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Recap / Red Dwarf The Promised Land

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A ninety-minute one-off special, in which we and the crew of Red Dwarf finally learn what happened to the rest of the humanoid Cat species after leaving the vessel of their origin in search of, well, Fucshal the Promised Land. It turns out they've been traveling all around the universe in a fleet of ships, and there's recently been a coup, with a faction of "Feral" cats led by the intimidating Rodon who have overthrown the priest-followers of "Cloister". Three of the priests escape and find their way to the Dwarfers, with Rodon in pursuit.

This episode contains examples of:

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  • Achilles' Power Cord: Rimmer burns out his light-bee battery and thus has to stay plugged into the mains to keep powered up, meaning he is forced to daisy-chain a whole string of extension leads across the ship in order to go anywhere.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Subverted. When restoring Holly from a backup disk, he's hostile to the current occupants of Red Dwarf... because he's following his programming from three million years ago.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Cat finally admits that while he doesn't like Rimmer, he likes not liking him. His also affirms his true home as Red Dwarf, and not with his fellow Felis sapiens.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Instead of just blasting Red Dwarf to smithereens from his ship, Rodon insists on cementing his rule by hauling aboard a Big, Bulky Bomb set with a timer.
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  • Brief Accent Imitation: Rimmer briefly adopts Lister’s accent to mock him after it becomes clear that Lister’s claim that they will catch up with the distress signal in no time will not come to pass.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Cat Priests are dismayed when Lister finally tells them that he's not their god, disillusioned by the fact that they've been worshipping a chicken soup machine repairman all this time.
  • Cassette Futurism: Holly's backup is a giant floppy disk. That is, a classic 3.5-inch diskette, but about 5 foot square.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: One of the Cat Priests is a mute, but upon meeting Lister, she starts talking, believing that he granted her the power of speech. When Lister admits to not being their god, she falls mute once more and regains her speech after the Cats start worshipping Rimmer instead).
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  • Comically Missing the Point: After the restored Holly outlines his plan to help the Dwarfers escape the desert moon by firing a mining torpedo at it.
    Lister: Is that safe?
    Holly: I'm miles away. I'll be fine.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • While Rimmer gets upgraded, his appearance jumps through all the various uniforms he's had over the decades. Even his hairstyle evolves with it.
    • The priests having cigarettes stuck in one ear comes from Lister having done it in the episode "The End" way back at the very start of the series.
  • Continuity Snarl: As always with this show. The Dwarfers have traveled to parallel universes, bounced around the time-stream, spent decades in suspended animation, and somehow the original generation of cats are still flying their fleet, complete with... see below under Long Lost Relative.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Both the Dwarfers and the Cat Priests end up on the Iron Star.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: Starbug deliberately flies into one on the desert moon to escape the Ferals.
  • Disney Death: Kryten shuts down near the end, but Rimmer uses his Light Bee to recharge him at the expense of giving up his own ability to use diamond light mode.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The Cat rightfully points out that, as a hologram of a dead man, Rimmer's 'thoughts' merely consist of what the computer in his Light Bee believes the real Rimmer would have been thinking.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Dwarfers are marooned without fuel in half of a Starbug on a desert moon. In a bid to eject them back into space, Holly blows up the moon. It ends up working.
  • Easy Evangelism: When the Cat tries to convince the Cat Priests that Lister isn't their god, their words manage to convert him in moments.
  • Equipment Upgrade: Rimmer twice briefly becomes a "Diamond Light" superhero-hologram.
  • From Bad to Worse: The crew's situation after fleeing Red Dwarf in a Starbug. They end up with no engines and no food, buried seven feet deep in sand on a desert moon.
  • Gilligan Cut: After the rebooted Holly forces the Dwarfers off the ship, they decide to track the Cat Priests' distress call, with Lister confident that they can catch up in a few days. We then cut to two months later, with the crew still searching.
  • God Guise: Lister is seen by the cats as Cloister, their god. He's not happy about this, but doesn't want to destroy their faith. At the end of the episode, they switch their allegiance to Rimmer, who is much happier about it.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Lister's on the verge of one of these at the start of the episode, again suffering from the whole "last human being alive 3 million years in the future" thing.
    • Maybe "heroic" isn't the right word, but at a later point Rimmer almost lets his battery completely run down, since he's really dead anyway and no one likes him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At different times, both Rimmer and Kryten seem to be headed for this, but they survive. Rimmer does sacrifice his diamond-light status so Kryten can be revived.
