Lost in Space: Was Robot a Mutant?
Mark Millien
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Netflix’s Lost in Space, streaming now.
Now that Lost in Space has concluded, the audience has the answers to questions that have been simmering since the very first episode aired in April of 2018. The mystery of the Fortuna has been solved, the dream of getting the Resolute's crew to Alpha Centauri has been realized, Smith's destiny as villain, anti-hero or something in between has been determined and SAR's obsession with Will Robinson has been resolved.
That does not mean that every outstanding plot point got a satisfactory response and there were some that only brought about more questions. The biggest one was the very nature of Robot. As the audience became more familiar with the Alien Robots (ARs) and their capabilities, there was a lot about Robot's actions and behavior that stood out as dissimilar from his cybernetic cohorts and invited the query: was he a mutated variation of his species?
"Danger, Will Robinson," is an iconic line from the 1960's original, but in the Netflix adaptation it may signify something more than a proximity alarm. Instead, it may carry a personification of the extra-sensory with it, a nod to a communion with space-time itself. Robot's introduction belies these abilities initially, because he spends most of season one as a unique entity bereft of comparison. However, by the time season two establishes SAR and Scarecrow there are some interesting moments that imply Robot is unlike any other.
During Will's search for his alien friend and protector he essentially apologizes to Scarecrow on behalf of humanity for his torture and imprisonment. The frail artificial intelligence raises a trembling hand towards the wormhole engines's control apparatus, where Will notices a handprint sunken in the metal frame. Shaped like Robot's humanoid palm, Will settles his fingers into its grooves and immediately experiences a vision of the planet below and a sensation implying Robot's location among the world's unique topography. No one else touches the indentation, but presumably it was keyed specifically to Will. However, it also seems to indicate that Robot and Scarecrow are also communicating with one another somehow, something which is reinforced in season three.
Robot is sabotaging the ore collection on his homeworld to increase the amount of time it will take for the Robinson children to attempt the remainder of their journey to Alpha Centauri, while also sending instructions to Scarecrow to look out for the Robinsons in the Danger system and provide them with aid. This leads to Robot and Scarecrow linking like interstellar radio towers and allows the elder and younger Robinsons to speak with each other in real time for the first time in a year. It would seem that he was delaying progress long enough to place the appropriate pieces in the necessary places to provide a specific outcome, hinting at precognition that he demonstrates again later in the season.
Will finally orchestrates the confrontation with SAR that he had been planning since visiting the ARs birth planet and mistakenly thinks he can appeal to reason and bring about peace. SAR responds with a metallic lance through Will's heart, which is replaced with an artificial one to save his life. Due to over exertion during its acclimation to Will's body, the new heart eventually fails and Robot heals him through a lightning ritual similar to Scarecrow's revival, only in this instance Robot's body is consumed in the process. Will confronts SAR one last time, and he again stabs Will, this time in his new artificial heart which has been imbued with Robot's consciousness. This consciousness flows into SAR, overwriting his programming and serving as a reincarnation vessel for Robot.
Robot from Lost in Space
Robot from Lost in Space
Will explains to the others that Robot knew SAR would stab him again, but how would he know that? SAR had killed people in all manners of ways up until this point and stabbing him in the heart proved ineffective last time, so wouldn't it make more sense to decapitate him or incinerate him with sizzling energy projections? Robot was able to once again manipulate events because of an ability to know what would happen before it did. SAR did not seem capable of employing the same foresight. When he was looking for Sunshine Base it was effectively hidden behind a veil of photoelectric interference. It wasn't until he physically speared Scarecrow's cranial cavity that he was able to discern its location or transmit to Robot, and clearly Robot didn't need physical contact for either.
During the AR horde attack on the Resolute Maureen devised a magnetic trap that would keep the automatons immobile while they prepared an escape, but it was Robot who was able to sense that they were still moving slower than the naked eye could perceive and warned the crew of the impending danger. SAR however was never able to divine information from or about Robot in the same way, which is clear from his entire obsession with Will Robinson. SAR had Robot as a captive and was never able to get him to divulge the secret of their bonding and the blooming independence that came about as a result.
Robot was constantly demonstrating clairvoyant tendencies that saved the Smith's time and time again and there did not seem to be an analog for those capabilities among others of his kind. Will seemed to benefit from intuitive leaps that bordered on the psychic, though this seemed to be more of a clumsy plot engine design than actual augury, and may have been a part of the unexplained kinship a Robot discovers once they have forged a rapport with another life form. Penny seemed to have a subtle sense of Sally in the series finale that was nowhere near as extensive but perhaps represented a fledgling manifestation of this tandem ability. Robot may not be a mutant per se, but was perhaps the beneficiary of a powerful connection that yielded unexplained perception. Whether his link with Will was the cause of his distinctiveness or a byproduct of it, Robot was unique among his kind and perhaps all of existence.
Lost in Space Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix.