Tongue Tied

Emohawk: Polymorph II (also simply entitled Emohawk in some regions) is the fourth episode in Series VI of Red Dwarf, and the thirty-fourth episode overall. It first aired 28 October 1993 on BBC2.


After escaping a forced wedding with a GELF, the crew is stalked by a polymorph, a terrifying creature that unwittingly unleashes the universe's most uncool guy, and the greatest hero in the Galaxy.


Arnold Rimmer tries to get the others aboard Starbug to take emergency drills seriously enough to scramble in a red alert situation and, despite the threat of declaring them legally dead, they take their time to get to the cockpit (including stopping for breakfast) setting a slow time, yet it's a new record as far as Rimmer is concerned. They are then stopped by a Space Corps External Enforcement Vehicle (the "space filth" as Lister puts it), which warps around the 'bug causing massive power drains. It communicates with the words spoken forwards, but in reverse order, that they have been charged with breaking into and looting Space Corps derelicts, a crime which they are indeed guilty of. The penalty for this is execution - as Kryten explains, extreme sentencing being the only way to maintain frontier order.

Taking fire from pulse missiles, a fleeing Starbug is set ablaze They decide to head to GELF space and, after a few hits, a flight into a massive warning beacon and crashing into an ocean on a planet sized moon, much of their possessions and valuables are destroyed (due to fire, flood and impact damage while Cat personally sees to the destruction of Lister's guitar). The auto-repair of the 'bug is capable of repairing everything, except for the Oxy-Generation Unit, which is a blackened charred mess worse than one of Lister's drunken fry ups. Since Lister and Cat need to breathe, they decide they have no option but to go out and trade with the GELFs for a new O.G. unit.

The Dwarfers find out that the GELFs on the moon they crashed onto are the Kinitawowi tribe, and discover that Kryten knows their language and they are one of the more friendly GELF tribes - where as opposed to some, who skin humans alive and turn them into beanbags on sight - they send the Starbug crew one of their warmest greetings, an arrow on the trunk they are carrying with them and away from their bodies. The chest and the items within it are used to enter the chief's watunga, or hut and, much to Lister's horror, the price of the O.G. unit is him marrying the chief's daughter (the "looker" of his three daughters called Ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech). Lister goes through with it when he is told that the others will rescue him when everyone is asleep, but after his wife attempts to consummate their marriage, he runs out telling the others to "LEG IT!" The chief sends his Emohawk (a partly domesticated polymorph spayed at birth), which is able to get on board by changing into Lister's hat, which he drops when it surprises the crew. They leave the moon, and Lister and Kryten fit the replacement O.G. unit.

The Emohawk, disguised as a can of beans, ambushes Cat

Cat picks up the Emohawk's scent and it surprises him as a can of baked beans, draining him of all his cool, turning him into Duane Dibbley. The Emohawk then surprises Arnold Rimmer as a non-responsive microphone, draining him of his bitterness, turning him into a version of Ace Rimmer. He decides to take out the Emohawk by sucking it into space, killing himself and Duane (by then changed into the dorky nylon outfit and transparent plastic sandals he wore in "Back to Reality"). Ace tells Lister and Kryten what happened and of his plan (he intends to snap Duane's neck before he is sucked into space so he won't suffer).

Ace considers Kryten's plan to capture the Emohawk too risky and he doesn't want to become "him" again, but Lister and Kryten break in to stop them carrying it out and they hunt down the Emohawk with a sprayer full of liquid dilinium (which will freeze it in whatever shape it's in). Duane finds it in the form of his thermos, which then turns into a grenade, which he throws upwards. Ace takes the blast for him (not knowing that it would not damage his hard light drive) and they then freeze it in place. Ace requests that he remain in his current form for 24 hours before returning as the "ghastly maggot". Duane is more eager to be Cat again and clumsily sprays the others with the liquid dilinium, freezing them solid.

