One of the most intriguing subgenres in both film and television is an anthology, which offers viewers innovative collections of brief stories connected by a common theme. You can almost be guaranteed that this unique genre will at least delight with diversity, even if it fails to enchant with excellence, with everything from the idea of technology as a means to an end in Black Mirror to the colourful and campy world of horror in American Horror Story. This takes us to the Netflix original series Love, Death & Robots, which debuted with 18 distinct shorts in its first season, each of which offered a fresh examination of one of the three themes in the title. The series’ distinctive approach to storytelling is what sets this intriguing new effort different from the other current television programs, whether they are anthologies or not.
The creators of Love, Death & Robots have opted to largely forgo the constraints of live-action filming in favour of animation, where the only constraints are those that may be imagined. It’s simple to become overwhelmed by the variety provided by the first season of Love, Death & Robots since these wildly distinct episodes demonstrate advancements in both storytelling and animation itself. In order to help you get the most out of your viewing experience, this list compares each episode to others while quickly highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. Here are Love, Death & Robots’s top five worst episodes, in order.
Worst Episodes Of Love Death And Robots
The Drowned Giant
Tim Miller’s “The Drowned Giant” runs 14 minutes, which is 13 minutes too lengthy, especially for an animated short in which nothing happens. Miller fails to make use of television’s visual format despite the astounding attention to detail in the mammoth that washes ashore’s animation. Instead, he employs animation to provide context for the protracted narration, much like a succession of pictures in a picture book. Although “The Drowned Giant” gives viewers a very close-up view of life and death, the pictures aren’t very distinctive or fascinating. The short is just a rambling meditation on mortality; there is no action. The scientist is entranced, but viewers are free to stray.
Love, Death & Robots’ episodes are as erratic as those in any anthology series, yet even at their worst, none of them come close to “The Witness” in terms of how terrible they are. In under 12 minutes, “The Witness” is able, to sum up, everything that is bad about Love, Death & Robots: gratuitous naughtiness, copious amounts of sexualized violence, and a conclusion that is both unclear and worthless. “The Witness,” which presents itself as a murder mystery with a sci-fi twist, is really just a pretext for a scene in which a terrified lady runs through the streets naked after leaving her job at a strip club. Avoid it.
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“Fish Night” is undoubtedly the poorest – or, more accurately, the least good – episode of Love, Death & Robots. It is a tedious supernatural exercise that just sort of fades to black rather than coming to a conclusion. It begins well as a cel-shaded drama about a father and his son becoming lost in the Arizona desert, but it quickly deviates from its original course. The son becomes so enamored with the experience that he strips naked, only to be eaten by a ghost shark – despite other ghosts harmlessly fading through their bodies – as the episode turns into a kaleidoscopic ghost story when they are visited by the spirits of the ancient aquatic life that once lived there. Inconsistent and incomplete, “Fish Night.”
Alternate Histories was a 7-minute pictorial representation for a study simulation tool that lets users examine, as the title suggests, alternate versions of history. It had the potential to be one of the season’s most memorable episodes. The episode even features a distinctive plot that examines Adolf Hitler’s demise in 6 possible timelines in a quick-paced and funny manner. Sadly, the episode’s advantages are diminished by its ultimately gimmicky idea. Aside from the promising notion of the tale, Alternate Histories is a short that lacks creativity in every area. The animation, which was influenced by cartoons, is endearing but gets old too quickly. The narrative’s strange, the ad-like structure leaves little to be desired. The episode’s pitiful attempt to compensate for its flaws with absurdity, as though caving into the antiquated notion that a weak story may pass for comedy by just being random, is probably the greatest mistake of all. This 7-minute farce of an episode of Love, Death & Robots seems to be significantly more inconsequential than any other episode, even if they do have a similar tone.
A journalist who also happens to be a huge fan tells the tale of the legendary musician Zima. In order to become more machine than man and be able to travel throughout the cosmos, Zima devised his own unique shade of blue and underwent a number of surgeries. One of those short films, “Zima Blue,” has the potential to be expanded into a philosophical film. This episode follows Zima on her last journey and discloses secrets that are, to put it mildly, rather unexpected. It’s a memorable episode that will stick with fans long after they’ve finished watching Zima’s journey because of its distinctive animation style, challenging plot, and breathtaking cinematography.
