Lost in Space is one of the best series nobody talks about! But now it’s over. Keep reading for my thoughts on the Robinson family’s final adventures!
*Minor spoilers ahead for Lost in Space Season 3– just surface-level plot points
Major spoilers ahead for Lost in Space Season 2*
Lost In Space picks up one year after the events of last season: The Resolute’s children, Doctor Smith, and Robot are stranded on an alien world. Judy takes charge and organizes a small community to ensure their survival. Meanwhile, the adults mourn the loss of their children. They work to repair their fleet and evade the robots. But new discoveries may mean the difference between peace with the robots and annihilation of the humans.
If I make this season sound more dramatic than the others, that’s ’cause it arguably is. The tone doesn’t get too dark but there’s this sense of impending dread which pervades every episode. LiS careens towards its conclusion and makes the most of its final adventures.
S3 began strongly with an intriguing setup. The kids’ separation from their parents worked in many regards: it gave the kids some breathing space to grow as people, and it allowed John and Maureen to shift their priorities, opening them up to more dangerous situations. These sad circumstances also provided the characters with a strong goal: re-unite the family.
Judy (Taylor Russel) was this season’s standout character. She struggles to overcome feelings of inferiority in the wake of her parents’ lofty examples– notably that of Maureen. Her mother’s awesomeness IS tough to match (although I’m saying that as a Maureen fanboy). In any case: the weight of expectation she places on her own shoulders was believable and relatable. I loved watching Judy break out of her parents’ shadows and come into her own as a leader. Russel effectively plays sympathetic moments. I cared more about Judy in S3 than ever.
Meanwhile, Will and Robot (I may as well count them together) grow somewhat underhanded. Will feels guilty that the robots are after him specifically. So he and Robot decide to ditch their family at the earliest opportunity so that they might lead SAR away. Of course he spends the whole season dreading this inevitable decision. Maxwell Jenkins portrayed Will’s anguish well! He always seemed appropriately guilty, melancholy, and on-edge. Will’s desire for self-sacrifice feels in line with how his character has grown.
Part of me thought it was silly that he wouldn’t at least talk the plan over with his family, but he also had a valid concern and knew they’d just fight his decision. The buildup of this plotline was better than its ultimate execution. But I’ll (vaguely) touch on that in my critiques section.
Maureen (Molly Parker) remains awesome as ever. Even three years into this story, we learn new aspects of her backstory. I quite liked those additions, as they provided important context for her life. And I’d just like to note: Maureen ranks among my favourite moms in TV history! She may even top the list. I love how smart and caring a parent she is whilst also being the best mind in her field. Without Maureen, the whole Resolute crew would be dead countless times over.
John’s soldier side really came out this year. Without his kids around, John (Toby Stephens) takes more risks and is perfectly willing to self-sacrifice for the greater good. His bravery came in handy, as usual. Like with Maureen, it’s awesome how John can both be good at his job AND a good parent. The military badass can also be a gentle family man.
I’ve always appreciated how Lost in Space handles the Robinson family’s various skills. No one member is perfect at anything. And each of them has their weaknesses. But they make up for one another’s shortcomings. This is most apparent in the difference between Maureen and John. Lesser shows would write one super-parent who’s both the biggest badass and the smartest person in the room. But LiS wisely splits these roles. Maureen is a brilliant scientist but hardly a combatant, while John is more at home on the battlefield than building things. They compliment each other well.
Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) showed off his considerable character growth in S3. He’s long since begun to use his resourcefulness to help others, and he willingly accepts responsibilities now. But his loyalty to the Robinsons keeps getting him in trouble… Season 3 is his journey to being an extended member of their family. Don was charming and goofy and fun as he’s always been.
And last, but not least, we come to good ol’ Dr Smith. Spending so much time with the kids really softened her up! She’s still cunning as ever, yet more compassionate– though not TOO compassionate. ‘Cause what would our favourite “Doctor” be without a healthy dose of scheming? I’m glad she didn’t prove to be a major thorn to the Robinsons this year. Of course she refused to make things easy on them. But this time they needed to be on the same side or die. Parker Posey really sold Smith’s fear and desperation! She always makes Smith a blast to root against (or for, if you like self-serving anti-villains).
