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Professor Maureen Robinson is a character on Netflix's Lost in Space. She has a PhD in Engineering, and was one of the four principal engineers responsible for the design of the Resolute's safety systems. She has three children with John Robinson; Penny Robinson, Will Robinson, and Judy Robinson.
Personality & character
"You know, I've made my share of mistakes, as a mother, as a wife, but one place I don't make mistakes is my job."
- Maureen Robinson to Captain Kamal, "Unknown"
Maureen is a mother and an aerospace engineer with a fearsome intellect. A driven and demanding woman both in and outside her home, it's Maureen who makes the decision to bring her family into space. She wants her children to have a chance at a new life on a better world. Her endless determination is infectious. She’s convinced there is no problem that can’t be solved if you apply your mind to it. There are some things that she can't fix, however, and must leave the problems to the rest of the family. When this happens, however, Maureen feels very uncomfortable, because she knows she is the smartest and most experienced person she has ever met, and has a very hard time entrusting the lives of her family to anyone else. It is up to her to find a way off the strange planet on which she and her family have crashed, but her greatest challenge is forgiving her husband and rekindling the love they once had. Once someone betrays her in any way, she has difficulty forgiving them and holds many grudges. Maureen has extreme trust issues, and refuses to rely on almost anyone else for her own comfort.
Maureen dislikes the idea of weapons within her household, preferring to find unique and clever solutions to protect her family and the other colonists. As opposed to her husband, she trusts the Robot, feeling that it is protecting her son, Will. She never had any siblings, but thinks it would have been nice. ("Infestation")
Despite her issues with her husband, John, she never spoke with a therapist ("Eulogy"), reinforcing the fact that she has major trust issues.
Maureen is very outgoing and always wants to keep her family safe no matter what. This sometimes led her to actions of questionable morality. In one such instance, she was determined that her son Will would join her family on the 24th Mission despite Will having failed the stress test required of all colonists on the mission. In order to secure him a spot, she traded secret information with an individual in order to falsify his test results. ("Impact") This later came back to haunt her, when the information she bartered turned out to be security codes, which were used against her by Hastings, an intelligence officer of the Resolute. ("Unknown")
Maureen always dreamed of going into space, gazing up at the stars through a telescope as a child. She deferred her dream to have a family, but was later able to fulfill it. ("Stuck")
One of Maureen's boldest actions was leading a mutiny against the acting captain of the Resolute, Captain Kamal, upon learning that the crew of the vessel planned to leave behind those stranded on the amber planet due to most of the vessel's water being poisoned and not having enough water to sustain more than a skeleton crew. She hatched her own plan to purify the vessel's water, but in order to do had to take command of the bridge. She worked together with both her family, as well as the devious "Dr. Smith," against her better judgment. From the info they gathered, she learned that Neil Caird, the security officer assigned to the bridge, owed his life to a man named Anton Penn who was still trapped on the planet. She used this information against him to convince him to lock out the security team that had been sent to the bridge to stop her.
Maureen quickly put her plan into motion. Although Kamal had her doubts, she told her that while she may have made mistakes in the past when it came to her family, she did not make mistakes when it came to her job. However, the one thing that she couldn't account for her was human nature. Hastings was dead-set against her, and used the codes that she had given him against her at a critical moment. While Maureen's mutiny failed, Kamal nevertheless chose to trust her math and go through with the plan anyways. Although her plan at purifying the vessel's water was successful, her actions ultimately fomented distrust against her and her family throughout the vessel. ("Unknown")
Despite this distrust, the group was able to move forward past it and come together. When it became clear that the Resolute was under imminent attack from a group of alien Robots, Judy came up with a risky plan: placing ninety-seven children aboard a Jupiter spacecraft and launching for Alpha Centauri in the hope of at least saving them. Maureen was horrified at the idea, refusing at first to even discuss it. Judy, however, revealed that she had learned something about Maureen: how she had traded with Hastings in order to falsify Will's stress test results to get him approved to come on the mission. She told her that for the first time in her life she was disappointed in her, but continued that it was okay, that she finally understood that sometimes an imperfect solution was all you had. Maureen told her that it was different, but hearing what Judy was saying, John told Maureen that Judy was right. Sobbing, Maureen finally accepted the solution, even though it tore her apart. Afterwards, as the Robots attacked, Maureen realized that she could buy necessary time for the children to get away by destroying the Resolute. In order to do so, she reluctantly made the decision to once again contact Hastings in order to get the needed access codes. He was surprised, but immediately complied upon learning her reasoning. ("Ninety-Seven")