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On the face, “Suits” appears to be lighthearted, endearing, and enjoyable. Red-blooded American farmers protect their territory against trespassers. The episode stops being sweet when the camera pulls back at the conclusion to reveal that humans are the ones conquering and occupying this planet. Anything that portrays white people as the heroes defending “their country” from what are portrayed as wild, horrific native creatures is, at best, dishonest given the history of mistreatment of Native Americans.
Although Secret War’s straightforward, non-gimmick approach is commendable, its lackluster conclusion to the otherwise spectacular season leaves little to discuss or particularly care about. The most important lesson from this episode is actually that one should watch the episodes in any order they choose because the predetermined order is undoubtedly not commendable. In the film Secret War, a platoon of Red Army soldiers searches for demonic creatures in the Siberian forest. It’s an intriguing notion, to say the least, but the 16 minutes that follow are more like a sequence from a video game than a short movie. With the exception of the pompous ending, Secret War had very little to no tension for such an action-packed episode. Despite how helpless and awful these people’s situations may seem, you won’t end up caring about them or their plights. Since there are none of the ideas implied by the tale, you won’t find yourself considering them. In Secret War, what you see is exactly what you get, and what you get isn’t much more than fleeting emotions of mild thrill from the mindless and campy action taking place.
In his season 2 episode “Ice,” Robert Valley’s unusual animation is still captivating, but the narrative it depicts is a typical adventure with a formulaic conclusion. The 13-minute short film centres on teenage misanthrope Sedgewick, who struggles to blend in with a group of children who have superpowers, including his younger brother. Sedgwick gains their esteem by enduring a perilous rite of passage. The narrative, which focuses on societal conventions and familial ties, could take place practically anywhere. The ice-covered world, frost whales, and human “modifications” are its science-fictional aspects, but they are scarcely ever addressed. Although the short has crisp edges and vibrant colours, it literally pales in comparison to Love, Death & Robots season 1, episode 14, “Zima Blue,” which stretches Valley’s animation style to its absolute extent and examines the nature of humanity.
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Love, Death & Robots has a few episodes with animation that approaches realism but ultimately falls into the uncanny valley, and “Shape-Shifters” is the worst of the bunch. It is far, much too ludicrous for this tale of werewolves fighting alongside bigoted service members in Afghanistan to take itself seriously, and even at 16 minutes, the film is at least 5 minutes longer than it has to be.
Sucker of Souls
The subject of what constitutes quality animation is raised by Sucker of Souls. It’s certainly attractive to look at, but it doesn’t quite fit the action-packed scenes that make up this tale of a massive creature with Dracula-like characteristics that is hidden in a network of tunnels. This balance is better achieved in Blindspot, a later episode of the show.
Automated Customer Service
In season 2, the 13-minute short “Automated Customer Service” is the only time the show’s signature humour is showcased. An original spin on the well-known sci-fi theme about the perils of a high-tech society is the tale of a robot vacuum cleaner attacking an elderly retiree and her dog. As the retiree, Jeanette seeks to acquire trustworthy assistance from an automated customer service phone line, there are several belly-laughable moments (which ultimately condemn her to death). Jeanette’s precarious predicament is made worse by her separation from other people in a community that is wholly dependent on computers. The touching relationship between Jeanette and her neighbour, who assists in her rescue, brings the short to a satisfying conclusion and inspires reflection on the societal effects of technology.
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The pace of the majority of Love, Death & Robots episodes is a problem. As was said in the last chapter, most episodes seem to establish worlds that are considerably more interesting than the program itself, leaving us disappointed as we wonder what might have been. In the case of Lucky 13, what could’ve been is not so much a possible ways and places that continue after the events of the episode as it is a significantly longer, much more emotionally impactful movie with the hurried sequence of happenings presented by the episode stretched out into something more tolerable. The episode is not too complicated.
The story of Lucky 13 centres on a pilot who describes her travels while aboard “Lucky 13,” a dropship with the appropriate moniker that was considered to be cursed after two deadly flights prior to the protagonist’s command. The episode tries to capture the chemistry between a character and her ship, which she is growing to love and respect, rather than between two sentient people. Samira Wiley’s portrayal as the pilot in one of the few motion capture-only episodes, despite its restricted emotional range, provides the episode with the emotional lift it so richly merits, making it memorable and impactful despite its uninspired screenplay and unjustifiably brief runtime.
It’s difficult to top “Blindspot” for pure, furious enjoyment; it seems like the beginning of a whole series about a group of cyborg thieves robbing convoys in the post-apocalyptic world. The animation is vibrant and fluid enough to stand out from the familiarity that causes other Love, Death & Robots segments to fade into the background, and the character designs are as memorable as anything in the series — we don’t think we could ever get enough of that gruff, cigar-chomping muscle-bot.
