WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the reboot of Lost in Space, steaming now on Netflix.
On the original Lost in Space, the ship carrying the Robinson family to Alpha Centauri is sabotaged by foreign agent Dr. Smith and thrown off-course, stranding them on an alien world. In Netflix’s new reimagining of the 1960s sci-fi classic, however, the cause of their predicament is a lot more complicated.
The series opens in media res, as the Robinsons’ Jupiter 2 crashes on an unwelcoming world, and much like the space-faring family themselves, viewers are left to piece together what went wrong. The first clues come later in the premiere episode, “Impact,” as young Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) selflessly rescues a damaged extraterrestrial robot he encounters while separated from his family. The reboot’s answer to the kitschy Robot from the 1965 show, the synthetic creature — “It’s built, not born,” later observes Dr. Maureen Robinson — returns the favor, and aids the Robinsons. But the episode closes with a flashback to 12 hours before the crash that reveals Robot isn’t as benevolent as it may seem.
Aboard The Resolute, the massive interstellar vessel ferrying the Robinsons and other colonists from the increasingly inhospitable Earth to their new world, passengers are ordered to calmly evacuate until a hull breach can be repaired. However, the damage isn’t caused by space debris, but rather by Robot in its multi-armed attack mode, firing blasts and killing colonists and crew as it stalks the corridors. As families escape aboard their smaller Jupiter ships, The Resolute‘s engine appears to explode, and everything is drawn into some kind of warp or vortex, and deposited light years from the colonists’ intended destination.
That might seem to be little more than a nod to the original series, in which Dr. Smith reprogrammed the B-9 environmental control robot to wreak havoc aboard the Jupiter 2, but over the course of the first season, it proves to be much more. Oh, sure, there’s the added drama of a “killer alien robot” becoming the protector of Will Robinson and, by extension, his family, but it goes far deeper than that — to humanity’s ability to traverse space and colonize far-flung planets.
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