Kryten suffers a dramatic mid-life crisis, and changes his body cover from "Mech grey" to "Ferrari red". The rest of the Dwarfer posse try and show Kryten how much he's achieved in life, by taking him to visit a mechanoid from his old fleet.
In the bunkroom aboard Red Dwarf, Arnold Rimmer is annoyed to be woken up by Dave Lister's disgusting habits at 6am - trimming his toenails with a pair of garden shears. However, Kryten enters and announces that, since he has been repeatedly asked over the years to alter the internal clocks to fit Lister's laziness, it is actually 2pm - Lister's breakfast time. Rimmer mocks Kryten as he waits on Lister and fusses over him, suggesting that he wipe his bottom too - something Kryten agrees on.
However, Lister is disappointed when Kryten reveals the contents of "the full Lister" - a full English breakfast along with beer milkshake - only to discover that Kryten has forgotten to cook it. Kryten increasingly shows very out-of-character behavior - if they are all that is left of humanity, then what is point of cleaning above eye level? Does it really matter if the oven is a bit gunky? Why are certain electronic devices forbidden to enter Silicon Heaven if they have been pledged to the wrong manufacturer?
The others deduce that Kryten is going through a mid-life crisis, as he gives up mopping the floors and takes up extreme sports, such as bungee jumping in the elevator shafts. When Kryten emerges with a drastic new racecar-red covering - the DX-87 shell - which can spin his body round, and has twin exhausts and sub-woofers, the others decide they must do something to help Kryten. The only person who enjoys the new Kryten is Cat, and Lister's attempts at talking with Kryten fall flat, since Kryten refuses to accept there is anything wrong. Rimmer suggests a lunar road trip herding vacuum cleaners.
Lister remembers that, when they rescued Kryten years earlier from the wreck of the Nova 5, the wreck had some "fleet finder" software which they recovered yet never used. Lister resolves to use it to see if there are any other wrecks with mechanoids - so that they can find an earlier and inferior droid to Kryten, proving how much Kryten has evolved and achieved. Rimmer agrees, since finding out that someone from his past who is doing worse than him in life always makes him feel better about himself.
This plan works, with the Navicomp locating one of Kryten's old fleet marooned on a desolate planetoid which does indeed still have a mech aboard. They set Red Dwarf on a course and go into stasis for the long journey. Eventually arriving at their destination, they discover that the wreck is Nova 3, which launched a hundred years before Kryten's ship. Psi-Scans detect one life sign - a mechanoid 3000 Series mechanoid named Butler, and who is several generations prior to Kryten. The gang hail the wreck and go down to it in Starbug.
However, whereas the gang were expecting an inferior droid, it turns out to be quite the opposite. Without higher programming, Butler was able to let his dead crew go, instead of pointlessly waiting on skeletal remains for three million years as Kryten had done on the Nova 5. Butler had also managed to break his own programming, something Kryten had only managed to do with the help of Lister. Accepting his own solitude, Butler has engrossed himself in different fields including medical research, literary study and artistry, becoming something of a polymath, and filling the wreck of Nova 3 with great works of art. Butler has single-handily made significant breakthroughs in medical science, and even written his own literary opus - a late 22nd-century version of War and Peace, seen from the viewpoint of five privileged human families on Callisto amidst the "droid uprising". He also wrote musical symphonies and concertos to entertain the Nova 3 vending machines.
Understandably, meeting the more successful and sophisticated Butler does not help with Kryten's emotional dilemma, since he is only made to feel more inadequate and to have led a wasteful life. Butler wants to stay on Nova 3, which Lister agrees to since he sees the negative effect Butler's smug superiority is having on Kryten - but Rimmer wants Butler to join the crew for his superior intellect, convincing Butler to come along for a ride in Starbug. Whilst the gang are sat in the cockpit of Starbug, Butler expands the EM booster circuits - something Kryten decries as impracticable - with just a few button presses. This begins to make Kryten's jealousy and resentment chips go into overdrive.
Suddenly, the warning alarms go off as six GELF gunships ambush Starbug as it rounds the moon of the planetoid, quickly flanking the 'bug. Kryten suggests routing all power to the fusion booster and attempting to outrun the GELFs, but Butler counters by pointing out that this will leave the 'bug open to remote "electro-jamming" of the engine. Lister takes Kryten's advice, but Butler is proved right, and the 'bug is left without propulsion. The GELF war chief hails the 'bug, telling the "human ship of scum" to prepare to die as they lock on weapons.
However, Butler recognizes the GELF war chief, calling him out by name - Ekwahektay - and the two strike up a conversation, clearly familiar with each other. Butler explains that this tribe of GELFs are known as the Sakenyako, whom he saved from "big death" when he made their "skin demons flee" - that is, he gave them the antidote to a debilitating disease the Sakenyako previously suffered from, earning their friendship. Butler is even "godparent" to Ekwahektay's daughter, and the tribe supply him with "GELF berry wine", which Butler uses as weed killer in his gardens on Nova 3.
