From the trailer, you might think that Netflix’s new Lost in Space is pretty heavy-handed on the post-apocalyptic side. But you’d actually be wrong. I hadn’t seen the trailer before I watched the first six episodes (thank you Netflix for the early access.) And I was surprised to see that it was a little hard to tell if the Earth was heading toward and apocalypse or not. That’s your basic non-spoiler answer: it might be, but it doesn’t play a huge role in the plot. However, post-apocalyptic fans will still find a lot to enjoy in this series, and they really should give it a try.
The rest of this post will have minor spoilers from the first six episodes of Netflix’s ten-episode Lost in Space series.
In the trailer, which you can watch below, the show is pretty clear that they’re colonizing to survive some type of incoming disaster. They talk about how humanity survives because it evolves, and then lists a few near-apocalyptic disasters that humanity has weathered. “Earth is our home,” the trailer’s voiceover tells us, “but only so long as it keeps us safe. When this world can no longer serve that purpose, another planet, another colony, another chance, the rest of human history, begins now.” You can watch the trailer below:
The synopsis doesn’t mention an apocalyptic event at all. “Set 30 years in the future, colonisation in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world.”
But the series does drop some hints here and there about what is happening on the Earth. In the first episode, we get a glimpse when they show a quick news report about a comet heading to Earth. At that point, I thought the Earth was pretty much done for and seriously apocalyptic. But I was wrong. The other hints we get in the first six episodes are few and far between. They talk in Episode 4 about building a fence to keep things out other than people. That’s not a great example though, because even today fences are used to keep people out. We even learn that Don West, the contractor, is not going to be living on the new colonized planet with everyone else. He’s supposed to return to Earth. If the Earth was dying, would we really be sending people back to it? We also see Dr. Smith’s relative’s home on Earth right before she left, and it’s beautiful outside: the sun is shining and the weather seems great. There are some subtle hints in their conversation that all might not be well, but it’s not apparent. We even learn that if Will hadn’t passed his tests, he might have been left behind by the rest of his family. Would that really have happened if the Earth was near apocalyptic?
However, come Episode 5, we do learn that some things aren’t great on the planet. Maureen Robinson mentions, in a flashback when the family is trying to decide if they should go or not, that the governments on Earth are more stabilized now “for the most part.” There’s a big hint that stability was a pretty significant problem in the recent past. And she also talks about how there won’t be much life left on Earth for future Robinson generations, if they decided to stay. And when Don West talks about how he was supposed to return to Earth in Episode 6, he referred to it as a “ticket back to a dying planet with no future.”
So here’s what I’m gathering. Earth isn’t in imminent danger of destruction on Lost in Space. The people who stay behind aren’t going to die in a cataclysm of volcanoes or a huge shower of meteors. But the Earth’s time is limited, and it’s going to be less and less sustainable as the years progress. So colonization is imperative to preserve mankind’s future. This is probably quite similar to other Lost in Space versions, where environmental issues compelled the colonization efforts.
If you want a new series with a post-apocalyptic feel, you’ll still like Lost in Space, however. The entire show is about survival against incredible odds, and it really will appeal to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic fiction. So just because Earth’s possible demise isn’t played up very much, doesn’t mean you still won’t find a lot in this movie to love. (The only downside is that the mom has a problem with guns. That seems weird to me, since weapons should be a requirement if you’re living on a new planet with unknown predators. But ignore that part, and you’re golden.)