It’s another short episode, but it’s also a Leslie Hope-directed episode, and she does not disappoint. Even saddled with flashbacks to when Taylor Russell was a baby, and Molly Parker has taken her home to mom Colleen Winton’s farm to raise her. It’s where we find out Parker gave up being an astronaut to have Russell and, even though most of their relationship development’s in the flashback, it’s a reasonably good episode for the two of them.
The Robinsons’ space-camper has crashed on an unknown world, having diverted away from the Alpha Centauri colony at the last minute to keep the evil robots from finding it. Everyone except Parker and Russell could eject, but their seats malfunctioned. So the episode’s the two of them in danger—not only is Parker sitting on a seat of dynamite, they’re sinking into alien goop, and the engines are offline. I wonder how many times the engines work on “Lost in Space.” I feel like it’s less than a third of the time.
The rest of the cast is paired off on adventures, even if it’s just Ignacio Serricchio and his pet chicken. The pet chicken sequences are outstanding, with Hope finding humor in the absurd dangers.
Toby Stephens and Mina Sundwall go looking for the robot together, bonding along the way. It’s a good sequence for Sundwall, not so good for Stephens. It’s probably Stephens’s best work this season so far, but—once again—it relies on his character not actually being anywhere near as with it as he’d need to be to survive so long “Lost in Space.”
Maxwell Jenkins and Parker Posey have the least amount of material, which has Jenkins trying to recover his backpack from a precarious hanging situation while Posey yells at him to hurry up. There’s a little bit of character work for Posey, who’s on—if not a redemption arc—at least a considered failed redemption arc. Though it’s a little weird her confidant is a kid. They don’t quite make that angle work.
But the stuff with Russell and Parker is where the episode excels, thanks to Hope, Russell, and Parker. While “Lost in Space” isn’t really anyone’s showcase, Russell’s gotten the best arc throughout the series, with this episode just drawing attention to the differences in her story and the other kids’. Jenkins has his tween boy adventurer thing, which isn’t character development, and then Sundwall’s got a love triangle. Unfortunately, that love triangle is thinner than the relationship stuff she had before because they can reduce it to tropes.
It’s so well-done, it makes up for the finale’s solution being something they could’ve done the entire time and even talked about doing. They just had to put it off for dramatic tension’s sake.
Hope’s direction is “Space”'s greatest discovery.