Explainers

Love, Death + Robots, Explained

March 17, 2019
25 min read

Love, Death + Robots is truly a kind of mental lunacy that takes you through 18 science fiction based shorts that are unlike other shows of similar genre (Black Mirror). All the shorts are unrelated to each other in every possible way and do not whirl around the same themes. Most of them don’t even have any big message. But what all of the shorts do have is something very unique to offer. Some of them have an open ending that’ll leave you wondering what really happened and you might have to rewatch the short all over again so that you could draw some conclusions out of the perplexing piece of art. But more than anything else it’s the Photoreal CGI, Rotoscoping, Motion Capture and other surreal visuals of the show that remain with you long after the show is over.

Tim Miller, David Fincher and all the others who were involved in the making of these have gone far beyond what was seen as possible till today. Each short has its own unique animation style and most of these revolve around the theme of a post-apocalyptic world with distinctive stories and never seen before visuals. If you’re not looking out for any spoilers of the show, then this is where you should stop reading this and re-visit this page later once you’re done watching. But if you’ve already watched ‘Love, Death + Robots’ and are still confused about what went on in some those shorts, then we’ll help you break down each episode one by one.

Episode 1: Sonnie’s Edge- “Dying is Life Around Here”

This short is based in a world that seems to be dark and diminished with the rich getting richer and the poor staying poor. Amidst all this, an underground sport of genetically mutated beasts combat goes on where these beasts are controlled by their master humans through a bunch of Bioprocessors. One of the competitors in this beast combat tournament is Sonnie who has won all of her fights till date and refuses to lose even when she is bribed by a rich opponent’s stakeholder. Sonnie again proves that she cannot be defeated after she manages to win by making her beast thrust its sharp head right through the opponent. She then finds the rich briber’s assistant lurking around their beast. Sonnie is very much tempted by her beauty and the blond assistant lures her even more. But as soon as she comes close to her, the blond uses her own genetically advanced nails and pierces them right through Sonnie’s head. The rich briber Dicko enters the room and the blonde tries to completely end her by smashing her head with her foot. With her face completely mashed to the ground, Sonnie still manages to speak and that confuses Dicko and his assistant.

The Ending

That’s when Sonnie reveals that she is nothing but a bunch of bioprocessors spliced to a spine. Sonnie goes back to the story that she had revealed at the beginning of the short where she talks about how she had been brutally raped by some men. Sonnie also reveals that she died that night before the two other members of her team had found her. Her edge at winning the competition was not that she was the only woman involved in the sport, it was that she was actually a part of her Beast and the human form was nothing but a few remains of her raped body. The human form did not control the beast but it was the other way around, the beast controlled her human form and every time the beast entered the arena for a fight, it was Sonnie deep inside who was fighting for her life unlike the other competitors — and that itself is an has always been ‘Sonnie’s Edge.’

Episode 2: Three Robots- “Who Would Rule the World after Humans?”

Set up in a post-apocalyptic world, this one is a lot less NSFW compared to most episodes and has more of a humorous appeal to it. It follows the journey of three robots who are on a vacation trip in a post-apocalyptic world. As the robots walk through a humanless post-apocalyptic city, they seem to be amused by the most basic human activities like having food or dribbling a basketball.

Who are these robots?

The tallest among all of them has Xbot-4000 written down his neck and there is one scene where hints are given about this robot’s ancestors being gaming consols. So Xbot-4000 is probably a 4000th gen-Xbox console. There’s also a baby robot who mentions that his ancestral background consists of baby monitors which directly suggests that he is a baby monitor of the future. The third robot who has female voice looks a lot like TARS from the movie ‘Interstellar’ and also has a similar sense of humor. But “her” robotic voice also indicates that she could possibly be a future Alexa.

The Ending

Somewhere around the end, the three robots find a nuclear warhead made by humans and suggest how the humans ended themselves which implies the possibility of a nuclear war. But then the female TARS  interrupts and says that humans were so lost in the haze of considering themselves being the pinnacle of all creation, they ended up “poisoning their own water, killing their land and choking the sky”. So maybe it wasn’t a nuclear war that leads to the death of all humans but some sort of a man-made calamity like global warming.

