(SPOILER WARNING: The following is an in-depth critical analysis. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you may want to before reading this review)
What a truly special episode this is.
Inspired by Chris Barrie’s requests to play a character that isn’t a total bastard, Grant Naylor created the character of Ace Rimmer. A devilishly handsome space adventurer and all round great guy from an alternative dimension. Whilst test piloting an experimental spacecraft that can cross dimensions, he enters the Red Dwarf universe only to collide with Starbug and causing the Dwarfers to make a crash landing on an ocean world. Can he save the day? Of course he can! He’s Ace Rimmer goddam it! What a guy!
This is a standout episode for Chris Barrie, who’s clearly relishing the chance to play a character as awesome as Ace. It honestly staggers me that the same guy that played the neurotic, cowardly and pathetic as Rimmer can also play someone as brave, cool and charismatic as Ace. He’s just so captivating to watch. I’m amazed Barrie was never offered any leading man roles in films and stuff after this. He’s got that star quality and he’s really good looking. That wig in particular made the character. It just completely changes the structure of his face. Suddenly he’s more butch and suave.
Red Dwarf has always been great when it comes to parallel universe stories because they always take the opportunity to use these alternative dimensions to explore the characters further. Dimension Jump is no exception as it gives us a greater insight into Rimmer.
The idea that these two drastically different Rimmers came from one pivotal moment in their history is a really good one. Whereas our Rimmer proceeded through school and became bitter and resentful of his more capable peers, Ace was kept back a year, resulting in him knuckling down and working harder so as not to be humiliated further. Being kept back a year gave Ace motivation to improve himself, whereas our Rimmer was left to wallow in self pity, believing himself inferior to his classmates.
I thought Rimmer’s reaction to Ace was totally understandable. Lister tries to convince Rimmer that he should be happy that there’s a version of him doing really well for himself, but to Rimmer Ace is just a reminder of all of his own failings. Every opportunity he had ever squandered. Likewise Ace too is troubled by Rimmer, shocked to see just how incompetent, bitter and resentful his alternative self is and gains a new found appreciation for the way his own life went.
But the irony is I don’t think there’s much difference between Ace and Rimmer. I’m pretty sure Ace is into things like morris dancing and hammond organ music and 20th century telegraph poles too. They’re both the same person after all. The difference between them is merely their attitude. Rimmer is more inwardly focused and expects the world to accommodate him. Ace on the other hand is far more open and accepting of others. Both even exhibit signs of an inferiority complex, but again the difference is that of attitude. Rimmer wallows and moans, taking his self loathing out on others, whereas Ace channels it into something more positive. He downplays his own talents in order to make others look good, most notably Spanners (the alternative Lister). And let’s not forget the first thing he says to our Rimmer is:
“Oh my God! it’s me only much more handsome!”
It just goes to show that as awesome and charismatic and brave and handsome as Ace is, he’s nothing special or unique. Our Rimmer has the potential to be like that too. If he would just let go of his angst and his ego, there’s no reason why Rimmer can’t be like Ace. In fact everyone has that potential within them. I mean look at Lister. Can you honestly see Series 2 Lister helping Ace out?
Dimension Jump is a wonderful episode both for Rimmer and for Chris Barrie. There is however one minor discrepancy. Technically there’s no way that Ace could possibly have met this Rimmer unless his spaceship can travel in time as well as between dimensions, considering that Red Dwarf takes place 3 million years in the future. But if you’re going to let a silly little thing like that spoil the fun, why bother?
Slash Watch: Let’s talk about Rimmer. He says a lot of mean things about Ace, most of which regarding his sexuality. Why is this? Challenging Ace’s masculinity perhaps? Well here’s my theory.
I’ve long maintained the theory that Rimmer is in fact a closet bisexual, forced to suppress his sexuality in order to appease his father. (See I was going somewhere with the girdle and the suspenders in Series 3). This ties into the character’s self loathing and there is some evidence to corroborate my theory, mostly in Series 5. I believe that what Rimmer is doing is projecting his own insecurities onto Ace, believing that Ace doesn’t conform to what he believes is a Space Corps officer.
I also happen to think that Ace has an unrequited love for Spanners, judging by the almost wistful way he says his name when he meets our Lister. See @allsortsofsmeg and @janamelie, while I don’t ship Rimmer and Lister, I absolutely ship Ace and Spanners (Loopholes. Don’t you just love them). But I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t Ace say to Bongo that he’s ‘strictly butter side up’? Well I have a theory about that too… but I think I’ll save that for Stoke Me A Clipper.
Oh one last thing. Holly is canonically pansexual… What? She is! He fell in love with Hilly, she fainted when Ace complimented her. She may have had a sex change, but she’s still the same character. I don’t care if she’s a computer. She clearly swings both ways thank you very much.
still making my way through Golion and i want sincline to have that sort of redemption arc where he goes from “mortal enemy” to “weird uncle who hangs awkwardly around the good guys because he’s got nothing better to do (and makes good egg salad)”
obviously the sign of team membership is chibi sticking you with a family honourific, but like every other respectable 12-year-old he’s been taught Stranger Danger and they don’t come stranger than this guy
Ok so Amadeus is a good looking guy and all but from episode 1 I was never once even slightly attracted to Kieran until he went all psychopathic and then I found him sexy af and I’m mildly concerned about this?