  • Identity Breakdown: Rimmer has a bit of a Heroic BSoD and almost lets his battery run down after The Cat tells him that the real Rimmer is long dead and that he is just a computer acting on what the real Rimmer would think. Luckily, Lister is able to snap him out of it.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Ferals attempting to destroy Starbug on the desert moon.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Lister jettisoning the Starbug's burning engines, instead of maybe trying a fire extinguisher first.
  • Laser Sight: Diamond-Rimmer generates one, not to target a weapon, but compel Rodon's followers into attacking him, causing their ship to crash.
  • Long-Lost Relative: The Cat and Rodon turn out to be brothers.
  • MacGuffin: The Anubis Stone. It does eventually turn out to have powers.
  • Maintain the Lie: Lister initially wants to tell the Cat Priests the truth about him, but Kryten convinces him not to, on the grounds that belief in "Cloister" is giving them hope.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The crew's reaction upon hearing the revived Holly's criteria for keeping the ship running.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Dwarfers and the cat-priests do keep getting bailed out of trouble by improbable events, but as Lister says at the end, it was probably just luck. Probably.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Sentient Cats have an insatiable urge to pounce on the moving red dot of a laser sight. Plus jokes like having giant cat-flaps instead of normal doors, and eating vile meat lumps from equally large tins.
  • Mythology Gag: Black-and-white Rimmer is how the producers originally wanted to depict him when the show started, but the budget and technology of the time didn't allow for it. The concept of Rimmer having to run in low power mode was also first used in Rob Grant's solo Red Dwarf novel, though he wound up being transparent there instead. Additionally, the idea of a black-and-white Rimmer had also been previously explored in the magazine, which depicted him as a monochrome hologram.
  • Never My Fault: When the crew discover the Diamond Light upgrade, Rimmer is insistent on having himself upgraded immediately, ignoring Kryten's suggestion that they perform a compatibility test first. When the Diamond Light mode causes Rimmer's Light Bee to almost burn out, Rimmer immediately blames Kryten for not performing the test.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Installing the backup copy of Holly turns out to be a really bad idea.
  • No Power, No Color: Holograms are revealed to be capable of going into "Low-Power Mode" to conserve energy, which leads to them turning greyscale. This befalls Rimmer when the crew need to conserve energy.
  • Opening Scroll: The fade in, fade out variant is used at the start of the movie to explain how the Cat People came to have evolved and left Red Dwarf.
  • The Promised Land: Well, yeah. At the very end of the episode, the cat-priests tell the Dwarfers that they consider it to be a state of mind, rather than an actual planet somewhere.
  • Red Herring: The Iron Star. It's a big fancy super-advanced ship, with an equally elaborate set, seems destined to become the crew's new home after they have to flee Red Dwarf ...and after a short visit, it gets unceremoniously blown up by the Ferals. The crew later attempts to find a crashed piece of it to use in repairing Starbug ...and fail. They end up back on Red Dwarf.
  • Retcon: When we first met the Cat, we were told he was the offspring of an abandoned "idiot and cripple". Now we hear that he was left behind because he was considered uncool.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Dwarfers tempt the re-booted Holly into integrating the old version's still-existing memories by letting him assume that the 3 million years run time would have made him smarter, not dumber as the case really is.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Cat states that Holly's back-up disk requires a slot "bigger than The Incredible Hulk's buttcrack".
    • While moving the disk over to the slot, Lister and the Cat say "To me, to you".
  • Splash of Color: Rimmer is black-and-white in his power saving mode
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Lister makes a fumbling half-hearted attempt at this with the cat-priests.
  • Stylistic Suck: The cats' incredibly lame Lister/Rimmer-worship song.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe example with the visit to the Iron Star, which is more advanced than Red Dwarf, and made the subject of a gag with Holly's backup disk, which is a gigantic hard-case floppy disk that makes dial-up modem squealing noises when booted up.
  • There Is Another: It's finally canonically confirmed that other cats still exist.
  • Time Bomb: As noted, Rodon has one of these very ostentatiously placed on Red Dwarf to seal his control of the cats.
  • Time-Passage Beard: The Boys from the Dwarf are kicked out by Holly and are heading off towards a distress signal which has been sent nearby. Lister insists that they will find the ship in no time. Cut to three months later and the two biological members of the cast (The Cat and Lister) have gained long hair and notable beards.
  • Took a Shortcut: It takes the Starbug months to reach the Iron Star but Red Dwarf later catches up with them in seconds. It was either following them the whole time or is ridiculously faster.
  • Transforming Mecha: The cat ships merge into one at the end.
  • Used Future: Kryten is looking rather battered these days.
  • Visual Pun: The various ships of the Cat fleet can arrange themselves to create a cartoony cat face. At the end of the episode, they have become Rimmer worshippers, and reconfigure into a H.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The whole episode is an attempt to answer that question, after some 32 years. Or rather, What Happened To The Cats?
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: There's an almost completely straight discussion about this regarding Rimmer; is he really "Rimmer" or just a light-bee computer impersonally simulating Rimmer?
  • Yes-Man: Rodon's chief aide is a toadying suck-up.
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