Ekwahektay calls off the attack, and Kryten thanks Ekwahektay in GELF language, although he is completely incorrect on the pronunciation. Butler corrects him and explains the Sakenyako is much more difficult to learn than the Kinitawowi dialect. This prompts a vocal practice session in which the Dwarfers all attempt it, correctly, all except for Kryten.
Butler asks Ekwahektay of his father, Baknaknegath, but Ekwahektay informs Butler that his father is dying of a fever. Butler then decides to go with the GELFs and attempt to cure the chief, saying his farewells to the Dwarfers before being teleported away by the GELFs. Kryten says something demeaning in GELF, only for Butler to momentarily reappear to correct Kryten on his pronunciation once again.
Later on in the evening, as Starbug continues flying back to Red Dwarf, Lister comes into the cockpit to take Kryten off his watch, and the two begin conversation. Lister tries to make Kryten feel better by saying that too once had a mid-life crisis, around three years earlier, when he started thinking about missed opportunities, then he went into denial, got angry, then depressed. However, Lister accepted he was getting older and got over his mid-life crisis in five minutes, since that's how you have a mid-life crisis "in the north".
Suddenly, a massive power surge leaves the engines faltering, which Kryten happily deduces was caused by Butler's earlier tinkering of the EM booster circuits. Needing to make an emergency landing, the scanners detect a nearby space station with working facilities much nearer than Red Dwarf, and so they decide to head for it. This turns out to be the S.I.U. station (the Search for Intelligent Universe station) which Nova 3 had originally been sent out to find, and which was attempting to make contact with the "sentient Universe".
It turns out that the original occupants of the station died of old age as the station made it's trillions of calculations, but the Dwarfers find an old working telephone left on hold. Answering it and putting it on speaker phone, the Dwarfers begin to speak to an apparent sentient entity which does indeed identify as "The Universe". However, Rimmer is deeply skeptical and demands proof. Kryten takes over the conversation, explaining about his mid-life crisis and asking for advice, although all this does is give the Universe it's own mid-life crisis, since it is halfway between the hypothetical Big Bang and the Big Crunch. No wonder he is no longer as hot as he once was; no wonder he is expanding exponentially. The Universe begins to wonder what it's purpose is, what it will leave behind, and how it is that it has only ever created one planet with naturally-evolved, intelligent life.
Kryten counters that, although he isn't sure if God or the afterlife exists, he knows that love exists - likely referring to his love for Lister - than life has meaning. The Universe suddenly says that it feels a whole lot better, and so does Kryten. As they prepare to leave, the Universe asks Kryten to take off his new gaudy red suit, since it sucks.
As they leave in Starbug, Kryten hails Nova 3 to tell Butler that they have found the S.I.U. station and made contact with "the Universe". Butler says that he is aware of this, and he deliberately overloaded the EM booster circuits so that they would be forced to divert to the S.I.U. station, thus helping with Kryten's dilemma. Kryten's jealousy and resentment once again flare up as Butler says that he is familiar with the Universe, has him on speed-dial, and refers to him as "Uni".
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as Cat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
- Dominic Coleman as Butler
- Robert Nairne as Ekwahektay (credited as GELF Chief)
- Daniel Barker as The Universe
- As the Dwarfers enter Nova 3, an automated voice on the elevator shaft asks them what floor they want and Rimmer says that they are the "Kryten 2X4B party" here to meet Butler. The lift then takes them to Floor 82, telling them that Mr. Butler is expecting them. Kryten muses on the fact Butler is called Butler and is no doubt a butler - "clearly DivaDroid didn't waste a great deal of time agonising over his name".
- Extensions to the meeting between Kryten and Butler. When Kryten says that writing is always something that he wanted to try, Butler asks him why he never has, and Kryten says that he always has duties to perform and is too busy. Butler asks him why he never took up writing in the three million years he spent alone in the wreck of Nova 5, and Kryten says that he had not yet met Mr Lister, who helped him break his basic programming routines. Butler confirms that it was he himself broke his own programming after being left alone and not achieving anything, since his "un-taxed mind was decaying into a mound of putrid desolation". Cat walks by saying that he knows the feeling.
- Butler says to Lister that he has noticed he has a slight walking impediment caused by an ingrowing toenail. Butler then points a device he has made at Lister's foot, and it makes a buzzing noise, curing Lister's foot remotely and in seconds - much to the ever-growing chagrin of Kryten.
- Rimmer mentions a road trip "herding vacuum cleaners" as a cure for a mid-life crisis. This is a reference to the 1991 movie City Slickers.
- It is speculated the Transformers action figures by Hasbro may have partially influenced Kryten's Ferrari red getup.
- The Universe's voice was modeled after actor Morgan Freeman.
- According to the documentary on the DVD, writer Doug Naylor was inspired to write this episode - one featuring a major character undergoing a mid-life crisis - due to the advancing age of the cast, and for a short time Kryten's actor Robert Llewellyn took a little offense.
- Kryten: "I'm so stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid."
Cat: "You talking about me?"
- Kryten: "Existence is all absurd. Why get up in the morning?"
Lister: "I've been asking that for years."
Rimmer: "Why not get an ice cold shower?"
Kryten: "I'm not waterproof."