The twist comes in when the Little Bot criticizes humans for genetically re-engineering cats into having opposable thumbs. That’s when a cat that had been following them all along starts talking in English and explains how once cats were able to open up their own tuna cans, they did not need humans anymore. So the primary reason for the human wipeout could be global warming but cats finished off the remaining humans because they did not need them anymore. In the final scene, the cat brings along its other friends and blackmails the robots saying that if they do not pet all of them, the cats might explode and end them as well. The robots are enslaved in their own vacation by a bunch of cats.

Episode 3: The Witness- “A Paradox”

This short had one of the best visuals in the entire series but the ending of this one is even better and indeed NSFM (Not Safe For Mind). The episode starts off with a girl named Zawora witnessing a murder in an apartment right across her hotel. The man who commits the murder also looks at Zawora from across the street and that’s where things get a little kicky because Zawora looks exactly like the girl the man had just shot dead. What follows is a chase where the man tries talking to Zawora because he is clearly confused but Zawora keeps running from him assuming that he will try to kill her, now that she is ‘The Witness’.

The Ending

After fetching a gun from her employer’s room Zamora finds an open apartment and hides in it. But this apartment turns out to be the apartment where the murder was committed in the first place. The man enters the apartment and tries to talk to her but amid the confusion and panic, Zamora ends up shooting the man only to later find the same man looking at her from a hotel right across the street. The only explanation to this ending can be is that the two are stuck in a repetitive loop of seeking revenge. The famous saying “While seeking revenge, dig two graves” has gone into a paradox where the two will keep killing each other unless the cycle is broken.

Episode 4: Suits- “Invaders or Invaded?”

This episode seems pretty straightforward initially and has an animation style very similar to that of ‘Spiderman: Into the Verse’. At the beginning and post-apocalyptic world where humans are fighting a bunch of giant insect-like alien creatures who are trying to invade our ground. Humans have these huge mechanized suits that they use for battling these aliens. The humans seem to well equipped and prepared for the attack which shows that before this the invasion was a manageable problem. But this time they are attacked by a huge swarm of these creatures, still, they somehow manage to control the situation by the end.

The Ending

The ending shows a zoomed out view of the planet and it turns out that the humans are not on Earth and the world that we know today has probably ended. Humans live on a foreign planet under these dooms that tend to recreate an Earthly environment where humans don’t need space suits to breathe. But if the planet is not our own then isn’t it very wrong to imply that we are being invaded by aliens when there is a possibility that it was the humans who had invaded their planet and the aliens are the local inhabitants of the planet who are just trying to fight back.

Episode 5: Sucker for Souls- “An Unlikely Savior.”

This episode is quite direct. Nothing in this one requires an explainer. A bunch of soldiers is assisting an archeologist in finding an ancient creature in some old abandoned castle (Probably in Romania). But when they actually get close to finding the creature, they discover that the “Ancient Demonic Dracula” they were looking for is still alive and it even kills a young boy who is assisting the doctor. They run trying to save their lives and during this, they realize that the only thing that can stop the Vampire is cats. Nothing else, even gunshots seem to cause no harm to the creature.

Why Cats?

The doctor mentions that eating a cat will make his flesh burn. Also according to The Saga of Darren Shan, the blood of a cat can be poisonous for the vampire which in turn will make its flesh burn. Cats are also known to be the guardians of the underworld, not literally but they’re probably aware of this duty deep inside and it is said that cats neither belong to heaven or hell (Constantine reference). Vampires are abominations of dead souls that walk on earth with a physical body. That itself defies the rules of the underworld and that’s probably why the demon felt threatened by the cat. Even in the movie ‘The Mummy’, there is a scene where a cat violently hisses at the Mummy and the Mummy then roars and takes an exit.

Episode 6: When the Yogurt Took Over- “Humans Don’t Deserve Yogurt”

This one is absolutely hilarious and has the craziest ideas all along the episode. It’s about a scientific experiment that accidentally breeds an intelligent yogurt. The yogurt takes over the world and only intends to aim for the betterment of humanity. Initially, humans are against it but later they realize that the world is actually a better place when the yogurt is ruling them.

