Tongue Tied

Only the Good... is the eighth and final episode in Series VIII of Red Dwarf. It is the fifty-second episode overall. It first aired 5 April 1999 on BBC2.

"Only the Good..." is the last time that the regular characters are imprisoned in The Tank, and the last time that Red Dwarf is fully manned by the nanobot-resurrected crewmembers.

"Only the Good..." also marks the beginning of the 1999 - 2009 Bridge. From the next episodes ten years later (Back to Earth), the boys from the Dwarf find themselves in a similar situation to earlier series - having the run of an empty ship to themselves.

The fact that the cliffhanger to this episode was never fully resolved becomes a running joke in Series X, with numerous mentions of what actually occurred with the Chameleonic Microbe, and Rimmer saying he saved the ship but the others disagreeing (perhaps making the alternate ending to "Only the Good..." the "canon" one).


The final episode of Series VIII, it involves the Boys from the Dwarf escaping The Tank only to find out that Red Dwarf is being destroyed by a highly corrosive Chameleonic Microbe brought over via escape pod from SS Hermes. With the rest of the crew leaving and Rimmer, Lister, Kryten, Cat, and Kochanski left to die, the gang decide to use a Prism Laser to enter a Mirror Universe - where Rimmer is Captain of the ship - in the hope of finding an antidote and saving Red Dwarf.


In the Red Dwarf hangar bay, the Chameleonic Microbe emerges from Talia Garrett's escape pod

A year after Space Corps spaceship SS Hermes has been destroyed by a synthetic and highly corrosive Chameleonic Microbe, an escape pod from SS Hermes carries a lone survivor, Talia Garrett. The pod and the woman are picked up by Red Dwarf, but the microbe has similarly been brought on board when part of the unattended, empty escape pod dissolves away aboard Red Dwarf six hours later.

Now some time into their prison sentence, the Dwarfers have been put on probation for good behavior. Arnold Rimmer is attending to Captain Hollister in the Captain's Quarters on Floor 341, as Hollister is laid up in bed recovering from Yellow Fever, watching a black-and-white B-Movie resembling Creature from the Black Lagoon. Rimmer enters to fetch Captain Hollister drinks of hot lemon and some Directives to sign, and Hollister notices that Rimmer has 'accidentally' slipped in a form pardoning him from all crimes. Rimmer then explains his life-long dream to Hollister - his ambition to become an officer someday, perhaps even a Captain.

Hollister tells Rimmer he is not officer material, and dismisses him as Talia Garrett enters. It seems that the Captain and Talia know each other from the past, with the Captain exclaiming that Talia must have been resurrected by the nanobots too, and Talia is happy that Hollister has made Captain. Rimmer assumes that they are having an affair, and disgusted at the Captain's apparent success with women, and his own failures, jokes that he will bring in some condoms and leave the picture of Hollister's wife over as he exits from the chamber.

In the corridor, Rimmer attempts to use his old Z Shift card to obtain some chocolate without paying from from a vending machine, The Chocolate Dispenser, only for the AI of the machine to berate him, and saying that it will remember Rimmer's face for future revenge. Rimmer says that will only happen when he is Captain of the ship. As Rimmer tries to shut the machine up with duct tape, Captain Hollister appears behind Rimmer out of bed with Rimmer's pardon forms, but overhears the machine and isn't impressed.

Meanwhile, back in The Tank, Kryten tells Dave Lister that he is changing Miss Kochanski's calendar, as she had earlier complained to him that it was "The wrong time of the month". Lister realises what is going on and decides to play a prank on them, instructing Kryten secretly on how to behave. Kochanski returns to her cell and discovers Kryten has attempted to celebrate her menstruation with a huge banner that reads 'Have A Fantastic Period' and giving her a gift-wrapped tampon. As he suggests she 'try it on' and give it a twirl, Kryten realises from Kochanski's reaction that he has been tricked. Although at first upset at Lister's deception, the mechanoid decides its time for some payback.

Later, in Lister and Rimmer's cell, Holly informs the two there is going to be a cell inspection in ten minutes seconds before a guard arrives to tell them the same. They then discover that Kryten has hidden Baxter's illegal moonshine (apparently GELF Hooch) in their cell, knowing that the cell is about to be searched and will certainly cost them their probation. With the water tank full, they have nowhere to hide the hooch, and no choice but to drink it. Warden Ackerman enters the cell ten minutes later, and the pair are completely inebriated, catching them out by offering them a kebab. Rimmer falls over, and Lister tries to blame it on the sherry trifle from the prison canteen, before falling asleep on Ackerman. The next day, Baxter finds out, believing his hooch was stolen by Rimmer and Lister. Baxter and his cronies threaten to finish off the two, now in sickbay, sleeping off the "super suck" stomach pump that Ackerman had ordered for them.

