Lost in Space Episode 74: The Anti-Matter Man

General Information

Director: Sutton Roley

Writers: K. C. Alison and Barney Slater

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 12/27/1967

Production #: 1512

 

Overview

Having escaped from prison, the anti-matter version of Professor Robinson—a cruel, mean-spirited man—assumes the place of his counterpart. When the imposter revealslost-in-space-the-anti-matter-man his true identity, Will attempts to free his father from confinement in a mysterious shadow world.

Often considered the greatest episode of Lost in Space, “The Anti-Matter Man” contains a penetrating study on the concept of human duality. Exceptionally terrific is the performance of Guy Williams, the sinister acting of whom offers a startling contrast to the kind, benevolent qualities commonly exhibited by his character.

 

Pros

It should be indicated that the premise for this episode had been explored previously in Star Trek’s “The Enemy Within,” wherein Captain Kirk is divided lost-in-space-the-anti-matter-maninto two halves—one good and the other evil—by a malfunctioning transporter. That being said, “The Anti-Matter Man” provides an arguably superior examination of the same topic, with the gravitas of Williams adding credibility to the notion of an evil John Robinson existing somewhere in the universe—much in contrast to William Shatner’s portrayal of the “bad” Kirk, which could easily be mistaken for a second-rate parody.

Also worth mentioning is that unlike “Follow the Leader” from season one, “The Anti-Matter Man” features an antagonist who—despite being hot-tempered and malicious—retains the core lost-in-space-the-anti-matter-manpersonality of Professor Robinson, thereby establishing himself as a dark but realistic version of a character whom audiences know and love. For example, the imposter never contemplates eliminating Will when doing so would prove advantageous, indicating a compassionate side not once demonstrated by Canto—the evil spirit who possesses John Robinson in the aforementioned “Follow the Leader.”

Another interesting addition to this episode, Major West’s doppelganger (known as “Dron” in the anti-matter universe) appears to lack critical thinking skills and responds angrily when insulted—negativelost-in-space-the-anti-matter-man characteristics that also define the “good” Major West. As opposed to his duplicate, however, Dron fails to maintain a trusting and respectful relationship with Professor Robinson, which proves detrimental for him at one point in the narrative.

On a final note, the visual elements that comprise the shadow world should be commended. Specifically, the rocks and trees located on the anti-matter planet are colored a spooky, unnatural shade of white, producing a bleak and nightmarish contrast when displayed against the purple horizon—an atmosphere befitting a world governed by ominous, unpredictable forces.

 

Cons

lost-in-space-the-anti-matter-manUpon entering the anti-matter prison, the Robot locates an incarcerated, uncouth copy of himself. Following this introduction, the imprisoned Robot sings an off-key rendition of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”—the only campy moment in this episode, but a distracting one nevertheless.

 

Analysis

Though scientifically dubious (matter and anti-matter annihilate upon contacting each other, precluding an encounter between John Robinson and his oppositely charged self), “The Anti-Matter Man” deserves praise for highlighting, if lost-in-space-the-anti-matter-manonly through a simplified metaphor, the eternal struggle between good and evil as regards the human condition. Note that even for all his savage tendencies, the imposter John Robinson realizes that he cannot destroy his matter-universe counterpart if he wishes to continue existing—a subtle reference to the futility of man’s frequent attempts to deny, suppress, or extinguish one “side” (either good or evil) of himself in favor of embracing the other.

 

Concluding Comments

“The Anti-Matter Man” is a classic, thought-provoking episode of Lost in Space. Especially for fans of the father-son dynamic shared between John and Will Robinson, this installment should be requisite viewing.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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6 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 74: The Anti-Matter Man

  1. Insightful commentary, as usual. Anti-matter John and Don scared the crap out of me. They were so unsettling. Your analysis has given me insight into that. It was their similarities to the real John and Don that hinted at the negativity in all of us. Even though the episode is fantastical; there’s an eerie realism to it that I didn’t understand.

  2. This is my number two ranked episode for the psychedelic and far out, all over the place, highly inconsistent and relatively overrated, shortest final colored season..

  3. What can I say about this one? It is pretty much basically a series classic, pretty much loved by all perhaps. It is always a treat when the Professor John Robinson character is highlighted. We know what is good about it, so I will quickly mention its only downfalls. There are the usual and unnecessary latter series cringe-worthy scenes herein. Also, the ending/finish is a bit too abrupt and cutesy for such a serious entry. Other than those couple things, it is a complete winner. Still, it is nowhere close to the perfection episodes of classic, especially early B&W Season One..

  4. The acting in this episode was brilliant, very mature , l love the messages from lost in space, the men were brave and always faced an evil challenge as men should.