Over the course of the 83 episodes of Lost in Space, different members of the crew of the Jupiter 2 encounter, steal, and experiment with items of alien technology beyond their understanding, and always, it seems, with unforeseen but uniformly dire consequences. Such encounters are frequent enough that one is not surprised that Professor Robinson early abandoned his attempts to warn against approaching any items of alien technology someone might find.
Aside from spaceships, weapons, and androids, a number of the samples of alien technology that the Robinsons and Dr. Smith find and use stand out. These items are singular for the element of menace they add to an episode’s plot or for their sheer power. Below are the seven best pieces of alien technology (in my opinion) that we see in the series.
In “Invaders from the Fifth Dimension” (season one) Dr. Smith is controlled by the aliens through a collar they materialise around his neck. The original, menacing Dr. Smith makes a return in this episode as he attempts to turn Will over to the aliens who have need of a humanoid brain for their ship.
The same prop is used later in the season to give Dr. Smith the power to turn anything he touches, including Penny, into platinum. The episode ends on a slightly whimsical note with Smith finally able to remove the ring from his neck after an (apparently) sincere declaration of his guilt and a resolution to amend his ways, but then tempted to keep a flower he had transformed as a memento.
Also in season one, in “Wish upon a Star,” Dr. Smith uses an alien wish granting helmet which he shares with the other members of the party. In contrast with the Doctor’s insatiable selfishness, the others soon realise their folly in abusing the machine; however, the guardian or owner of the device appears to reclaim it when Dr. Smith goes too far.
Dr. Smith is not the only member of the crew to monkey with alien artefacts. In “Return from Outer Space” Will deliberately disobeys his father’s orders to use an abandoned Tauron maser beam transport device to travel to earth (and incidentally save his family from starvation) before the machine is finally destroyed.
In season two’s “The Prisoners of Space” a strange device is delivered to the Robinson’s campsite by a hairy one-eyed alien. This device is the mouthpiece (quite literally) of the Galactic Tribunal. It is not clear if the device is merely a transmitter or a cybernetic mechanism, but in either case, while very powerful, it is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.
“The Space Destructors” in season three features an android making machine with which Dr. Smith manages to endanger Will’s life and menace the rest of the party. It is quite a silly machine, although I found it marvellously intriguing as a child. Nowadays it reminds me of a sort of galactic Easy-Bake oven.
Similarly, I always liked Sesmar’s conveyor tube, as it was called, in “The Dream Monster.” Although neither a tube nor a conveyance, it did offer an alternative mode of transportation to such things as the chariot or jet pack. As with many other scenes where people appear or disappear instantaneously, the conveyor tube seems to function by an explosion and loud bang occurring a couple of metres in front of it whenever it is used (the alternative to an explosion as motive power in other instances of materialisation in the series is an electronic popping sound).