After spending most of the season away, this episode’s writing credit goes to reboot creators Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. I figured they were back to get the show in shape for season three, but I didn’t realize it’s all they were going to do. Sure, they spend fourteen minutes to resolve all the cliffhangers and themes from the last two or three episodes (including opening credits). But once Molly Parker and Toby Stephens stop the bad guy, the episode’s all about staying busy until the season cliffhanger.
There’s a reasonably good action plotline involving dozens of robots trying to take back their warp drive. The episode teases the idea Maxwell Jenkins isn’t okay with Parker’s plan to vaporize all the robots—he says they’re intelligent beings, she says they’re not. But, as it plays… they’re kind of one-note villains, so she’s more right than wrong. There will be a big-budget rock’em sock’em robots sequence, and it looks excellent—Alex Graves does a good but indistinct job directing—but there’s no character there. Not even the vaguest implications. So, basically the old series Cylons? Only CGI.
The mothership is once again in danger. This time from a robot alien fleet, and they only have two hours to get out of there. Two hours quickly because thirty minutes, as the show gets ready to set up season three. The script lays in heavy on the foreshadowing, too, possibly because the hook for next season is… well, a big change for the show. A potentially obnoxious big change for the show.
The episode’s got some good acting from Parker Posey and Ignacio Serricchio. Taylor Russell’s arc is all about her being ready to be a grown-up, so it’d usually hinge on her acting. But it barely gets a focus—though Russell gets the only real arc, with even Jenkins (who’s got lots to do with robots) getting downgraded as the episode progresses. There’s just so much other stuff going on.
For a season finale, it feels off. Between blowing off the resolution to the outstanding arcs and rushing into another crisis… I mean, I guess “Netflix Lost in Space” really is just “Battlestar Lost in Space,” or so it seems whenever it’s Sazama and Sharpless on the writing credit. Heck, the episode title, *Ninety-Seven*, is a “Battlestar” nod (or rip).
The second season started much stronger than it finishes, even without the concept refresh for next season. The cast still—mostly—got it through, but there’s a lot of excess material in “Season Two,” which is particularly bad since most of the episodes ran forty minutes. They just didn’t have enough story. And no one seemed particularly invested in the story they did have.
It’s a better episode than the worst in the season, but the next season teaser seems like it’s at best slowed the decline, not stopped it.
The sci-if special effects are excellent, with Graves seeming to get the Star Wars feel of it. There’s also a nice Alien 3 nod. “Lost in Space” is still okay, just less so than before. And next season's setup is primed for a game of chicken with a shark tank.