Following this, Maureen and the other adults spent over a year in the Danger system, doing what they could to survive while avoiding the Robots. During this time, Maureen threw herself into her work, largely avoiding John and doing everything she could to avoid thinking about their children. Though they came under pressure to clean out their children's rooms, Maureen could not bring herself to do it. She refused to have a conversation with John, saying that she used to be a mother, but now had nothing. However, she finally forced herself to deal with the situation, coming to John and admitting that he shouldn't have to deal with everything on his own. She asked him if it was terrible that she tried not to think about the kids, but said that every time she did, she worried that there was something she missed, something that could have kept them together. ("Three Little Birds")
Maureen served as the navigator for a risky plan to find a Robot in order to the alien engine needed to reach Alpha Centauri, teamed with her husband John and Don West. Don wondered what would happen if the Robot didn't want to help them, but Maureen told him that they wouldn't give it a choice. During the mission, they discovered evidence that the hostile Robot SAR might still be alive, despite their having believed him dead. Ultimately, the Robot they discovered was Scarecrow, a friendly Robot that the Robinsons had helped before. Scarecrow, to their surprise, opened a connection to Will's Robot, revealing that the children were trapped on a shattered planet. Maureen was buoyed by the opportunity to speak with her children again and told Will that the plan was more important than ever now that they knew that SAR might still be alive. ("Contact")
Trap and escape
Having renewed hope, Maureen, John and Don put together a new plan. They would use Scarecrow's help in order to raid a Robot vessel in order to claim an engine. Maureen would work together with Scarecrow to seize the engine, while John and Don would attempt to lure away the other Robots using a Chariot as a distraction. She and John discovered evidence that Scarecrow might have been attempting to betray them, but this turned out not to be the case. Maureen then talked with Scarecrow, asking him if he had a place to go after taking them to Alpha Centauri. She told him that she couldn't imagine the suffering that he went through, but that they all had to start trusting each other. She admitted that she wasn't worthy of that trust, having doubted him. The two of them put aside their differences and worked together, but ultimately the Robots turned out to be one step ahead of them. SAR led them into a trap and then claimed Scarecrow. Just before SAR disabled him, Scarecrow told Maureen "Find home." ("The New Guy")
The group returned to the other colonists, where they shared the news of Scarecrow's capture. They explained that with Scarecrow captured, the Robots knew exactly where to find them. As such, they had to destroy everything that could provide even the slightest clue to the location of Alpha Centauri before the Robots arrived. As they worked to put this plan into action, Maureen found herself lingering over Lost in Space, a memoir that had been written by Penny. She was worried it might have to be tossed out as well, but John assured her it was okay. As they all readied to face the Robots, Maureen watched in shock as the children's Jupiter unexpectedly appeared on the viewscreen. John shouted at Don to order them to turn back, but when Judy shouted to belay that order, Maureen asked what she was doing, if she was crazy. Judy replied that crazy tended to run in the family. It turned out that the Jupiter was a decoy and that the children had put together a secret plan involving the Fortuna, the vessel originally piloted by Judy's biological father, Grant Kelly, who was unexpectedly alive.
Maureen was stunned at the sight of Grant, asking just how he was there. He admitted that he was still trying to figure it out himself. When she asked how he found their kids, he replied "They found me." Maureen was even more shocked at the sight of Dr. Smith, who was believed to have sacrificed her life in the evacuation of the children. When Maureen asked how it was possible, Penny explained that she had stowed away and Smith clarified that she owed her survival to a cargo compartment that Maureen had built, that she was really good at squeezing into tight spaces. The colonists then made ready for the final evacuation to Alpha Centauri, each group boarding their respective Jupiter spacecraft. On the Jupiter 2, however, the Robinsons, Don and Smith discovered that they were being followed by SAR. At the last second, they charted and emergency course change, opening a rift to a boggy planet. Hurtling into the atmosphere, they made to eject, but Maureen and Judy's ejector seats jammed. ("Nothing Left Behind")
Following crashing on the planet, Maureen and Judy woke up with no apparent injuries. Judy did a quick assessment of Maureen and found that she had no slurred speech, nor any apparent memory loss. Judy then moved to try to contact the others, but Maureen instead had her turn off her equipment, as any electronic signals had the power to attract the alien Robots. As the two of them readied to prepare the ship for the others' arrival, Maureen told Judy that of all the people to end up together with in a crash, she was glad to be with her. They then discovered that they had a huge problem: Maureen's seat rocket was still armed. This mean, essentially, that Maureen was sitting on a land mine. The rocket was triggered by weight, so if Maureen were to get up, then shrapnel would fly everywhere, killing both herself and Judy.
