Director: Ezra Stone
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Francine York
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/15/1967
Production #: 9526
Niolani (Francine York)—man-hating, sadistic leader of a female warrior race—forces Will, Major West, and Professor Robinson to erect a giant arch for the colonists of Condor. Meanwhile, Dr. Smith ingratiates himself with Niolani and earns a position of authority as a result.
“The Colonists” can best be summarized as an oversimplified commentary on the feminist movement. Especially disappointing is that the beliefs, opinions, and attitudes of Maureen—a loving housewife who honors her husband unconditionally—are poorly contrasted with those of Niolani, whose animosity toward men is never explained from a thoughtful or sympathetic framework.
By brutalizing and humiliating the male members of the Robinson family, Niolani (an otherwise one-dimensional antagonist) will surely elicit contempt from the audience—a reaction that no other Lost in Space character, with the possible exception of Dr. Smith from early season one, manages to evoke so effectively. Viewers will thus have no difficulty rooting for Niolani’s downfall, the workings of which are set in motion when Will—hoping to free his father and Major West from the cruel, tyrannical reign of Dr. Smith and Niolani—hides an explosive device in the Purification Arch, thereby proving his ingenuity once again.
Having been elevated to an honorable status by Niolani, Penny behaves arrogantly toward her own brother. In addition to being thoroughly uncharacteristic, Penny’s abusive treatment of an enslaved family member will likely offend those who admire the Robinson girl for her sweet, innocent personality.
At one point, Maureen indicates that when men and women set aside petty competition and decide to complement each other instead, the outcome can be quite rewarding—a worthwhile critique of feminism, but one that writer Peter Packer never develops beyond a surface level.
For adopting a relatively serious and camp-free atmosphere, this episode deserves praise from fans of a critical perspective. That being said, a lack of nuance and clarity often prevents “The Colonists” from exploring feminism in a meaningful or persuasive manner.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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