Steps Plan: The Dwarfers try the time machine for the first time and go to the 15th century... only they haven't actually moved from their current location, they're in deep space in the 15th century. They concede that in order to get to where they really want to go, they need a faster-than-light drive to supplement the time machine.
- Noodle Implements:Kryten: Oh sir, how many times can I apologize? I have offered to mince myself, what more can I do?Lister: Don't worry, I'll think of something - probably involving a bowl of water, a poker, a recharge socket, and four thousand volts of direct current.
- Noodle Incident: Kryten mentions that the boy's last Christmas involved being attacked by a pan-dimensional liquid beast from the Mageddon Cluster, but doesn't elaborate further.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Towards the end, Rimmer has an uncharacteristic display of bravery, charging down the corridors with a bazookoid, kicking down the doors, and blasting the time drive to pieces. And shortly before that, he proposes a battle with Starbug against a vastly more powerful ship crewed by their future selves simply because they irritate him that much. Both acts are grossly out of character for the cowardly git, though the former at least may be chalked up to a lack of options.
- Retgone: Briefly happens to the Cat thanks to one of the Unreality Pockets.
- The Reveal: The future Dwarfers just seem like pathetic, stuck-up snobs at first... then they mention they've socialized with Hitler. At that point, the studio laughter pretty much stops dead.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: When the crew believe that Lister is actually a robot of a lesser model than Kryten, Kryten wastes no time in ordering Lister around.
- Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: Lister tests the Time Drive by visiting the 14th century but realizes that it just moves them through time and no closer to Earth. Their future selves have found some method of Faster-Than-Light Travel that lets them go anywhere.
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: The future Dwarfers use the time drive to sample opulent lifestyles... going as far as to casually associate with some of humanity's most infamous figures. They are so engrossed in their behavior, they decide to attack the present Dwarfers in effective suicide rather than give up their lifestyle.
- Understatement: Kryten is not impressed when the Future Dwarfers blithely admit that sampling the finest things in human history tends to require associating with people who history considers "a bit dodgy":Kryten: Hermann Goering is "a bit dodgy"?!
- Time-Traveling Jerkass: The future crew.
- Tragic Time Traveler: The Dwarfers come across a Time Drive whilst pursuing Red Dwarf. The origin for this time machine is already bad enough, with the previous owners having died of influenza of a trip to the 20th Century, but it gets worse when the Dwarfers meet a future version of themselves which have abused the Time Drive and have become Time Travelling Jerkasses. In the resulting fight, both crews are killed and it is only through a paradox that our Dwarfers survive another day.
- Villain Has a Point: It's never said out loud, but while the Future Dwarfers are engaging in time travel, they are engaging in probably one of the safest forms of time travel. The show has shown before that every action, even miniscule, has massive effects on the future, and the episode after this one, actively reinforced that. Their future selves merely show up to eat good food and are guests of people who are occasionally a bit dodgy, and don't change anything, because they must have figured that to change just the one thing, they change the whole world. That said, they have become deplorable people in the process, they are still socializing with utterly deplorable people and are willing to keep doing so.
- Wham Line: From Rimmer of all people:Rimmer: Then I say fight!