During their escape from The Tank, the gang discover the Chameleonic Microbe is eating Red Dwarf...

The gang decide that they need to escape The Tank and the ship once and for all. Kryten and Kochanski pretend to be ill to land in sickbay, where security is lax, while Cat disguises himself as a nurse after failing to get beaten up the notorious Big Meat. As the gang sneakily make their way from sickbay to the shuttles in the hangar bays, they find that the corrosive microbe from SS Hermes is now on-board Red Dwarf and is eating away at the ship, when they find a whole corridor dissolved, the metal and piping hissing, steaming and melting.

Captain Hollister and the officers evacuate a disintegrating Red Dwarf in an armada of Starbugs and Blue Midgets

Rimmer uses the Prism Laser to cross over into the Mirror Universe

Rimmer wants to leave anyway, leaving the ship to its fate, but Kochanski thinks the right thing to do would be to go back and warn the rest of the crew. Lister agrees, wanting to impress Kochanski, and they go back to be recaptured. Rimmer is exasperated, and berates Lister on his lust for Kochanski that will get them all killed. It turns out Rimmer's apprehension was well deserved. The Captain, with Warden Ackerman on side, gathers the prisoners in The Tank and announces that the rest of the crew and the officers are evacuating on a fleet of Starbug and Blue Midget craft, and since there are not enough places on the shuttles, most of the convicts are going to be left aboard Red Dwarf to die as Red Dwarf is devoured from within.

Abandoned on a disintegrating ship with little time left, Kryten and Kochanski devise a plan which involves entering a Mirror Universe where everything is opposite; negative becomes positive and a virus becomes an antidote. Kryten scavenges the technology of Z Deck, and builds a Prism Laser in the vacated Captain's Quarters, directing it the Captain's mirror to create a dimensional gateway. Rimmer crosses over first with a sample of the virus, only for the Prism Laser to overload and short out on the other side, trapping Rimmer alone in the Mirror Universe. Rimmer's hair parting is now on the other side of his head, and the vial of the corrosive material has changed colours from black to white.

In the Mirror Universe, 'Captain' Rimmer berates the alternative Captain Hollister on his failures

Rimmer realises he is not a failure on the Mirror Universe version of Red Dwarf, but is fact wearing the Captain's uniform, and even his small and inoffensive genitalia is now large and impressive. Rimmer realises that he is is the Captain of this Red Dwarf, although the alternate (actual) Captain Rimmer is nowhere to be seen. The same old black-and-movie B-Movie is playing from before; only the picture, and the room, are reversed. Rimmer gets into the Captain's bed and lays up, as a sycophantic alternative Captain Hollister, now a Second Technician on probation, enters the room to tend Rimmer. Rimmer berates Hollister for being a useless "shambles", relishing in the reversed roles.

When Talia comes in, Rimmer, thinking she is his lover, snogs her, only to be told she is his "sister". Rimmer then greets his apparent sibling, but she tells him, completely baffled, that she is his sister in the sense that she is his "spiritual adviser". Rimmer leaves the Captain's Quarters and goes to the science lab to talk to The Professor, the genius alternative Cat, and gets the antidote is Cesiumfranciolithicmyxialobidiumrixydixydoxidrexidroxhide. Knowing he'll never remember such a long name, Rimmer has it written down for him on a piece of paper by the Professor's ditzy secretary, the alternative Kochanski.

Back on his own Red Dwarf, the paper with the formula burns away in Rimmer's hands

Rimmer flees the Grim Reaper down the flaming corridor

Ending titles

With the antidote formula in hand, Rimmer goes back through to his own universe to find that he is alone on Red Dwarf, with the empty, smoky corridors now in a state of partial collapse due to the microbe. The Chocolate Dispenser informs Rimmer that the others fixed the Prism Laser and crossed into the Mirror Universe, also noting with irony that as the highest ranking crewmember left on board Rimmer is now the Captain. Rimmer decides to return to the Mirror Universe and rejoin with the others, but finds that the microbe has already eaten away at the Prism Laser.

