So here we are at the end of the series with a very rare episode that focuses on the Cat and brings back the parody of a certain Ridley Scott film.
We start with the team trying to get back to the Dwarf after straying far off-course due to Lister falling asleep at the controls for 24 hours. After avoiding ‘Vampire GELF’ territory they stumble upon a drifting ship where they discover a female Cat as captive who hits it off with Cat. On return to the Dwarf however the others realise that she’s a Polymorph, a long-running creature that change form into anything to steal your emotions. They find that Cat has now been impregnated by the Polymorph and gives birth to 8 of them which the crew are forced to hunt down but they disguise themselves as the rest of the crew, with Cat killing them easily as ‘a mother always knows her kids. The episode ends with the Cat still dreaming about getting laid with a female Cat.
With the episode focusing on the character of Cat much of the mockery is in relation to his vanity as a person right from the get go, in particular focusing on his embarrassment of being a virgin. To begin with Cat tries to hide his virginity from the others (even though they clearly know) rather than admit he could be killed by Vampire GELF and then, after being impregnated by the Polymorph, is more focused on counting it as sex than his approaching painful demise. The episode itself ends following this line with his supposed reality of having two ‘Lady Cats’ in his quarters who just hide from everyone being revealed as another dream of his. All the others however mock him for his embarrassment at being a virgin, with Lister saying they usually smell of desperation which very much matches the Cat. The focus on sexual conquests is also slightly extended to Rimmer a couple of times in the episode, with a Dictaphone message containing self-assurance regarding his penis size.
Outside of this mockery of sexual desperation the episode once again uses references related to the Alien films in relation to the Polymorph. Before they even meet the creature the team are involved in a scanner mix up, with Rimmer believing they’re under attack when it was just the rest of the crew that is a deliberate homage to the scene in Aliens as the base is overrun by Xenomorphs. Outside of this it plays with visual gags of the Polymorph being able to become anything, with the Cat giving birth to increasingly large objects such as Space Hoppers and pineapples before all transforming into cute animals so that the Cat doesn’t kill them.
Usually in Polymorph episodes the creature itself takes the emotions of others but this time the crew do it to themselves, with Lister being transformed into an emotionless killer to wipe out the Polymorph kids but also showing no concern for shooting the Cat either. Cat also however has most of his emotions stolen by his kids, leading to the Polymorphs own demise as he is able to work out exactly which of the copies of the others are the emotion stealing creatures and no longer cares about killing them either.
Much like in the earlier episode Officer Rimmer this episode features a number of very well-done multiplication shots of the actors, namely the penultimate sequence in the elevator with all the actors overlapping each other with no clear signs of it having been done by computer. This continues the series long-running tradition of being very good at vfx shots where other shows still fail.
Out of all the episodes of the series I’d have to say this was the most consistent of the lot. While the others all had noticeable weaknesses production-wise, namely the lack of endings, this one is a very well put together product. Saying that however it does suffer slightly as while it’s good it isn’t that memorable compared to the other Polymorph episodes, who saw the characters actually changed, with Rimmer previously becoming a pacifist and then Ace Rimmer, while here none of them are really altered noticeably which is a shame and a bit of a waste of the Polymorph as an enemy.
Overall however the episode as a whole is really a tale of the new series as a whole. All of the episodes have been made up of older material taken in a new twist or direction from before, with character interactions full of hark backs to the old days. This has sadly meant that while the series has been good it hasn’t really been that memorable, with Officer Rimmer probably being the only standout episode, so while I have enjoyed the run it is a shame that none of the episodes have really taken risks. While I’m looking forward to series XII here’s hoping more of the episodes are riskier ones that made the original run so memorable.