Finally, after many months’ absence, the Great Red Dwarf re-watch is back. And White Hole is probably one of my top three episodes ever, if I were to ever sit and compile such a thing.
The story starts with Kryten repairing Talkie Toaster in order to conduct experiments in intelligence compression to stave of Holly’s computer senility. Predictably, things go awry and the crew are suddenly left without Holly – and without access to any of the technology their daily lives normally depend upon; as Lister points out, they are reduced to the level of primitives.
And just when they thought the day couldn’t get any worse, they encounter a new phenomenon…
Holly’s plan is, basically, to throw a nuclear bomb at the sun, using the resulting solar flare to plug the white hole with a planet. To play pool with planets. This plan, however, puts her firmly on Lister’s home ground, and on thebasis that having an IQ of 12,000 doesn’t mean she can play pool, Lister takes the shot himself, relying on Wicked Strength lager and skills refined at the Aigburth Arms on a Friday night.
Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite; would you like a toasted teacake?
But before the Prince of the Planet-Potters plays his trick shot, let’s back up a little, to where everything shuts down. Holly takes with her the engines, navigation and all but emergency power. Everything, in fact, except the oxygen recycler, minimal heating and lighting… and Rimmer.
It seems that Rimmer was granted a reprieve because there would be insufficient power to reboot him from the emergency batteries, despite the fact that without his drain on the system, Lister and Cat could extend their (admittedly still very short) remaining time. Under normal circumstances, SpaceCorps Directives dictate that ‘a hologrammatic crewmember must lay down his life in order that the living crewmembers might survive’; this being Red Dwarf, however, and the SpaceCorps being about three million years out of date, the switch-off option is taken off the table.
I find Rimmer’s choices here interesting. One the one hand, he can make the ultimate sacrifice, lay down his life so that what passes as his friends can live longer. Or he can refuse, watch them die, and then carry on, alone, until he eventually runs out of power and ‘dies’ anyway. Give your life up willingly, or lose it anyway.
The other point of potential relevance is what happens when Holly – the entity who effectively keeps their universe (within Red Dwarf anyway) running, provides them with food, warmth, the very air they breathe – is suddenly taken out of the equation:
It leaves us galloping up diarrhoea drive without a saddle.
So I guess the moral of this story, such as it is, is don’t switch your Holly off. That, and keep your pool playing arm solid, just in case.