Though Judy wanted to help Maureen, the two soon discovered that they had yet another problem: the Jupiter 2 was being swallowed by a massive alien snake. Maureen directed Judy to make some adjustments to the fuel line, hoping she could get them out. During this time, she flashed back to her past, remembering gazing up at the stars as a child, then caring for Judy as a baby, and later as a child. She told Judy that she could do anything, but as the snake swallowed more of the Jupiter 2, she asked Judy to check if the rear airlock was still clear. When Judy said that it was, she ordered her to evacuate, but Judy replied that she would not abandon her, that there had to be some way to get her out.
As Judy continued her efforts, Maureen realized that Judy had in fact been injured in the crash and was favoring one of her shoulders. Judy admitted that she had fractured one of them in the crash and Maureen asked why she didn't tell her. When Judy replied that she was "handling it," Maureen asked when it was that they started keeping secrets from each other. Judy replied, "All the time, since I'm the daughter you don't worry about." Maureen said that she worried about her all the time, and Judy asked why she would, since she was the perfect daughter, the one that she would want to be stuck with in an emergency. She told Maureen that she had been trying to live up to a dream she didn't understand and that Maureen had wanted to be an astronaut, but she took that from her. Maureen shook her head, saying that she had never realized Judy felt that way.
As the snake growled again, Maureen told Judy to just get out, but Judy replied that they were doing it together, that Maureen had never left her and she wouldn't either. The two then devised a new plan, involving the container that had protected Dr. Smith. Maureen would leap inside the container, which would protect them both from the explosion. The explosion would, at the same time, repel the snake, causing it to vomit out the Jupiter 2. Maureen leapt and the plan worked perfectly. Maureen told Judy that this was how it had begun, just the two of them. When Judy said that she should go check on the fuel lines, Maureen told her to just rest. ("Stuck")
As Maureen and Judy worked to prep the Jupiter 2, Judy wondered if they should be worried that nobody else was back yet. Maureen pointed out that if they had gotten swallowed by an alien snake, then it wouldn't be surprising if the others were dealing with just about anything. They then heard the sound of creaking metal and went to investigate, but thankfully the sound signified the return of John, Penny, Dr. Smith and the Robot. Maureen then handed out assignments so they could continue getting things ready for launch.
Maureen talked with Dr. Smith, saying that Judy had told her about how she helped the children during the year they were away, even teaching them French. Smith agreed that they all cared for each other and Maureen said that she had missed so much and was hoping Smith could tell her about certain things, if there were any developments or firsts that a mother should know about. "Penny's first love triangle," replied Smith, explaining that Penny was torn between the affections of two boys, Vijay Dhar and Liam Tufeld. Maureen then asked about Judy and Smith said that Judy was mainly focused on being a good captain, before realizing that what Maureen really wanted was info on how Judy was around Grant Kelly. When Maureen asked how the two got along, Smith asked just what she was hoping for, but Maureen replied that had nothing to do with it. Maureen then turned the conversation to Will, saying that he seemed more serious. Smith replied that he had a lot on his mind, but when Maureen pressed her on the subject, she evaded an answer, saying that Will was learning to control his body, being all arms and legs now.
John pulled Maureen aside, asking her to take a look at something. He reported that Judy had told him that all of the hard drives on the Fortuna had been scrubbed. However, they discovered CCTV of one of the Robots finding and scanning Grant Kelly. "He doesn't try to hurt him," Maureen pointed out, and the two wondered just what it could mean. The two soon found out, as Don returned with an unusual tale: while out wandering the boggy planet, one of the Robots had scanned him as well, but left him unharmed. Maureen came to a realization: since a human body is impacted by its environment, by scanning Grant Kelly, they were able to discover the location of Earth. Now, by scanning Don, they have discovered the location of Alpha Centauri.
A debate sprung up between the group as to the best course of action. The Robinsons wanted to launch immediately for Alpha Centauri to give them a warning. Don West, however, wondered what good a warning could do and felt that they should attempt to engage SAR and stop him, but Maureen told him there was no time. John, however, pointed out that something was off: if the Robots had scanned Don over an hour, then it didn't make any sense that SAR hadn't already launched, unless there something else that he wanted. "Will. He wants something from Will. He always has," replied Maureen and they started calling out for him, only to discover that he was gone.
