Netflix’s ‘Lost in Space’ Ends Its Mission With Galactic Action to Spare

Another month, another Netflix show gets cancelled after barely hitting the three season mark. This is not to open with a slight aimed at “Lost in Space,” but simply a statement of fact. The third and final season of this sci-fi adventure is actually not a bad last serving, packed with everything the fan base it was able to build has come to like. First premiering in 2018, it was another update of a classic series, this time updating the 1965 show into a rugged, stylishly CGI space opera meets family story. Unlike other large, expensive streaming franchises, one grew to care about the characters, all the while having fun with the grand space visuals. 

Although the final season ends with massive explosions and galactic showdowns, the first half skillfully combines the tension with the ongoing saga of the Robinson family. You may recall the adults were separated from the children last season. Will (Maxwell Jenkins) and Judy (Taylor Russell) are now leading the 97 children with whom they are stranded on an oasis-like planet. The other Robinson sister, Penny (Mina Sundwall) is going through a rebellious teenage phase. They also have the bad luck of being stranded along with sociopath Dr. Smith (Parker Posey). The Jupiter 2 needs repairs, which become more urgent when a plethora of asteroids approach the place. The Robinson parents, Maureen (Molly Parker) and John (Toby Stephens), are flying around with Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) looking for parts in other worlds to repair their own ship. What no one can guess is how their journey will soon center around Robot (Brian Steele), who begins to get closer to answers concerning his own origins, answers which will unchain a deadly war with other machines.

Like all good sci-fi, the human element of “Lost in Space” makes it through the expensive production design. The same was almost true, just almost, in the 1998 movie adaptation and critical punching bag. Tension in the first half of the season isn’t just about the asteroids approaching Will and Judy’s base, but the fact that they are offspring marooned from their worried parents. It’s like losing your kid at the store, but across the cosmos. After diving into some massive cliff or evading noxious gases, the kids need to admit to themselves they have no help and must depend on each other. Even scarier than any killer robot is Dr. Smith, who tries to manipulate Will with torturous guilt trips. Molly Parker and Toby Stephens have some of the more dramatically powerful moments when they speak with each other alone, like real parents feeling the pain of having no idea where their children are. Personal drama is juxtaposed with moments of visual grandeur, from walks on asteroids to Will using flares to light an abandoned chamber containing dark secrets about Robot’s past. 

There are some genuine personal journeys in this final season. Judy and her biological father, Grant (Russell Hornsby), who happened to be on the planet where the Robinson kids crashed, reconnect without any corny lines but a mature, rather moving set of moments. Will and Robot also go through the perilous experience of discovering not only Robot’s origins, but how they are linked to a race of dangerous beings who will try to destroy the colony being built by the Robinsons, as well as the rest of their crew. Before the big showdown however, we do get those heartwarming moments where Will and Penny reach their parents across the stars through a ship’s communication device, sharing tears and loving confessions. It’s a rather short season at 8 episodes, so little time is wasted on slow burner exposition. The finale is as it should be, with a score worthy of the classic “Star Trek” films, gargantuan sights of explosions, robot armies and the humans fighting to defend their new home. Dr. Smith will meet the fate befitting of a villain who is so conniving. Up until the final episode, she’s still scheming murder. Of course, this show closes with hugs. “Lost in Space” was and is more than another zoom across space and time. At its most entertaining it is a great family affair.

Lost in Space” season three begins streaming Dec. 1 on Netflix.