Tuesday , May 26 2020

TV Review: ‘Lost in Space’ (Season Two) – Battle of the Bots

The long awaited second season of Netflix’s Lost in Space is now available for viewing and it was worth the wait. Disappointingly, there are only ten episodes in Season Two – the same amount as Season One – but each is like a mini-movie, and the amount of care and effort that goes into crafting each one is obvious. Still, for new fans like my son and fans of the old series like me, the season still leaves us wanting more. I guess that is a good thing.

We pick up seven months after Season One with the Family Robinson – mom Maureen (Molly Parker), dad John (Toby Stephens), son Will (Maxwell Jenkins), and daughters Judy (Taylor Russell) and Penny (Mina Sundwall). Also along for the ride are mechanic/pilot Don West (the hilarious Ignacio Serriccho) and the villainous Dr. Smith (an incredible Parker Posey). They are stranded on a planet with copious amounts of water they cannot drink and air they cannot breathe. Obviously, they need to get out of there as quickly as they can recharge their ship.

Will’s Robot (Brian Steele) is nowhere to be found, but that doesn’t stop the boy from talking to a little figure that he has made to represent it. Anyone familiar with the original series and those who saw Season One know one of the key relationships on the show is between the boy and his robot (a futuristic take on a boy and his dog in a sense).

This season features more of the Perils of Pauline aspect of each episode, putting one or more of the Robinsons in mortal danger. While this creates great tension and drama and the cast is up to the challenge, there almost feels as if there is never a moment to catch one’s breath. One particularly horrifying example is when John falls down a shaft and impales himself on a metal rod. Judy’s race – by vehicle and then on foot – to save him is harrowing and nerve wracking.

There are so many aspects of the season that feel like spoilers, but I can divulge that Will and Robot eventually get back together, and they still do retain an almost psychic connection, but things have changed as well. When Will asks Robot to do something, everyone is astounded when Robot says, “No, Will Robinson.” Of course, we will learn that the “No” is for a good reason because more danger is ahead.

We also get to see other survivors of the various Jupiter ships that are moored to the massive station Resolute, including Penny’s love interest Vijay Dhar (Ajay Friese) from Season One. Resolute’s leader Hastings (Douglas Hodge) buts heads with John and Maureen and has secret and nefarious plans for Robot that put him at odds with the Robinsons.

Another important aspect of Season Two is the continuing story of Dr. Smith. Her duplicitous nature is simply creepy, and Posey makes her an icky manipulator one minute and a genuinely empathetic figure the next. It is almost impossible to read which way Smith is going to go – seemingly siding with the Robinsons and then aligning herself with Hastings against them. It is a pleasure to watch Posey play this part to perfection in each episode, and you find yourself loving to hate her as she dominates each scene that she is in.

The show is gorgeously filmed – credit Sam McCurdy and C. Kim Miles’s cinematography – and everything from the spaceships, the various planet landscapes, and incredibly stunning space sequences are brilliantly realized. New alien creatures are introduced that are delightfully dangerous, and Christopher Lennertz music is astoundingly spot-on in its appropriateness for the narrative highs and lows depicted.

While Parker and Stephens do a fine job as the parents, it is the actors who play the Robinson kids who shine brightly. Russell’s Judy has grown more confidant and takes on more responsibility – including watching over her younger siblings. Sundwall’s Penny wrote a book called Lost in Space during the last seven months, and for Christmas Will publishes it. There is a great deal of tension between her mother and her because of this book. Sundwall’s emotional reactions in these scenes are powerful.

Just as in the original, Will is the central character and young Jenkins is outstanding in the part. He is able to convey the complex emotions that a boy of 12 is facing, being pulled away from the only life he’s known to live on another planet. His father having been away so long serving in the military, Will gravitates toward Robot in a sense to have a father figure as well as a best friend. 

The menace the Robinsons and the rest of the human survivors are facing is directly connected to Robot and others of his kind. As it becomes clear that a threat from those other robots will destroy the Resolute and everyone on board it, the situation becomes desperate. Of course, the human conflicts may do the job before the robots ever get to it.

Like the Robinsons from the original TV show, this family is trying to get to Alpha Centauri to start new lives. There is nothing else that can be compared between the two series. This one is a far superior production from the special effects to writing and the acting. Although when I hear the theme music, I can’t help but want to hear Jonathan Harris as Dr. Smith saying, “The pain, the pain!” one more time.

Lost in Space Season Two on Netflix is highly recommended. This season is beautiful, brutal, and heartbreaking. It also ends with a discovery that should be a big surprise to everyone and sets up intriguing possibilities for Season Three. For now, watch Season Two and enjoy the ride.

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'Heartbeat and Other Poems,' 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. After winning the National Arts Club Award for Poetry while attending Queens College, he concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose until the recent publication of his new book of poetry, 'Heartbeat and Other Poems' (now available on Amazon). He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written many articles on a variety of topics; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society and Flash Ficition editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.

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