Lost in Space Season 2
Hello my wonderful readers and welcome to another episode of Betty Adams overanalyzes! Today were are going to talk about the brilliant use of such a simple prop as a horse’s bit in Lost in Space!
Do you hear that?
That is my muse laughing her seven heads off. See I really want to talk about that bit and what it represents. It is truly fascinating. However, I started to work out that video, and my muse yanked me sideways.
Today we are going to talk about who in the Robinson family really understands Robot Robinson the best. We’ll look at how each family member approached him. We’ll talk about their strengths and weaknesses. But mostly we’ll talk about this wonderful relationship between John and Robot.
When Robot Robinson first appeared on the scene John’s first reaction was to spring to his feet and prepare to defend his family with a knife. Almost laughable in the face of what Robot had displayed in firepower up to this point but John is a soldier and that was the only weapon he had. Will diffused the situation and then the Robot saved Judy’s life in a dramatic way. Then saves the rest of the family.
John owes him his life, the lives of his family. In addition to that he sees how Will has bonded to the Robot. Robot has earned his gratitude, and that goes a long way with John. But the Robot hasn’t earned his trust. He accepts Robot’s presence and he watches.
In the first few episodes watch how the family interacts with Robot. Everyone is busy, frantic. Maureen analyzes Robot as she would any new piece of machinery. And she seems to come to the understanding that he is just that. She is an engineer so she sees and engine, a useful servant that seems to be obeying her son. She files him away and almost never looks at him again until he starts disobeying. Until the machine that she sees malfunctions.
Judy is a doctor. A medical professional. She takes Wills diagnosis with a grain of salt. She isn’t sure that Robot is a person. Not like Will is. But have you ever seen a medical professional working with machines? They treat the functional machines in their lives much how they treat the people. A nice polite doctor like Judy will thank a vending machine for her drink when she’s tired. She defaults to treating him like a person from a better safe than sorry point of view. But she is dealing with her own trauma. She doesn’t have time to really dig into the mystery of the robot. There is work to do.
Penny, perhaps the Robinson most like her mother accepts the Robot as a useful machine. She sympathizes with her little brother’s perspective. It looks kind of human. But ultimately she doesn’t think about it. Like her mother she is used to getting her way. She uses what the Robot has to offer and ignores him when he isn’t useful.
Will loves the Robot of course. With the still shallow love of an easy friendship. He does believe that the Robot is a person but he never really looks at Robot, not a who the Robot really is. This is a natural, normal state for children. They simply accept the fact of their caregivers. They don’t question their parents motives. Learning who your caregivers are is one of the most shocking aspects of life. Your teacher has a sense of humor that is dry and biting. But you have never seen it in class. You pastor has a motorcycle and a crew but you have never seen him in leathers. Your mother knows more dirty jokes than the combined Navy and Marine Corps. But you have never heard them. Will doesn’t see the Robot. He sees what he wants the Robot to be. He sees that Robot protects him. He chooses not to see how dangerous the Robot has to be to do that. He sees that Robot has emotions like affection. He chooses not to see that the Robot has the potential for anger and rage.
Will is traumatically awakened to the reality of the situation when he not only sees but feels the Robot (presumably) killing the people on the Resolute. But Will, willfully closes his eyes again. As long as he thinks he can control Robot he can pretend that the Robot is exactly who Will wants him to be. Will does not see the Robot.
John, he sees the Robot. He sees that Robot is capable of protecting his family and he values that. He sees that Robot displays affection for Will and he values that. He sees that Robot is trying to understand, is showing intelligence. He sees because he is looking. After the initial shock of the meeting John is the only Robinson who ever goes up to the Robot and just looks at him. The only one who is still actively trying to figure Robot out. John is looking at the Robot as at least a potential person. And he sees what the robot is, even if he can’t articulate it.
John is a soldier, a warrior. He has been around other soldiers for longer than any of his children have been alive. As a Navy Seal he has presumably seen soldiers of every nationality. He has seen solider dogs, even soldier horses. They do still exist. Point being war, soldiery leaves its mark on a person. He can see those marks on Robot. He can see that the Robot is capable of protecting. He can see Robot’s weapons, his intelligence, his adaptability, his initiative. John Robinson sees how dangerous Robot is long before the survivors tell him what they saw the robot do. He is willing to accept that Robot is a person, he might even be convinced that Robot is a person. But that only makes Robot that much more dangerous.
Remember what John said to Judy when he was trying to get her to open up on the treadmill. He knows what that kind of fear and trauma can do to you. I’d bet my bottom contraband chocolate bar that John has had to deal with PTSD. That something happened that damaged him. And it is a certainty that he has seen his brothers damaged and broken. He knows how dangerous a fallen soldier can be, even to the ones he loves, especially to the ones he loves.
