Thanks for the Memory continues the writers’ attempts, started in Better Than Life, to make Rimmer a slightly more agreeable character. Having already given a little insight into his horrible upbringing, this episode opens with the crew celebrating Rimmer’s deathday on the surface of a convenient planet.
LISTER: It’s a state of the art sarny.
HOLLY: It’s the state of the floor I’m worried about.
Drunk Rimmer, with his guard down and having checked his usual officious manner at the door, is almost likeable, and as he and Lister deal with their alcohol-induced munchies, we get a rare moment of friendy banter between the pair, in which Lister is likened to the triple fried egg chilli chutney sandwich they are enjoying.
All your ingredients are wrong. You’re slobby, you’ve got no sense of discipline, you’re the only man ever to get his money back from the Odour Eater people, but people like you, don’t you see? That’s why you’re a fried egg, chilli, chutney sandwich. Now me … now me … All the ingredients are right. I’m disciplined, I’m organised, I’m dedicated to my career, I’ve always got a pen. Result? Total smeghead despised by everyone except the ship’s parrot. And that’s only because we haven’t got one. Why? Why is that?
Yes indeed, like a triple fried egg chilli chutney sandwich, we are greater than the sum of our parts. This could be a valuable lesson for Rimmer; but not, it turns out, quite as valuable as discovering one vital missing ingredient, which may well be the true reason for Rimmer’s being a smeghead all the time:
I’d trade it all in – all of it. My pips, my long-service medals, my swimming certificates, my telescope, my shoe trees. I’d trade everything in to be loved and to have been loved.
Spin forward to the hangover, and it’s a doozy: Cat and Lister have a broken leg apiece, and everybody – Holly included – has lost their memory of the last four days. (Comparisons have been made to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Clues in this respect.)
In the course of investigating this occurence, the crew find that in a fit of drunken benevolence, Lister has donated an eight month love affair to Rimmer in an attempt to heal his brokenness. By way of the black box recorder we see Rimmer, now with the happy memories of being in love firmly entrenched in his memory, being… nice.
if you go through life without feeling, if you go through life never experiencing, you’re no better than a jellyfish. No better than a bank manager.
Hilarity, of course, ensues along the way; at least until that inevitable moment that it all goes horribly wrong, and Rimmer insists they undo it and – so that no-one is any the wiser – wipe their memories.
In the space of four days Arnold Rimmer gets schooled in the ups and downs of love. He learns what happens if we take a risk now and then; sometimes we get hurt, but that’s all part of this crazy ride we call life. In the memory of Lise Yates, Lister gives Rimmer the vital ingredient his life has been missing, the one thing that could raise him above being a complete git all the time – and Rimmer hands it back.
Choosing a life following Christ is just as much a rollercoaster. Less so here in England than in many other places, but it does demand personal sacrifice. It needs an occasional ‘unpopular’ decision to be made. It certainly isn’t all sunshine all of the time, but it does bring a love that will change us more profoundly – and more permanently – than eight months of stupendous sex with Lise Yates. Love that is offered to us as a gift – to accept and let it change us from the inside, or to hand back and forget it ever existed.
The obvious change to this episode is with the Blue Midget design; there is a distinct possibility that in the redesign it was given legs (a bit like an Imperial AT-ST) specifically so it could stagger while under Lister’s tipsy control in this episode – something which I think comes across as a bit silly, even for Red Dwarf.
In addition, the various flashback shots are tinted, there’s some new music, and a joke about Spanish TV is cut (presumably to improve the chances of selling the show to, for example, Spanish TV).
Oh, and the new credits spell Lise Yates’ name wrongly.
Watch this episode for a Rimmer you could actually get to like.