As with every other year, the threat of SAR and his merry band of killer robots looms large. They remain as terrifying now as they were in season 1! Their threat level is increased by the fact LiS never nerfed their power (as many shows would have done by now). The robots have always taken great efforts to defeat. And I fully believe characters are in danger whenever they face those things one on one. By this point, the robots may be one of the best alien creature designs I’ve ever seen! They’re effectively unnerving.
Focusing on one group of villains has always been a strength for Lost in Space. This choice has managed to keep the story tight and effective. And it hasn’t allowed for many unnecessary tangents throughout the show’s run. Humanity’s attention on one big threat means LiS was always meant to be limited in longevity. ‘Cause once that problem was solved one way or another, there’d be nothing left to do. Better to end now than let things get dragged out though.
Lost In Space S3 delves deeper into the robots’ lore than ever. We learn of their origins, why they behave as they do (beyond simply defending their property), and how they sometimes bond with people. SAR in particular receives compelling motivations for his actions. And the depth of his moral depravity becomes clear in one of the series’ best scenes!
Stakes towards the end of S3 reached their zenith! Those final few episodes notably built an intensity which (arguably) tops anything else LiS has tried in the past. These events were bolstered by a gripping amount of twists and turns and close-calls. Maybe it was a tad predictable but it still worked for me. And the ending left me satisfied. ‘Twas a great closer.
I’d also like to shout out this show’s astounding production values! Colourful, gorgeous planets; Immersive and lived-in set design; Beautifully rendered CGI. Not a bit of this series looks cheap. It’s one of the best looking TV/ Streaming shows I’ve ever seen!
To head off a potential complaint: some may balk at the Robinsons’ portrayal as Earth’s greatest family (essentially), and how everyone seems to do whatever the Robinsons suggest. Like, nobody else in a group full of high-value humans can even come close to matching them. I’d argue the Robinson family earned its respect. They were just one of many above-average families in season 1, but have since maintained consistently good ideas, morals, and judgment. It’s not too shocking people would rather listen to them than their actual leaders. Also, they have a robot who’s super important to the overall plot…
Others may also whine that the series is too sappy and sentimental. It is those things. But I like that. If you want a grittier show about humans surviving robots in space on a long journey to a new home, go watch Battlestar Galactica and let us have this, OK? Lost In Space wears its heart on its sleeve and is generally optimistic. Why is that such a bad thing? Besides, there not a tonne of big-budgeted shows the whole family can enjoy anymore.
But now for my actual complaints… I’m not a fan Penny’s S3 character arc– in that she didn’t get much of one. She remains the sassy comic relief. And that’s fine, only they didn’t do much more with her. To add insult to injury, Penny’s biggest storyline in S3 was a contrived love-triangle plot! It wouldn’t have bothered me so much, except LiS introduced her new love interest out of nowhere then barely gave him any screen time. They devoted way too much time for that storyline…
I also wish they’d better explained how the kids survived for so long on that planet. Where did they find food for over 90 people for a whole year? And how did they make new clothes when the kids got bigger? Will’s spacesuit still fits him a year later, after he’s grown a tonne! They glossed over these important details to move the plot along.
In addition: I barely suspended my disbelief at statistical probability of the kids landing on both the same planet as the Fortuna AND where a major plot-point could be found for later. It seemed like a big coincidence. And yeah, the show eventually explains why the Fortuna was there but it’s still too convenient. I’ll allow it though. Nothing about this problem fundamentally broke the plot.
It also bugged me that they set up multiple plot-points to have major impacts, then reversed them in the following episodes. That way they got to milk our emotional reactions and keep the status quo. I understand why the writers wanted to end LiS the way they did. I have no problem with the ending. It’s just annoying that they chose to fake us out instead of getting there another way.
Lost In Space is terribly underrated. I wish more people watched this series! It’s really a hidden gem. But better late than never, right? If this is the first you’ve heard of the show, get on it before you’re spoiled further! Rest easy knowing the show ended on its own terms and concluded in a satisfying manner. That doesn’t happen near often enough.
Lost in Space‘s closing season is Pretty Darn Good.
What are some other underrated shows I ought to try? What did you think of Lost in Space Season 3? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,