blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s03e02 – Contact

It’s only taken twenty-two episodes, but “Lost in Space” finally addresses some fundamental questions about its robots. Did something make them, or did they make themselves? The show skirts around the robots having agency and sentience to make the human eagerness to enslave them a little less creepy, presumably. Though Molly Parker salivates over the idea of doing it in this episode. It’s so funny how they brought it up once and then completely forgot about the morality issue.

Everyone’s got something to do this episode, even if it’s staring into the main action of the scene like you’re superfluous (both Parker Posey and Ignacio Serricchio do it). I haven’t checked, but I’m assuming season three is the last one for “Lost in Space,” so they’re trying to wrap things up. And doing it very quickly; thank goodness the robots come equipped with a walkie-talkie feature allowing communication across half a galaxy or so.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The episode starts with Taylor Russell finding real dad Russell Hornsby alive in his cryotube. It’s unclear whether he escaped the ship or if the ship moved him over to an escape vessel without waking him up. It seems like the latter, but there’s also not a lot of talk about Hornsby. See, Russell can’t bring herself to tell him he’s her dad, so instead, they talk around it. When they finally start getting on the same wavelength… well, the writing’s not good, but Russell’s sincerity carries through.

Zack Estrin has the writer credit. It’s not his first (though the last episode he got a credit on was episode two of season three, so exactly one season before), but he’s not particularly impressive. Combined with Kevin Rodney Sullivan’s direction and the frantic but good special effects, it all feels like “Lost in Space” is in a hurry to wrap up. The time for character development has passed.

And not just for surprise reveal characters, but the main cast as well. Mina Sundwall has reverted back to her sarcastic mode, which has some okay lines, just nothing for the character. She, Maxwell Jenkins, and Parker Posey are trying to find the robot, who wandered off last episode with the reveal of an alien civilization in the distance. There are some setbacks and fretting about Posey’s reliability as a comrade, but eventually, the episode gets to setting up its way out of the current predicament. Luckily, Jenkins and Sundwall get into position at just the same time Parker and Toby Stephens do in their plot.

Parker’s full of life again, ready to go get her kids and stop feeling sorry for herself. So she and Stephens are flying down to a planet to recover a destroyed robot, so they can torture it into flying them where they want to go. Serricchio is along for the ride, which just means wisecracks. There are some all right ones too.

One Aliens riff later, they find themselves in danger from an unknown robot. And over in the other plot, the robot keeps telling Jenkins they’re in danger. Shame the robot’s got such a limited vocabulary because if he could string two sentences together, they wouldn’t have needed the episode.

It feels like the end of the first act (of “Season Three”). It could be better, could be worse. But trying to wrap up the series in eight episodes gets “Lost in Space” a lot of leeway. As does avoiding having all the little kids in it. The action just sticks to the main cast; it also seems we’re leaning in on Jenkins as messiah, which will at least be a flex, something the show’s managed to avoid doing for almost its entire run.

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