The Tall Grass
“The Tall Grass” feels more like the introduction to a larger adventure than a stand-alone story, with the best phrase coming immediately before the credits. With the first eight minutes of the short, Simon Otto takes his time, slowing the pace to create suspense, only to cram a ton of exposition into the last one. The final 60 seconds present a completely new storyline for the audience to unravel rather than closing up the story with a bow. Otto’s unusual animation, which lends his characters a chiseled, wooden appearance, helps to save “The Tall Grass” in part. The narrative delves deeply into the antagonism between urban and rural areas while transforming a picturesque landscape into a horrifying murder scene. The short’s early action is unfortunately overshadowed by its speculative conclusion.
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A fascinating episode is The Dump. For good reason, many people believe it to be the worst of the season. It makes no sense at all and accomplishes nothing in the end for the story of an elderly guy who refuses to leave his home next to a landfill to move. From the adamant city inspector to the unattractive elderly man, the characters couldn’t be more unlikeable. Despite being visually appealing, the animation gives an excessively high emphasis to the filthy and offensive. But are these components actually defects? Like Alternate Histories, The Dump doesn’t veer too far from the basics of narrative, but it also doesn’t rush its beats as Secret War does. Conversely, the episode succeeds where the two previous episodes fell short. It’s a gimmick-free episode that embraces the absurdity with intention, but it does it in a way that the other two could only hope to achieve in terms of viewer resonance. The Dump is fully aware of who it is and how to show itself. even though what it actually is isn’t that wonderful.
A couple of the Love, Death & Robots shorts, including “Good Hunting,” are easily adaptable into full-length films. A female spirit named Yan who works as a sex worker befriends apprentice spirit hunter Liang, who later becomes a whirlwind mechanic, in this anime-style steampunk spin on colonial Hong Kong. Yan’s body has been forcibly replaced with a mechanical one, but Liang gives her the ability to control her shape once more by changing her into a full-fledged humanoid with the ability to morph into a metal fox. Although intriguing, “Good Hunting” overuses the trope of sexual violence against women as a means of atonement.
Love, Death & Robots depends on the rape-revenge narrative without truly engaging with it meaningfully, similar to how it uses toxic masculinity. The Netflix series is off to a terrific start with the clever twist in “Sonnie’s Edge” that Sonnie is the monster since she was battered so terribly that her consciousness had to be transferred. However, the symbolism at play is clumsy; the insinuation that women can or must transform into monsters in order to survive trauma lacks the breathing room it needs, and this patriarchal image is dull and clichéd. None of that, however, takes away from the opening episode of Love, Death & Robots’ brilliance or unexpectedness.
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Night Of The Mini Dead
In the lighthearted episode “Night of the Mini Dead,” viewers get a bird’s eye view of how civilization would crumble in the event of a zombie apocalypse. The short movie jams an incredible amount of detail into its gorgeous tiny settings, from the first zombie through an ultimate catastrophe. It is an episode that keeps viewers hooked to their televisions because of the amusingly tiny voices and the false impression that everything is happening very quickly. It’s a humorous satire of all the television programs and motion pictures that illustrate the demise of humanity as a result of armies of unstoppable zombies.
This Love, Death & Robots episode nevertheless manages to deliver a short story about dealing with a calamity in the dead vacuum despite the fact that the sheer endless nothingness of space is well-trod at this point. It may be clumsy to demonstrate that astronauts leave a piece of themselves behind every time they go, but breaking off a real limb as Alexandria does the trick.
All Through the House
The Christmas custom of slipping downstairs on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus is transformed into a bizarre nightmare in “All Through the House.” The cleverly produced seven-minute movie offers a unique spin on the legend of Santa Claus by imagining what the mythological character might be like if he had the power to punish misbehaving children. Around the holidays, it’s typical to hear the phrase “Be good or else.” That threat becomes far too real for the protagonists in this short. Elliot Dear painstakingly animates the terrifying creature that appears from beneath the Christmas tree by imitating the tight stop-motion of TV specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Leah and Billy, the family’s two children, are unexpectedly spared by the creature; instead, it regurgitates gifts that are expertly wrapped. No moments are lost, despite the heavy-handed nature of the ending, in which Leah wonders what happens to naughty kids. This short’s every animated frame adds to a narrative that is at times weird, amusing, and spooky.
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