The Ending

Why does the yogurt leave in the end? The yogurt realizes that even though it seeks the betterment of humanity, we are too vain to follow it as a leader. So it decides to leave earth and spread its noble ideas somewhere else by starting life on a new planet leaving humans to their own misery.

Episode 7: Beyond the Aquila Rift- “What’s real?”

The animations in this one are almost lifelike and will surely blow your mind. But what’s even more compelling is the plot. The story starts off with Thorn and his crew members going off into their hibernation pods after they put their space ship on autopilot to a route that seems like a shortcut to their location. Thorn then wakes up in his ship with the ship’s emergency alarm ringing at the back. He looks outside and notices that they’ve somehow reached a space station. That’s when the door of space ship opens and in comes Greta, a girl he had an affair with 4 years ago. Greta tells him that a very common glitch occurs in that location and a lot of space ships get lost in the same area. Greta and Thorn then catch up with old times and have sex which is literally porn.

But then after they get back to the ship, Thorn’s crew member gets up and tries to convince Thorn that Greta is not Greta and is just a mere imposter. Thorn still doesn’t believe her but later he starts to realize that his crew member could be right. He confronts Greta who tells him that all of this was just a simulation and he may not be ready for what’s real. He forces her to which she replies “I really do care about the lost souls who end up here” and shows him the reality which looks like a spider’s nest and when he looks at Greta’s true imposter he starts to scream and soon wakes up again in his pod and finds Greta entering the ship again.

The Ending

This one leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions like- Who was the alien who created the whole simulation? What really happens at the end? Why was Suzi(the crew member) reacting the way she did?

So from the story, it looks like the alien did not have any bad intentions at all. All it does is, it gives all the “lost souls” who end up there because of glitches, a second chance at life by giving them a real-life simulation. The alien realizes that the sight of her appearance and her surroundings would be unbearable for most lost travelers. So she gives them a simulation where she slowly drops hints of truth so that they can digest the reality slowly.

This is where Suzi comes in. Outside the simulation, Suzi is probably dead because in the last scene her pod seems to be broken. When Suzi tries to doubt Greta in the simulation, that is probably the alien’s way of testing if Thorn is ready for the truth or not. But when he does not agree with Suzi, it becomes clear that he may not be ready for the truth yet. That’s when Greta says “We’ll try again. later, Thom. As many times as it takes.” She’s not saying this for Suzi, she’s saying this for Thorn and is willing to drop hints or restart the simulation so that Thorn can come in peace with his surroundings slowly. That’s the reason why Thorn finds himself right at the beginning of the simulation in the last scene because he’s not able to absorb the reality and its horrific visuals too well. The alien senses it and sends him back into the simulation loop. As for the alien, it’s probably just a lonely creature that tries to help these lost souls or the alien could be an evil spider-like entity that lures its preys into its nest and feeds on them after they are dead.

Episode 8: Good Hunting- “A Woman’s Liberation”

This is probably the longest short in the series and had the potential to become a full-fledged movie. The visuals were very artistic and went really well with the theme. But this episode was very direct about what it was trying to portray and may not need an explainer at all. But regardless, this one is can be emotional and even extremely horrifying at times. It’s about a man who befriends a Huli Jing (Spirits in the Chinese Mythology) even though his father was a Huli Jing hunter. Later the Huli Jin goes through a very traumatic experience and he decides to help her.  If you haven’t seen this one, you definitely should.

Episode 9: The Dump- “One Man’s Dump is Another Man’s Funeral.”

I wouldn’t say this one is among the best out of all the episodes. It still manages to get in a few laughs here and there and has some decent visuals. The story I would say is just OK. The dump is the story of a man who stays right in the middle of mountains of a garbage dump. A city inspector visits him to give him an eviction notice because of the pollution all the undisposed garbage was causing. To buy himself some time he starts reciting a story to the officer about how his friend was eaten up by a monster that was nothing but a creation of his dump. Also how he was able to tame it by initially hurting it and later showing some compassion towards it. Once he’s done telling his story, the dump monster Otto seems to be already standing right behind the inspector ready to eat him and so it does.

