Lost in Space (2018) s02e04 – Scarecrow

Since this episode doesn’t have the opening titles, I spent the entire thing terrified Leslie Hope directed it too (she did the excellent job last episode), and that goodness was somehow a fluke. Nope, those intolerable, endless, pointless low-angle shots are courtesy director Jon East. It’s the worst direction on the show ever. I should’ve been satisfied with the middling.

Also concerning is the script. Kari Drake gets the credit, and, Writers Guild procedures aside, her name’s been on enough of them to foreshadow. There’s going to be a really trite scene between family members where they talk in less than soap opera platitudes. In this episode, it will be Molly Parker and Maxwell Jenkins. She’s just discovered him doing something she didn’t want him to do, but then the experience makes her realize with great power comes great responsibility. She tells him a context-free story about her mom like it resonates outside the platitudes. It does not.

Parker’s one of the show’s sturdiest actors. She can handle what it throws at her. But even she’s “Lost” in this nonsense.

The family’s been rescued by the mothership, which is no longer abandoned because Parker and Toby Stephens have seen Alien 3 and figured out how to contain the enslaved alien life-form humanity’s been using as a ferry driver across the galaxy. I expected the show to get into how beating and torturing an alien, even if it’s a scary metal alien, is wrong, but not really. New guy—combination roboticist and espionage-type—JJ Feild is very sad about all the torturing he had to do. There’s this interminable shot of him moping after watching Jenkins just, like, talk to the robot sincerely and get a better response for a while. I kept waiting for there to be a reveal—and there’s a bit of one—but the point is Feild’s super-sad about having tortured the alien for years.

Those developments all come in the last third of the episode. It doesn’t really have acts—there’s a reveal cliffhanger involving the robot, ignoring Stephens being in actual dire danger—but the first third is about the Robinson family not being special once they get back to the mothership. Other than Jenkins, who everyone whispers about. Really hoping they’re not going to do a messiah arc. Not as much as I hope they keep Ignacio Serricchio and Taylor Russell platonic, but second only to that one.

Parker helps the other space-camper moms organize wires; Mina Sundwall just hangs out, Jenkins is supposed to be chilling too, but he’s intrepid. Russell, Stephens, and Serricchio all get put to work on the desert planet where they’ve been camping out. We get to see Russell and Serricchio in their daily lives—she’s just a medical student again; he’s just one of many mechanics again. No one cares they galavanted across the galaxy.

Stephens gets grunt work but at least reconnects with Raza Jaffrey (who finally gets to be charming) and Sibongile Mlambo (who finally gets to be sympathetic) before ending up in danger because the colonists aren’t thorough like his family would have been.

Parker Posey’s got a machinations plotline involving getting out of trouble. It’s pat but necessary.

The episode also features some weak special effects, and the new supporting actors, outside Feild, are often wanting.

It’s probably the worst episode? I can’t think of anything comparable. It’s not an easy episode—inserting the cast back into their previously unexplored (outside flashback flashes) mundane existence. Doesn’t help East’s direction is bewildering and bad, or the script is trite whenever it tries to be sincere.

Leave a Reply