Love, Death and Robots is one of the best properties of Netflix. It is an anthology series of different sci-fi short films that range from goofs to existentialism. With names like David Fincher and Tim Miller attached to the project, it appeared very promising. And season 1 of the Netflix series also delivered on the promise. Each short contains a distinct style of animation, with some awe-inspiring special effects to boot. It also packs a lot of A-rated stuff. There’s gratuitous violence, nudity, and profanity. But it also delivers on some existential food for thought stories. There’s emotion and thought put into each of these visually striking episodes.
The genres range from fantasy to sci-fi, horror, and comedy. Some of the CGI in the series is nothing short of ground-breaking in terms of what we’ve seen in shows. The photorealistic animation is one of the greatest suits of the show. Most of the shorts involve robots and some futuristic and apocalyptic setting. As the title suggests, the show contends with three main things — love, death, and robots. And some of the shorts contain all three of them. So without any further ado, let’s jump into each short’s ending and explain what they entail. Read carefully, spoilers ahead!
Sonnie’s Edge is basically Pokémon but edgy. It has grim and brutal cyberpunk feel to its atmosphere. It revolves around a monster battle, like Pokémon, with the monsters’ owners controlling them through psychic links or something. That’s not important, what’s important is the badass slo-mo fight the beasts engage in. It’s brutal, bloody, gory, and awesome. We meet our protagonist, an edgy woman with a dark past involving sexual assault at the hands of scummy men. When a sinister man tries to bribe her to lose a fight intentionally, she refuses. She doesn’t play like that and when the fight at the arena starts, her ‘beastie” comes out victorious at last. Furious at this, the sinister dude lures Sonnie through his mistress. However, when they crush Sonnie’s face to a pulp, it’s revealed that Sonnie’s consciousness is actually housed within the engineered beast. Pretty neat!
Three Robots is one of the funniest ones out of the lot in Love, Death, and Robots season 1. It sees three robots traveling around a post-apocalyptic earth city, where humans are all dead. They marvel at the remnant pieces of technology and the weird human ways of the ancient past. All that remains is skeletons and technological relics. The banter between the three robots is hilarious as they try to make sense out of basketball and cats. It comments on the deep issues of climate change and how it can lead to our extinction. The other two robots also scare the one with the cat by telling that it can explode.
But what do ya know, the cats do turn out to be murderous felines. The end sees the robots ensnared by hundreds of cats with one explaining how humans gave the cats opposable thumbs. The genetically enhanced cats coupled with irreversible climate change drove humanity to its extinction. Now that’s horrifying!
Suits flip the conventional Hollywood alien invasion trope on its head. We meet a rural farmer family but the time seems to be a futuristic one. Instead of big tractors, the family has big mecha suits. But they’re not meant for farming. As we see soon enough, a swarm of monstrous aliens breaches through some energy field, approaching the house ferociously. That’s when the farmers all geared up and ready their mecha suits, going on a rampage on the aliens to save their families. After the farmers successfully save themselves from the alien creatures, the community returns to normal.
However, the twist comes as the short ends with a pan out on the colony. It turns out that it’s not aliens invading earth but the opposite. It’s actually the home planet of the attacking aliens and humans have invaded it, living inside many force-field colonies. It’s actually the humans who invade the alien home planet and they’re just trying to reclaim it.
The Witness is beautifully animated and rendered short. It looks both animated and photo-realistic at the same time. It follows a girl witnessing a murder in an apartment in the building across hers. But the murderer sees her witnessing the murder. Rattled by her looking exactly like his victim, he storms off to chase her, while the girl makes a run for it. The murderer chases her through the urban and desolate city. She barely escapes his clutches several times. She eventually reaches a sex shop, where she apparently works. The murderer follows her through to the sex shop. After performing an erotic dance, she sees that the killer is there. Another chase ensues that ends up in the killer ambushing her in an apartment. In the scuffle that follows, the girl ends up accidentally shooting him dead.
However, that’s when she looks out of the window and sees a man exactly like the killer who has witnessed what transpired. This makes for a weird loop that these two seem to be trapped in, wherein these two are bound forever. Another interpretation of the ending suggests that it’s actually the girl who was a murderer all along. She’s being chased by the metaphorical ghost of the man she murdered.
Sucker of Souls
This short follows a group of mercenaries that an archaeologist has hired. The archaeologist, Dr. Flynn, along with his young assistant, is researching ancient caves. The expedition soon turns bloody and deadly, when Dracula emerges out of the darkness. Dracula is, as Dr. Flynn explains, the real deal — “The” Dracula. He unleashes his hunger by first decapitating the young assistant. Dr. Flynn and the mercenaries make a run for it, narrowly escaping Dracula.
They meet up with two other mercenaries and they gather up their firearms. During the confrontation with Dracula, they also learn that Dracula is actually scared of cats. They engage in another battle with Dracula and eventually kill him, using C4s. But when they think it’s all over, they realize that many more Dracula-like creatures are surrounding them. The ending screams and growls suggest that they’re not gonna make it now.
