I can totally see your point - I do think Stoke Me A Clipper was one of the better s7 episodes (though still not good). Ace in series 4 was a genuinely likeable bloke who'd do anything for anyone. We got his backstory which helped humanise both him and regular Rimmer (the "Ace got held back a year" bit especially). Emohawk was Ace as a caricature, intentionally so, but that was carried over into SMAC. All we really got from Ace was that he seemed to be a smug, over-confident poser (see the rescue of Princess Bonjela, where he automatically assumes sex is on the cards - s4 Ace instead was ever the gentleman). Obviously it was intended for the audience to believe he was the original Ace (until the reveal that he wasn't) but you're right, he really wasn't written very well. And the whole "this is where you must be to become Ace Rimmer" bit on magic carpets flying through the mountains - seriously? Ace was Ace because he was humbled when he was held back a year and learned to rely on himself and get on well with people, not because of some random mysticism or inner peace.