Deleted Scenes

Available on the Series VI DVD:

  • A substantial amount of dialogue had to be trimmed from the episode, the bulk of which came from the early sequences aboard Starbug. These nine extended dialogues include Rimmer discussing his theories on the correlation between short haircuts and military victory, and his wariness of relying on one feline's nose to navigate Starbug.
  • When the Enforcement Orb de-cloaks and begins warping round Starbug, Lister tells them to look to the "port bow" and they all look out the cockpit viewscreen - in the opposite direction at what Lister looks in. Lister then apologises, saying that he got "port" and "starboard" mixed up. As Kryten notes the Enforcement Orb is in "arrest mode", Cat says that they are "deader than kipper ties". There is an extra explosion in the Starbug cockpit as the Enforcement Orb fires a warning shot, with a monitor exploding near Lister, sending glass everywhere. Also, the Orb gives it's full designation.
  • Kryten surmises that since the Enforcement Orb's voice chip is in reverse, then it's logic chip may be in reverse too. Kryten advises the Dwarfers to plead guilty, since that will actually be pleading innocent. But after re-thinking it, he says that they should aim to be found guilty, since instead of punishing them it will let them go, and if they are found innocent it will blow them out of the sky.
  • One of Cat's feline sayings: "Lose a good friend, you can get another. But lose you're tail, and things will always be draughty." Lister says that is as clear as his bathwater. Cat explains it means if you hand over your tail, you wind up with "whistle butt". Rimmer says that there is noting between Cat's ears, and that you could use Cat's head as an aboriginal hunting horn.
  • The booming, threatening voice recording coming from the GELF icon (the Kinitawowi skull asteroid) threatening any who come into GELF territory was originally different, with a more Jamaican-sounding accent. This may be due to the clapped-out Starbug navicomp, along with the Enforcement Orb speaking in reverse, since Kryten mentioned its dematerialising affected it. When Kryten puts the GELF beacon into translation, it says, in a very soft and placid English voice, "death to the stranger."
  • Two dialogue trims from inside the Kinitawowi chief's wantunga, or hut. When explaining to the Dwarfers why the Kinitawowi would have an Emohawk, Kryten says that emotions are a highly valued trading commodity because droids and simulants are prepared to pay incredible prices for them. Kryten mocks Lister over his ability to understand what the GELF chief wants of him.
  • A neat Cat gag is followed by more feline business that, ultimately, only gave the audience information they already had. Cat mocks Lister over his recent GELF marriage, saying that he will be soon be buying insurance. As Cat believes he can smell the Emohawk aboard Starbug, and Rimmer demands he stop playing "name that smell."
  • More business with Ace Rimmer and Duane Dibbley, after Ace has revealed he plans to snap Duane's neck when he's not looking, and then suck everything including the Emohawk out the airlock. As Ace puts his hands around Duane's neck from behind, Duane talks about being a thirty-three-year-old man who still plays with a yo-yo. Ace say that he can't do it, as it would be like "garotting Bambi".
  • A slightly longer, Police Squad-style finale as Duane accidentally freezes the others with the liquid dilinium and does a little dance behind them.


  • This episode brought back three of the most popular Red Dwarf Characters: Ace Rimmer, Duane Dibbley, and the Polymorph. This time we don't actually see the Polymorph as it was shown in Season III, we just see its tongue used for changing the emotions. This was referred to as a "triple-sequel" in the Series VI DVD booklet.
  • Although Talkie Toaster has not been since since Series IV, there is a possible reference to Talkie Toaster towards the beginning of this episode, as Lister and Cat mention having four rounds of toast instead of taking part in Rimmer's battle drills.
  • Kryten mentions the famous John Kennedy assassination theory involving the man shooting from the grassy knoll, foreshadowing the Series VII opener "Tikka to Ride".
  • This episode marks the last time until "Nanarchy" that the characters make any mention of actively trying to find Red Dwarf. Presumably at some point shortly after this episode they lost track of the ship and gave up looking for it.

Noteworthy Dialogue

Interesting, funny or relevant dialogue in the episode.

Background Information

  • The original script of the episode was entitled Polymorph II: Emohawk to make it clear the connections with the earlier episode with a Polymorph. However, Doug Naylor believed it to sound too much like a football score and re-arranged the title.
  • The Kinitawowi village was a redressed Medieval set from the short-lived series Covington Cross.
  • Ainsley Harriott, who played the GELF Chief in this episode, hosted the Red Dwarf cooking special, "Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg", where reference was given to his character. Steven Wickham, who played Ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech-ech, also reappears in the Series X episode "Entangled" playing the BEGG Chief.
  • Cat utters the word "shit" in one scene - one of the only times this level of language is heard in Red Dwarf (it is cut from some broadcasts).

Guest Stars