WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the reboot of Lost in Space, steaming now on Netflix.
Netflix had stipulated that early reviews of its Lost in Space reboot leave out details about the shady backstory of Parker Posey's manipulative antagonist Dr. Smith, and with good reason: She's not Dr. Smith; not really.
Sure, she serves the same purpose as Jonathan Harris' character did in the 1960s sci-fi series, that of a self-serving stowaway whose machinations complicate the lives of the Robinson family. But as we learn in a flashback at the end of the premiere episode, Posey's version is an impostor who assumed the identity of the real "Dr. Z. Smith" (played in a clever cameo by Bill Mumy).
This Dr. Smith is a con artist who's willing to do most anything to ensure her own survival; stealing the coat of a wounded physician so she can assume his identity and escape a colony ship under attack likely ranks among her less-nefarious acts. We know this Dr. Smith is fast-thinking, though, as she swiftly adopts the air of authority that comes with her new title, and enlists a pair of mechanics aboard The Resolute (one of whom is Don West, played by Ignacio Serricchio) to pilot "her" Jupiter shuttle to relative safety.
Like the Robinsons' Jupiter 2, this ship also crashes on the planet. When Don asks Dr. Smith to help his colleague, whom he believes is only injured, she says she's not that kind of doctor; she's a psychiatrist. That's a nod to one of the professions attributed to Harris' Dr. Smith on the original series, but it's also a way for Posey's character to maintain her charade. When Don realizes his colleague is dead, Dr. Smith insists she be buried, but it's only so she can use the grave to hide a photo album she found in the wreckage belonging to the real Dr. Smith.
So, who is Posey's character, and how did she end up aboard The Resolute, an interstellar vessel transporting the best and brightest from an increasingly uninhabitable Earth to a new colony on Alpha Centauri? Clues to her past are scattered throughout the first season of Lost in Space, mostly in flashback.
Episode 3, "Infestation," takes viewers back to a "goodbye brunch" in the upscale home of her sister, Jessica Harris (Selma Blair), who's been selected for the elite colony program. Posey's June Harris -- her actual name is a tribute to original Lost in Space stars June Lockhart and Jonathan Harris -- is clearly the black sheep of the family, and resentful of her sister's success. Viewing herself as somehow wronged, June implies that she's due an apology. "Why would I apologize for being a productive member of society?" Jessica responds. "At some point you have to take responsibility for your choices."