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The Space Family Robinson says goodbye after three thrilling, emotional seasons
Walking away from her TV family after three action-packed years feels bittersweet for star Molly Parker, but the Maple Ridge-born actress tells TV Week that she’s ultimately at peace with the scope of their adventure. It actually does feel like enough, Parker says. For me, certainly in terms of the work, but also as a viewer, I think it feels just right.
And what an adventure it has been. At the beginning of their outer-space journey, the Robinsons were fractured. The marriage between soldier John (Toby Stephens) and scientist Maureen (Parker) was on the verge of collapse. Their three children-turned-crew—Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Will (Maxwell Jenkins)—all struggled to live up to their brilliant parents’ expectations, be that pressure real or just perceived. To top it off, they were—quite literally—lost in space, relying on Will’s dubious friendship with an alternately deadly and cuddly robot to guide them to safer ground… if toxic water and air that destroys life on contact can be considered safe.
The second season of the B.C.-filmed sci-fi thriller found the Robinson clan united with the Resolute, an interstellar spacecraft carrying hundreds of people on a mission to colonize the Alpha Centauri star system. But their victory felt shortlived as, in order to save all the children from being hunted down and killed by less-friendly robots, Maureen and Will’s Robot (the good one) separated the tots from the adults and sent them through a wormhole where they encountered the long-lost Fortuna, a ship once captained by Judy’s biological father.
When we pick back up with the Robinsons on opposite sides of the galaxy, a year has passed and they are no closer to a reunion. One of the main themes at the beginning of the show is of separation and isolation, says Parker. The children have landed somewhere and the adults have hooked all of their remaining Jupiters together and are stranded. We don’t have the ability to get to the kids or even know if they’re alive. They’re just gone.
On Maureen’s part, this lengthy separation amounts to a tremendous sense of failure. She didn’t manage to bring her family to somewhere to have a better life. In fact, now she may have lost them forever, Parker explains. Maureen has this motto that every problem has a solution, and she doesn’t have an answer. She’s lost. She’s lost her children, she’s failed to keep them safe, she’s failed to keep her family together. She’s in a place of deep grief.
For the couple that managed to avoid divorce by being forced to work together for their family’s survival, this test is one their marriage may not be able to withstand. Toby and I talked about this as being a couple who is in grief and somehow can’t manage to share that. Their experience of it is different, says Parker. Toby and I have always tried to base this relationship in some reality, and that reality for us at this point was, ‘What if you lose your children? What if you have a child that dies? What happens to your relationship?’
While a heavier place to begin the show known for its levity in the face of danger, Parker also promises a return to goofy space adventures, but not before digging deep. Lost in Space is a really fun show, and season three is really fun, but I actually really love this first episode because I think it takes some risks in terms of tone and maturity, she says. That’s been the intention from the beginning, to have this family drama rooted in as much emotional reality as is possible in extraordinary circumstances.
If there’s a lesson in the adversity faced during this final leg of the three-season odyssey, it is that a captain is only as strong as his or her crew. There’s this idea of what it means to be part of the community, what it means to be part of a family, and how you grow with that, Parker reflects. A lot of these characters, but particularly Maureen and [her son] Will, have an assumption that they are responsible to fix problems, and have to do it alone. Maureen is coming up against her lack of power, that she can’t control the universe, and must come to some kind of terms with that. And the journey we see Will go on is him holding an idea that he is special and that he is the one that has to save his family. He comes to find out that that’s just not true. He doesn’t have to do it alone.
Where the Robinsons ultimately end their epic voyage feels right to the actress. It’s earned and I think it leaves some room for growth and potential new adventures, she says. I don’t know that we’ve forever seen the end of all these characters, but for this chapter of their lives, they become unlost.
Lost in Space begins streaming Wednesday, December 1st on Netflix