So John watches Robot. It wasn’t John who ordered Robot off that cliff. It wasn’t even John’s idea. It was Will’s idea. An idea that came when Will was suffering from a lack of a father. When John realized that Will was gone he panicked. The show lets you think it was for Will’s safety. But John knows the Robot obeys Will to the best of his ability.
John wasn’t there when Robot fought SAR. But John is a soldier. John is a Navy Seal. One of the first requirements for special forces is brains and one of the main things they do is after action reports. They analyze everything that happened. I have no doubt that John sent over every detail of what happened with Maureen and the children. John would have noted that Robot, who had previously been able to locate Will instantly was suddenly balky and inefficient at finding anyone, moving slowly, far more slowly than he had proven he could time and again. Like Robot was stalling for time. John would realize that it was the fault of Dr. Smith that the family was clustered in the place where Robot had left the engine, left it far away from where Robot would have expected the family to be in normal circumstances. John would recognize that despite Maureen brilliant strategy Robot should have overwhelmed her if he’d been really trying.
And then the Second Alien Robot showed up. John would know that Robot cooperated with the SAR, cooperated with the SAR right up to the point that SAR threatened an innocent child. The Robot easily and willingly handed over the engine. It was the SAR who blasted the Chariot with Penny and Judy in it. All Robot did was look at where the Chariot had been damaged enough to threaten their lives. SAR had the engine. He had Robot. He could have left, but instead he stalked over and attempted to murder a helpless child in cold blood.
And that was when Robot defied SAR. Robot darted over and wrestled SAR away from Will. He didn’t blast SAR, or slash him. He simply removed the threat. Robot then fixes Will’s suit. At which point SAR tries to kill him. Then Robot removes the threat from the family.
Now John is a soldier and he would look at things through a soldier’s eyes. Robot obeyed SAR, led him into the ship. SAR was like him in specie, behavior, and color scheme. This would suggest a superior officer to a soldier like John. John would undoubtedly look at that situation as Robot defying a direct order from a superior officer on moral grounds. Commendable to a human solider raised in the modern tradition. But even then, even with the weight of your culture supporting your actions at the court martial, it is a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking situation.
As far as John is concerned Robot has proven himself. Proven himself not only a person, but a person capable of the highest levels of moral reasoning and confident action. Robot isn’t just a soldier. He is a good soldier. More than that he is now at the very least a soldier under John’s command. A brother likes the ones he had to leave behind on Earth. John is responsible for him.
And what happens the moment John hears that they have a lead on Robot’s location. He instantly tries to get off the hospital bed where he was laying with a hole in his side to go find Robot. He has to be ordered not to go. He was going to leave his job undone. That job that otherwise was his highest priority, to go rescue one of his.
But Will and Maureen go instead. Will who is always talking to the Robot, and sometimes listens. Maureen, who now she has accepted the robot automatically assumes she knows what’s going on in his head. She assumes that Robot is pleased SAR is dead, not because of what SAR might have done to Robot but because SAR had threatened her son. That was how she phrased it. Not even that SAR had threatened Will, but threatened her son. Maureen seems like she’s got a little narcissistic streak there.
John probably wouldn’t have made that assumption. Oh, he would have made plenty of his own to be sure. But he would have called up the horror he would have felt at having defied one of his commanding officers and then seeing his murdered body. John would have empathized where Maureen analyzed.
The next time John sees the Robot he is pulling him down off of the controls of the Resolute. Robot is heavy and despite the help of the rest of the family it is John who goes into catch the Robot first, and given that Maureen is gently stroking Robot’s head presumably John is holding most of his weight. It is John who lingers when the rest of the family darts off to find Will. It is John who stays with the staggering, injured Robot and walks slowly with him to the meeting. John who steps back and selflessly lets his son greet Robot before him.
In the very next scene it is Will who asks Robot to take them to Alpha Centauri. It is Will who dismisses Robot’s refusal as Robot just trying out a new word he doesn’t understand. But John is a solider. John sees another soldier in Robot Robinson. John looks at the situation through a soldier’s eyes, and it is John who understands the Robot.
And now the Robot is separated from the only member of the Robinson family who has effectively tried, and succeeded in understanding him. John is stuck on one side of the rift. Robot is stuck on the other. Will is still very much a child who is just barely beginning to see him as a person in his own right and not just how he wants to see him. Judy is a girl who still hasn’t fully grown out of the vanity that blinds many clever and beautiful children into believing that everyone, especially loved ones exist to serve their needs. And Judy, a woman who has had woman hood dropped on her like a crashing Jupiter with all the thousand responsibilities that entails.
So what do you think my wonderful readers? Is John Robinson the only Robinson who managed to honestly look Robot Robinson in the face? Leave a like if you agree and atomize my argument like the Resolute if you disagree.
Peace out my wonderful readers.