The group immediately launched a search for Will, though Penny felt that it might be best to let Will make his attempt, asking if what he was doing might be the right thing, given that he was the only one who could communicate with the Robots. Maureen, however, felt that whenever somebody felt they were the only one with answers, they were usually wrong. Despite this, the group was too late, and Maureen could only watch in horror along with the others as SAR stabbed Will through the heart, fearing that he would try to reprogram him to be obedient to him. Judy informed the others that Will was bleeding too badly and that she needed a hospital to have any hope of saving him, but she didn't know where they could possibly find a hospital in space. "Alpha Centauri," replied Maureen, saying that it was their only chance. Judy suggested that they could use the cryotube to slow Will's vital functions so that he would have a hope of surviving until they arrived. "Do it," agreed Maureen. ("Final Transmission")
The defense system
After arriving on Alpha Centauri, the Robinsons were relieved to learn that Will would likely survive his surgery, albeit having his heart replaced with an artificial one. With that handled, Maureen and John headed off to the colony's leadership to discuss the impending threat of the Robots. Maureen asked if the colony had any defense system, but the Chancellor told her they didn't think they had any reason to need one. John and Maureen, however, realized that something wasn't adding up with the colony's energy usage numbers. They paid a visit to Hastings, who had been imprisoned for his crimes, and told him that they suspected him of secretly installing a defense system he hadn't told anyone else about. When Maureen told him that the Robots knew the location of Alpha Centauri and were coming, he admitted that he had secretly prepared an EMF shield that could serve to stop the Robots. He promised to provide the keys so long as they told the Chancellor that the charges against him were a misunderstanding and got his authority restored.
With seemingly no other choice, the two agreed to his terms. However, before Hastings could be transported, he was murdered, apparently by the Robot. John and Maureen then agreed to divide and conquer, with John leading a team to try to track down the Robot, while Maureen searched for another way to activate the defense system. Maureen, however, felt that something was off, wondering just what SAR was waiting for and why he hadn't attacked already. When Grant, Judy and Penny showed up, Maureen explained what had happened and Grant suggested that maybe it wasn't actually the Robot who attacked. Penny explained to Maureen that there were a few minutes where it seemed like the Robot wasn't himself, as if SAR was controlling him. When Maureen asked why they hadn't told her before, Grant said there was a lot going on.
Maureen next paid a visit to Will, recovering from his surgery. He asked where everybody was and she told him that they were all on Alpha Centauri. When he says that SAR knows where to find them, she tells him that they're working on it. He blames himself for failing to stop SAR, but she tells him that he didn't fail, that they'll figure it out. She tells him about the defense system and says that he needs to rest, but he tells her that there's something that he needs to do first. Maureen then returns to the control center, pondering a list of code-words left behind by Hastings. Seeing the list, Grant Kelly explains that he recognizes the words as being part of a VBAS, or Voice Biometric Authentication System. He then takes her aside, explaining a great secret about his mission: that the entire story the world knew about the Fortuna was a cover story. Their actual mission was to investigate a phenomenon discovered by scientists: a rift opening and closing in space. Not even mission control could know the truth, hence the scrubbing of the Fortuna hard drives, and their communications were always encrypted by VBAS. Maureen asked him if he was saying that the only way to activate the defense system was via the voice of a dead man. "Yeah," he grimly agreed.
Will, however, messaged Maureen with some good news. A conversation with Amanda Adler, the wife of the late Ben Adler, had led him to realize that Hastings might have entrusted Ben Adler as someone else who could activate the defense system. She and Grant, with Amanda's help, started poring over Ben's old communications and videos to find instances of him using the necessary words. While doing so, Grant asked Maureen why she never told him about Judy's birth. She replied that she felt it would have been a distraction for him, given his mission, and that NASA had told him not to do so. He replied that the old Maureen Robinson would have found a way around the rules had she wanted to, but she shot back that he was barely ever interested in a committed relationship, much less a family. They agreed that a lot had changed. Maureen and Grant succeeded in finding the code words and activating the defense system. However, while they were doing so, a group of alien Robots were busy taking out the turbines that were powering the shield. Maureen watched grimly as the turbines went out one by one, pleading for John to do something to stop them. John, aided by Judy, Penny, Don and the Robot, who was innocent of killing Hastings, succeeded in stopping the other Robots. John then commed Maureen and she told him to get back safely. However, the Robots had managed to take out two of the turbines, leaving the third to carry all the load on its own. The lights in the control center suddenly went dark and the defense system went offline, signifying that the third turbine had failed. A woman then reported that there was an energy spike outside the atmosphere. "They're coming," declared Maureen. ("Contingencies on Contingencies")
The final conflict and aftermath
With the Robots poised to arrive, the colonists discussed ways to handle the situation with the loss of power of the energy shield. Maureen cut to the heart of the matter, saying that they needed to replace the turbines. Since the turbines were just things that spun, anything that had the capability to spin could generate energy. She recommended using the vertical take-off and landing engines of the Jupiter spacecrafts, though it would mean that the Jupiters would be permanently grounded. The plan was agreed to, and everyone quickly got to work. While working on the plan, Maureen took a comm from Dr. Smith, who wanted to know what their odds were. Maureen told her that the odds were worse than usual, but that they were going to make it. Smith signed off, saying that this was all she had wanted to know.
