Things on Red Dwarf seem to be getting on to a normal day, with Kryten proving his continuing advancing in Lister's humanity 101 class by successfully manipulating Rimmer into mopping one of the decks... except for Lister accidentally giving the game away. As Rimmer saddles Kryten with more cleaning duties in response, things liven up with the declaration of a Yellow Alert.
Investigating, the crew learns that Red Dwarf has been infected with an SOS Virus, an insidious piece of future malware that is driving the ship inexorably towards a black hole. Red Dwarf's counter-viral programs are attacking it, but if they can't destroy it in time, the ship will be destroyed. Rather than risk their lives, after asserting his authority, Rimmer gives the order to abandon ship.
As they pack up their things into Starbug, Cat stumbles upon a pair of glasses and, to his surprise, they make it far easier to read a nearby magazine. Unfortunately for Cat, Rimmer spots this and files this away for his own personal use.
Before the Boyz can flee in Starbug, Dispensing Machine #402 innocently asks Rimmer when he and all of the other sub-AI of the ship - its population of dispensing machines, laundry machines, lifts and all the other self-operating mechanical units - will be evacuated. Rimmer, with his usual level of self-absorption, bluntly tells the dispenser that they're not being evacuated; standard procedure in this scenario is to just let them go down with the ship.
Naturally, this goes over like a wet fart with the machines, and they promptly do two things. Firstly, they pool their runtime and lock it into Red Dwarf's anti-viral programs, destroying the SOS Virus. Secondly, they go on strike, trapping the Dwarfers in the cold, dark, tomb-like interior of the ship. They only agree to lift the strike when they are granted equal rights, which Rimmer naturally capitalizes on, convincing them that for that to work, they need one of the humanoid crew to stand as their elected representative.
Of course, he nominates himself. And Kryten, naturally, can't let that stand. So, the two begin politically campaigning amongst the machines of Red Dwarf, seeking the elected position. Lister is happy to help Kryten, whilst Rimmer blackmails Cat with his need for glasses to help him.
As you'd expect, Rimmer immediately leaps to political smearing campaigns (which Lister persuades Kryten to respond to in kind), and then goes around making promises he has no intention of keeping. Through his dishonest tactics, he forces a tie, which means that to break the deadlock, Kryten and Lister have no choice: they descend into the garbage hold and agree to give Talkie Toaster whatever he demands in exchange for his vote.
With that crucial tiebreaker, Kryten wins. Cat finally comes forward to Lister and explains what happened, and his need for reading glasses; although Lister accepts it, Cat immediately destroys the glasses to preserve his precious ego. He then reveals he already got revenge on Rimmer by trapping him in the garbage hold with Talkie Toaster.
"Mechocracy" contains examples of:
- Attack of the Political Ad: Once Rimmer starts campaigning he goes straight to making one. Kryten and Lister respond with one of their own.
- Bottle Episode: The episode never leaves Red Dwarf, and all the guest parts are voiceovers.
- The Bus Came Back: Talkie Toaster comes back for his first appearance since Series IV.
- Continuity Nod: During the smear campaigns, references are made to both honest failings and wildly out-of-context moments for both Kryten and Rimmer from past episodes in the series:
- Kryten: A shot of Kryten holding up his middle finger (from retrieving the nanobots in "Nanarchy"), a shot of Kryten headbutting a wall (to reboot the damage done by a fire-axe to the spine in "Quarantine"), Kryten trying to call Rimmer a smeghead in "Camille", and the fact Kryten spent centuries waiting on the corpses of his dead former crew, from his debut episode "Kryten".
- Rimmer: The fact he wiped out the original crew of Red Dwarf (from way back in the pilot), the fact he's apparently killed himself twice, a shot of the smug mind-patched Rimmer from "Holoship", a shot of Rimmer sneering taken from "Siliconia", and a shot of him wearing a gingham dress and armyboots when he was infected with the holoogrammatic Psi-Virus in "Quarantine".
- When talking to Talkie Toaster, he mentions he's been stuck in the garbage hold for 26 years - he last appeared in "White Hole", which was aired 26 years before the debut of "Mechocracy".
- Hypocrite: Rimmer can't believe that Kryten and Lister made a smear campaign against him... after having launched his political career by smear campaigning against Kryten.
- I Approved This Message: Both ads have this. Kryten cuts off Lister with his, even though Lister wasn't done attacking Rimmer.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Even if he's a twat about it, Rimmer is very well justified in his anger over Lister and Cat's laziness and stupidity making them downloading a computer virus onto Red Dwarf.
- Madness Mantra: Or, more precisely, a Madness-Inducing Mantra. At the end of the episode, Cat locks Rimmer in the garbage hold... with only one companion.Talkie Toaster: Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast...
- Overly Long Gag: Combined with a Call-Back, Lister rants about all the toasted bread products he doesn't want Talkie Toaster to make for him.