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A 'lost episode'
"Identity Within" was originally the supposed second episode in the seventh series (the episode ultimately replacing it as the second episode in this series was "Stoke Me a Clipper"). This episode was to focus on Cat as there hadn't been a 'Cat episode' before; the episode was also to address the fact that Cat had become increasingly 'domesticated' and less 'independent' over the show and had become a slightly different character (leading to some annoyance amongst certain fans of the show). It was scripted and storyboards were produced, getting further than most 'lost episodes'.
Ultimately the episode was never filmed as it was a surprisingly ambitious script for the show and the sets would have been far too costly to produce — more than the whole series itself. However the budget for the seventh series was not for seven episodes but for eight episodes, therefore the less ambitious, simpler and cheaper episode "Duct Soup" was then written and produced in its place. "Duct Soup" became the fourth episode in the series.
Synopsis of episode
The Cat is still a virgin; he has never even met another of his own race (Felis sapiens) (except for an old, blind dithering Cat priest in his earlier years, and an illusion of a cat female generated by the Polymorph). Cat's sexual frustration is getting so bad that he has fallen ill, and if he doesn't have sex soon, he may die. Apparently, as Kryten discovers, it is common for Felis sapiens to die if they haven't had sex by a certain age, and Cat has now reached that age. The episode provides an unusually serious and in-depth view of the Cat. As he lies dying, Cat bitterly laments being left behind by the other Cats who evolved on Red Dwarf, and angrily accuses Lister and the crew of "domesticating" him, as he's never really known what it is like to live as a true member of Cat society. Lister and the rest of the crew are resolved that they owe it to Cat to try to save his life.
There is one way to cure Cat's illness. The Dwarfers set the Starbug scanners to probe for any Felis sapiens lifesigns; some register deep in GELF territory. With little choice, the Dwarfers set a course...
They find a Brefewino village where a female Felis sapiens called Aura is being held prisoner for slave auction. Lister, Rimmer and Kryten have to save Aura and get her to fall in love with the Cat before he dies from being a virgin.
In the end, Aura is saved and she mates with the Cat. Lister is worried that Cat will leave the ship for her, but a matter of hours later he returns to explain that his relationship with Aura is over. Lister is worried that he is heartbroken, but he is in fact quite happy: most romantic relationships among Felis sapiens only last a few hours, and afterwards it is normal for both male and female to simply move on. Thus his "breakup" with Aura was actually expected and amicable: indeed, their relationship lasted almost an entire day, which is actually quite long by Cat standards.
The episode doesn't fully explain what happened to the Cat fleet that left Red Dwarf in search of Earth, but it does reveal that at least some Cats were left behind on different planets or captured by slavers, spreading out amidst deep space.
The episode was not produced due to the high cost of creating a marketplace inside a whole tribal village of Brefewino, other assorted GELFs and their Felis sapiens slaves.
A reconstructed version of the episode using newly created storyboards appears as a bonus feature on the Series VII DVD release. It was performed entirely by Chris Barrie, who is himself a professional voice artist and voices both his character, Arnold Rimmer, and the rest of the cast.
A script of this episode was auctioned for charity at a Red Dwarf convention in Melbourne, Australia before Series VII aired there.
- The impetus for the plot, the Cat's life-or-death need to have sex within a certain timeframe, bears a strong resemblance to the original Star Trek episode "Amok Time".
- A reference to Batman Returns is in this episode as the Cat was watching a slideshow as part of his 'medicine', one set of slides were of Michelle Pfeiffer in the aforementioned film.
- In the series VIII episode "Back in the Red", it is implied that the events of this episode did indeed take place, as Cat mentions female members of his species are sexually easy to please, in a tone that suggests he knows this fact from experience.
- In the beginning of series XI episode "Can of Worms" Cat is still a virgin, so the events of Identity Within may not be considered canon.