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What You Need To Remember Before Watching Lost In Space Season 3

The Robinson family has come a long way since blasting off for Alpha Centauri with the 24th Colonist Group, but now their journey is coming to an end.

The third and final season of "Lost in Space," Netflix's modern revival of the venerable sci-fi classic, is finally set to premiere on the streaming service December 1, nearly two full years after Season 2 made its bow. Maureen (Molly Parker), John (Toby Stephens) and their children Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall), and Will (Maxwell Jenkins) will have one last chance to make their way to Alpha Centauri while avoiding robot attacks, con artist stowaways, and various other interstellar environmental hazards that have cropped up throughout the show's first two seasons.

Since it has been so long since the series last dropped new episodes, it wouldn't be surprising for audience members to have some questions about exactly where they left off in the story of the family and their three-hour tour (oops, wrong 1960s TV show). Even if you're familiar with the concept, this "Lost in Space" works a little differently than its predecessors, and here's what you need to know going into Season 3.

Not your father's (or your grandfather's) Lost in Space

Unlike the original 1960s series and the 1998 film version, this "Lost in Space" sees the Robinson clan escape Earth as part of a larger mass evacuation following what's originally believed to be a meteor strike, but is later revealed to be the impact of an alien spacecraft. This time what knocks them off course isn't deliberate sabotage, but rather an extraterrestrial attack, which sends their ship into a wormhole and causes it to crash on an uncharted planet.

The larger scope of their mission gives the Robinsons and the other survivors of the crash a more immediate goal than just "get back home." Their expedition's mothership, the Resolute, survived the attack, so they need to figure out how to contact and rendezvous with it. Thus, the "Swiss Family Robinson" adventures that have always characterized this franchise are guided by a mostly season-long arc about reaching the Resolute. In the second season, once again cast adrift on a new planet, the family finds its way to the Resolute in the early parts of the season. From there the action is split between a third planet and the orbiting spacecraft, and the threats become less about surviving in a hostile environment and more about surviving a set of equally dangerous characters.

Robot: friend or foe?

Not all of those dangerous characters are human. It wouldn't be "Lost in Space" if Will Robinson didn't befriend a helpful Robot, but there's a catch to the one he finds and reactivates here. Instead of coming with the ship, it's the robot that attacked the ship and knocked it off-course to begin with. Will is able to build a relationship with it, one threatened by Dr. Smith's (Parkey Posey) meddling and the eventual reveal of its origin to the colonists, who question whether it can ever really be an ally.

But more complicated is the fact that his Robot is not alone. At the end of Season 1, a second robot attacks the colonists, trying to retrieve an engine of extraterrestrial origin that was placed into the Resolute to power its interstellar journey. In the second season, it's revealed that only a robot can make the engine work, and so humanity has captured and tortured one, known as Scarecrow, in order to operate the Resolute. The human in charge of this program, Hastings (Douglas Hodge) tries to use Robinson's Robot to replace Scarecrow, but the attempt is foiled by the Robinson family.

By then, though, a whole swarm of other robots are converging on the Resolute. The only chance at escape seems to be getting the alien engine far away, and so Judy Robinson leads a crew of children on a smaller, Jupiter-class ship, piloted by Will's Robot, in order to escape the attack.

The children have gone off on their own crusade

The goal of that mission was to get the children back to Alpha Centauri, the original destination of the Resolute. Unfortunately, they took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and found themselves ... well, you know what the show is called. But even if they are stranded in a strange new solar system, the kids aren't alone. The Robot inadvertently followed the trace of another human ship, the Fortuna, which disappeared from Earth 20 years ago with Judy's biological father, Grant Kelly, aboard.

There's no word yet on the status of Captain Kelly, but Deadline did report last year that actor Russell Hornsby ("The Hate U Give," "Creed II,") had signed on to appear in the third season. In one brief shot in the teaser, a face that looks like Hornsby's is shown behind the frosted glass of one of the series' cryopods. Given that we know of just one new character who's likely to make an appearance, and one actor who got a special announcement for joining the show, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that Hornsby will be playing Kelly. If so, then the captain could give the children a bit of adult supervision for the next leg of their mission, and provide some new emotional depth for Judy to plumb.

However, even as the elder Robinsons helped their children escape the robot swarm, they and some other adults did manage to survive the attack and the destruction of the Resolute. They're still out there, and will presumably be looking for a way to reunite their families.

The end(?) of Dr. Smith

One famous name might not be in that group of adults. After two seasons spent looking out for number one — and only occasionally letting her conscience get the better of her — the finale of Season 2 seemed to show the con artist June Harris, who once stole the identity of an actual Dr. Smith, embracing the idea of a greater good. She appears to sacrifice herself, in order to buy time for the escaping ark (which is filled with children) to escape. 

"Appears" may be the key word here. No body was ever seen or recovered, just pieces of the space suit she was wearing. And aboard the children's Jupiter ship, Will's Robot discovered a ball and a scarf that look like those in Smith's possession, so putting two and two together might indicate that she survived by stowing away on that escaping ship (though how she might have escaped the hanger full of robots without her suit, and without being noticed, is a different question). If so, then Captain Kelly won't be the only adult around in this new sector. 

At this point, the children aboard have hopefully learned not to trust Smith. They'll know better than to let her take charge, which it's easy to imagine her attempting to do. How will she react if rebuffed? How will they respond to her untrustworthiness, without their parents around?

The teaser hints at a new danger for Will Robinson

This new season's soft reset of the space jump opens up a lot of possibilities for the writers. What else, besides the Fortuna, will the kids find in their new interstellar neighborhood? How will the threat of the robots manifest in this new location? How will the parents reunite with their offspring?

The teaser for the third season does little to answer these questions, only seeming to confirm the return of the robots and that there will be plenty of peril to navigate. There is a voiceover from Will Robinson — a message he's recording just before taking some kind of big risk — which states, "I thought I could save everybody," as well as, "I'm doing this so you all can survive."

Since we know that the third season will be the show's final one, the show's big picture questions are at the "now or never" stage. For instance, what is the nature of Will's gambit? What are the robots, where do they come from, and why do they seem to have a connection to the youngest Robinson? Do they have some strange, alien origin that has not yet been introduced ... or, perhaps, did they come from the future? After all, time travel played a minor role in the original 1960s series and a major one in the 1998 film. Will it pop up in this third incarnation as well?

Fans can expect to find out the answers when Season 3 of "Lost in Space" premieres December 1.