In a tonal shift from her lighter storyline in “Run”, Penny’s thrown into an escalating situation of tension and urgency as she, Vijay, Dr. Smith, and Mr. Jackson (Rob LaBelle, First Wave, Watchmen, The 4400) are isolated from the rest of the ship in an effort to prevent the spread of the alien corrosive agent. Time is not on their side as, if the contaminant continues to spread, it will destroy the Resolute and effectively strand the entire crew and colonists on the planet below. Captain Kamal (Sakina Jaffrey, American Gods, House of Cards, Timeless) will also have to decide between saving the four or sacrificing them for the greater good.
Again, Mina Sundwall really shows her range with her usual verbal sparring bit towards Dr. Smith but also the emotional depth of facing possible death with the latter sparked by Don’s entry into the story and, like Penny, his oft-used smirk is exchanged to match the serious nature of the story and allows Ignacio Serricchio the chance to flex his own dramatic muscles.
Like an infection of the body, the only way to ensure the entire Resolute is not infected is to have to excise the contaminated section of the ship. When the initial plan to cut Penny and the others is interrupted, Don’s enters with a risky solution: the stranded quartet can use classroom supply crate as a temporary shelter from the vacuum of space long enough to be picked up after the diseased metal section is cut away.
It’s a gamble the Captain isn’t initially willing to take (though considering they have no other options, her inflexibility doesn’t make much sense), but Don sells the crate’s vacuum efficacy by admitting to his illegal smuggling activities. Though I’d like to think he would have done the same thing for anyone, Penny’s safety made his decision a no-brainer. Don has always been the selfish sort, not unlike Dr. Smith’s own propensity of looking out for number one. But whereas Smith has lacked any sort of altruism, Don’s always had a heart and the seven months stranded with the Robinsons has made him a de facto member of the family. From a character perspective, it’s an important moment for Don, who hasn’t had much to do outside of his normal snark and shifty practices.
As far as the rescue itself, “Severed” mirrors the success “Run” had by selling the authentic nature of the stakes our protagonists faced. Some of this success lies with Dr. Smith’s commendable effort — thanks to Penny — of convincing the claustrophobic Mr. Jackson into the crate. All this is capped off with that feel-good moment of Penny clinging tight to Don after the rescue, her grateful sobs emphasizing the danger she felt in those long moments of uncertainty in another emotionally satisfying scene from a season that’s getting better and better.
With the drama going down in space, there was plenty to be had planet-side with Maureen, Adler, and Will trekking through the desert in search of Robot. It starts off simple enough with Maureen still trying to get a feel for Adler but that’s interrupted when their camp is surrounded by the planet’s biped scavengers — the same ones Judy outran last episode — in a scene reminiscent of the raptors from Jurassic Park closing in on our protagonists. And like the raptors, these things are intelligent, sensing the precise moments the camp security perimeter is taken down. But unlike everyone’s favorite dinosaur franchise, those characters didn’t have an alien robot coming to the rescue.
In an all-too-convenient rescue, Robot saves the day and then leads the humans to a cave where it shows Will cave drawings of both it and Will’s memories. But the too-good-to-be true vibe from the robot’s perfect timing is just that; it’s not Robot at all, but SAR who engineered the entire situation to lure Will into a trap for some unknown reason. Thankfully, Adler was indeed hiding something: a weapon capable to taking down the alien robots. It guarantees that Adler is hiding some ulterior motives towards Robot but even that major tidbit takes a backseat (for now) to the biggest YES! moment of the episode: Robot’s dramatic return to Will, saving the boy from what would have been a most fatal fall.
For the second consecutive episode Lost in Space has brought the excitement, suspense, drama, and emotion that was missing early in the season. “Severed” may not carry the same emotional impact of “Run” but it gives Penny a chance to contribute to the plot in a positive way that may help the middle Robinson work through her confidence struggles and, in that, hopefully immunize her from Dr. Smith’s persuasive nature. As for the season narrative, “Severed” refocuses on Will and the important connection he shares with Robot, one that will prove to be germane to opening a larger world of the alien mystery and the truth surrounding Robot’s ominous warnings of “Danger”.
Danger, Will Robinson
- Curiouser and curiouser. The SAR goes through a lot of trouble to single out Will but for what purpose? Thanks to Adler, SAR is no more (that’s robot-killer is a helluva nifty tool to have in your back pocket) but its insistence on Will explaining their first meeting seems as if SAR was trying to figure out a way to ‘reboot’ Robot to return Will’s friend to its original factory settings. As for Adler, my bad intentions meter is tingling and combining Adler’s scars with his earlier mention of working with Scarecrow (as well as the pocket robot killer), I’m really starting to worry about Robot’s safety.
- Though Parker Posey could stand to tone down the eccentric nature of her character just a smidge, I must admit that Dr. Smith’s contribution in “Severed” was pretty strong. It’s not just that her “superpower” with words saved a man’s life, but my dislike for her is tracking more towards the familiar dislike all good villains stir within me as a viewer. If she’s able to maintain this level of villainy and the writers lay off the incredulous story beats, Dr. Smith will become the asset to the show it desperately needs.
Lost in Space – “Severed”
8 out of 10