The boys from the Dwarf are exploring an icy planet, having found a scientific outpost there. Rimmer's attempts at getting Lister and the Cat to do as he says are going nowhere, with them deferring to Kryten instead. Since the only sciencist there is a hologram, Kryten insists Rimmer go back to the Dwarf, since Holly can only generate one hologram at a time. Kryten's use of the Space Corps Directives has Rimmer asking if these legendary rules even exist, so Holly gives him the rule-book as the others leave.
On arrival at the lab, it's not a good sight. There are signs warning about horrible death and disease, but fortunately the scanner says they're going to live. Eventually. After a good several seconds. They soon stumble upon a stasis tube containing one Doctor Hildegard Langstrom, who is obviously not herself. As is pretty normal by now, she attacks the trio (though mercifully her Eye Beams don't have good aim), and hijacks the radio to tell Rimmer that she is quite, quite mad.
Soon enough, however, the virus she's infected with causes her to die. The boys go back to Red Dwarf, having taken some samples of Langstrom's research from before she went mad, about "positive" virus, including ones that induce joy, and even a distilled version of luck itself. As they get close to the ship, Holly has some alarming news. Starbug is being directed toward the quarantine docking bay. Rimmer claims he's just making sure the trio haven't come down with anything. They obviously haven't, but Rimmer insists on playing everything absolutely by the book. This means leaving them in quarantine for months. It gets worse on arrival. There's only one bunk, because neither the Cat or Kryten are Jupiter Mining Corps crewmembers. In terms of entertainment, Rimmer's supplied them a filled-in crossword, a Chess set with 31 missing pieces, a knitting magazine, a wallpapering video, and constantly looping tango music. And for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it's sprouts, despite sprouts making Lister sick.
Lister rallies Kryten and the Cat, figuring Rimmer is using the rulebook to make their lives living hell and make them turn on one another. So, as the Boys From The Dwarf, they vow not to let it get to them.
Five days later, and things aren't going well. The Cat's arm is broken, Lister's got a swollen eye, and Kryten's had to spend two hours bashing his head back into shape. Lister is trying to maintain a positive attitude, but Kryten and the Cat are at each other's throats, and Lister's constant declarations that they'll "get through this" are really not helping. Things steadily get worse, until Kryten realises that they've been in quarantine for five days, and no-one's crazy. Since Rimmer's playing by the book, they have the excuse they need to get out. They've nailed him!
Then Rimmer makes himself known. And it's immediately obvious that something's... not entirely right with our favourite smeghead. Maybe it's the Creepy Monotone, or is it something else?
- Rimmer: I'm sitting here wearing a red and white checked gingham dress... and army boots... you think that's unamiss?
He explains how he wants to let the three out, but he can't. The King of the Potato People won't let him. No matter how much he begs. He wants to keep them in quarantine, for years. Deciding to play along, Lister asks if they can talk to the king. But they'd need a magic carpet. Oh, they've got one. A nice little three-seater.
So they're trying to say they want to use a magic carpet to see the King of the Potato People, and they're telling Rimmer they're completely sane? That sounds like crazy talk, and if there's one thing Rimmer can't stand, it's crazy people. So, the only solution is two hours WOO - With-Out Oxygen. That, Rimmer maintains, will teach 'em to be breadbaskets.
Oh, smeg. The situation looks bleak. They're running out of air, and for some reason Holly's not around to help them (actually, Holly hasn't been seen since they landed, and won't be seen for the rest of the episode, now that we mention it). So what can they do?
Well, how about they use the luck virus to escape? They do, and plan to go to the holo-suite, to try and purge the virus out of Rimmer before he dies. But unfortunately, Rimmer and his puppet friend Mr. Flibble are waiting for them. A dramatic chase occurs, as Rimmer and Mr. Flibble try frying the trio with their hex vision. They manage to outrun the mad hologram, but as they hide, Rimmer uses the virus-granted telepathy to retrieve a fire axe, and toss it at Kryten. Fortunately, as an android, it doesn't do too much, though he does start spouting gibberish, having to smash his head against the wall so he can WIN SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE SOUTH MOLDAVIAN PEOPLE! A few more rounds of head-bashing fixes the problem.
Of course, all this has given Rimmer (and Mr. Flibble) time to catch up with them. And now an upset Mr. Flibble wants to do something truly hideous to punish them for running away. Nervously backing down the corridor, the boys are doomed. It'd take a miracle to save them. A miracle, or the exact components needed to rig up a device to purge the virus from Rimmer then and there.
And, wouldn't you know it, Lister keeps tripping over them. Cue one virus-purging device, cue one purged Rimmer (and sadly, one "dead" Mr. Flibble). With the virus gone, Rimmer returns to his usual cowardly, weasel-minded self.
But, just to be sure, he's put in quarantine. On waking up, Lister assures Rimmer he won't be alone, because the three of them, all dressed in gingham dresses of their own, are gonna be right there with him.
