This episode feels a little bit like “Pilot: Part Two” since it introduces Parker Posey to the series. The soft cliffhanger last episode had her assuming a false identity and getting onto an escape spaceship with mechanics Ignacio Serricchio and AnnaMaria Demara. As the bigger spaceship was under attack from a killer robot before all the ships—including the escape vessels—get sucked into a black hole.
The regular cast will find out all that spaceship information, though not all of it for everyone (and not the specifics). For instance, Maxwell Jenkins will discover his pet Terminator (they even play catch at one point) attacked the ship and killed a bunch of people. But the robot’s changed so Jenkins is going to keep it to himself. Molly Parker and Toby Stephens find out they’re way off course—in another galaxy—though it’s more Parker finds out and has to tell Stephens about it. There’s quite a bit about who’s in charge, Parker or Stephens, and the show tries hard to make Stephens a reasonable leader but… then he does something dumb and callous, whereas Parker’s never callous even when she makes a mistake.
Parker, Stephens, and Jenkins are off investigating other crashed ships—one of their fellow colonist vessels and then the alien robot’s ship. Back at their ship, Taylor Russell and Mina Sundwall are in charge of slowing freeing said ship from an underwater ice lake. Except Sundwall is worried about an approaching storm front and wants to get their RV out of storage while Russell wants to follow the rules.
Under threat from the same storm is Serricchio and Posey. They’ve survived their crash and are trying to find other survivors. Except we, the audience, know there’s something shady about Posey and it seems like Serricchio might be in danger. Except Serricchio is a working class hero and he’s not going to let a little straightedge lady like Posey cramp his style. It’s an interesting way to do character development, having Posey discover the sympathetic truths under Serricchio’s bravado while she’s still a danger to him. Posey mostly plays it restrained, letting Serricchio run the scenes, only with her character developing underneath it. It’s good banter and sci-fi action survival stuff. Serricchio’s so sympathetic he makes Posey seem less dangerous.
While the whole cast gets something to do—although Russell ends up with less and less as the episode goes on—introducing Posey is the point and it’s successfully done. The family drama is all building—the conflicts between sisters, parents, then Jenkins and everyone but his killer robot—there’s no time for relief here, not when the storm is imminent and the planet has diamond-sharp sand that storm will be kicking up.
Again, it feels very much like the conclusion to the pilot movie for the show. The board is set, the pieces’s rules and responsibilities define, time for the game to start.