And now, following a re-watch of Twentica last night, Samsara. Good God, after Twentica left me cold Samsara was just what I needed. Even when this first aired I loved it. Okay, let's start with the plot. The premise is simple - the crew encounter a mystery when the survivors of a shipwreck are flash-heated, and decide to check out the wreckage. Sounds easy enough, but the plot, when I first watched it, never let up. The reveal of the Karma Drive, and everything suddenly clicking into place - and very naturally too - really really worked. I honestly can't think of an episode like this one, or one that followed similar themes or was just about exploring a bit of a mystery on a derelict ship. DNA would possibly come close, but that veers off in a completely different direction a third of the way in. Props should go out too for the flashback sequences. Whilst not the best (I wasn't keen on the captain, thought he was a bit flat, and the scenes were trying to come off as funny but were probably a bit too wacky and lighthearted), certainly we should give kudos for those - especially when Red Dwarf hasn't been big on flashback scenes before (just some fleeting ones to Rimmer's childhood in Dimension Jump and The Beginning, Lister being discovered in Ouroboros, the Inquisitor in, erm, the Inquisitor, and a handful of ones in series 7). Plus the transition into the first one is just excellent. The episode also looks excellent. In Twentica I could tell that some Starbug shots were just the ship placed over the space backdrop and shrunk to make it look like it was flying away. Here, the crash scene is brilliant, and the murky wreckage looks good too. Not too fond of the pod being guided into the cargo bay. The show kicks off with "mystery wreckage" and then instantly goes into a great bunkroom scene between Lister and Rimmer, which is a good scene with only one joke - but it really goes to town on it without overstaying its welcome - just. The subsequent "charmed life" conversation is also a great one that doesn't overstay its welcome (but easily could have), before the science room where there are a couple more good jokes - including Cat's response to Rimmer's "they're dead" ("we shouldn't jump to conclusions, the results aren't in") which evokes Kryten's initial appearance ("my God, I was only away two minutes!") and Lister proposing the ashes are scattered, before sneezing on them, and Rimmer deciding that this task has now been accomplished. Aboard the Samsara, things start out well (the "game of Twister") before slowing down. There is some great visual comedy between Lister and the Cat, and they're left to carry the humour side of the story (which they do successfully) whilst Rimmer and Kryten have to solve the mystery. This, of course, leads us down two avenues. Lister and the Cat work together so very well, and it's worth pointing out this is the same teams that have worked in Meltdown and DNA (off the top of my head). To be frank it's the only combination that could work - the Cat couldn't work with anyone else as Rimmer wouldn't put up with him, and he and Kryten wouldn't get anything done. There is some great visual humour early on with the knife and the waste disposal, and I do have to wonder if Craig Charles intended to trip up or not. Some good jokes and mini-rants too - the argument about why the Cat doesn't have super-sight (and Lister super-arms) is a good one, and the Cat's misunderstanding of history helped carry the episode through. Rimmer and Kryten, of course, solve the mystery in a way that isn't immediately apparent. It's all standard formulaic stuff - encounter a room, find out what happened, something lucky stops everyone dying which reveals what the mystery is about. A nice callback to Justice in the Karma Drive, and I bet nobody at all saw the plot twist coming. Rimmer pointing out how slavery was once accepted lends weight to the ideas the script evokes. Which, of course, leads to the crew regrouping, making a few small jokes, and leaving stage left thank you very much. An ideal ending, to me. It isn't rushed, it isn't drawn out, and it isn't unnecessary (unlike Twentica's, I felt - I don't know what I would have preferred there, but it wasn't the scene that was there - Justice got away with it because it had a good visual joke that happened all of a sudden, whereas Twentica's was an ongoing joke throughout the whole scene - and a weak one at that). No, for me, Samsara ended in an absolutely ideal way. A great episode which, at the time, reaffirmed my faith in new Red Dwarf. For me, it wasn't my favourite in series XI, but definitely in my top 4 - I'm just not sure where.