Now prisoners in The Tank of Red Dwarf, Lister is tricked into signing up himself, Kryten, Rimmer, Kochanski and Cat for the Canaries which he believes is a musical troupe. However, they are a first response task team sent into dangerous situations before the army to check whether its safe, as convicts are expendable. They are sent aboard a spaceship sunk at the bottom of an ocean moon. When they arrive they find a computer named "Cassandra", who tells them she can predict the future and tells Rimmer he will die. Rimmer spends the rest of the episode trying to find a way to avoid death.
Due to a misunderstanding Dave Lister (Craig Charles) signs the gang up for "the Canaries", a group of expendables who go into dangerous situations in exchange for several prison privileges — not, as Lister was informed by Holly (Norman Lovett), the prison choir. At the last minute, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister, Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), Kristine Kochanski (Chloë Annett) and Cat (Danny John-Jules) fail to get themselves released from the Canaries on the grounds of Lister's misunderstanding by singing "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" at the Canary initiation. Their first mission is aboard the wreck of SSS Silverberg, which is submerged under an ocean moon and they go down in a Diving Bell. Silverberg is a prison ship for its computer, Cassandra, who can predict the future with one hundred percent accuracy, and she predicts Rimmer and the rest of the Canaries are soon to die.
Cassandra claims that only Lister, Kryten, Kochanski and Cat will make it out alive and that all the other prisoners will die, although Rimmer will die first. Though told it is impossible to prevent Cassandra's prediction from coming true, Rimmer comes up with a plan. He realises that no one ever referred to him as Rimmer in front of Cassandra and since she does not know everything, she may believe someone else is Rimmer and have predicted that the other given person will die first. He manages to ruin Warden Knot's (Shend) jacket and gives him his own, with his name tag on it, as a replacement.
When Cassandra sees Knot die of a heart attack, she of course believes him to be named Rimmer and thus her prediction comes true. The real Rimmer is prepared to celebrate until she points out he's still going to die with the rest of the Canaries. He questions how it happens, and she claims that Lister kills him after finding him in bed with Kochanski. Rimmer is quite happy about the concept, but Kochanski is not. She believes that even if she were blind drunk that would not excuse her other four senses; Rimmer still tries to persuade her, but she disagrees. He then turns on the water valve to dilute his scotch accidentally soaking Kochanski with water, provoking her to have to take her clothes off.
Very much to his annoyance, before Rimmer can have sex with Kochanski, he is interrupted by Lister. Kryten has figured out that Cassandra must have known her whole life that she was going to die and furthermore that Lister was the one going to kill her. She lied about Rimmer and Kochanski as a means to punish Lister for what he would do. Lister then goes back to Cassandra's chamber, telling her that he does not like the idea that his entire future is already planned out, and plans to prove he can make his own decisions by refusing to kill her.
As he exits, he takes some chewing gum out of his mouth and idly sticks it to the wall. It lands on the fan, turning it on, and ricochets to a glass of water; the water spills and lands on Cassandra's power wire, killing her inadvertently in a very Rude Goldberg fashion. Lister realises what he has done, and leaves, cursing incredulously to himself "Smeg!"
- After the Holly Watch suggests that Lister become a dog to halve his sentence in The Tank, Lister asks if he has any other ideas. Holly says that prison regs dictate that anybody who claims they are insane to get out of prison must be sane - it's a "catch 44" situation, twice as bad as a "catch 22" situation. Lister says that he is going to stop wearing the watch in the shower, since he doesn't know if it is waterproof.
- Rimmer muses that he is in The Tank, despite coming from an upper-class family and having a good education. He also says that he must be the only person there who can spell "Symposium". Lister says that knowing how to spell Symposium will be a handy thing to know when the "psycho-droids from G-Wing" corner Rimmer in the prison laundry room.
