Old Yeller in Space: ‘Lost in Space’ episode 106, ‘Euology’


Lost in Space’s “Eulogy” clarifies that, wherever folks go, they’ll take their problems with them — with “folks” including robots.

A Tale of Two Robots, and a Human with Two Faces

As Netflix’s Lost in Space progresses, one thing is clear: The alien robot (who may be the show’s biggest star/mascot) has become quite obedient to Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins). The big question is, why?

Previously, the robot was in full-on “Exterminate all humans mode,” but now it’s said to have changed — “rebooted.” Is it a flaw in the robot’s design? Did the thing bash its head, scrambling its circuits when it first encountered Will?

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Then there’s another possibility, for the AI (artificial intelligence) aficionados out there: The robot may be genuinely grateful to Will, for essentially saving its life.

Of course, to complicate things, it could very well be all of the above. That’s actually the option I like the best, and it sort of mirrors human behaviors, emotions and motivations. In fact, the increasingly villainous “Dr. Smith” (an alternate identity of June Harris, played by Parker Posey) has a few reverse parallels with the robot.

That is, her character’s development is similar to the robot’s, only she is becoming less heroic and more treacherous and threatening as Lost in Space progresses. While our robot buddy has saved lives, Smith seems hellbent on destroying them and seems to enjoy it.

The Doctor is in Session

June Harris gets inside Angela’s head. (Lost in Space, Netflix)

Like a classic sociopathic chameleon, Smith tries to play many roles, to make herself like superior to others (though typically masking it behind an understanding tone). In Eulogy, she proceeds to “counsel” Angela (Sibongile Mlambo) about the tragic loss of her husband. However, she cuts the session short, leaving Angela at her most psychologically vulnerable.

To make clear her nefarious nature, when Smith leaves the room, she does hand gestures in time with the damaged woman’s sobs — as if she’s conducting a piece of music! It’s a stellar example of psychopathic behavior, and she has even applied her divide-and-conquer mentality to Will’s robot.

A Robot on a Short Leash

Although the people fear it, the robot is allowed to stay. However, as they build a stone memorial to the fallen Jupiter folks, Will is instructed by his father (Toby Stephens) to report the robot’s whereabouts at all times, and any changes in its behavior. It’s a lesson in obedience not only for the machine but for the boy.

Will, who lacks a rock-solid bond with his dad, seems to be a bit bummed out by this. Sure, he is capable of understanding the logic of this policy, but it seems like he’s always being told what to do. That being so, I predict (as I continue to watch) that Smith will take advantage of this rift as well. Why would she not turn father against son, wife against husband, and exploit sibling rivalries?

A Literal Cliffhanger

Although the robot is interesting, much of Eulogy involves retrieving fuel from a wrecked Jupiter spacecraft — fuel that everyone may need to escape the planet. The problem is, the Jupiter 18 craft is dangling over a cliff. Due to his wanting money for the fuel, there is tension between Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) and Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell ). In his mind, giving the location of the fuel is like a doctor curing a patient — and society pays doctors. In any case, the group successfully gets the fuel, after a few harrowing moments.

Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell) loosens up. (Lost in Space, Netflix)

One of these moments wasn’t so much about the fuel, but West’s determination to prove June Harris’ identity theft of Dr. Z. Smith. Yes, the real Dr. Smith had a storage bin of personal belongings. Mindful of how the impostor Smith abandoned him (possibly to die), he risks his own life to gain this information, and barely escapes as the ship finally falls. Still, it wasn’t all for nothing: He reveals a hospital ID card of the real Dr. Smith, who isn’t even a woman.

Oh, and West endeared himself in a few other ways, such as referring to trapped gas releases as “space farts” and getting Judy Robinson to unwind a bit (although she coils back up quickly). Still, the audience needed something like that. Also, hearing Van Halen’s “Panama” rather than a sweeping cinematic score was a surprise.

The Secretly Dying Planet

Not to be outdone by the cliffhanger, a number of characters grapple with a growing issue: Should people know that this planet may be destroyed by a black hole? It’s an interesting moral dilemma for Maureen Robinson (Molly Parker) and is itself worth visiting. What would you do in a situation like this?

Perhaps secrecy has some validity, as it could prevent panic.  However, revealing information can also lead to possible solutions (though one wonders how a black hole could be resolved, or how they could flee it in time).

Hiroki Watanabe (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), another scientist who’s aware of the problem, explains his own view: “We’re scientists, Maureen. Just because we know something, we’re not compelled to broadcast it. Information does not exist in isolation. There are consequences. Context.”

In any case, Penny (Mina Sundwall) accidentally heard the truth, and reveals the knowledge to her love interest, Vijay (Ajay Friese). As young lovers do, they quickly sidestep the issue, read his cheesy yet endearing poem, and share a romantic kiss. It’s solid proof that love conquers all — until all is utterly destroyed by a black hole, rendered null and void and remembered by none, presumably forever.

Old Yeller in Space

Given the horrifying loss of her husband and the fake Smith’s manipulative “therapy” session, Angela has it in her head to shoot the robot. While it’s an unstable mental condition, it is understandable.

The robot’s actions were uncool (well, kind of…a robot attack is always kind of cool, even if we don’t want to admit it). Unfortunately, this activates the robot’s attack mode, during which it accidentally strikes Will’s dad, knocking him out and giving him a cut on his forehead.

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Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Will leads the robot to a cliff near the memorial and urges the robot to walk off the edge. For better or worse, the robot is wrecked, perhaps even more so than Will’s emotions. Symbolically, Will places another stone on the memorial, in a definite grown-up moment.

What did you think of this episode of “Lost in Space”? Let us know in the comments!