As the last touches were put in place, the shield reached 90% coverage. It was close, but not enough, as a Robot vessel managed to squeeze through. As alien screeching came over the comm, the Chancellor asked what it meant and Maureen told her that "It means our radios are useless now because the Robots are here." The group then worked to stave off the Robots, with Penny managing to befriend a group of Robots, while Will put into action another risky plan to end the conflict once and for all. In the meantime, the focus turned to protecting the alien engine at all costs, as Will had discovered that the Robots could use it to create a destructive rift, that this was what had destroyed the shattered planet. The group held out in an electrified Jupiter for as long as they could until the power ran out. Afterwards, she and John found themselves directly facing off against the Robots. As the Robots charged toward her, Maureen asked them "Do you know Will Robinson? I'm his mother." She sprayed liquid helium at one who was reaching for the engine, freezing it in place. She and the others then received a command sound from Will, which they used to halt the Robots' progress. Will himself then appeared on-scene. To everyone's shock and surprise, he turned off his command sound, causing SAR to again go for his heart. This time, however, thanks to a sacrifice from the Robot, a signal arced from Will's heart into SAR, causing him to transform into the Robot and end the conflict for good. Maureen then gave John a massive hug of relief, Don quipping that he could use a hug himself.
With peace established, Maureen went to work in orbit of Alpha Centauri, working alongside friendly Robots and Don to build a new vessel, the Solidarity, to replace the lost Resolute. Though she was very busy, she found the time to pay a visit to Dr. Smith, who had finally confessed to her crimes and been imprisoned. When Smith asked her if she had baked a cake with a file in it, Marureen replied that she didn't bake and that Smith didn't need a file. She told her that she had been reviewing the passenger list for the Solidarity and discovered a name on it, "Jessica Harris," that had been authorized by "Dr. Zoe Smith." She asked who she was and Dr. Smith, or rather, June Harris, replied that it was her sister. She told Maureen that she didn't even know who she was anymore at this point. "I do," replied Maureen, telling her to look her up when she got out. At some point following this, Maureen sat down for a happy meal with her entire extended family, including special guests Grant Kelly, Don West and Debbie The Chicken. ("Trust")
Skills and abilities
Professor Maureen is extremely intelligent and a trained aerospace engineer. She possesses the skills needed to launch a balloon to carry herself into space and learn that the unknown planet is being affected by Hawking radiation from a black hole. ("Transmission") When Captain Kamal of the Resolute planned to abandon colonists on the amber planet to save the ship, she devised and executed a risky plan to save them all. ("Unknown") As revealed by Grant Kelly, Maureen was once the top of her class in the astronaut training program, something that her own kids didn't know as they were unaware that Maureen had ever wanted to be an astronaut. Maureen's autopilot program on the Jupiter predicted a course through an asteroid field that Grant himself had thought to be impossible to do. ("The New Guy")
While in the astronaut training program, Maureen met Grant Kelly and they had a romantic relationship that eventually led to Maureen getting pregnant with their daughter Judy. However, Maureen never informed Grant of her pregnancy and he disappeared soon afterwards when his ship, the Fortuna, went missing for nearly twenty years. After they were reunited, the two remained close friends and although John showed some jealousy, Maureen and Grant didn't appear to have any more feelings aside from simple friendship for each other. Before reuniting with Maureen, Grant often spoke highly of her to Maureen's children.
Maureen fell deeply in love with Navy Seal John Robinson. A few years later, they were married. Judy and John got along very well and they formed an extremely close bond despite the fact that they weren't related. Judy took after her adoptive father more than she ever took after her mother, even adopting the last name Robinson instead of Kelly.
Despite how close Maureen was with John, she eventually got tired of his job. He kept going on missions for the military, and those trips got longer and longer until he was absent for months and even years. When all three of their children were in there teenage years, John and Maureen split, and even considered filing for divorce. John traveled with them on the 24th colonist group, though, and the two ex-lovers got closer again, even if slowly. By the beginning of season 2, they were in a stable, full-fledged relationship once again.
At the beginning of season 3, their relationship is again rocky, due to Maureen's grief at their separation from their children. However, things improve once they learn their children are alive and safe, and by the end of the season, they are all back together as a family.
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