blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s03e01 – Three Little Birds

When I said “Lost in Space” was going the “Battlestar Galactica: The Revival” route, I didn’t realize how far “Space” remake creators Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless were going to go with it.

This season premiere opens soon after the previous one, with Taylor Russell in a spacesuit in the spaceship wreckage they found last season finale, looking for information about her dad. Her real dad. He was lost in space too! And he was lost in this ship, information the show didn’t divulge until the very last moment it could. If it was always in the show bible, someone did a lousy job surfacing it.

Because it’s “Lost in Space,” there’s a disaster, and Russell has to leave the ship without the desired information. We get a teaser—there’s an evil robot on the wrecked ship—and then we resolve the “Parker Posey stowed away” hint from last time real quick, with Posey saving Russell from tumbling through space for eternity.

Then it’s a year later, and the humans live in encampments under Cylon control and… wait, wrong show. But only sort of.

The year later jump lets the show account for Maxwell Jenkins having his big boy voice now and being much taller and barely looking like his kid-self. They’re stuck on a destroyed planet in the one good valley, where they can farm and mine for titanium to repair the spaceship. It’s taking longer than anyone expected, which is just aggravating the tension between siblings. First, Mina Sundwall is mad at Russell for saving her and all the kids from death last episode, then Jenkins is just being weird (which makes less sense after a plot reveal), and Russell is feeling the weight of leadership.

Russell’s trying to contact her real dad if he made it to the planet, something Sundwall resents. Sundwall’s busy with hot boy Charles Vandervaart, which makes ex-boyfriend and frequent collaborator Ajay Friese very sad. It’s actually a good subplot, even if Friese’s mooning gets obnoxious, just because he’s at least likable in it. Sundwall, Russell, and even Jenkins are positioned not to be particularly likable initially. It’s about how much they’ve lost their luster without their parents around.

Or because they’re marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. I was worried “Lost in Space: Season Three” would be a Children’s Crusade and obnoxious with all the little kids, but so far, the show ignores all them kids. Posey’s teaching them French, which is apparently giving them structure—and Posey positive purpose—but otherwise, the kids are just worker drones, mining titanium.

The second half of the episode has disaster imminent—because, of course—and Sundwall, Russell, and Jenkins having to work together to save the day. It feels more like a big-budget kids’ show than any other time at that point. There’s a lot of Jurassic Park-y music throughout, and director Frederick E.O. Toye does the Spielberg-esque “Space” take.

Now, also like “Battlestar” are parents Molly Parker and Toby Stephens’s story. The adults have mostly survived, hiding from the robots and doing guerrilla missions to get resources from planets. Parker’s lost purpose without having children, leading to a rift in the actually quite tenuous marriage.

Stephens has his beard back, which helps his performance. Shouldn’t, but it does.

Ignacio Serricchio’s clean-shaven and somehow an officer now. He’s charming but doesn’t have much to do.

It’s kind of a good episode for Parker, acting-wise. Like, the “why live without my kids giving me attention” reveal is terrible, but her performance itself is darn good and raises the show above its even more than usual derivative feel.

“Lost in Space: Season Three” is off to a much better start than I thought it’d be.

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