Lost in Space (2018) s02e01 – Shipwrecked

After a reveal about last season’s finale, the episode reestablishing the ground situation—the Robinsons and friends have been marooned on a mostly water, very toxic planet for six months because the Cylon engine has stopped working. I may just call the robot’s “species” the Cylons. I haven’t decided. After they set it all up, the episode quickly becomes a “Murphy’s law” disaster movie, sort of like it was getting at the end of last season.

Murphy’s law—I already googled it for us—meaning “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”

The family has the space-camper set up on a beach, and they’re growing corn and other vegetables. They don’t have enough power for the lights, but they’re trying with the solar panels and so on. The first act is all about the Christmas they’re having, what with Parker Posey still a prisoner in part of the ship and then Ignacio Serricchio being the slightly exasperated live-in handyman. For Christmas, Maxwell Jenkins has published—unclear with what resources—sister Mina Sundwall’s memoir about season one, Lost in Space. Everyone reading it or not reading it will be a subplot.

But they’re one big happy family given the circumstances—they still think the mothership will come to get them even though they clearly wormholed to the Delta Quadrant last season finale—and dad Toby Stephens is going to teach Jenkins how to drive. But it’s really boring to drive one of the future SUVs, so they have to make it sound like driving a car in the dialogue. Sundwall’s super snarky about it, which isn’t funny, just justified. The first act kind of drags.

Especially since, even though last season established Molly Parker and Stephens were partners now when she wants to go and try to refuel the ship at some regular lightning storms, Stephens says no.

Then something bad happens, and all of a sudden, they’ve got to do it. And time, as it has to be, is going to be tight.

The episode takes a few extra beats to reveal Parker’s plan to allow the audience to have an “ah-ha” moment, which is probably the weirdest move in the entire episode. The script, credited to remake creators Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, is relatively well-balanced, but they do not want to lean in on science and engineering in their science fiction. It’s not a significant problem. The episode’s got a new-to-the-series director, Alex Graves, and a really nice special effects budget given who difficult the journey will be for the family. It looks good. Probably the best the show’s effects have ever looked. So the season’s off to a good start on that front.

Character-wise… since they’re marooned, they’re mostly spinning wheels. Jenkins is mooning over the robot, Russell and Sundwall are bored (though people reading her book gives Sundwall a plot). Serricchio’s in stasis, ditto Parker to some degree. Stephens is thrilled playing extreme farmer, which could be interesting but isn’t. Posey’s going to have the most significant arc in the episode. She’s currently trying to manipulate Sundwall (in addition to everyone else), but mostly Sundwall.

It’s dramatically far more rewarding than when Posey was grooming Jenkins.

There’s a cliffhanger with a reveal, then a tag with another reveal, but the show never resolves some of its season one leftovers. The six-month jump-ahead also helps them ignore treacherous Posey in their midst.

But it’s a great-looking, entertaining start. The character dynamics are down, the actors are more comfortable—though Jenkins is growing fast, and Stephens shouldn’t have cut off his facial hair. Instead of looking like budget Michael Fassbender or Hugh Jackman, he seems like budget Damian Lewis, which isn’t the same thing.

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