When a show starts off with a spiel on the rules of mutiny, it’s bound to be a fun ride. “Unknown” is that and more as the Robinsons, with some strong assists from Don, Robot and, yes, Dr. Smith, take over the Resolute and put the plan that would cleanse their water supply and save the planet-side colonists into action.
Despite having a military contingent on board, one thing that gets lost in the shuffle is that the Resolute is more of a civilian vessel. In that, there’s not enlisted personnel roaming the halls, weapons in hand. This is a major point to remember when considering the Robinson mutiny. Had it been a military vessel, “Unknown” wouldn’t have worked (unless Robot played a much bigger role) but the way it all plays out isn’t too bad. The first few minutes of the episode are formulating the plan, namely Maureen getting access to the systems, thanks to Ava (Tattiawna Jones, The 100, The Handmaid’s Tale), Don’s supervisor. From there, it’s all about explaining the plan to Captain Kamal who, while no longer having power to oppose Maureen, it’s still important to get the captain on board because, like even the best situations, these things don’t always go off without a hitch.
Though a seeming antagonist from his introduction, Adler has changed his tune about Robot and the alien’s ability to learn and go contrary to its programming (which, to be fair, he really doesn’t know what that may be, other than retrieving that which is theirs), but there still remains the question of his loyalty. Is it to the greater purpose of this expedition or to Hastings, the flashing-lights antagonist of the season? After Robot installs the alien engine onto the Resolute and Hastings (who would have been a Slytherin shoo-in) takes Maureen’s call about the stranded colonists for Will to hear, Adler’s response is disappointingly passive; whether this is from shame or fear of crossing Hastings remains to be seen but I’m not so sure the Robinsons can fully count on his support going forward.
Continuing with Hastings, from the beginning, everything about this guy screamed snake-oil salesman. “Unknown” solidifies him as a character that will do anything — including kill others — to get what he wants. In this case, it’s using the security override procured from Maureen (in her desperation to get Will aboard the Resolute after his test failures) to kill the maintenance crew working to filter the ammonium needed to cleanse the water from the corrosive agent. Though Hastings tries to frame it all as what’s best for the whole, everything he does is a self-serving work. At least Kamal’s initial rejection of Maureen’s gamble is based on a long-term vision on what it would mean for Earth if the Resolute was destroyed.
If anything, Kamal (after I bashed her last episode) gets somewhat of a reprieve here; before “Unknown” there was such a lack of insight into her decisions and though I may still disagree with her, I cannot fault the captain for her stance. But she comes through in the end when Maureen, realizing what Hastings has done, risks her life to close the maintenance bay hatch (in a CG-intensive scene) and returns command of the ship to Kamal. Instead of taking off as Hastings assumed, the captain sticks to the plan that, despite a few hitches, works exactly like Maureen planned. After all, it was math.
But as rosy as things are with the colonists, there’s still some trouble on the horizon and, as easy as it would be to point to Hastings as the biggest issue, he’s small change when put up against a potentially pissed off alien robot. After hearing Scarecrow’s dying pleas, Robot storms through the halls of the ship, even ignoring Will’s commands to help the trapped Ava and Don. It cradles its fellow robot in its hands and when Will explains that there’s still a job to do, Robot says the three words no one expected to hear: “No, Will Robinson.”
The exceptional second half of the season continued in “Unknown”, perhaps the most visually stunning episode of Season Two. Not only does it create more tension and uncertainty for our protagonists but also gives us the solution needed to make the Resolute capable of sustaining life for all the colonists. Unfortunately, there’s another hurdle in the way; Robot’s refusal to adhere to Will’s commands and, in effect, threatening to strand the Resolute in space. With two episodes left, this new development is a perfect addition as it will force some hard choices and may even require the Robinsons to ally themselves with the despicable Hastings.
Danger, Will Robinson
- Even after her commendable role these last few episodes, I’d never thought I’d ever empathize for Dr. Smith. The flashbacks tried (and failed) to do that but watching her crumble after John wipes his hands clean of her was sad to see. Never mind the fact that even if he took a minute to analyze what happened, he’d understand why she couldn’t contact Maureen on the bridge — a reality that makes this situation a bit too contrived — it’s that initial blow that is the lasting image. And how it played out, even if John apologizes for his reaction, I’m not sure Dr. Smith will ever allow herself to move towards redemption any time soon.
Lost in Space – “Unknown”
7.5 out of 10