I’m not sure how far into series IV we are going to get before the NaNoWriMo madness takes over my life and my blog, but there’s no reason not to quickly dip in here.
Following on from Kryten’s futile attempts to grasp the human qualities he admires most, here he inadvertantly becomes the recipient of a DNA transmogrification (which is possibly the best word in this series of Red Dwarf so far) thanks to an abandoned spaceship and a small organic component lying almost forgotten somewhere within his mechanoid brain, and by some stroke of luck becomes not a chicken or a hamster as Lister did earlier, but human.
My heavens. I am human.
And so it is that we first experience a human version of Kryten’s character (although Robert Llewellyn had previously made a cameo without the mask in series III’s The Last Day) – and therein hangs the philosophical wotsit for the episode, not to mention extrapolating a motif popular in the contemporary Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Kryten – in many ways a superior being, despite having been relegated to ironing and cleaning before joining the Red Dwarf Posse – becomes human. And he doesn’t like it. At first, once he has got used to the somewhat primitive zoom mode and non-functioning nipples, he sets out to enjoy what is, after all, his wildest dream come true; but deep down he knows he is neither one thing nor the other.
And so, after some wrestling with human emotions and a few fish out of water gags, the crew head back to the DNA ship to put things straight, whereupon there is an accident with a mutton vindaloo and the final act of the piece begins.
But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to contemplate the moral of the story, which here, as Popeye (or possibly Descartes) said, is ‘I am what I am’. Kryten tries to be something else – something more, in his view – but ends up unhappy, and hurting those closest to him. With the help of closet philosopher Dave Lister, Kryten figures out that the best thing for his mental health is to stay true to himself.
There is also much to be said about the abuse of technology – the mutton vindaloo beast is a very real embodiment of what can go wrong, but Kryten’s inner struggles may be more the kind of thing that we need to look out for. The internet through which I speak to you, for instance, can allow anyone a degree of anonymity which can be a slippery slope to all kinds of trouble – I mean look at me, I pretend to be a writer but lack the motivation to string together 3 blog posts a week on a regular basis.
So, what was the take home from all this? Well, in a roundabout sort of way, just be yourself. It may take some false starts to figure out who you’re supposed to be, as it did with Kryters, but once you figure out who you’re supposed to be, you can be a better you. Yeah ok I’m fluffing that a bit, so I’ll leave you instead with the words of Howard Thurman, who said it much more succinctly than even a writer like me could:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.