What does the ending of each episode of Love, Death & Robots mean? Netflix's new anthology series is an experimental production, featuring 18 sci-fi short films, each told in a different style of animation - occasionally in live-action - with all of them maintaining a self-contained plot.
With producers including David Fincher and Tim Miller, Love, Death & Robots is an R-rated take on the Black Mirror formula, not holding back on the sex, nudity, or violence. But among all the depravity are some chillingly existential concepts, with subject matter ranging from the darkly fantastical to the outright dystopian, and back again.
Even the shortest episodes of Love, Death & Robots, as well as the most comedic and straight-forward, offer some philosophical food for thought, picking at our collective psyche to show who we really are. As usual, what's revealed in Love, Death & Robots doesn't show the human race in a positive light.
- This Page: Love, Death & Robots Episodes 1-6
- Page 2: Love, Death & Robots Episodes 7-12
- Page 3: Love, Death & Robots Episodes 13-18
The first episode of Love, Death & Robots is "Sonnie's Edge" and it sets the tone as a dimly-lit, cyberpunk, CG-animated cross between Pokémon and Pacific Rim centered on a monster fight between two psychically-controlled beasts. The challenger is a new, scrappy, female contender who brushes off a bribe to lose before coming out victorious. Her briber, none too keen on the refusal, pays her a visit afterwards and finds out her real identity. As it turns out, the new combatant was really her creature all along - after a brutal beating, her conscience was transferred into the animal's, and she uses a reverse form of the psychic link to control a human puppet so nobody's the wiser. By the time her latest assailants see this, of course, it's too late - she goes in for the kill to keep her secret, ready to make every man who stands in her way pay for what happened to her.
Buddy comedy episode "Three Robots" is one of the cheerier cuts of Love, Death & Robots; a Wall-E-inspired jaunt through a post-apocalyptic city featuring a trio of androids. The three chat and deride each other as they discuss the various weird behaviors of the now extinct human race, bodies littering the streets and technology sitting under layers of dust. The cutesy escapade becomes something darker when the cat they've befriended reveals, in perfect English, that after humans gave cats opposable thumbs through genetic engineering, the household felines took over, implying mankind died off fighting both them and the irreparable side effects of climate change. "Pretty heartless," one of the robots retorts.
This Ghost in the Shell-inspired short is one of the more impressive Love, Death & Robots episodes on a technical level. The 3D animation is somewhere between characterized and uncanny, giving the whole thing a heightened sense of realism, bolstered by seeing actual spit and breathing on the screen in parts. A woman goes on the run after witnessing a murder in an apartment across from her own. The murderer, who's confused by his witness looking exactly like his victim, gives chase in search of answers. She leads him to an illicit sex shop where she procures a gun as he continues to give chase until they circle back to her apartment. She kills him, looking out to window to see an exact clone of him has now seen what she did, an endless stream of copies of the man and woman caught in a sort of loop - except they appear to routinely switch places every time.
Most of Love, Death & Robots hinges on final shots that send chills through the viewer. "Suits" is a great example of why these endings don't need to be particularly deep to still be effective. After the main battalion of farmers in the titular mecha suits have successfully beaten back an alien invasion, there's a standard Hollywood ending of the community returning to normal following near devastation. Then the camera pulls back and viewers see the invaders are actually the planet's native species and the farmers are part of a colony on another planet, with many other force-fielded colonies shown on the surface. How they got there and for how long is anyone's guess, but rather than an alien species trying to infest Earth, it seems "Suits" turns the tables and has humans as an unwanted infestation on another planet.
Sucker of Souls
More science-fantasy, Love, Death & Robots' "Sucker of Souls" is a spin on Dracula where the vampiric creature is an imprisoned monstrosity unleashed by an archaeological dig. Scientific in the Indiana Jones sense, the central notion of "Sucker of Souls" is that we should be careful where we search for answers, because the next wild discovery could be our last. Once this demonic Dracula is set free, the small band of mercenaries just barely escape alive before realizing they're in a nest of other vampires the overlord created over the years. An effective homage to '90s comic violence.
When The Yogurt Took Over
The shortest Love, Death & Robots episode is "When The Yogurt Took Over". This episode uses a Pixar-type aesthetic for a strange little yarn about sentient yogurt first solving all our problems and then flying to space. The five minute Love, Death & Robots episode, along with its easy visuals, present some harrowing material - including a baby corpse - but what's here doesn't leave much to think about. Humans invent a higher form of intelligence in "When The Yogurt Took Over", and it soon grows tired of the human race and leaves.