Rimmer then resolves to create the antidote, but the dispenser reveals that the formula written on the piece of paper is now the formula for the virus, having reverted into its mirror opposite when Rimmer re-entered his own universe. After exchanging insults the machine sends a can flying towards Rimmer with great force, knocking him unconscious.

As fire begins to spread, "Adagio for Strings" begins to play in the background, and Rimmer wakes to watch the paper with the formula printed on it burn away in his hands. With his final hope gone, Rimmer braces himself for the inevitable.

The Grim Reaper comes to claim Rimmer. Rimmer kicks Death in the crotch and runs off down the flaming corridor, claiming that "only the good die young..." as Death winces "that's never happened before..."

An ominous "The End" caption is soon refuted with its sudden erasure and replacement with "THE SMEG IT IS".

Production and Rewrites

This episode had a notorious production, having gone through numerous re-writes and re-shoots. Some of the information regarding this has been revealed in interviews with Doug Naylor, and also in the Series VIII script book.

The original episode went under a number of different titles, including "MirroR/RorriM", a reference to the Mirror Universe. Later it was to be titled "Every Dog Has His Day", a line spoke by the The Chocolate Dispenser to the Captain Rimmer, and was to be the first of a two-parter finale. The climax, titled "Earth" (see the article for the lost episode "Earth") was to have the Red Dwarf crew arrive back to Earth using antimatter from the Mirror Universe, only for the ship to accidentally trash through the world's major landmarks. When Lister tries to steer it to avoid the Taj Mahal, he ends up creating a mega-tsunami instead. Lister would emerge to swap insurance details with the survivors.

Doug Naylor wanted to be a grand sequence in scale, that would lead into the planned yet unmade Red Dwarf: The Movie. This was deemed too expensive to film (over £100,000 for a two minute sequence), and a perhaps in a too much of a morbid tone, so it was decided Only the Good... would be the finale, and different finale was written altogether.

One proposed ending was to feature Arnold Rimmer's dashing and heroic alter-ego Ace Rimmer returning to save the day (in reality, the "original" Arnold Rimmer, who had left the others in "Stoke Me a Clipper"). However this ending was not filmed. This, too, was changed in the final hour and and the character of Death itself was introduced, played by director Ed Bye. Death's uniform was knocked up within ten minutes of shooting.

The conclusion of this episode was a cliffhanger although the ending of this last episode is open to interpretation. It us unclear whether Death is real, or a hallucination in Rimmer's mind. The cliffhanger has only been resolved in the alternate ending (see section below).

The decision to focus on Rimmer exclusively in the show's final minutes results in Lister, Kochanski, Cat and Kryten not having any sort of farewell scene, despite Lister being the central character in the series. Chloë Annett and Danny John-Jules' final on-screen appearances are as mirror universe versions of their characters, while Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn are last seen in the brief sequence in which the prism projector breaks down.

Deleted Scenes

Available on the Series VIII DVD:

  • Extensions to the opening scene in the Captain's Quarters, trimmed for time from the broadcast episode. These include additional dialogue between Captain Hollister and Rimmer, as Rimmer asks if he could ever become a captain himself. Hollister tells Rimmer that his ideas about leadership are flawed; captains are not merely there to boss people about, as Rimmer believes.
  • As Talia Garrett enters, Captain Hollister explains that Talia was once his personal fitness instructor before he made Captain. Hollister holds his large gut, joking that he has needed her lately.
  • The discussion during the gang's escape from Red Dwarf is slightly extended, with Kryten and Cat agreeing with Rimmer that they need to escape the ship due to Baxter gunning for them.
  • After Captain Hollister tells the assembled prisoners of The Tank that they are being left to die, there are some additional lines of dialogue. The Captain says that the ship will soon be a skeletal carcass, and Rimmer says that so will Lister for cutting short their escape to impress Kochanski. Lister and Kochanski share longing stares and smiles. Captain Hollister says that three random names have been selected from the prison roll call to join the crew in the few spare places on the escaping shuttles. The lucky prisoners include Brown, Polesen, and Lister. Lister is about to offer his place to Kochanski, but Baxter butts in threateningly, and intimidated Lister offers his place to Baxter instead. Baxter then tells Lister that "We're square now."
  • When Kochanski first explains about Mirror Universes, Cat says that he just has to get there, thinking it is a universe full of mirrors where he can seriously indulge on his vanity. The Holly Watch gives his two cents on the Mirror Universe - "politicians will be trusted, children will love sprouts, and rap music will be really good".
  • After Rimmer enters the Mirror Universe, he notices the reverse lettering on the wall signage and telephone. Soon after Rimmer forces the alternate Captain Hollister to refer to himself as a "shambles" repeatedly.
  • When Rimmer realises he no longer has small genitalia in the Mirror Universe, and is in fact now well endowed, he says that he is going to need some of anti-gravity harness to cart it around.
  • More of "Sister" Talia Garrett breaking down in distress after Rimmer snogs her. She says that he put his tongue where no man has ever been, and that referring to her "lumpy bits" indicates that he has knowledge of her private parts.
  • As 'Captain' Rimmer leaves the Captain's Quarters, two crewmen walk by and do the Rimmer Salute. Rimmer replies with the Rimmer Salute and walks off - into a wall, since everything is other way around to what he knows.

