There are some things you just don't expect to happen in life. The Cat in corduroy, for example. Or Lister actually putting his pants in the wash. But even more flabbergasting is the return of Red Dwarf, complete with its entire crew in their pre-powdered form. It's all down to the nanobots, who've reconstructed the ship according to its original design specs – meaning it's a ridiculously pumped-up Schwarzenegger version of the original, with plenty of new additions (including a karaoke lounge).
Cause for celebration, you might think? Well yes, except for the fact that Lister and co are swiftly arrested for stealing and smashing a Starbug, the resurrected crew having no recollection of the radiation accident that killed everyone back in the first series. Lister's only hope is to find the nanobots and prove his story is true, which means getting help from one Arnold J. Rimmer.
Sadly, this isn't the hologram who slowly developed vaguely human attributes and bravely assumed the mantle of Ace Rimmer. It's the original pre-death Rimmer – aka, a fleshly incarnation of pure, unadulterated smegheadery, with all the warmth, integrity and charisma of a starving rat. He makes a deal with Lister to help him out in exchange for Lister's accumulated knowledge of the crew's confidential files – which also leads him to get his sweaty paws on the Luck and Sexual magnetism viruses the Dwarfers picked up ages ago. Before long he's betraying Lister and using the Sexual Magnetism virus to not be repulsive to all women for the first time in his life. In fact, his sex life becomes so frantic that he's reduced to anaesthetising his penis to stop himself from rutting himself to a coma.
Meanwhile, Lister, Kochanski, Kryten and the Cat break out and try to escape Red Dwarf on a Blue Midget – only to discover the whole plan is actually taking place inside an artificial reality created by Captain Hollister, who's watching their every move. Indeed, Rimmer has also been part of the false reality, and the whole lot are soon chucked in the ship's secret prison for illegally accessing classified information.
Of course, being stuck in Red Dwarf's answer to Shawshank doesn't mean the gang are always confined to their cells. In fact, ss members of the Canaries, a sort of disposable "away team" nobody would miss if they died, they're sent to a derelict ship overseen by Cassandra, a computer who can predict all future events and announces Rimmer's impending death. In fact, it turns out she's only said it to mess with the Dwarfers in pre-emptive revenge for the fact that Lister is destined to kill her. Naturally, Lister decides to prove that life ISN'T predetermined by refusing to do any such thing – before accidentally killing her three seconds later. Fate's a bugger sometimes.
As for Kryten, well he's doing time with the female prisoners, having been classified a woman on account of his conspicuous lack of male dangly bits. This gives his fellow convicts the idea to reprogramme him and make him take voyeuristic video footage of the girls in the communal shower. Unfortunate, yes, but not deadly – which is more than can be said for the spot of bother the Dwarfers have when they recover a "time wand" on another derelict ship. It accidentally "de-evolves" a harmless sparrow into his evolutionary ancestor: a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex. Eventually, after enough evolution-abuse to make Richard Dawkins just give up and convert to Christianity, things are restored to semi-normal, just in time for the truly apocalyptic series finale.
A corrosive, metal-munching micro-organism invades Red Dwarf, causing the crew to abandon ship and leave the prisoners to snuff it. Going into technobabble mode, Kryten manages to create a portal to a mirror universe, where everything's in reverse, and the virus is its own antidote. Rimmer crosses over to get the stuff, but by the time he comes back the ship is a fiery hellhole behind repair – and the rest of the Dwarfers have themselves vanished into the mirror universe, which he can no longer get to.
Can this be the end? Well, the Grim Reaper arrives, which is always a good sign. But Rimmer has other ideas, kneeing him in the nethers and making a dash for it. After all, as Arnie himself says, "Only the good die young..."