blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Lost in Space (2018) s03e07 – Contingencies on Contingencies

This episode has such an exhausting amount of Toby Stephens being macho someone calls him on it to his face. Stephens is convinced the robot—now on Alpha Centauri with the humans—has gone rogue. Raza Jaffrey, who points out he almost stole a space-camper and abandoned over a hundred people to the elements, tells him to take it down a notch and think it through.

Complicating the issue isn’t the robot’s guilt or innocence, it’s his “victim.” Douglas Hodge, the guy who enslaved the alien robot, lied to the people of Earth (and the colony), tried to kill a bunch of mechanics, and so on; he’s got the only key to saving the colony from the imminent alien invasion. If this guy had died or been incarcerated after his first blatant act of murderous villainy, the show could’ve been a season shorter. For all his macho posturing, Stephens never held him to account for trying to kill his kids or whatever either.

Instead, Stephens wants to take it out on the robot. If they just included the subtext about the robot being a better dad than Stephens, it might be something; the whole family is like, “Maybe the robot’s not a bad guy,” and Stephens telling them he’s smarter. Though “Lost in Space” is always about Stephens never being smarter.

Too much Stephens and too much green screen hurt the episode, which is otherwise a fine Leslie Hope-directed outing. Easily her worst episode, but not her fault and still better than most.

The episode begins with the Robinsons arriving at Alpha Centauri to discover… the alien robots haven’t beaten them there. Everything’s jimdandy, other than Mina Sundwall having to decide between nerdy poet Ajay Friese and bro Charles Vandervaart. But all the stakes are otherwise chill. Even Parker Posey just gets to get into an SUV and autopilot off to her own little plot of land.

At least until the robot goes rogue and Sundwall and Taylor Russell decide Stephens is wrong, so they go looking for it, bringing along Ignacio Serricchio. They’ve got a race against time, race against Stephens plot going, while Molly Parker and Russell Hornsby try to figure out how to prepare the colony for an eventual attack. We get some backstory on Parker and Hornsby. It’s relatively boring stuff, which tracks since it never should’ve been a plot point in the first couple seasons—mixed-race Russell and her mostly ginger family. The biggest question gets resolved with an institutional cop-out to alleviate responsibility or accountability from everyone. “Space” really has no idea what to do with its long-running story arcs.

Eventually, there’s some Rock’ Em Sock’ Em robot action and a deluded callback to the first episode for Russell, plus potential character development for Sundwall. Though the script—credited to Zack Estrin—has a chance to give her the agency for it and instead transfers it to Friese, which could be better.

But it’s a compelling episode. Way too much hinges on believing Stephens is a brash, thoughtless asshole, but what can you do.

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