First Officer Lister

  • Exploring the Mirror Red Dwarf further, Rimmer soon comes across his "Number One" - a posh-talking, mustachioed alternate Lister who refers to Rimmer as "Sir". In shock, Rimmer refers to him simply as "Mr. Thing". First Officer Lister tells the Captain that they've all been very very worried about him, and that he should be back in bed resting from his Yellow Fever. With one eyebrow raised, the alternate Lister then softly asks Rimmer - "How is the Squirrel? I've missed him", and putting an arm on Rimmer's shoulder. Wide-eyed in horror, Rimmer believes that Lister is referring to his penis, under the belief that they must be homosexual lovers in the Mirror Universe. Rimmer replies that it's over - "Whatever we once did with my... squirrel, it's in the past. I'm different now." Confused, First Officer Lister tells Rimmer that Squirrel is Captain Rimmer's nickname. After getting the alternate Lister to help him read some reverse signage, Rimmer leaves him, complimenting the alternate Lister on his 'tash. First Officer Lister then finishes with "He's gone bloody mad".
  • The original Professor Cat scene, re-shot when the team noticed the wrong coloured test-tube prop.

Secretary Kochanski

  • Expansion of the Kochanski Secretary character. As Rimmer asks her what the microbe is, she tells him that it is a test-tube. When he asks what is inside it, she says "some white stuff". Rimmer says that she clearly isn't in charge. She tells Rimmer that she is not thick, since she has diplomas and certificates - to work in a cake shop. "Hygiene Proficiency. My mum keeps it on the telly. I don't have to work here." She then directs Rimmer to the Professor.
  • The alternate filmed ending, described in full below.

Alternate Filmed Ending

An alternate ending where the Dwarfers clearly survive, and indeed even find themselves in a similar situation to the earlier series of Red Dwarf, was scripted and filmed but strangely cut at the last minute. However it is available on the series VIII DVD special features.

In this version of the episode, the bumbling Arnold Rimmer successfully remembers the antidote to the microbe that is eating the ship. It takes him over two hours to memorise the name of the antidote, as he has to alternate between the mirror universe and back to read the name of the antidote (which becomes the chemical name of the microbe in our universe as the opposite of the antidote.) However Rimmer memorises the antidote just in time for Kryten to make up some of the chemical antidote up and use it to destroy the microbe, with irony included with everyone else already knowing its name.

Red Dwarf having been saved from destruction, Rimmer takes up residence in the captain's quarters. Lister, Cat, and Kris party and celebrate at having survived, and due to the fact they are no longer imprisoned in The Tank and once again have free run of the vessel. Kryten resumes his ironing duties.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Red Dwarf crew - Captain Frank Hollister and the rest of the flight officers - look on Red Dwarf helplessly from their fleet of Starbugs and Blue Midgets with which they escaped the disintegrating mothership. Kryten peeks through a porthole at the fleet and asks Rimmer if they should perhaps slow down Red Dwarf, so that the rest of the crew can dock in the hangar bay and come aboard. Rimmer, reminiscent of Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 (in accordance with his military fantasies), replies "Full speed ahead, Mr Kryten, I see no ships!"

The alternative ending concludes with Rimmer paying the money he owes to the dispensing machine he stole from earlier. However, the machine still fires a can with some force at Rimmer's head, knocking him unconscious - and likely killing him, since Rimmer is once again dead and a hologram in Back to Earth and Series X.