This episode includes examples of:
- Almost Out of Oxygen: Rimmer, suffering from a holographic virus that sends him crazy, attempts to cut off Lister, Kryten, and the Cat's oxygen supply.
- Authority in Name Only: The opening scene neatly encapsulates how little Lister and the Cat think of Rimmer, when he tries playing leader.Rimmer: Launch scouter.
(seconds pass, as the Cat and Lister do nothing.)
Rimmer: Launch scouter.
(The Cat and Lister continue to do nothing)
Rimmer: I'll just be in the stern. Collating the uh... in the stern... (leaves)
Kryten: Uh, if you would be so good as to launch the scouter?
The Cat: (yelling so Rimmer can hear) Aye, aye, sir! Scouter launcher, sir!
- Bothering by the Book: Rimmer, having gotten his hands of the Space Corps Directive handbook, proceeds to use it to make Lister, Kryten and the Cat's lives a living hell.
- Consulting Mr Puppet: This episode was the former Trope Namer, courtesy of aforementioned Mr. Flibble, Rimmer's friend in murderous mayhem.
- Contrived Coincidence: The luck virus pretty much generates them. Need something? It'll turn up just when you need it. Want to get through a locked door? Push the keys at random, it'll be the right number.
- Creepy Monotone: Rimmer gets into this territory once he starts going crazy.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: The quarantine quarters is the normal bunk room with green panels over the top bunk and Holly monitor.
- Eureka Moment: Kryten stumbles upon the solution mid-argument.
- Evil Sounds Deep: A subtle variant: during the scene where Rimmer reveals he's been watching the quarantined crew for "two, maybe three hours", his Creepy Monotone voice is noticably lower than it is when he's with Mr. Flibble.
- Hand Puppet: Mr Flibble, a cute but evil toy penguin through which Rimmer channels his hex energy while infected with the holovirus.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Lampshaded, when the trio are running from Dr. Langstrom. Lister wonders why they never meet anyone who likes them. Cat just wonders why they never meet anyone who can shoot straight.
- Just a Machine: Rimmer, throwing a strop over Kryten being more likable than he, tells him he's "merely a mechanoid".
- Laser-Guided Karma: At the end of the episode, the Boyz put a de-virused Rimmer in quarantine, presumably to put him through the same hell they've just been through.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Being struck in the spine by a telekinetically propelled fire-axe causes Kryten to calmly note that he has a fire axe buried in his back, and that rather puts a crimp in his day.
- Manchild: Rimmer, before he gets the hologram equivalent of foaming dog fever. He sulks when Lister and the Cat refuse to do as he says, spends ages ranting at Holly about Kryten, and when it's clear the gang's in trouble with Langstrom takes malicious glee in ignoring their distress.
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Kryten, after getting a medium-sized fire axe in the back, starts spewing random gibberish and non-sequiturs.
- Noodle Implements: Driven insane by the Holovirus, Rimmer takes a whispered suggestion from his penguin pal Mr. Flibble on how to punish the others - "Oh, we couldn't do that. Who'd clean up all the mess?".
- Oh, Crap!:
- The gang's mood is not helped exploring the abandoned labs when they find a sign detailing in grisly detail what happens to anyone who catches the viruses there - a stick figure man vomiting and defecating while his guts fall out.
- Lister tries humouring Rimmer's madness, but when Rimmer asks him if he's serious, Lister's expression drops.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Normally, Kryten is utterly subservient to humans, and Lister specifically. Five days in quarantine with him and the Cat has Kryten so on edge he implicitly threatens to kill Lister for his disgusting habits.
- Percussive Maintenance: Kryten "resets" his malfunctioning CPU after taking an axe to the spine by repeatedly smacking his head into a wall.
- Psychic Powers: The holo-virus that Langstrom is infected with and Rimmer gets later grants these powers, which are mainly shown as telepathy, telekinesis, and Eye Beams. The telepathy is mainly used as a Psychic Radar in the episode. It comes however at a cost: The more you use, the more of your life energy is used up. Langstrom succumbed to it and the Dwarfers have to try and save Rimmer from it later on.
- Rules Lawyer: As usual Kryten totters between a Helpful and Dumb one with his use of the Space Corp Directive, and outrages Rimmer since they expectedly overrule holograms. In revenge Rimmer studies the actual Directive to become an Obnoxious one and troll the others into suffering quarantine, knowing Kryten would have to agree.
- Space Madness: The holo-virus causes this.
- Take That!:
- When discussing the "joy" virus, Kryten mentions 20th century DJs suffered from it all the time.
- The Cat refers to Kryten as "Frankenstein" while they're bickering. Kryten points out this is a common misconception, adding that it's only held by the most "truly stupid" of people.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Holly just disappears after the lads go into quarantine, without comment.
- With Friends Like These...: The remaining civilian in the outpost is a hologram, and Holly can only generate one on the Dwarf at a time. Rimmer is mortified, knowing that the others would strongly consider deactivating him for good if Langstrom proves a more pleasant source of company than him.