“Every problem has a solution”
Picking up just moments after the premiere ended, the Robinsons are stuck just short of careening over into a metal trench but must race the clock to prepare for the lightning strike that will power the Jupiter (totally Back to the Future-style). Based on its metallic nature, Maureen hypothesizes that the metal is what draws the lightning and the family works together to fashion a lightning rod—by piggybacking off Ben Franklin’s kite experiment. It seems easy enough but, as things are wont to do in a crazy adventure such as Lost in Space, it’s only a matter of time before it all goes off the rails.
Still feeling useless and underappreciated, Penny gripes to Don as he works on cleaning the alien seaweed from the Jupiter to prevent any issues during takeoff. The only Robinson not attuned to engineering or the sciences, Penny feels like the fifth wheel of the family. Dr. Smith’s sailing expertise that saved the ship from crashing into the rocks has only increased Penny’s perceived ineptitude. But when Don is poisoned by the kelp’s alien neurotoxin, Penny is swept into the trench by a rush of water with Maureen chasing after her daughter. Considering the work still needed to prepare the ship for the lightning and the two women unshielded from what would be some killer conduction, it’s not the most ideal situation for family strife and yet Penny, who is a typical teenager, can’t work past her fears that Maureen sees her as a liability.
What I love about Lost in Space is that, despite the inappropriate timing of some confrontations, they all come from a place of human emotion. The tension between mother and daughter overshadows the danger of the coming storm, and in a good way. While the orchestral score and harried actions of the family to get things in order and save Maureen and Penny adequately frame the stakes, we know they are going to get out of the trench and back onto the ship, but we’re just not sure how. What we don’t know is if Penny and Maureen will get past the mother/daughter disconnect enough that it won’t be an issue going forward. Based on what we see, with the pair escaping the trench (in part to Penny’s earlier idea), the middle Robinson still carries the uncertainty of her role in the family’s space-faring dynamic.
A weakness like that is food to a predator like Dr. Smith. While the others work to save them, Smith is planning a few steps ahead to prepare herself for the trouble waiting for her once they reunite with the Resolute. Dr. Smith knows that, of all the Robinsons, Penny is the most susceptible to Smith tossing out a lifeline. Using someone’s fears to manipulate them is bad enough but the ease at which Dr. Smith takes the first steps toward her larger plan shows us the hints of a sociopath. She’s already killed one person to save her skin (back in Season One) and the idea of her walking around the ship without any sort of security is a bold choice, especially for someone like John who is quite familiar with people like Dr. Smith. Yet, the timing of it all, with the race to get back into space as the most important goal, does act in her favor. I am still not a fan of this character but from the two episodes we’ve gotten thus far, that dislike meter is slowly turning towards disdain for all the right reasons — that she’s a garbage person who I can’t wait to see get their comeuppance. It’s another positive step towards making season two that much better.
Despite some of the more fantastical solutions, “Precipice” is a solid installment into the Lost in Space canon. The Robinsons have found their way into space and added a few handfuls of mystery to their trip. The second alien robot arm that comes to life raises the question of if the metal trench on the planet (and the alien writing Maureen captured) a remnant left by Robot’s species or something else all together? The audio signal they pick up from the Resolute suggests that it won’t be too long before the family reunites with their colony ship, but we still aren’t sure what the major threat will be. Though Dr. Smith will be a lasting pain, there has to be something grander than what she offers. With only two episodes in the book, the answer to this question should arrive soon enough.
Danger, Will Robinson
• Smith’s idea of blackmail Don into vouching for her doesn’t make sense. As he said, there are others that already know what she did so the idea she’ll be able to get out of trouble by coercing Penny to speak for her (if that is her plan) seems extremely light on substance. Though I want to see Smith get what she deserves, for the sake of the show, I hope there’s more to her plan than what we’ve been given.
Lost in Space – “Precipice”
7 out of 10