On the back of two consecutive episodes of middling quality and a narrative suggesting a rehash of Season One, my expectations for Lost in Space took a significant hit. I love popcorn adventure as much as the next guy but have wanted something more than that from this season, particularly since the pieces are there to be explored. As if the Lost in Space gods heard my call, “Run” gives fans the emotional heft the series has been missing and shines the spotlight on the thoroughly underused Judy Robinson.
After the unexpected cave-in that injured several colonists and trapped John underground, Judy showcases her calm and skill amidst the crisis. From a professional standpoint, it’s a positive step but Judy has a much more important personal trek in “Run”, an episode that, at its heart, is a story about the connection between father and daughter. Setting the stage with a young Judy giving a class presentation on her two heroes: Grant Kelly, her biological father and John Robinson, it’s the first of several flashbacks that explore John and Judy’s growing bond, one severely damaged by Judy’s anger and resentment after John’s perceived abandonment of his family prior to their journey on the Resolute.
Interspersed with her desperate journey across this desert of this unnamed planet, outmaneuvering the native bipedal dinosaurs, “Run” reminds us that, while father and daughter hit a rough patch, these last few months have been a salve in repairing their fractured bond. Taylor Russell is amazing, exhibiting the focused determination of a young woman who’s trying to save the man who’s been the biggest inspiration in her life. Watching her replay John’s lessons, and putting them to use on her trek is wonderful storytelling but would have been all for naught without Russell’s ability to shoulder the emotional heft of “Run”. In a certified tear-inducing moment in which John had lost all hope of making it out alive, Judy’s desperate plea to her father not to give up is the most powerful scene in the series to-date. It’s further enhanced by the stakes framed in a way that made us question whether John would survive his injuries. For a show to successfully do this, despite everything in me knowing he’d survive, is a testament to a wily creative team playing along all the right emotional notes.
To alleviate viewers from fifty consecutive minutes of the tension-filled drama, Penny leads a b-story with a bit lighter tone. Back in school on the Resolute, she continues to keep an eye on the devious Dr. Smith while navigating the teenage hormones and uncertainty she’s forced to revisit when Vijay (Ajay Friese, The Order, Riverdale) shows up in class. These two play the awkward teens who’ve broken up and haven’t seen each other in months so well, with Penny trying to keep control of the situation but unable to fully hide the lingering feelings for her first crush. Being the persuasive teen that she is, Penny ropes Vijay into her Nancy Drew-like investigation of Dr. Smith, who sniffs out the redhead on her tail. Smith’s confrontation of the pair expels the teeny rom-com vibes, replacing it with a more dangerous game, one escalated when the trio run into the metal-eating infection that has made its way onto the Resolute and previews a much more harrowing narrative going forward.
Despite a strong premiere and some entertaining parts in even the lesser episodes, Lost in Space needed a best-efforts type entry as season two hit that halfway point. “Run” does that and more, providing an emotional depth stronger than anything the series has explored thus far with Judy finally getting the run (ha!) she’s deserved. The serious nature of her arc is smartly balanced by the lighter Penny storyline that, despite a bit of teenage hijinks, itself switches over into its own serious tone. Will, Maureen, and Adler are tertiary players in “Run” but there are strong hints that this story — once they find Robot — will also pick up the pace. Season Two has captured the necessary momentum that should make the second half of the season one wild ride.
Danger, Will Robinson
• I can’t say enough about how much I loved this episode. The Judy-centric arc was something needed for the series and her character. Russell was fantastic, bringing Judy to life in a way she’s not had the chance to do to this point. The icing on the cake was a Penny arc that balanced out that heavy emotional drama with a bit more CW-inspired high school stuff. Mina Sundwall has been my favorite Robinson since the series began and her performance here only solidified that, though Russell’s ability to connect with her character on such a deep level will give Sundwall a run for her money.
• Though we get a bit more background on Adler, I still don’t trust him. He has that “I’m hiding something” vibe (like the case at his feet) and his offhand remark to Maureen about Will passing his tests despite initially struggling seemed like a subtle way to throw Maureen off balance. Then again, maybe it’s not; there are far more important things on the horizon (the same metal rings the Robinsons discovered on their seven-month home are also on this planet) and ulterior motives would only make things more difficult, which means of course he’s hiding something.
Lost in Space – “Run”
8.5 out of 10