You know, I will admit I didn’t put a lot of thought into Judy’s biological father and just assumed he was Maureen’s first husband. Seeing this episode, I am less sure, but that just means I had something sweet happen instead.
See, this episode seems to be about exploration and discovery. All the Robinsons do at least one of those. For John and Maureen (plus Don), they need to find a robot to replace the Robot. From there, they can go find a new engine. Maureen figures they can go for SAR…the one who turned out to be really hostile to people. That guy was trashed and left broken on a nearby planet. However, they don’t find SAR, which is good, but do find a repaired and operational Scarecrow, which is better. He’s another good robot…now.
Penny and Will (plus Smith) find a tunnel with old machines. The Robot is there, and he more or less indicates this place was built by the now-extinct race that built the robots in the first place. Having the Robot there actually briefly allows the Robot and Scarecrow to link up, and that means the kids can talk to their parents for a minute or two. It also means Will figures out that the Robots are acting on programming from a dead race of beings, so the way to stop them may be to somehow reprogram the lot of them. So, for Will, Penny, Maureen, and John (plus Don and Smith), it is more or less the sort of family-friendly and family-oriented adventure type stuff.
But then there’s Judy’s plot. The ship her biological father was in was falling apart in orbit above the planet when the kids’ ship arrived. Judy has a homing beacon, and she opts to go looking for survivors. She even finds them, all in suspended animation pods for, apparently, the better part of the last twenty years. She opts to wake her father up, astronaut Grant Kelly. And…she’s never met him before, and he didn’t know she even existed. Maybe that was discussed in earlier episodes. In fact, it probably was, but it says a lot about Judy and her relationship with John that she still thinks of him as her father and not the man standing in front of her, a man who proves to be just as resourceful as she is when it comes to retrieving the other stasis pods and driving them away from the downed ship.
It also says a lot about what kind of show Lost in Space is that Judy never just blurts out that she’s his daughter. He makes some oblique references to Maureen, the sort that suggests he didn’t know she was pregnant when he went into space and never came back, and Judy seems to just want to get to know the guy before she tells him who she really is. That ends with her dropping a line Maureen likes to use, a long story that hints strongly who she is without outright saying it, and a man who gives the daughter he didn’t know he had a warm smile and a handshake. It’s the start of a relationship that looks promising, and it has a sweet tone to it. But that really is the sort of show Lost in Space is. Villains, the human ones anyway, are mostly either just people in power who aren’t putting enough compassion into what they do or the ambitious. Other people, well, they spend time with the Robinsons and seem to become better people or they were already pretty cool to begin with. Besides, it seems unlikely Maureen would have hooked up with Grant if he was an asshole or something.
But then somewhere else, SAR comes back on line, and he wants Will Robinson again. Can robots be dicks?