Season 1, Episode 2
Date of release: April 13, 2018 (Netflix)
Well, there it is. The second episode managed to surprise me by not including any flashbacks and by introducing a bit of character development. Because of the expository nature of this episode, it was a bit less tense and exciting than the premiere episode, but there was something about Dr. Smith getting into the hands of the Robinsons and kicking that infamous story into gear now, and all this after Smith has been established as a conflicted character who could be both terrifying and fearful, as well as a helping hand and maybe even with the potential to become … heroic, or at least a good person. Someone who would save a life just because. Smith was introduced in the previous episode in clothes that had me think she was a mental patient, and all this episode I was thinking about how she is going to kill her savior and leave him bleeding to death, but it turns out she was not that villainous after all. Instead, some things she might have been talking about could have been true (nothing related to her brother though), and maybe all Smith needs is a little bit of love and appreciation. But no, Smith is a villain in the LOST IN SPACE franchise, so I’m waiting for her to manipulate Will, so he can manipulate the robot for her. And Parker Posey is maybe too perfect for the role of a crazy woman who is both smart as hell and a murderous personality. Granted, you would still have to come up with a reason why she was on the colony trip to begin with, but having crazy evil on this deadly planet is pretty great for the premise of the show. Having to survive the planet apparently isn’t enough, because now you also have to survive Smith.
By the way, so much for no Don West in this version of the franchise. Considering he was named Don makes me think that he will survive his ordeal, find Smith, and gets in a death match with the woman who betrayed him. Or maybe it’s just the writers’ way to be surprising — it wasn’t Judy who was supposed to die, it could be Don whose time is up.
I kinda love how straightforward the show is after two episodes. Take one big story, separate the characters into two groups, tell the story form two points of view. It’s much easier to follow the characters this way, and not be clogged down by seemingly unnecessary story arcs that are only here to fill airtime or are forgotten in two episodes, because nothing that happened here had any effect and outcome in the near future. It’s also fun to watch the story this way, because really, all you want is a little bit of action-packed entertainment, during which you can turn your brain off for most of the time and be excited about what’s happening on screen. And I did get a little excited when Judy and Penny were bringing the Jupiter 2 up to the surface (okay, the way the ship was risen out of the ice and brought back as a standing set was ridiculously hilarious, but it was to be expected that some parts of the show would be laughable), and Penny took the Chariot for a little spin through the winter terrain of the planet. In fact, that part of the story might have been the most exciting for me, because of the way it was portrayed. Penny got in front of an obstacle, got pissed about it, solved the problem, got scarily excited about the process of rolling don a cliff. There was no way that assembling the Chariot was difficult for her, or even driving the thing being a hard piece of work for the teenager, but it’s almost like she took herself on this unknown and probably deadly adventure, and she had fun doing so, even if she returned with her fear still intact. See, Penny is still a kid, and she gets easily excited about things that go her way. She also gets excited driving big cars. Kids get excited a lot, and Penny was definitely on a roll here.
Will, Maureen and John going out to look for survivors was an okay-ish story. It turns out it was a nice plot device to bring some of the back story into the game, and to tease that there might be answers about where they are, and why they are here (I guess they didn’t notice the wormhole? Or is it going to be the case that the wormhole was manually opened to deliberately suck the space station into it?). Not that it’s a story I particularly need, especially since the Robinsons won’t return back to Earth anyway, and this planet might be able to function as a new home for them, so there is no reason to get to the colony, but it’s a nice way to spend a little time on a mythology and maybe go beyond where previous iterations of the franchise went. Also, the “it wasn’t an accident” twist is always used, and you could normally do a whole lot with it inside a narrative, so I’m certain the writers were thinking about that twist a lot while creating the narrative. So, was it an accident that the Resolute came through the wormhole and landed the Jupiters on this crazy planet that has sharp diamonds for rain? Also, shouldn’t the atmosphere on this planet be much heavier for diamonds to rain? If you’re on a planet and it rains diamonds, you should be dead…
Meanwhile, some things regarding character exposition: I noticed a little of it in the previous episode, but John and Maureen’s marriage might be more than just a problem in the back story for the characters. I like the idea of the two being separated (which means they will probably fall in love with each other again here, or Smith will use it to wrap John around her finger), and for the kids to probably not know whether they are experiencing this adventure with a single parent or with two parents, and I like that it isn’t a such a pretentious storyline. A few dialogue sequences about whether Maureen is still John’s wife or not, one instance of “who am I listening to” at the end — it’s more used to lighten up the mood and bring a joke in (which I am thankful for, because I do think that kids depressed about their parents separating would be a little too much for this kind of show), rather than putting the family dynamic into the darkness of drama and emotion. Also, it’s a nice plot device to have Will connect with the robot more than his father. When he was playing ball with it, all I could think of was how John Connor saw the Terminator as a father figure in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY – which is a freaking fitting comparison, considering the Terminator is a killer cyborg, and apparently so is Will’s robot.
The second episode definitely did a better job in giving the characters some time and space to bring themselves into the story, and the writers made good in bringing Smith into the narrative and have her be the antagonizing factor of the story. After two episodes though, you can’t look past the fact that there hasn’t been a lot of story yet. Which is still a fascinating problem, because I don’t mind at all.