As they say, space is the final frontier. Filled with unknown perils and terrors, space can offer up the most harrowing narratives in survivalist sci-fi. Lost in Space embraces danger to create a thrill-a-minute ride between an unlucky family and an ill-fated space colonization effort.
Forced by a rapidly dying Earth, humanity decides to take to the stars. Screened individuals and families board spaceships to find humanity’s next home. Unfortunately for the Robinsons (Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, and Maxwell Jenkins), their space station is attacked by an unknown force. Forced into evacuation, all five members of the family find themselves marooned on an unknown planet where they must learn how to survive and get back on their mission.
The Netflix show is based on the 1960’s show of the same name by Irwin Allen. Amidst its more whimsical and adventurous roots, 2018’s variant sows a more survivalist flavor to the mix, offering thrill after thrill for our survivors.
Lost in Space is a practice in Murphy’s law. From the get go, the Robinsons are pelted with life-threatening scenarios. From just the very first episode, they deal with three deadly scenarios at the same time.
For some, Lost in Space’s pacing can come as jarring, never allowing characters to breathe. For most, it’s an edge-of-your seat ride that proves entertaining from scene to scene.
It only allows breathing room for characters to process the fact that they almost died. Also, the show cuts intermittently with flashbacks to develop its characters’ pasts.
For the most part, the breathing room scenes are fine because they allow the characters to develop within the narrative. The flashback scenes, however, depend entirely on the actual scene. Usually, flashbacks are a poor way to forward a narrative—falling more as telling, rather than showing.
Lost in Space’s flashbacks work when they are about the Robinsons because they explain why things happened as they did. They don’t work so much when they are about the show’s villain Dr. Smith (Parker Posey). While they did show her off as an evil being to be reckoned with, they never adequately developed her motivations as a character.
Posey’s take on the show’s villain was definitely the weakest bit in Lost in Space. The show confidently pushed a man vs. space narrative but lost when they tried a man vs. man one. Dr. Smith is an unwelcome addition to the show’s otherwise smooth flow.
On the flip side, Lost in Space’s take on the robot blew out all expectations. Rather than being just a standard android, the robot took on a more alien origin. While its adapted mission was to protect the Robinsons, it created an entire ecosystem of danger and tension for both protagonists and antagonists.
Lost in Space paints a planet where everything can end up killing its characters. It’s a steady mix between the ingenuity of The Martian and the adventure of Jurassic Park. Despite its flaws in characterization, Lost in Space will leave you breathless after every beat. It’s a workable reimagining of the classic survivalist tale.
Lost in Space is available for streaming now on Netflix.