Overall, season 3 of Love, Death & Robots is a solid entry with some visually stunning standouts. Though not every episode was created equally.
Ever since it’s premiere in 2019, Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots has stood out for its myriad of animated shorts that tackle themes within horror and sci-fi through eccentric, unique, and often violent ways. The animated anthology doesn’t shy away from exploring the visceral and otherworldly through the medium of adult animation. And with the recently released third season, Love, Death & Robots may have reached its highest peak yet. Season one was a fun, albeit long, introduction to what the show has to offer. Season two, dropping two years later, was okay, but also divisive and received criticism for being uneven.
But season three stands out as the best of the series so far, with nine genre animated flicks that feel unique from one another. And while this season is a solid one, that doesn’t mean every episode is a knock out of the park. This is why we’re taking a dive into season three of Love, Death & Robots in this worst to best ranking. (Do note though that when we rank an episode low, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad episode. It’s just that it doesn’t fully stand up to the other episodes of the season.)
9. KILL TEAM KILL
This 2D animated short revolves around a group of elite soldiers tasked to destroy a target. That target, it turns out, is a terminator-like bear built by the CIA that has gone against its creators. Story-wise, the episode is pretty generic. The characters themselves are your typical American soldiers who’s military training equals that of their masculine personality. But while the episode lacks nuance and introspection, it does make up for it in the action and violence. Kill Team Kill is meant for those who want noting but action, and maybe a few d*ck jokes on the side. It takes heavy inspiration from Saturday morning cartoons and 80s action with an adult filter. You’re basically getting a gleefully grotesque battle with a mecha bear.
8. THREE ROBOTS: EXIT STRATEGIES
For a first in the series, one of the episodes has gotten a sequel. A follow up to the fan favorite Three Robots from season one, Exit Strategies follows the three robots on their journey around a post-apocalyptic world. The robots learn and explore the different ways in which humanity tried to survive the end of days, often to failure. Watching the episode, you can clearly tell the theme it is trying to navigate. In fact, you can even call it heavy handed. Climate change, social inequality, human greed, and corruption are all on full display in the episode as it makes fun of how humans are slowly destroying the planet. It’s a fun yet subtle season opener that could have benefited from dialogue that wasn’t too on-the-nose.
Set in a future where humanity has learned space travel and interreacts with alien races, a scientist travels to a swarm colony hoping to learn how they tick. There, he meets another human scientist who has managed to cohabit with the swarm as she’s spent years learning their ins and outs. It turns out though that the scientist is looking to harness the powers of the swarm for humanities own gain, which, as you can expect, doesn’t end well.
This sci-fi space tale intrigues because of the many exciting elements it introduces. Humanity’s space faring, other alien races, the history of the swarm, those are all exciting things we would like to know more of. The problem though is that the episode ends on a cliffhanger that leaves us wanting more. The episode ends just about when it feels like it’s about to start. It screams sequel material and in fact, is lore deep enough to be expanded into its own series or movie.
6. IN VAULTED HALLS ENTOMBED
At first glance, In Vaulted Halls Entombed might seem like your typical story of soldiers. A team is tasked to find and rescue a hostage being kept inside the caves of a mountain. But later on, the episode turns into something more. As the team enter the cave, they realize that its actually holding something dark and sinister, an old gold trapped in the mountain bent on conquering the world. The penultimate episode of the season may sometimes feel like a video game cutscene, but at least it gives us a Lovecraftian take on modern war as well as one of the most unforgettable endings of the season. While generic soldiers will always be generic soldiers, the mystical and horror elements take this slightly above the rest.
5. THE VERY PULSE OF THE MACHINE
This episode, along with Kill Team Kill, are the only episodes of the season that are animated in 2D. But this episode made sure to use the most of its format. Two scientists are exploring the moon of Jupiter, Io, when they’re vehicle gets into an accident. Hours away from home base, a scientist must now make her way back all while hauling the corpse of her deceased co-scientist. This episode is not for everyone, but it shines thanks to having arguably the most meaningful story in the season. It’s philosophical in nature as director Emily Dean weaves a tale of poetry meets the chemistry of Io about the true meaning of life. The visuals on display as well are absolutely stunning with its kaleidoscope of colors.
4. MASON’S RATS
One thing that Love, Death & Robots is known for is taking mundane ideas and viewing them through an off-ball and violent twist. That is done to great effect in Mason’s Rats. One day, a foul-mouthed barn owner discovers that his barn is infested with rats. But these aren’t just any rats. They are sentient rats who have taken arms to bring about the ratpocalypse. The farmer then gets help from pest control, who sells him state-of-the art technology to kill the rats with plasma and lasers. But thanks to the ingenuity of the rats, it’s going to take a lot more than robots to kill them.
Mason’s Rats is a fun, funny, and oh-so violent watch on the horrors of war. In a span of ten minutes, the episode turns a simple rat infestation into an R-rated Tom and Jerry-like tale . While the ending might be too fairy tale for some, it doesn’t ruin the episode.
3. NIGHT OF THE MINI DEAD
Zombies? Been there done that. Though Night Of The Mini Dead manages to avoid falling into mostly cliché territory thanks to its off kilter approach to a zombie apocalypse. When a horny couple decide to have sex in a chemistry, things go awry as it inadvertently leads to a zombie apocalypse that is quickly taking over the world. At just seven minutes long, it’s the shortest of the season, but it makes the most of its time thanks to its over the top perspective. The whole world is shown as miniatures that have been sped up. So, in essence, you get a sped up bird’s eye view of a zombie apocalypse which plays in a comedic effect. It’s a simple yet quirky take that’s both exciting and funny.
2. BAD TRAVELLING
From director David Fincher comes this true horror delight. The second episode of the series revolves around a ship’s crew who encounter the Thanapod, a crab like monster with a taste for human flesh. When they trap it in their ship’s cellar, the captain and the monster agree to make a deal that tests to deadly ends the morality of the crew.
This episode is so exceptional and stands out for many reasons. For starters, the story is compelling and engaging as the captain and his crew debate and fight amongst themselves whether or not go through with the deal. The edge-of-your-seat morality tale is enhanced by the animation. It is some of the most realistic, fluid, and striking ever seen in Love, Death & Robots. Once the Thanapod starts feasting and the blood gushes, it’s enough to make your skin crawl. From the opening scene to its unexpected ending, Bad Travelling does not miss.
Love, Death & Robots really saved the best for last for season three. Even if you haven’t seen the season, you may have come across people who’ve talked about this episode. And that’s for many good reasons. The episode follows a group of knights traveling through a forest. One of those knights is deaf. While passing by a lake, a siren emerges from the body of water and lures the men into the lake to their death. That is, of course, except for the deaf knight. Following this, the deaf knight and the siren enter into a deadly dance of wits to see who comes out on top.
Where do we even begin with this episode? For starters, the animation is absolutely breathtaking. It is rendered realistically, but employs a stunning and surreal art style that both makes it look real but exaggerates when it needs to. The character design, especially for the siren, is beautiful and memorable. Director and writer Alberto Mielgo brought animation to another level in this episode with its use of calm shots and in-your-face close-ups. It’s frenetic beauty at its finest as the soldier and the siren try to one up each other. The episode also tells a poignant tale of abuse, colonialism, and greed. The siren is there to defend her land while the soldiers try to defile it. While the episode isn’t for everyone, you can’t deny that it’s a work of art. It’s unique, beautiful, and at times even touching, but it’s also brutal and violent.
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