blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s03e03 – The New Guy

While I’m sure they didn’t bring in Russell Hornsby—as Taylor Russell’s long-lost (in space) biological father—to offset Toby Stephens’s energy vampiring, but Hornsby does have that effect. The nicest “Lost in Space” has been in ages is when Mina Sundwall, being introduced to Hornsby, gives him a hug.

Hornsby will have an arc, mostly with Russell, about being a real spaceship captain and not one who lets the computer fly for him. They’re prepping the ship for take-off, and he can’t stop talking about the importance of real experience over autopilot, even an autopilot programmed by Molly Parker. The show’s cagey about Parker and Hornsby’s history, allowing for a backstory bombshell in the resolution. Well, as much as a twenty-year-old, mostly inconsequential reveal can be a bombshell.

Parker spends the episode with Stephens, Ignacio Serricchio, and their robot. Regular robot is just helping get the ship ready for take-off, but the new robot (the one the humans enslaved to fly them across the galaxy) is helping Parker and company get an alien engine to save the day.

Stephens doesn’t trust the robot (what with the enslaving thing), while Serricchio tries humorously to bond with it, and Parker tries to form a meaningful connection. That plot is an action-thriller one, involving planning, a chase sequence, and last-minute twists and turns. The CGI is a little off—not the action, but the rock formations where Parker and the robot hang out (down the block from Kirk and the Gorn). The director, Sarah Boyd, directs for better scenery than Parker ends up with. It’s okay—thanks to a good twist—but ought to be better.

It’s not all the CGI’s fault. Mopey Stephens drains the energy out of scenes.

Meanwhile, Maxwell Jenkins has a sci-fi Indiana Jones plot in the alien ruins, complete with Indiana Jones-esque music. Sure, it’s more like a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull spin-off than Raiders and kind of tedious for the payoff—he finds a giant space pipe organ and plays tones while he ought to be getting ready to get on the spaceship.

His delay does give Parker Posey something to do, in this case, ominously threaten Russell because the kids are planning on putting adult Posey in cryosleep for take-off. They’d rather have Hornsby be the awake adult, sucking up extra oxygen. Posey’s got a decent arc about not wanting to be put under since she’s kind of a fugitive. The writing on it’s not great, but Posey’s panic is good. Plus, it all ties up neatly with Jenkins needing a co-conspirator.

The tense action finale—space action John Williams riffs, not space grandeur John Williams riffs—has a lot of emotional impact, which is cool. But, on the other hand, the hard cliffhanger is less effective because it’s a wheel-spinner.

The episode’s better throughout than its conclusion, with some definite highs.

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