When The Yogurt Took Over
This one’s the most absurd short in Love, Death and Robots season 1. It’s also the shortest of the lot. The animation is very reminiscent of Pixar films. It follows yogurt turning sentient and taking over the world, because, why not? Human scientists do experiments on the lactobacillus bacteria to make it sentient and it does. The yogurt soon comes up with intelligent algorithms to save the world’s economy. However, the politicians obviously don’t follow up on anything that’s got to do with intelligence. Consequently, the economy collapses and the world is all doomed, except for the region that Yogurt reigns on. But soon the yogurt grows tired of the human race and flies off to interstellar space.
Beyond The Aquila Rift
This short is one of the most visually impressive ones in season 1. It’s photorealistic and rides that uncanny valley perfectly. It features unbelievable real-looking CGI characters. The story follows a space captain waking up from his hypersleep. Upon waking up, he discovers that his ship has deviated horrendously off course. Their ship is now stranded in a very remote region outside of the galaxy. That’s when he discovers that his old fling Greta is also there. Greta tells her that they’re off course by light years but at least he’s got her. However, soon enough, he realizes that things don’t add up.
Great eventually shed her mask when the captain forces her to reveal what’s up. That’s when he actually wakes up, finding his sleeping pods and ship’s wreckage ensnared by alien arachnid webs. An arachnid alien reveals itself, the one who has been putting the stragglers into a comfortable fabricated reality through telepathy. The stragglers all lose memory and are oblivious to their real condition, gaining awareness sometimes, though. As for the arachnid’s real intentions, it seems that it ultimately means well. The stragglers can’t survive in such a remote place so it gives them a chance to die living their dream. That’s a tiny bit of silver lining for such a dark and grim story, I guess.
Good Hunting features beautiful animation. It is reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in terms of its vibes and fights. It shares similarities with Sonnie’s Edge. Both of the shorts revolve around a woman trying to maintain their autonomy and edge in a male-dominated world. We follow Liang, a hunter, apprentice to his father. They hunt shape-shifting creatures called Huli Jing. However, Liang doesn’t have the stomach for it. He falls for a Huli Jing called Yan, while his father slays her mother. Liang saves Yan by lying to him. When they grow up and his father has passed away, Liang leaves for Hong Kong. One the years, the British have spread their colonizing claws over China. Modernity has rendered Hong Kong into a steampunk land. Liang has become a great inventor while Yan has become a sex worker to survive.
The technological invasion has also resulted in Yan losing her ability to shape-shift. When a sleazy rich client turns Yan into a mechanical robot of sorts, she turns to Liang for help. Liang modifies her body with his ingenious engineering skills. He makes her into a much more capable robot, enabling her to transform into a dangerous fox. Regaining her ability to shape-shift, albeit, with a different spin, she heads off to take vengeance. She now goes around finessing the sleazy and harassing men with her fox form.
A land inspector goes to a dumpy site, Ugly Dave’s house which lies amidst a garbage dump site. The inspector is there to get Ugly Dave to sign a contract to leave the site. There’s a new building to be made there and the owners don’t want a garbage dump near them. Ugly Dave accepts to sign the contract but asks to listen to his story. His story involves his pet, a sentient blob of garbage, containing organic and inorganic parts. It can absorb anything irrespective of its nature. The inspector is not interested in the story, nor does he believes it. But when Ugly Dave’s done with the story, his pet Ollie creeps up behind the inspector and gobbles him up. The short ends with Ollie chewing and gulping down the inspector. Yikes!
Helping Hand is very similar to Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-winning movie, gravity. Like the film, we follow a female astronaut, who meets an accident when floating debris separates her from the station. Stuck floating in the space, she’s so close to the station yet so far. The station at earth sends for help, but they will not make it in time. Her oxygen is running out quickly and only 15 minutes have left, the help will arrive in 50 minutes. Now, her seemingly hopeless situation lits up with an idea. She makes an airtight seal around her arm and then detaches the arm of the suit. Then she throws it in the opposite direction, giving her a push towards her station with a force equivalent to be arm’s weight.
But alas! Just as she is about to touch the station, she misses it just by an inch. She comes up with another idea again, this one being even more brutal than before. She breaks her exposed arm with a great deal of pain and throws it away. This time she manages to make it. With wrapped bandages and a grateful sigh of relief, she heads off to Earth. The animation of this short film is among the best ones in Love, Death and Robots.
Shape Shifters revolves around two Lycan US army soldiers. They’re a mix of a canine and a human with heightened senses and abilities. They’re in the middle east and the Lycan duo help make the army operation very easy. However, they soon realize that the enemy has also werewolves among them. When the enemy werewolves kill his partner, Decker sets out for revenge. He recognizes the enemy beasts but doesn’t reveal them to the army. He wants to take them on himself. And so he does. After a grueling and gruesome battle, he kills the werewolves. Following that, he takes his partner’s corpse and walks away from the army base, leaving it. The short asks the question: who’s the real monster? The enemy werewolves, the Lycan supersoldiers, or the US army?
