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Justice in Lost in Space

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The theme of justice is not something that you would immediately think very common to the stories told in Lost in Space. Nonetheless, the concepts of justice and law enforcement drive the plot of no less than six episodes in the series. In all but one case, however, there is the added element of the miscarriage of justice, either deliberate or accidental.

All that Glitters

In “All that Glitters” Galaxy Law Enforcer Bollix is in pursuit of the thief Ohan. He is portrayed as quite hard-bitten and intimidating, but these qualities are not necessarily a liability in his line of work. Bollix is able to apprehend Ohan, but not the ring the thief had stolen. It is not really that unbelievable that he should have thought that the Robinsons were responsible for that (Dr. Smith was in fact guilty). It was only circumstantial evidence, but Bollix’ accusation of Maureen does seem to border on a miscarriage of justice.

Space Bailiff (Prisoners of Space)

In “The Prisoners of Space” the crew of the Jupiter 2 (with the exception of Dr. Smith) are arraigned before the Galactic Tribunal of Justice to answer for a number of crimes of which they are accused. The outcome does not look good for them until it becomes apparent in the course of the arraignment that Dr. Smith is in fact responsible for the misdeeds. Given that Will colludes with helping Smith in escape, the threat of immediate incarceration of the party is not really surprising although some viewers felt it unfair. In the end, the Robinsons attempt to save Smith by swearing that he is of unsound mind. Arguably, he is unbalanced by normal standards, but there is a clear implication that the Robinson party are attempting to circumvent justice by their ruse.

The episode “West of Mar” centres on a case of mistaken identity where Dr. Smith is forced to present himself as the outlaw Zeno. The villain’s pretext is that Smith is in little actual danger in that it would soon become clear that he was not Zeno. Space Enforcer Claudius is often criticised for being inept and heavy handed, but in the end he was only doing his job the best he could with the information to hand.

Fugitives of Space

“Condemned of Space” features a prison in space where the inmates are kept in a state of suspended animation. The mechanism for thawing the individual prisoner upon completion of his or her sentence has broken down. Professor Robinson is able to repair the mechanism; this retroactively exonerates the prisoners who had already escaped (thanks, Dr. Smith) and rioted. Everyone is happy and one of the prisoners gives Will a charming keepsake—the garrotte with which he killed countless innocent people.


Deadliest of the Species

In “Deadliest of the Species” Zeta Law Enforcement visit the planet on which the Jupiter 2 has been forced to land. The Robinsons have accidentally caused a space vessel housing a disassembled malevolent robot to crash there, and their Robot was seduced into reassembling her. The law enforcement official and his assistants are not portrayed as terribly efficient—they actually seem rather inept. In the end, they are murdered (off-screen) by the evil robot. Perhaps it was a holdover from the days of the Hays Code when no evil deed could go unpunished on screen, but the malevolent robot is later destroyed by the Robinsons. One must ask why no other law enforcement officials showed up to investigate the disappearance of the first group though.

Fugitives of Space-0

Finally, in “Fugitives in Space” the entire plot is driven by a premeditated miscarriage of justice. Don and Dr. Smith are deliberately condemned to prison on the strength of very flimsy evidence. In fact, the justice system, in collusion with the prison warden, intend to use them as a means of tracking down the real criminal’s cache of stolen goods. It makes a good story, but it might have been a bit more credible had the law enforcement officials sought out the willing cooperation of Don and Dr. Smith.

Overall, the concept of justice in Lost in Space is fairly portrayed and virtuous. With the exception of “Fugitives in Space,” its aim is to ascertain the truth and to punish the wicked.

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