There are some great episodes in Love, Death & Robots, but which one is best? The Netflix anthology demonstrates an array of animation styles and a variety of narratives that come together to form a riveting experience when binged. Some episodes rely on action, while others are more meditative, but each one demands full attention from the viewer to soak in all the ideas and themes on display.
This generation's equivalent of 1981's sordid animated anthology Heavy Metal, Love, Death & Robots is just as profane, violent, and experimental. Some of the very best talent in Western animation is on display in stories that stretch from CGI to traditional animation, to live-action and back again.
As such, putting them in order from worst to best is no easy task - some the character work is lacking but they look incredible, while others aren't as inventive aesthetically, but their scripts are charming and memorable. Taking all that into account, all 18 episodes of Love, Death & Robots season 1 can be weighed against each other in numerous ways. But which episode is best?
18. Fish Night
A plodding supernatural exercise that just sort of fades to black instead of ending, "Fish Night" is easily the worst - or, really, the least good - episode of Love, Death & Robots. It starts well as a cel-shaded drama about two men, a father and his son, stranded in the Arizona desert, but then goes overboard. The episode becomes a kaleidoscopic ghost story when they're visited by the spirits of the ancient aquatic life that once lived there, the son becoming so infatuated with the experience he strips naked, only to be eaten by a ghost shark - despite other ghosts harmlessly fading through their bodies. "Fish Night" is inconsistent and feels unfinished.
17. Sucker of Souls
There's a sheen of male bravado in Love, Death & Robots that is most evident without recourse in "Sucker of Souls". An expedition to find a locked away demonic force goes awry and it's up to the flippant, capitalistic, muscle-bound private security to save the day. The action is well-paced but the muscular-gym-selfie take on Indiana Jones is limp.
"Suits" is, on the surface, fun, charming, and good-hearted. Some red-blooded American farmers defend their land from unwanted invaders. Then the camera draws back at the end to reveal that humans are the ones invading and colonizing this planet and the episode stops being cute. The history of Native Americans being mistreated is no joke, and anything that shows white Americans as the heroes fighting for “their land” against what are characterized as wild, monstrous, native species is disingenuous at best.
Another episode not short on testosterone is "Shape-Shifters", whose abs-maximized story at least has the good grace to try and say something about the male ego, even if it's couched in the overdone backdrop of America's occupation in the Middle East. Showing the Marine Corps to be disdainful of the monsters they're creating is good, as is framing “both sides” rhetoric firmly on the fault of the US, but bland leads and aesthetic make for a forgettable episode overall.
14. The Secret War
"The Secret War" gets ahead of "Shape-Shifters" by merit of being Love, Death & Robots' darkest take on war. Winding back the clock to the 1920s, this episode focuses on the futility of patriotic duty, having an elite group sacrifice themselves simply to cover up their government's mistakes. The CGI making "The Secret War" look like an elaborate cut-scene for a cookie-cutter first-person-shooter lets down some weighty subject matter.
13. Lucky 13
Of the war stories in Love, Death & Robots, "Lucky 13" is the best simply because it moves away from a male-centered focus. Rather than Marines throwing insults at each other and Russia soldiers freezing in Siberia, this is about Lt. Colby, a female pilot, developing a connection with a previously thought-to-be cursed aircraft. Novel and well-written, "Lucky 13" is unremarkable in its visuals, but the lovely ending note keeps it resonating.
Page 2 of 3: Love, Death & Robots Episodes Ranked: #12-7