Episode 10: Shape-Shifters- “War Dogs and Racism”

The story of this one is simple yet effective. The short is set up in Afghanistan, where the US Army has appointed two unusual soldiers for their superhuman abilities (Hint Hint: They’re werewolves). But just because they’re different from everyone else, they are constantly criticized and have to put with a lot of crap that other soldiers give them. They’re labeled as dogs all the time but the two still stay to serve their country. Later during a battle with the enemy, one of them dies which leads to a realization that there might a werewolf on the opposite side as well. The US werewolf who is still alive sets out to seek revenge for his fallen brother and kills one of his own kind in an epic beautifully captured gory and violent fight scene. In the end, he realizes that all their sacrifices for their country as werewolves were never really appreciated. He carries the body of his fellow soldier out of the army basecamp and never looks back again.

Episode 11: Helping Hand- “127 Hours in Space”

One of the most brutal episodes out there but also a little closer to reality compared to the others. This short is about an astronaut who in the beginning is shown to be working on a satellite called LV-426 that revolves around the earth’s orbit. While she works on the satellite, a screw in the form of floating space debris comes rolling towards her and hits the back of her space suit destroying her jetpack and also her oxygen storage tanks which send her flying away from the satellite. She comes up with the idea of strapping up the upper part of her space suit arm tightly to her skin so that a vacuum is maintained and no oxygen escapes from her suit. She then removes the lower part of the space suit that covers her arm and throws it in the opposite direction of the direction in which she wants to go.

It works just as she thought it would because you know, Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As she starts to drift back towards the satellite she tries grabbing a part of it, but she misses which sends her back to where she had started. Back out there in the open space, she realizes that she’s running out of oxygen and when she looks down at the open end of her arm where the spacesuit used to be, she notices that her lower arm was now starting to freeze. She decides to give Newton’s theory a second chance but this time with her arm. Just as she starts to snap her arm out of her elbow socket you’re reminded of James Franco from ‘127 Hours’. Her arm snaps right off and this time she makes it back to her spaceship. Very brutal this one…

Episode 12: Fish Night- “Fill in Your Imagination”

This one is either the best short or the worst one because it leaves out a lot of blank spaces. This one tells the story of two men, one young and the other one old, who get stranded in the middle of a dessert when their car breaks down. But later at night when they fall asleep their car comes back to life and the sky starts to emit all kinds of lights. Woken up by this, the two walk out to find themselves at the bottom of the hauntings of an ocean and surrounded by fishes of different species of fish that float in the air like ghosts. The young man gets all excited and starts stripping off all of his clothes to become a part of the ghostly ocean while the old man tries to stop him. The young man too lost in his haze of excitement while swimming in this air with schools of fish does not notice an approaching shark behind him. The old man tries to warn him but he fails to listen and gets eaten by the shark leaving behind a mist of blood under the pale room.

The Ending

One theory about the ending could be that the place is actually a ghostly projection of the past. The closer the young man got, the more he crossed a supernatural boundary to become a part of the entire “haunting”. The old man did not really touch any of the fishes or make any attempts to do so, which is why he is still safe by the end. But the young boy was even start’s to change his color and eventually becomes a part of the ghostly ocean which later makes him the prey of the shark. But one flaw with this theory is the absolute last scene where the sky turns back to normal and everything fades.

Maybe the young man did not exist at all. Maybe all the previous scenes are projections of memories the old man has  with his son because in one scene you can see some deep remorse in the man’s eyes when he apologizes to the young man. All of it is probably a coping mechanism for the old man where he still believes that his son is with him but by the end, the reality hits himand he again that realizes that his son is not with him anymore and the whole illusion starts to fade away and so does the memory of his dead son.

Episode 13: Lucky 13- “Luck or Co-incidence?”

A ship known as the unlucky 13 because of its past runs when two crews who were on board had met a brutal fate. But Lieutenant Colby comes by to change this. She flies 10 straight missions without meeting the predicted fate of the ship and manages to gain the respect of everyone on the team. She even declines the offer of getting a new ship and sticks to flying the “unlucky 13” which was now lucky for her. She starts to feel a connection with the ship.

