OK, one more Lost in Space synopsis and the nostalgia binge is over.
"The Magic Mirror" is another Penny episode that mirrors "My Friend, Mr. Nobody" but backtracks on its magic.
In this one, tweener Penny frets about growing up because she doesn't want to indulge in romantic "goop" like her older sister Judy does with Don the spaceship's stupid second-in-command, and doesn't want to spend the better part of her day thinking about hairstyles.
(Unspoken but implied feminist reading: she also doesn't want to live in a world where she makes sandwiches for the rest like Mom.)
For her attitude Judy calls her a "tomboy" and yes--"ugly." Penny is palpably crushed by this insult.
A magic mirror appears for no reason on the ground near the Jupiter 2 and through a series of plot complications, Penny falls into it.
On the other side is a world dreamed up by the producers after smoking much reefer and watching every Cocteau film.
It's a shadowy world of draperies, knickknacks and Egyptian statues. Mirrors are portals to the outside, but are mostly one-way. Things, and unfortunates such as Penny, fall in and are forever trapped. Tantalizingly, she can see out of any mirror anywhere (including ones on the spaceship, where she spots her family) but those looking in the mirrors cannot see her.
The sole human inhabitant of this interstitial dimension is homely '60s cult actor Michael J. Pollard (later cast as C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde.)
This 26 year old "boy" has spent eternity watching other people through his mirrors, living in a room that he "never has to clean," and having fun between chased among the museum relics by a hairy one-eyed monster (I think we know what that symbolizes) that periodically comes to kill him. He has so far avoided the creature for aeons of doom-laden entertainment, and has watched Penny the tomboy through his mirror and wants her to join him in his merriment.
After initial disgust the same open-minded Penny that befriended Mr. Nobody 14 episodes back learns about the boy and his world through polite questions but she knows he is a ghoul and she must find a way out. She invites him to join her but he cannot leave the mirror world.
After another series of plot complications she returns to the Jupiter 2 and at the end of the episode mends fences with the womenfolk by asking how she would look "with my hair piled on top of my head like this." The line is delivered in front of her shipboard vanity mirror where the boy will be watching her acquisition of seductive adult moves, while he is doomed to remain in pre-adolescent neverland hell.
Thus where "Mr. Nobody" casts Penny as the wise character finding her own emotional place outside the patriarchal structures of the ship, "The Magic Mirror" is a scary object lesson to girls who would deviate from the nuclear family model. Disappointing backsliding by the writers, if subverting basic American values is considered good. Though a glimpse of Pollard's "goth" world might still be powerful medicine to some, in comparison to the bland interiors of the Jupiter 2 tract home.