  • NB. Numerous fan edits of the episode have incorporated the deleted scenes into it, including the alternate ending whereby the regular characters get Red Dwarf back to themselves. Example
    • Some such fan edits existed even before the release of Back to Earth and connecting Only the Good to future episodes. Example

Alternate Ending Gallery


  • Rimmer's solution to Death is reminiscent of one of Lister's lines from "Future Echoes":
    • Lister: I'm going out like I came in -- screaming and kicking.
      Rimmer: You can't whack death on the head!
      Lister: If he comes near me I'm gonna rip his nipples off!!!
  • For many years this was thought to be the last episode of Red Dwarf, as no further series were commissioned (although there were recurring reports of a motion picture version being planned). However, in 2009 a three part mini-series was produced and broadcast by Dave called Back to Earth. It is set nine years after this episode, and can be assumed as the answer to its cliffhanger in an indirect fashion. The mini-series is considered Series IX, and Series X was later announced for production in late 2011 and began broadcast in October 2012.
  • This episode received viewing figures of over 8 million.
  • Norman Lovett appears as Holly for the last time until his cameo in the Series XII episode "Skipper". This also marks the final appearance of Chloë Annett as a regular cast member and of her version of Kochanski (she next appears in a cameo in Back to Earth as a vision of Kochanski; the actress also does not appear in Series X, although her character is frequently mentioned). The living version of Rimmer introduced at the start of Series VIII also makes his final appearance as he once again appears as a hologram by the time of Back to Earth.
  • The episode leaves it unclear as to whether or not it actually takes place twelve months after the events of "Pete Part 2", though the fact Rimmer is now on probation suggests he and Lister must be in the latter stages of their sentence.
  • Kryten's confusion over Kochanski's "time of the month" at this late stage is odd given the fact he's travelled with Kochanski and shared quarters with her for a long time. Though he did state earlier in "Duct Soup" that he had erased all his female-related files after being recovered from the wreck of Nova 5, seeing it then as only useful if one of the crew wanted to fancy dress as Hermann Göring, and it is not impossible that Kochanski kept that personal aspect about her life private from him and the rest of the crew.
  • The Series X finale "The Beginning" calls back to the events, most notably the cliffhanger ending, of this episode several times, but deliberately dodges revealing much of its conclusion, turning the long-standing fan frustration into an in-joke running gag.
  • Since Talia was on the escape pod and she was in the mirror universe, it is wasn't a wise decision to escape into the other universe, as the corrosive microorganism would be there too.

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • The Chocolate Dispenser: ALERT! ALERT! A chocky nut bar, a chocky nut bar has been removed without payment! Repeat, a chocky nut bar has been removed without payment!!! ALERT! ALERT!
    Rimmer: Shut up!!
    Dispensing Machine: No, shan't! ALERT! ALERT!
    Rimmer: If you don't shut up, I'll pour beef soup into your speaker and you'll drown.
    Dispensing Machine: Take your hand off me speaker then!
    Rimmer: Promise to shut up?
    Dispensing Machine: Promise.
    (Rimmer removes his hand)
    Dispensing Machine: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! I had me circuits crossed! ALERT! ALERT! Chocolate abduction on floor three-four-one!

  • (After Rimmer went to the Mirror Universe, the machine generating the portal shorts out and the portal closes)
    Kryten: It's overloaded, we've lost Mr Rimmer.
    Cat: At last, things are looking up!
  • Rimmer: Can you tell me what this is?
    (The Alternative Cat sniffs the test tube Rimmer has given him)
    Alternative Cat: It's an alkali.
    Rimmer: Oh yes, what it's called?
    Alternative Cat: Cesiumfranciolithicmyxialobidiumrixydixydoxidrexidroxhide.
    (Rimmer stares at the Alternative Cat)
    Alternative Cat: Something wrong?
    Rimmer: I'd never thought I'd hear you say that.

  • Grim Reaper: Arnold Judas Rimmer, your life is over, come with me.
    (Death helps Rimmer to his feet)
    Grim Reaper: You will travel to the river Styx, where you will place a coin in my...
    Rimmer: Not today matey.
    (Rimmer delivers a swift kick to Death's groin)
    Rimmer: Remember, only the good die young.
    Grim Reaper (laboured): That has never happened before...

Guest Stars

Tony Slattery - who had played an android in the soap of the same name featured ten years previously in "Kryten" - took on Rimmer as the voice of the vending machine, sitting behind the unit and speaking his lines live on set. Other guest stars included Mac McDonald as Captain Hollister, Graham McTavish as Governor Ackerman, Heidi Monsen as Talia, Ricky Grover as Baxter, David Verrey as Big Meat and Ed Bye (Uncredited) as The Grim Reaper..