The Ending

On an evac mission, the ship gets shot down but Coby’s proves her skills here by lading it safely to the ground without causing any damage to the crew. Colby is soon left with no other option but to leave the ship behind and flee with her crew. She puts the ship on self destruct and hides in a corner with the crew. The opposition now starts using the ship as cover while Colby waits for it to self-destruct. The ship does not self-destruct and waits for other enemies to budge in closer to it. ’13’ explodes initiating self destruct and takes down each and every enemy with it. Colbe gets rewarded for her bravery but she still misses the ship that had saved her every time.

There could be two theories behind the ending scene. Colby either was really a great pilot and all this while it was her skills that helped her survive each time. And the last part where the ship only explodes when all the enemies around it could be a coincidence.

But a more emotional theory would be that the ship did feel a connection with Colby and Colby felt the same with the ship. This is the reason why the ship always made sure that Colby was safe. The ship was Colby’s “Lucky 13”.

Episode 14: Zima Blue- “Back To the Roots”

One of the most touching and philosophical episodes talks about the journey of an artist who keeps getting better with each piece that he produces. From human portraits to giant cosmos and all the way to the universe, he expands the domain of his art to endless possibilities. But the man is still not satisfied with his art. A legend goes around about the multiple transformations he has gone through as a human to become a nearly perfect robot. But when he starts reciting his own real story to a journalist things start to clearer about why he still feels dissatisfied with his work and what will be his next artwork. He tells the story of how he had started off as a swimming cleaning bot and was then given modifications by his owner and other people he was passed on to, making him more and more alive and more of who he has become today.

The Ending

The artist recreates a pool similar to the one where he had first started working and reveals that the tiles of the pool were what the creator had called them “Zima Blue“. He takes a dive into the pool where he is surrounded by curious people who wonder what his final piece of art will be. But as his robotic body parts soon start to dismantle everyone seems to be confused and slowly start to leave. But he knows that his true purpose is in his roots and true art is not in his magnificent creations but in those Zima blue tiles. He soon turns into the pool cleaning bot that he used to be and starts cleaning it up like the good old days. He could see now that the beauty of life and the very purpose was not in some grand vision but in the smallest yet significant thing, his first view of his life and the universe- the Zuma tiles were pure art.

Episode 15: Blindspot- “Always have a backup”

‘Blindspot is about a group of small-time cyborg thieves who face their toughest opponent till date in a battle full of rage and heavy armored action. By the end of this 8-minute action-packed short everyone is dead except for “The new guy” who feels sad that even though the mission was accomplished everyone died fighting the insanely strong opponent. But the ending of this one holds a small surprise as well. The memories of all the dead cyborgs had been backed up safely before the mission, which means they’re technically still alive and can be recreated physically. This one may have the simplest plot but it still manages to squeeze every drop out of its short running time.

Episode 16: Ice Age- “Life As We Know It”

This is one is a lot like that episode of ‘The Simpsons‘ where Lisa accidentally creates microscopic life for her science project. The only live-action episode in the series shows a couple that moves into a new home and finds a mammoth frozen inside an ice cube of their freezer. When they look deeper inside the freezer they realize that there’s a whole civilization living in there. Time seems to be relatively much faster in there because of which they get to see where it all began all the way up to future intergalactic travels of human life and ultimately also the end. But then it starts all over again. This episode too has a complex idea but a very simple plot so all of it is very direct and beautiful. Overall just a very fun “short” to watch.

Episode 17: Alternate Histories- “The Butterfly Effect”

This episode has nothing substantial and is the silliest out there. But that itself makes it absolutely hilarious. It just shows the funniest possibilities that would have changed the entire history of the world and one of them involves Hitler having sex (we did not want to see that). The whole thing was overall very dumb but it will still give you a good laugh with its extreme lameness and I believe that was the purpose behind creating this “short”.

Episode 18: The Secret War- “The Sacrifice”

This one has no plot twists, no philosophy, and no hidden meanings. It’s just a pure CGI based war between humans soldiers and terrifying monsters. A perfect blend of gore and war based action makes this one look like it’s straight out of a video game. It also adds a little dash of emotions in between and also by the end when every soldier gives it everything. All of them die by the end of the short, sacrificing their lives to protect their people. It also shows flashes of some black magic that explains the origin of the monsters who were created by an occultist Major. The episode was very direct compared to all the other episodes and also had a highly aesthetic appeal to it. All of this together gave the whole series a dark and amazing ending.

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