blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s02e02 – Precipice

Alex Graves is back directing this episode; unlike last time, he lets “Lost in Space” take advantage of its John Williams theme music to do some Williams-esque riffs. The major disaster sequence, which sets up the rest of the episode, gets very emotive music.

The action immediately follows the last episode, with the family assembling and going over what they’ve learned and got to do. There’s a great moment when Ignacio Serricchio asks Molly Parker to repeat his assignment for the sake of exposition. Then things start going wrong immediately, with the kite Doc Brown ties to the clocktower in hopes of collecting the 1.21 Gigawatts–wait, wait, wrong movie. But something does go wrong with the kite. And then something else goes wrong. And then once they figure out the next thing to do, something else goes wrong, then something else.

Then killer seaweed starts attacking the cast, getting Serricchio the worst and putting him in sickbay for the rest of the episode. Unfortunately, the only person onboard matching his blood type is Parker Posey, who’s been reading Mina Sundwall’s memoir of their voyages and discovered Serricchio’s got some secrets to hide. It’s interesting to see Posey be straightforward in her machinations with Serricchio and their scenes are funny thanks to his partial paralysis.

Meanwhile, Taylor Russell feels like Toby Stephens doesn’t trust her enough when he says she needs to recognize she’s the doctor and can’t be doing the grunt work. This episode’s grunt work involves dangling the SUV out the back of the space-camper by a metal cable to save the family and refill the battery. But, unfortunately, the killer seaweed and various convenient inconveniences hamper their progress.

There’s a lot of character drama for Sundwall and Parker. They find themselves unexpectedly paired for the episode’s adventures, and Parker has to acknowledge maybe Sundwall’s not as useful as her other kids. Of course, given these crisis activities are the areas where Jenkins failed on his colonial tests and Sundwall passes, it plays like the show just ran out of stuff for Sundwall to do and gave her a gripe arc.

Their arc’s not great but does end up having a fairly reasonable conclusion.

One big change in the family’s reaction to the life-threatening crises is no one seems worried they’re going to die. Last season, there was always a lot of angst around imminent failure and destruction. This season, no one gets very worked out about it. They just have to complete all the tasks, and somehow it’ll work out. It’s very much doing disaster movie. Though not pacing-wise. Credited to Zack Estrin, the script plunges from one disaster to another.

We do get some more of the Cylon mythology, with the family discovering giant metal lightning rods built by the same intelligence as built the robot. They also find—six months after the previous season’s finale—the second, always evil robot’s lopped-off arm, which means they didn’t clean the garage in six months.

The disaster dramatics are a little much, but the actors carry it—and the special effects are excellent—making the episode more effective than it would be based on the plot machinations. There are a couple cliffhangers, one sort of rewinding the stakes two episodes back to last season finale, and then one where Posey shows she hasn’t learned anything as far as planning ahead.

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