blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s01e03 – Infestation

After two episodes making a lot of noise but not really doing anything productive, Toby Stephens finally finds something he’s good at—fighting fuel-consuming alien eels. It’s another job the killer robot could do better, but the killer robot is too busy protecting Maxwell Jenkins. Once the robot deems there to be too much danger for Will Robinson (Jenkins), he blockades the kid in a storage closet until the rest of the family can solve the problem. Not too sure about the robot’s critical thinking skills.

Also in the storage closet is Parker Posey, because it’s her bedroom. They don’t have anywhere else for her to stay; Molly Parker showing her the room is one of the few comic beats for the adults this episode. There’s some kid banter, but it’s a high-stakes episode otherwise. The eels are consuming the fuel at an alarming rate, and it’s a race against time. If they lose too much fuel to take off, they’ll be trapped in the glacier forever.

So the A-plot is that crisis, with the episode also spending some time on Taylor Russell’s PTSD from being trapped in the ice in the first episode. She was there for hours, thinking she would freeze or suffocate or both, and even though mom Parker’s a smart lady, she doesn’t understand PTSD. Luckily, Stephens does and is going to help Russell whether she’s talking to him or not.

Stephens’s character—the rough and tumble career Marine—is an odd fit with the rest of the family, partially because he and Parker don’t have any chemistry together, and the show’s been telling us for ages she hates him. The kids aren’t thrilled with him either. And it’s an almost entirely physical performance, with Stephens feeling like the Netflix streaming version of Hugh Jackman or if he were believable as a dad, Michael Fassbender. It doesn’t help the show’s trying to make him… questionably reliable. This episode seems to be turning it around a little, especially with the bonding with Russell.

Because Russell’s so far the only character who isn’t either questionably reliable, dangerous, or annoying. Parker, Stephens, and Jenkins all have failings (though Jenkins’s character is eleven, which qualifies the situation a little), Mina Sundwall actively pesters and nothing else, and Posey’s a villain. Russell’s not the show’s protagonist, but she’s the closest thing to a hero it’s got.

As for Posey’s villainy, we get some flashbacks explaining how she got on the colony ship, including a fantastic cameo from Selma Blair as her sister on Earth (Blair and Posey as sisters should be a show), but also the trouble she got on while onboard. Posey leans into impersonating a psychologist, trying to figure out how to manipulate the family she’s found herself stranded with.

The episode opens with an opening title sequence—the previous episodes did not—and it’s not great but does distinguish a new phase of the show. As does composer Christopher Lennertz leveraging the original “Lost in Space” theme song from John Williams. The music’s all very Williams-esque, including a spaceship sequence out of a Star Wars movie. Lennertz makes it work really well. So well it’s a surprise they didn’t start doing it in the first episode, but this episode’s also got a different director (Tim Southam) and doesn’t feel like part of the pilot movie. It does, however, feel like they’re still setting up the season instead of doing the show.

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