It’s nearly a concept episode of “Lost in Space.” John Robinson (Toby Stephens) is stuck at the bottom of a mine shaft, injured, without medical attention. Daughter Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell) is racing to get to him but her SUV breaks down. They’re on an alien planet and there are metal termites. She’s going to have to run for it. Along the way, there are flashbacks establishing their relationship together before Stephens went and pissed everyone off by re-upping in the Navy.
There’s the additional detail Russell isn’t Stephens’ biological daughter, which has the constant visual reminder Russell’s Black and Stephens is such a ginger you can see him getting a sunburn during scenes with overcast skies. Russell being Black doesn’t figure into the story at all—“Lost in Space”’s future Earth has its problems but apparently they got institutionalized racism licked—and being his step-kid barely matters. There are some good implications related to it—eventually—but the show never explicitly states them. They’re just character backstory for Russell.
It’s a good A-plot. Derivative as all hell—Russell runs into raptors in the desert and has some Jurassic Park adventures, before finding herself in a Tomb Raider level and having to jump between rock outcroppings to beat the level. But Russell’s good and Stephens’s closer to it than ever before.
Though it’s hard to imagine a similar episode with his biological kids—Maxwell Jenkins and Mina Sundwall—possibly because the show reduced their character depths this season.
Jenkins’s subplot this episode is going to get his robot with mom Molly Parker and slightly ominous company man JJ Feild. Their subplot is mostly notable because the show again leans in on the space-campers everyone zooms around in looking like the Millennium Falcon.
Sundwall has a Nancy Drew subplot following Parker Posey around the mothership. Sundwall wants to know what Posey’s scheming and has to enlist the aid of not boyfriend Ajay Friese. They too find themselves in a Star Wars “homage.” If it were any director besides Jon East, there wouldn’t be quotation marks. With East, however, I’m not sure he gets it.
Vivian Lee has the script credit. Besides the Jenkins subplot, everything’s solid. Sundwall and Friese are fun together and the Nancy Drewing does give Sundwall some personality, which has been lacking lately. Russell and Stephens’s A-plot is really effective, mostly thanks to Russell (and the writing). It’s also where the special effects break down again, just like last episode. The CGI team must’ve been in a hurry; or just couldn’t figure out sand.
There’s a good cliffhanger too.