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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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"What is it Good For?"
Lost in Space #3 (Dark Horse)
Written by Brian McDonald
Pencils by Gordon Purcell
Inks by Terry Pallot
Cover by Gary Erskine and Gordon Purcell

The alien warrior lets Don in on the secret of its past.

 

Story Summary

 

Dr. Smith negotiates an evil deal with the alien warrior possessing him. But, using the big frakking gun he found in the pit, Don confronts the alien warrior, who has commandeered the Jupiter 2. The alien defeats Don, but out of respect for a fellow soldier, it mind-melds with the human, showing him its past and the war with another world that led his formerly peaceful race to violence.

 

The alien armor was designed by their scientists to preserve the essence of the warrior inside when the being neared death. Hence, anyone donning the armor afterward would be possessed by the suit's former owner. This is how Dr. Smith became transformed into the alien, his consciousness submerged inside.

 

The alien bargains with the Robinsons to spare Don's life for their assistance in completing repairs to the Jupiter 2 and taking him to his enemy's homeworld to continue the fight. When they arrive, they find the world has already been disintegrated, only an asteroid field is left (the same one the ship jumped into at the beginning of "Wake the Dead"). Joyous at his people's apparent victory, the alien makes the crew take him back his own homeworld. They find the planet devoid of intelligent life, the cities burned-out ruins. Apparently, neither side won.

 

The synthetic alien programs the armor to end his own life, freeing Dr. Smith. Don wants to kill the traitorous human, but John points out what the violence of the two alien races brought them. Don finally agrees to spare Smith, saying, "Let's just get the hell outta here before I change my mind."

 

Didja Know?

 

Neither the mini-series as a whole nor the individual issues had a title beyond Lost in Space. The title "What is it Good For?" I've used in this study is a line borrowed from the 1969 song "War" written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, most popularly known from the version performed by Edwin Starr in 1970.

 

Didja Notice?

 

On page 7, Maureen retorts to her husband, "Don't give me any of that women-and-children-first crap--this is not the Titanic." The phrase "women and children first" is most famously associated with the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic, though it largely emerged from the 1852 sinking of the British Naval ship HMS Birkenhead, during which the captain ordered the wives and children aboard to be loaded onto the single lifeboat.

 

On page 10, Dr. Smith, seeing that Don has come back to the Jupiter 2 to confront the alien, says, "...it seems the mountain has come to Mohammed." This is a play on the phrase "'If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain," in the telling of the story of Mohammed, founder of the Islamic religion, as related in Francis Bacon's 1625 Essays.

 

On page 12, Dr. Smith says, "I've never felt such pain." This is a way of evoking, yet skirting, Smith's oft-repeated line from the TV series, "Oh, the pain... the pain!" (though the current incarnation of Smith did use that line in the Lost in Space movie). 

 

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