You’ll remember the tragic end to season 8 of Red Dwarf when a vending machine takes revenge on Arnold Rimmer for stealing a chocolate nut bar using the old quarter-on-a-string trick. When Rimmer finally realizes his dream of becoming the captain of the ship (albeit because the rest of the crew have fled or been killed), the vending machine shoots a soft drink can at his head, knocking him out. The machine, voiced by Tony Slattery, declares, “Every dog has its day, and today is the day that I am the dog!” Given the title of the episode (“Only the Good…”) and that Rimmer goes from being alive in season 8 to being a hologram in season 9 (“Back to Earth”), we can assume that the vending machine did in fact kill him. You’d think he’d learn his lesson from this kerfuffle. And yet…
Rimmer’s face-off with the talking lift in “Give and Take” is a direct parallel to his showdown with the vending machine in “Only the Good…” When the lift is taking too long, Rimmer threatens to demote the lift, voiced by Daniel Barker, to a worse shaft. Later when Rimmer realizes that the lift was taking a long time for Rimmer’s own good (involving a time loop), Rimmer promises to promote the lift to the officer’s deck. After failing to come through on his promise, the lift seeks revenge by sending Rimmer up and down the shaft at nearly the speed of light.
Because of Doug Naylor’s obsession with snack dispensers, we meet another vending machine in this episode. This is a mobile one with a sweeter personality than the one that killed Rimmer. Named Snacky, the boys from the Dwarf mistake him for Asclepius, a medi-bot named after the Greek god of medicine.
Unfortunately, the real Asclepius has done exactly what Dr. Lanstrom had done in the episode “Quarrantine”: He’s gone mad. Like Dr. Lanstrom, Asclepius is using his medical skills for evil. His cartoonish mask and slowed down voice make him scarier than Lanstrom. I’d venture to say this is the scariest villain the boys have ever come across, like a proper horror movie. He knocks out Lister and steals his kidneys.
Poor Lister is back in the medi-bay. He’s had his appendix out (twice) and lost an arm once. Now he’s lost his kidneys, too. In attempt to save Lister, Kryten deceives the Cat. His lie mode is just as stuttery as it was back in “Camille” when Kryten tried to call Rimmer a smeg head and only managed a “smee hee.”
Deception done, the boys enter a time loop with an obvious paradox: if they took out younger Lister’s kidneys to give to older Lister, then how was it that Asclepius had anything to take out when he cut him open? But Lister is an ouroboros baby: he is his own father, so he is no stranger to paradoxes.