Crossing the Stream: Part 22 - "Lost in Space" Sn 1, Ep 3

My children are so good at sharing. Not with each other, granted. And not with strangers. Not with your kids, either. But they are just the best little sharers in the world with Mommy and Daddy. Every ounce of food ever consumed by either of these kids was first offered to me as a tribute. My 18-month-old daughter's favorite phrase is "You want some?"

And sometimes, yeah. I want some. I was handed a little child-size chocolate milkshake last night, and without thinking I just took a big slug of it. I gulped ice cream, essentially. Gulped it down like it was being served through a funnel taped to a rubber hose. My kids let me get away with this. I'm in a position in my family where someone could be planning to overthrow me.

It's fine, I guess. I am very slowly coming back to the low mark on the scale that I was enjoying. I even had a great moment in the gym today when I realized I was picking up my pace during an action sequence of this week's new show. They say that a study showed upbeat music subliminally causes someone to quicken their pace during exercise, but I wonder if they included "watching fictional spacecraft lift off and dodge through hazards." I bet that did even better.

"Lost in Space" Season 1, Episode 3 - "Infestation"

Does this thing take AmEx? Where do I, uh...

Oh, hi opening theme and credits. Where have you been? Anyway, this "History of Space Travel" slideshow mixed with Robinson family photos works just fine, but the update to the classic theme song is achingly old fashioned. I'm not going to lie, however...when the theme kicked in at the climax of the episode, with the Jupiter 2 soaring away from Nightmare Glacier for greener pastures, it felt right. So, let's keep that feeling. While we're at it, let's keep the classic feel to the episode's immediate problem: alien eels that feed on rocket fuel. How can you top the sci-fi silly built into that?

This episode is also largely concerned with Dr. Smith and how she came to be aboard the Resolute, and why she stole another person's identity during the evacuation. First, let me start by saying...Selma Blair?!!! Selma Blair plays Jessica Harris, the seemingly rich and prosperous sister to Parker Posey's character, whose real name is June. That's a charming piece of cameo right there, Netflix. Now, would you kindly put together a show for Blair to star in? Three seasons, that's all I'm asking.

The first picture of Smith's outright villainy, her drugging of her sister and taking her place aboard the Resolute, is done with just the slightest of comedic flourishes from Posey (her little hand wave for Blair to get on with it while she slowly passes out), and I'm all about it. More of that, please. But fear not, this is a very complicated character we have here, folks. The later flashback, aboard the Resolute just before it's torn to shreds by the Robot, seems to want to establish the conflicted nature of her villainy; Dr. Smith is not evil for the sake of evil, she is just opportunistic and self-centered. Her failure to stop her sister's secret lover from being blown out into space is a result of her humanity and her self-preservation vying for equilibrium. On board Jupiter 2, once the eels and the crumbling glacier threaten the ship, her immediate decision to steal supplies and bug out in the Chariot is a very panicky win for self-preservation. Later, humanity wins when she decides to help Maureen with the engine instead of trying to flee. Just as she told Will, there are little battles going on inside her, which makes her an unpredictable and entertaining presence on the show.

The debacle with the eels makes for good fodder for watching competent people do competent things. Don't you love that? Vicariously feeling really capable in an emergency? Also, By pairing off everyone we get a chance for some of that good ol' family dynamics to come to the forefront of the show. John and Judy's constant friction, coupled with her post-traumatic stress from her ordeal in the ice, makes for a compelling forward momentum for how these two relate to each other. Penny, Will, and Robot should be the comic relief in this, and they manage a little bit when discussing Dr. Smith. Penny likes the mysterious new guest's hair, which somehow leads to the glib line about how bookstores ceased to exist before these kids were even born.

Somewhere in the middle, Maureen and Smith together have more of a pot-boiler, with the 3D printer seemingly used recently for an unknown object and Smith's apparent lack of training looking really strange. Smith covers this line of thought by relating to and flattering Maureen. She seems to be able to read people quite well and divine exactly what they need her to be.

It's an exceptional hour of television if you're looking for that patented "Lost in Space" brand of slightly goofy peril. John and Penny's encounters with the eel creatures are mere tiptoes away from a Roger Corman film, and the blend of      family drama and space adventure is working as long as everyone has something important to do. I hope this momentum doesn't slow down once we meet those other survivors we're hearing over the radio by the end of "Infestation."

Random Notes:

-Dr. Smith's real name is June Harris, from June Lockhart and Jonathan Harris, the actors who portrayed Maureen and Dr. Smith in the '60s version of the show.

-Technobabble: Judy explains that the eels are clogging the intake so the fuel cannot get into the combustion chamber. I'm a complete moron, but I understand that. Still, Judy feels the need to liken the situation to fresh lemonade and the straw being blocked by a lemon seed.

-The loss of Jupiter 2's fuel reserves cements my earlier suspicion that all eight episodes will take place on this one planet. That's a little disappointing, but fine.

Rating: B+


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