Dimension Jump is one of the classic Dwarf episodes, one that has been referred back to on a few occasions, and whose catchphrase has lingered on.
The story begins with seven year old Rimmer hanging upside down by the ankles outside the family home, his mother raising with him the question of whether he should repeat a year of schooling, pointing out that ‘this decision could
completely alter the whole course of your life’.
Which is where we see what Rimmer could have achieved had he made a different decision on that day: the devilishly brave and handsome test pilot that can turn a guy’s head and make a woman quit her job… This is, of course, Ace Rimmer – the man Rimmer always wanted to be.
There’s some sort of disruption to the time-fabric continuum. At least, I presume that’s what it is, it’s certainly got all the signs. There’s this big wibbly-wobbly swirly thing that’s headed straight towards us.
We also meet the more talented and popular version of Lister: Spanners, a Space Corps technician married to one Kristine Kochanski – and crew members bearing a passing resemblance to Holly, Kryten’s human incarnation, and Cat. Interestingly, the Cat’s double is a Chaplain, although beyond platitudes about having Ace in his prayers and wishing him ‘God speed and bless you’ as he sets off on his next impossible mission, there isn’t really much to make of that fact.
The impossible mission in question concerns the ‘dimension theory of reality’; that for every decision that is made, the opposite decision plays out in another reality. The boffins have come with a crate that can break the speed of reality, sending an intrepid test pilot into these alternate dimensions. There must be some kind of small print which means the Dimension Jump ship homes in on alternate versions of its pilot – Ace is on a one way mission to meet all his alternate selves.
We can only assume that these are the two extremes of possible Rimmers; one talented, brave and popular, the other a snivelling, neurotic coward despised pretty much universally. By the end of the episode, ‘our’ Arnold is completely consumed by insane jealousy and bitterness towards the man he could have become.
So what does this tell us? Well mainly that every decision is important, every junction in our lives will affect every other junction we come to. From a Christian perspective, pray about every choice we make. And more importantly, don’t always jump in to what seems best at the time. As Ace says:
I was the one who went down a year. By his terms, he got the break. But being kept down a year made me. The humiliation… Being the tallest boy in the class by a clear foot. It changed me, made me buckle down, made me fight back. And I’ve been fighting back ever since.
Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:8), and here young Arnie’s pride destroys an outstanding career – not to mention the fact that Arnold ends up dead, three million years from home.
While Rimmer hates his successful alter-ego, Lister takes great comfort in the fact that in some version of reality he got it right. We can spend our lives regretting bad decisions and moaning that God or fate or the universe has dealt us a duff hand; or we can see that actually, we have potential, we can be that better person.
It’s never too late to change, to take a step towards becoming our own version of Ace or Spanners. We just need to look past our jealousy or laziness or whatever is holding us back; put it down, repent, pray about it, hand it over to Christ… and move on. We may not be able to jump between dimensions, but our God can certainly change our reality.