This week on Lost in Space, Maureen goes off in the chariot to study the planet’s sunrise. Meanwhile, Will is still struggling to tell his dad the truth about what happened to the robot. Dr. Smith finally comes face to face with Don again and makes herself sound like a victim who stole his flare gun out of fear. In a flashback we see the family sans dad discussing the prospect of going into space. Don surprises Judy and she breaks his nose. He questions her parentage and she tells him that she was born before Maureen and John got together. She also tells him that her family rescued Dr. Smith, who claimed to be alone. John prods Will for answers about the robot and equates the robot leaving with him leaving the family to join the military.
Judy confronts Dr. Smith about abandoning Don and Angela. Smith again paints herself as the victim, telling her what a heartless madman Don is. In the past, Will is failing at the practice tests for the space program. In the present, Maureen has assembled a weather balloon, and the people at the main camp have set up a beacon. Maureen’s equipment is able to detect radiation coming from the sun. Dr. Smith tells John about the robot and Will admits to hiding it. A giant monster is drawn to the beacon and destroys it. Everyone scatters, with Penny hiding in the tent until John finds her. The robot shows up, as does another creature. The monsters start tearing the robot apart, and he won’t fight back — following Will’s command from the previous episode — until Will comes to him and orders him to fight back. The robot is able to dispense with the creatures easily.
These people should all be smarter than to continually fall for Dr. Smith’s act. Except for Will, everyone here got to come on the expedition because they’re exceptional people, and this woman is playing them like a fiddle. I realize the point is that she’s some master manipulator, but it seems a little ridiculous that everyone is willing to just accept that everything was a misunderstanding and she’s just a helpless victim.
In “Transmission,” Judy’s parentage is addressed and I’m genuinely surprised. I assumed she was adopted by the family, but apparently, she’s Maureen’s biological child and not John’s. They seem intent on making this family unit as complicated as possible. “Transmission” also focuses a lot on Maureen’s relationship with Will; in one of the early scenes she talks to baby Will in the hospital, promising that if he’ll fight to stay alive, she will always fight for him. This is tied in with additional flashbacks to Will being afraid he won’t meet the standards for the space program, and actually failing the practice tests. After presenting Maureen as frigid and uptight, the show is slowly revealing more about her to the audience, but personally, I still don’t like what I’m seeing. She has a favorite child, is willing to cheat the system to get him into the space program, and treats her husband like a non-entity to his own family. She spends her present-set subplot on a mission to figure out why the sun is setting faster, but will not tell her own family or the people in charge what she’s doing or where she’s going. I’m not sure how this character is supposed to be likable, or even if she is for that matter, but I think her family members are saints for dealing with her nonsense.
John gets some good moments in “Transmission,” such as his repeated attempts to connect with his distant son. Will just doesn’t seem to be able to be open with his dad. And when the alien creatures attack, he’s willing to defend the girls with his bare hands. Judy and Don’s interactions are interesting too. Aside from learning about Judy’s parentage, the truth about what Dr. Smith did is finally out. One wonders how long it will take the family and Don to realize and accept what’s really up with Dr. Smith, especially since she’s telling Don one story and the Robinsons another; that surely won’t work for long.I love when the robot comes back and defends the humans, and I wonder what effect Dr. Smith’s little speech had on it. It obviously still likes and respects Will, at least enough to follow his every command, but will its devotion be dampened by what Dr. Smith told it? When Will finally tells John the truth about the robot’s attack on the Resolute, John seems justifiably upset. Will this display also win back his trust in the robot? And having just gotten back, Maureen doesn’t know about any of this, so that inevitable discussion should be interesting too.
One thing I’m wondering about is Dr. Smith’s relationship to Will. It’s obvious she’s trying to use and manipulate him, but to what end? She lies to all the adults so she can stick around, be fed and make use of their supplies. But her ministrations on the young and impressionable Will seem strange. She wants him to tell her where the robot is, but she already knows. What’s her game here?
“Transmission” has a lot of great character interactions and solid acting all around. The visuals, as usual, are impressive, though not as much as in the previous episode. As an aside, I find it strange that this show only has a title sequence some of the time. I may be mistaken, but so far I only remember seeing it once. One gripe I do have with this episode is the scene between Maureen and baby Will. It just feels overly sappy. So far, Lost in Space has been pretty good about the family relationships, but Maureen is frankly reminding me of Alex Lowe from season 5 of American Horror Story. That character suffered from postpartum depression and was obsessed with her son while neglecting her daughter. Maureen just really rubs me the wrong way thus far.
“Transmission” is a strong episode of Lost in Space, but not the best. The technical aspects are on point as per usual, the story is interesting and a lot happens with the characters. I look forward to finding out where the plot goes from here, especially in terms of what happens with Dr. Smith and the robot.