The third and final season of Netflix’s Lost in Space is nearly upon us, releasing on December 1st, and once completed, we will learn whether The Robinson family will finally make it to their final destination: Alpha Centauri.
Luckily, the series has not fallen into the trap of other reboots by relying on flashy visual effects solely to support the storylines. A huge credit goes to the creators, producers, and writers who created multi-dimensional characters which grew over the course of the series and as well as created a unique story narrative to help make this incarnation of Lost in Space stand apart from previous ones (e.g., the original series and the 90s movie).
One of the more significant aspects which worked well was the focus on characters and the family dynamic of the Robinsons (including Don West, Debbie the Chicken, and Dr. Smith). When we first saw the Robinsons in season one, they were a fractured family traveling together. Each member was also carrying with them their emotional baggage, which led to some soul searching when confronting life-threatening issues. For example, during season one Judy tried to prove her bravery and independence to John Robinson, her adoptive father, by attempting to retrieve equipment from the submerged Jupiter 2 but became stuck in the ice due to a significant drop in temperature during her ascent. Later on, Judy realizes how important her adoptive father is to her and there is a scene during the final minutes of season two where John gives her an encouraging pep talk telling her that she is ready to take on the role as captain of the Jupiter 2 which was set to take the colonist children to Alpha Centauri.
In advance of the season three premiere, I interviewed members of the cast, including Molly Parker (Maureen Robinson), Toby Stevens (John Robinson), Mina Sundwall (Penny Robinson), Ignacio Serricchio (Don West), and Max Jenkins (Will Robinson). During the interview, I posed the question about complex family dynamics to Max Jenkins; and he said that he felt that the family issues and the dysfunction were a benefit to help get the family through their challenges and grow in the process. He also added that the family would probably not have survived if they were “happy and perfect” as each challenge the Robinsons faced forced them to adapt. As such, it also helped them mend the fractures in their relationships.
As with any other science fiction or adventure series, there are challenges in bringing ideas from the pages of the script to the camera. That question was answered when they all indicated that there was a lot of faith in the writers, and when there was something that appeared odd, like sailing the Jupiter 2 on an ocean, they felt confident that it would all come together through the hard work both behind and in front of the camera.
Lost in Space is also not just a journey across space, but of the mind and heart. There are a few arcs we have witnessed over the past two seasons which have been interesting to see. As we look ahead to this final season, the storytelling for Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) has stood out the most in terms of storytelling. When asked about the evolution of Penny throughout the season, Mina Sundwall discussed how Penny felt “Stuck in between two overachieving siblings” at the beginning of the series. She went on to add that while her siblings, Will and Judy, were focused on science, “her heart was in her writing.” Penny sometimes hides behind a little bit of snarkiness but is quick witted and spontaneous.
Posey’s Dr. Smith was one of the most complex and different from the original character of the classic series and is, by far, a standout in her own right. This Dr. Smith adapted to survive by conning her sister and assuming her identity to board The Resolute, and reprogrammed The Robot in season one to take over the Jupiter 2. She also made the ultimate sacrifice to save the Resolute from destruction (or so we think since we did not actually see a body … hinting at the possibility that Dr. Smith is somehow still alive).
Looking back to the classic series, Ignacio Serricchio discussed being initially drawn to the show in his youth when growing up in Argentina due to Guy Williams who played Zorro in the classic series of the same name. The idea of working on the series appealed to him, due primarily to this connection and respect for the franchise overall. His version of Don West also experienced growth from the time we were first introduced to him. His self-reliant yet shady smuggler persona changed over time to that of a loyal friend to the Robinson family. Penny’s embrace as they said their goodbyes at the end of season two was a heartwarming moment. Serricchio recounted a fond memory he shared with Toby Stevens while filming season one. The scene, which, sadly, was cut, was a serious one in tone and involved Don and John throwing Molotov Cocktails at alien creatures in a cave in a defensive act. While the scene was supposed to be serious, the two were playing around and resulted in a funny reaction to the camera by Stevens during one of the takes. The recounting of the event drew uncontrollable laughter from both Toby Stevens and Enicio Serricchio.
While fans of the series were hoping that the series would continue beyond three seasons, compared to the original series, the decision was made early on to conclude the story at the end of season three. Mina Sundwall and Molly Parker stated that they were fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to complete the story on their terms. They were worried about the impact COVID-19 would have in preventing them from wrapping up the story. They saw other series not being able to complete their respective stories thanks to the pandemic.
Editor’s Note: This is a review of the first four episodes.
The second season finale saw the families reunited on the Resolute but were faced with the threat of the alien robots invading the ship seeking the engine the humans stole to power the ship. To save the 97 children, the parents sent them away to Alpha Centauri on the Jupiter 2 with Judy as the designated captain. However, The Robot takes the Jupiter 2 to a remote planetary system where they come across The Fortuna, the ship Judy’s long-lost father was on.
As the third season begins, there is a time jump, and we find the children working together in a community doing their best to survive. But Judy is missing her father, John. The other children are relying on The Robinsons for leadership, and this burden does appear to weigh more heavily on Will as he is stepping up more into a leadership role of sorts. We will also find out the fate of Doctor Smith, who was last seen valiantly attempting to save The Resolute from the evil robots. Meanwhile, the parents are scavenging parts while evading the hostile alien robots in the hope of making the trip to Alpha Centauri.
The first four episodes are filled with adventure (rock climbing and more), challenges, stunning visual effects, some mysteries, and a couple of surprises along the way [Check out the trailer below for a glimpse]. I will say that there are a couple of mentions of Will’s growth since Max Jenkins has grown up significantly since season one – this was also a running joke in the interviews with the cast. The episodes screened continue to build on the characters while touching on a few plot points carried forward from season two including, what happened to The Fortuna and, more importantly, the fate of Judy’s birth father, who was aboard the ship when it disappeared.
As in past seasons of the series, each episode continues to use a perfect mixture of suspenseful excitement and feel-good family moments which will once again touch your heart. The creators and writers should be credited for taking the premise of the original series and creating a mind-blowing experience with a fresh, and complex story while adding an underlying mystery that is unveiled for the series.
In reflection, a trip is not just about the destination, it is about the journey. Lost in Space is an interstellar story based on family and the relationships which bind them. Even though Judy, Don West, Dr. Smith, and Debbie are not related to the Robinsons by blood; they are, in fact, The Robinson family, and, in my opinion, that is the final destination: becoming a family.
Overall, the series has proven itself episode after episode that it is well worth the journey, and I highly recommend you add this series to your viewing list.