- When Rimmer says that there is no way he is becoming one of the Canaries, Lister tells him "too late Tweety Pie. There's your ID badge and uniform." Rimmer ponders telling them that Lister forged Rimmer's signature. As Lister tells Rimmer the amount of privileges Canaries get, he makes it clear he believes that "conjugal visiting rights" mean that the prison staff will also provide him with a sexual partner. Rimmer is surprised that Lister doesn't think "conjugal rights" was a room where the cons go to juggle. Lister had asked the guards to put him down for twin sisters and a party pizza, to which the guards had merely laughed at him. He wasn't being fussy, only asking for pepperoni flavor pizza.
- Kryten's extended exposition on Cassandra's vision has him postulating that she can "cut corners" along the time-space curvature. After being told that he will die aged 181 removing a bra with his teeth, Rimmer is sad it's not next week. Lister asks how and when Cat will die. Cassandra says that she would never divulge information about somebody's future who did not genuinely want to hear it. Lister thinks for a minute, then asks how old he will be when he attends Cat's funeral. However they are interrupted by Blood Drinker, who has some news about SS Silverberg hull. SS Silverberg had started shipping water eighteen floors up, and they have two hours before it becomes a problem, and calls down Mr. Knot to help inspect with the damage.
- As Rimmer comes up with a plan to save his own hide from Cassandra's predictions, that involves sacrificing Kryten, an "expendable" mechanoid. Kryten sobs to Rimmer that he can't, after all they've been through. Rimmer says he "doesn't give a stuff", since he has "only known him a week" (indicating that it has been only a week since the events of Back in the Red, when Rimmer and the rest of the crew were resurrected by the nanobots.) Cat also says that he hardly knows this Rimmer, compared to the "old Rimmer" who went off to become Ace Rimmer in the previous series' "Stoke Me a Clipper". Kochanski points out the flaw in Rimmer's plan, since he had referred to Kryten by name several times in front of Cassandra.
- As the crew form a "protection circle" around Rimmer, Rimmer congratulates Kryten on a fine plan, asking their 100% effort in saving his life. Rimmer also asks Kochanski to press her chest a little harder into him with a smug look on his face.
- An alternate take as Rimmer and Kochanski are interpreted before they can have sex.
- An extended version of Cassandra's demise shows the fateful series of incidents in Cassandra's chamber occurring more slowly, and there are more consoles seen exploding. When it reaches Cassandra's central column, her final explosion is seen in full.
- The episode is regularly viewed as the strongest of the highly-contentious Series VIII, and sometimes of all episodes between Series VI and Series X (including Series VIII and Back to Earth), for its actual original science fiction plot (although, as even referred to in the episode, similar to "Future Echoes"), Geraldine McEwan's performance and the interactions between Rimmer and Kochanski (for the first time of significance).
- Rimmer: How come you've never heard of the Canaries? They've got recruitment posters all over the men's bogs. How come you've not seen them? Lister: When I'm in the men's toilets in prison, Rimmer, I try not to look around. You know what I'm saying? It's like playing golf - I concentrate on my grip, keep my eye on the ball and try not to veer off to the side!
- Rimmer: The Canaries! You know what they say it's supposed to stand for? Convicts' Army Nearly All Retarded Inbred Evil Sheep-shaggers.
- Kochanksi: I'm not sure about this. This is the first time I've ever been seduced by pre-determinism theory.
- "Cassandra" was the first episode to be seen by US audiences before being broadcast in the UK. Some PBS stations were broadcasting the entire series in the United States, even showing the last five episodes before the BBC broadcast, "Cassandra" being the first of the five.
- The idea of Rimmer (almost) getting amorous with Kochanski, and Lister going to kill him in a jealous rage, came from an unproduced Series VIII script, "Phwoaarr".
- Geraldine McEwan as Cassandra
- Mac McDonald as Captain Frank Hollister
- Shend as Warden Knot
- James Wood as Kill Crazy
- In the DVD commentary to this episode, Danny John-Jules claims the name and appearance of Cassandra were homaged in the Doctor Who episode "The End of the World".
|Red Dwarf: Episode List|
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