This Lost in Space season 2 spoiler-free review is based on viewing of all ten episodes.
If there’s one thing that can be said about the excellent storytelling in Lost in Space, it’s that it’s remarkably consistent in presenting a danger for the Robinsons to confront through ingenuity and cooperation, in highlighting the importance of family beyond their nuclear unit, and in fighting against those who would threaten the group from within. There may be some viewers who were hoping for more of a rollicking jaunt from planet to planet as in the original TV show now that the Robinson’s Jupiter 2 is equipped with a wormhole device, but the search for home is still about getting the entire Resolute and all of the 24th Colonist Group to Alpha Centauri. Depending on one’s expectations, season 2 will either be seen as a triumphant continuation or a repetitive albeit equally entertaining tale of adventure.
The Christmas-themed opening works well with the December 24th premiere of Lost in Space season 2, and the seven months that have passed give the shipwrecked Jupiter 2 a decidedly Swiss Family Robinson feel as Will and John create a makeshift holiday light show with bioluminescent moss and presents artfully arranged underneath. Everyone is focused on survival on the hostile planet they find themselves on, which includes a daily routine of things like tending corn in a greenhouse safe from the poisonous atmosphere, but there’s a certain comfort — and perhaps complacency — in their lives, even with Dr. Smith confined to quarters.
And thank goodness Smith has been given a short leash in Lost in Space season 2! It was never very believable the number of chances this devious character got last year despite getting caught red-handed many times, and although she certainly finds ways to make herself useful this time around, it’s a more believable personal journey that includes an actual chance at redemption. The flashbacks that are provided to explain some of Smith’s skills feel perhaps a bit too similar to those of last season, but they open the door to genuine sympathy from the audience and much-needed complexity for this heretofore completely evil character.
As for the Robinsons, much is made of their intellect and strength together, and their problem-solving comes across a bit stilted at times, especially when at one point in the premiere Smith, of all people, shouts, “That’s the power of teamwork!” Several other characters remark upon the Robinson’s resilience and ability to improvise in tense situations, almost as though they were referring to a team of superheroes with special powers. As the season progresses, however, with failure creeping into the picture, the MacGyver-like escapes from death recede into the background, bringing more authenticity to the mix. This is especially true with Penny, whose lamentations about a lack of Robinson-level talent come across at first as the self-aware musings of a fictional character hoping for more depth, but as she gains confidence, her contributions are all the more remarkable through their utter mundanity.
The storyline that begins with the Robinson’s return to the Resolute becomes the crux of Lost in Space season 2, but it’s difficult to critique without spoiling key plot elements. Suffice it to say that the big reveal from season one — the fact that the Robot’s technology is both what caused the extinction level event on Earth and what allowed those who could pass the tests to evacuate to Alpha Centauri — becomes the center of the continuing saga. The lost colonists must continue their ferrying mission to humanity’s new home, but the price that the Robot and those like him must pay may be too much for those like Will, who believe the alien being can be befriended, while others see it as a necessary evil.
This moral dilemma is a great anchor, but because so much of the conflict centers around cutthroat political maneuvers among the humans in life-or-death situations, it all seems very similar to Lost in Space season one. Perhaps that familiarity is what the writers were going for, and the pattern is certainly full of high-stakes deception and attempts to outsmart one another as everyone thinks they know what’s best for the colony’s survival. But how many attempted coups and double-crossing officers can one ship’s crew take? Thankfully, there’s plenty more conventional danger on the pair of planets in this new system in the form of carnivorous beasts, insidious single-celled organisms, and stampeding cattle.
Although qualifying as one of the aforementioned “familiar” elements, the heartfelt drama between members of the Robinson family experiences welcome growth in Lost in Space season 2. Fans can expect to learn more about Judy’s biological father, for example, and an adventure journal authored by Penny gives us further insight into the middle child’s character. Will has gone through a growth spurt certainly, but he’s also become more self-assured despite missing his Robot greatly at the start of the season. In fact, the changes that Will has undergone are compared favorably with what’s in store for the evolution of the Robot as well, and the mysteries surrounding their bond and the nature of the alien race as a whole are as compelling as ever.
What it boils down to is that Lost in Space is pure entertainment for a broad audience, including families with children, and this wide appeal accounts for much of why the show seems to walk in its own footsteps. Netflix likely is counting on all the kids being home from school on break to enjoy a rousing tale of intrigue and adventure with mom and dad, and if the show is formulaic, it’s beholden to no one’s formula but the one it skillfully created in season one. With an improved character arc for Dr. Smith, forward progress in the Robot storyline, and a shocking finale that thankfully and irrevocably changes everything, fans are certain to be pleased overall with the sophomore season.
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.