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Lost in Space - Season 3 Series Review: Mission Accomplished

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Unlike the space traveling Robinson family of the original Lost in Space television series, the Robinsons of the acclaimed Netflix version of Lost in Space successfully completed their mission and found their way to Alpha Centauri. The journey of how they reached their final destination unfolded in eight tense episodes to wrap up the series that had been missing from screens for nearly two years due to delays in production caused by the Covid pandemic. For being as limited as they were for a show whose very setting normally requires big broad pictures, Lost in Space concluded and did a superb job telling a tight, concise story despite the production limits they faced. In a manner the restrictions placed on production by the pandemic both hurt and helped the series. Some storylines were rushed while the need to reduce scenes to those between no more than two to three characters at a time allowed for tighter storytelling and greater character development for several characters.

The final season of Lost in Space can be broken down into three parts.The parts included the aftermath of season two’s finale that saw the kids of the colony sent off into space to protect them from the attacking robots; reuniting the families and their attempted escape off the latest planet where they crash landed; and the third is the race to the finish line to defeat the season three main villain robot, SAR and his robot army and tie up loose ends. Even if the key to defeating SAR was a little simplistic it did create an interesting analogy of the similarities of the storylines of the robots and the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.
The first part consisted of the opening three episodes, “Three Little Birds,” “Contact,” and “New Guy.” The season opens with the kids and their parents having been separated for a little over a year. The kids have crashed on a planet that ironically turns out to be the home world of the robots. The elapsed time allowed for the easy explanation of the growth of young actor, Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson from the young boy who was the subject of the robot’s attack into a tall young man whose character understood the responsibilities placed upon his character. Key character moments in the first episodes included the growth of the Robinson kids, highlighted by their dangerous excursion to mine materials to repair their ships; Judy (Taylor Russell)’s successful quest to locate the missing ship the “Fortuna” which contained her cryogenically preserved long lost father, Grant Kelly (Russell Hornsby); the discovery of the archives of the Robot (Brian Steele)’s home world which revealed a dark secret of the fate of their creators; the return of the Scarecrow robot, which provided Molly Parker’s Maureen Robinson some strong character moments of connection with the being. While these moments were done well, the early segments also illustrated rushed or unnecessary characters and storylines. Certainly, there was a more compelling storyline that could have been created for Penny (Mina Sundwall) than putting her at the center of a useless teen-angst love triangle. Also, while Judy’s reunion with her father was a plot point continued from season two, there was no pay off, which makes one wonder if there could have been more had the season not been shortened.
By far the strongest episodes of the season came in the middle of the final Lost in Space series run. “Nothing Left Behind,” “Stuck,” and “Final Transmission” gave us the series’ most powerful action and character moments. That started in “Nothing Left Behind” with the children of the Jupiter 2 voting to return to where they began in order to save their parents from an attack from SAR, rather than safely continuing on to Alpha Centauri. The case could easily be made that the final season’s strongest episode was “Stuck” which wisely paired up different characters after they had crashed escaping from SAR. The entire episode was a lesson in survival without the reliance on technology they had all grown accustomed to. The pairings included John (Toby Stephens) and Penny working together to save the Robot, Will and Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) with the latest turn in their strong frenemy relationship, Don (Ignacio Serricchio) being reunited with his chicken, “Debbie”; and the strongest pairing of Maureen and Judy re-bonding over Maureen’s past as they worked to escape from the ship that was being swallowed whole by a giant worm on the primordial world they’d crashed upon. Their segment also featured a great throwback to an escape method used by Penny in a previous season.
Season 3’s most shocking moment came at the end of “Final Transmission,” where after they were all reunited, Will and the Robot turn themselves over to SAR to save his family and SAR stabs Will in the heart. The final two episodes “Arrive” and “Trust,” focus on the race to save Will’s life and their arrival on Alpha Centauri and then ultimately having to fight to protect their new home from SAR and his robot army that has followed them. The Robot sacrifices himself to save Will and the Robinsons by placing himself into Will’s new artificial heart and then transferring himself into SAR and rewriting his programming.
While numerous storytelling choices such as making SAR the sole villain of the season and the idea that robots could be all evil or all good was a little too simplistic which went against other seasons, and other storylines that could have been flushed out with more episodes were rushed, the show does manage to end strongly. Ironically, while the first two seasons were anchored by performances from the child actors, this final season’s MVP’s come from Parker, Stephens and again Posey whose Dr. Smith redemption arc was the best story the series told.
“Lost in Space,” which debuted on Netflix in early December continues to rank high in their most popular streaming lists. By focusing on story and strong characters the series set an example of how despite being limited by the pandemic it is still possible to create compelling television.

Which episode of the final season of Lost in Space was your favorite? Were you satisfied with the way the series ended? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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