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Series Review – Love, Death and Robots: Season 2

Written By A.R. Arthur

A.R. Arthur (formerly A.R. Salandy) is a Black Mixed-race poet & writer who has spent most of his life in Kuwait jostling between the UK & America. He is the EIC of Fahmidan Journal/Publishing & Co, Reviews Editor at Full House Literary & Poetry Editor at Chestnut Review. Twitter/Instagram: @ararthurwriter https://ararthurwriter.wordpress.com/

Love, Death and Robots continues to be a thought-provoking series that effortlessly captures the engagement of its viewers. Despite being the shortest season yet, season two offers the reader a multitude of narratives from a dread-inducing Santa Claus to devilish dystopia to the corpse- turned-tourist-attraction of a dead giant. This season leaves the reader yearning for more.

With only eight episodes, Fincher and Miller take the reader on an odyssey macabre, with peculiar and unexpected mayhem. This season involves two episodes centered on robots turning against humans. The first instance is when a vacuum cleaner turns on its elderly owner. Hellbent on violence and desecration, this household appliance wreaks havoc until its owner escapes and, many more appliances tag along. Fincher and Miller toy with the idea of wealth? supremacy in this episode by presenting customer service as anything but humane.

Contrasting sharply with this terrestrial presentation of robotic challenge, Fincher and Miller then take on the blood-curdling scenario of being alone in space with a malfunctioning protection robot that attacks indiscriminately. Starring Michael B. Jordan, who is a stranded space marine trying to stay alive, and at times, plays dead in order to do so. These juxtaposing scenarios where robots are in control give the reader much food for thought in a contemporary era where the likes of ChatGPT and other AI continue to grow and leave the average person uncertain.

Animation and The Literary: A Spectacular Clash

Fincher and Miller interestingly engage with the literary world through a quiet inclusion of emotive diction and a speckling of intense metaphor. This can be most clearly seen in “The Drowned Giant.” This episode speaks to the literary aficionado and is an animated rendering of J.G. Ballard’s short story of the same name that first came out in his 1964 collection of short-stories The Terminal Beach. While intrigue in the giant’s corpse grows with gusto at first, this quickly dissipates as the viewer comes to terms with the less nice side of human thinking.

Namely, the desecration of all that is unknown. One element that stood out concretely to me was how Fincher and Miller present the corpse of the giant to be some form of playground for curious humans who maim, defile, and disturb this corpse rendering it an object rather than a once-living entity. This peculiar portrayal, while macabre, asks the reader to question the hard divide between life and death that is so characteristically embedded in our human identity. Fincher and Miller use this episode to ask: When we die, are we no longer worthy of humanity?

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    Favorite Reflections

    “The Tall Grass” is one of my favorite episodes in this season because of its old-timey sentiment. A train service constantly goes through grassy plains nightly on its route. However, at the same time and at roughly the same place, the train always runs out of steam. This necessitates an unscheduled stop where the train warden asks the sole passenger to get off to smoke, to return to their room. Instead, our protagonist decides to wander off into the Grasslands and begins to see glowing lights emerge off in the distance and soon, closer ever closer. Suddenly, these lights open up from another world where “creatures” or what the train conductor believes were “once human.”  These creatures are terrifying and eager to gain nourishment. Without giving away any spoilers, the craft of animation and strength of narrative in this piece should not go  amiss. If you want to watch this season’s episodes in your own order, this is the perfect place to start!

    Death: Destruction or Continuity

    Fincher and Miller dabble with the idea that death can be destructive as in “Automated Customer Service” or in “Pop Squad.” However, the active presentation of death in this season is one that is split. Episodes such as “The Drowned Giant” affirm that even in death, there is continuity or a return to some great unknown. But what remains is the challenge.

    This grandiose exploration of death allows this season to truly be appealing to the masses without becoming tacky and inconsistent and the show’s creators should be commended for this!

    Season two is one where Fincher and Miller achieve a strong balance between animated intrigue like in the festive “All Through the House” and the blood-curdling in a world where overpopulation must be policed in “Pop Squad.” This breadth of narrative focus gives the reader’s a true feast of animation that keeps the reader glued to their screen as they binge this season. One take away from this season is that strength of core narrative is often better than overly-scripted dialogue and in this season, Fincher and Miller achieve this with ease. This should definitely be on your holiday binge watch list if it isn’t already!