It’s about two door-to-door salesmen, struck in the middle of the Arizona desert after their car breaks down. The old salesman tells the young one to rest in the shade and start walking in the early morning the next day. While the old man is patient and careful, taking rest, the young one is irritable and expends energy. The old man also tells him about how the desert once used to be an ocean, sprawling with aquatic life. Halfway through their sleep, they wake up and look outside the car to see the ghosts of aquatic life hovering in the air. The young man, in his oner excitement, undresses and joins the fishes. The old man warns him but he’s blinded by his excitement and wonder.
His excitement and impatience ultimately lead to his death by a ghost shark. I think this ending signifies a grim fact about the young man’s actual fate. He was impatient and spent energy which rendered him dehydrated. As a result, he died and now the old man had to walk the desert alone. The ghost fishes are how the old man visualizes the young man’s death, or it could be a hallucination too.
Alternate Histories is one of the more light-hearted shorts in Love, Death and Robots season 1. This short sees Hitler getting killed in various ways and its impact on the course of history. It answers the question of what if one could go back in time and kill Hitler before WWI? Although it has some weird and unlikely ways of dying, it’s entertaining nonetheless. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Hitler dying in various ways? And that’s it, that’s all you need to know about it. There’s no deeper meaning to it all, it’s just fun to see Hitler dying in serval hilarious ways.
The Secret War
This short follows a Russian platoon that takes upon demonic hell creatures who devour anyone in their way. The platoon is sent on a mission into the forests of early 1920s Siberia. The demonic creatures spawn from the depths of hell when the Red Army experimented with dark magic. Suffice it to say, the experiments didn’t pan out how they wanted them to. The creatures are ravenous and brutalize anyone in their way. Now the platoon has to confront the demonic creatures. But the only to exterminate them is an airstrike. However, to give the air force time to get there, the platoon has to hold the monsters back. And so they do, in a badass Russian way — a handful of Russian soldiers fighting off demonic hell monsters. In the end, the platoon perishes, but their valor doesn’t go in vain, the air force finally exterminates the monsters.
Ice Age is the only live-action short in Love, Death and Robots season 1. It follows a young couple discovering a human civilization living in their freezer. They peek at the civilization which is going through different phases at an unimaginable pace. Within minutes the civilization reaches from the stone age to the industrial era. The couple witnesses the whole civilization go through its entire human history up to the point of singularity. There are some grim nuclear wars during the course too, but humanity perseveres still. After the singularity, the civilization cycle starts again, beginning with the primal era. So what does it mean? Maybe we are just some insignificant part of some advanced civilization’s appliance? Crazy if true.
Blind Spot features a robotic gang carrying out a high-octane action-fuelled robbery. They have to rob a computer chip from a truck laced with heavy armory and firepower. The gang comprises five members with the brains being away from the action and also a rookie joining in. They carry out the robbery with a confident onslaught of attacks at first. But soon they start getting killed by the dangerous guards. In the end, they do finish the robbery and it’s a mixed bag of success. Only the rookie and the “brains” survive. At least that’s how it seems. We soon learn, as does the rookie, that the gang has survived. Their brains had all the copies already backed up in the database, which made their body’s destruction meaningless. If the future comes with the ability to copy your brain to a different body, it couldn’t come any sooner.
Zima Blue is about a reclusive artist, Zima, who obsesses over blue rectangles. What starts as a unique artistic inclusion in his paintings, soon becomes the only dominant part about them. He started making bigger and bigger blue rectangles. The size of the blue rectangles dwarves moon at one point. There’s a legend about Zima, which states that he was a mortal man who went through robotic enhancements. After Zima offers to give an interview to a journalist himself, he reveals that he was never a man. He started as a simple pool cleaner robot that his owner made. She then started making it more and more autonomous. As he became fully autonomous, his longing for a simpler time grew more and more. In the end, he takes a plunge at the same pool and disintegrates himself, returning to the bare and simple pool-cleaning robot he once was.
Lucky 13 is another one of the awesome photo-realistic shorts in Love, Death and Robots season 1. The story follows lieutenant Colby and an old ship that’s infamous for its reputation for being unlucky. Lieutenant Colby soon develops a warm and touching relationship with the ship. The ship is also kind of sentient. It operates on some AI and seems to be responsive to Colby’s affinity. Together, they complete many successful operations. With every successful mission, the ship’s reputation starts changing to a positive one.
Then the fateful day arrives and the enemy forces manage to bring Lucky 13 down. Colby has to activate the self-destruct on the ship, albeit with a heavy heart. However, when the countdown finishes, it doesn’t self-destruct. Colby thinks that it doesn’t want to go, but the reason is something else. It turns out, the ship waited for all the enemies to surround it and then self-destruct, ensuring the proper safety of Colby and the rest of the crew.
Watch the trailer Love, Death and Robots here;