Love, Death + Robots has been one of the best recurring projects to come out of Netflix. Headed by folks like David Fincher and Deadpool director Tim Miller, the series is a compilation of short films rendered in different forms of animation (and occasionally incorporating some live-action elements). Though the seasons are foundational hit or miss due to their anthology nature, it’s a show that has allowed creators to showcase that animation is not a medium that can only satisfy younger audiences. If that means getting a few weaker entries, it’s a small price to pay.
And honestly, Love, Death + Robots Season 3 might be the best compilation of shorts yet. There is an excellent diversity in animation styles and approaches, and the nine-episode order leaves little room for too much bloat or similarity. It feels like the last two seasons allowed the filmmakers to figure out the best way to order the episodes so that things feel truly different each time.
As far as highlights for Season 3 of Love, Death + Robots, there aren’t many segments that don’t deserve mentioning. The first episode, “Three Robots: Exit Strategies”, brings back three characters from the first season as they continue to look at a post-apocalyptic Earth and how humans tried to survive the end of civilization. It’s a humorous way to return to the series and will surely please the more cynical and silly audiences. After that, we get one of the best episodes of the season, “Bad Travelling”, directed by David Fincher himself. This is a nautical tale involving an alien crustacean that takes over the ship and it’s the kind of story that could easily be expanded into a feature film. With this being Fincher’s directorial debut for the series, it’s a strong hope that he will return for another installment if we get a Season 4.
The third episode of Love, Death + Robots Season 3, “The Very Pulse of the Machine” takes the cake as the best episode of the series. Two astronauts on Jupiter’s moon, Io, crash. After only one of them survives, the story becomes a trek across the moon’s surface to get to a safe landing area. But within that comes a psychedelic and transcendental experience that is best left unspoiled. The vibrant colors and steady pacing make this a revelatory episode that will likely stand as one of the best in the entire history of the show. After that, the next five short films vary from quite fun to totally skippable. “Night of the Mini-Dead” is the shortest of the season at only seven minutes, but it’s a cute and cheeky speed-run of a zombie apocalypse story. The other worthwhile entries in this stretch, “Kill Team Kill” and “Mason’s Rats” are hyper-violent goofs that are totally enjoyable if deliberately light. Still, it’s time well-spent for such a short amount of required attention.
The only misses in the season are “Swarm” and “In Vaulted Hauls Entombed”. These exemplify the worst of Love, Death + Robots as they come across as tech demos instead of fully realized stories and showcases of animation. The weakest entries in the show’s history have always felt like video game cutscenes ripped out of some Halo or Gears of War knockoff. Both of these entries have intriguing ideas at their core, but their execution and structure leave so much more to be desired. These are the only ones worth skipping.
And to close out Love, Death + Robots Season 3 is “Jibaro”, a radical and landmark piece of animation from Oscar and Emmy winner Alberto Mielgo. This entry takes the familiar tale of the siren and turns it into something primal and pulsing. It’s the only episode that features no dialogue and it makes use of this decision by being a sensory overload in the best of ways. There is a clear reason why this closed out the season. While “The Very Pulse of the Machine” is this reviewer’s preferred entry, there is no question that “Jibaro” is the standout of the season.
Here’s hoping we have more Love, Death + Robots to look forward to in the future. This is one of the best things Netflix has ever allowed to happen. If they want to hold on to subscribers after a devastating loss, maybe they should be making more projects like this instead of shows asking if something is made out of cake.