Series Review: Love, Death & Robots: Season 1

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

Love, Death & Robots is the culmination of a decades long desire to re-imagine the long in-development reboot of the animated science fiction movie Heavy Metal. Netflix eventually showed interest in a restructuring and reframing of David Fincher and Tim Miller’s ideas. Now a television series, with three critically acclaimed seasons. Love, Death & Robots, also known through its emoji form, ❤️❌🤖, takes on a variety of topics all linking back to the core series title. With a heavy emphasis on death, one can expect the literal and metaphoric to illuminate the mind in all seasons. In this piece, the first season of this extremely well received series will be reviewed.

The first season is the longest and therefore the most varying in terms of topic matter and length of episode. With a peculiar metaphoric emphasis on death, season one is a season that progressively twists and turns through topics such as the take over of Earth and the impact of witnessing a murder. More far-flung ideas seldom considered in the common consciousness such as historical fantasy and alternative histories are also presented through robustly unusual presentations.

Note, the order in which these episodes were released and ordered has changed between their original release and latter changes by Netflix.

Favorite Reflections

Beginning with one of my personal favorites and one of the shortest episodes in all three seasons, “When the Yoghurt Took Over” is a striking example of Fincher and Miller’s great creative prowess that encapsulates the series as a whole. This quirky episode stands at just five minutes but asks the reader to question: What if the world as you knew it died? In this episode a sentient form of yoghurt culture takes over and eventually sets off to the stars. This episode presents the viewer with a lesser form of ego-death in that humanity is no longer seen as the ultimate form of earthly sentience. Challenging our conception of existence and the potential for human strength, ingenuity and intelligence to be surpassed.

My next favorite has to be “The Witness.” This episode struck a chord in that it focused so heavily on a cyclical cycle where, by bearing witness, one becomes the victim and this repeats and repeats. The viewer is made to question how social crime and death impacts everyone. This universalism is a continuous strain of focus that attaches a sense of philosophical questioning as to the root of violence, and why some, so callously take lives. The inner sociologist in me particularly felt that the urban setting gave added depth to otherwise already brilliant animation.

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    Recurrent Themes

    A clear extended metaphor can be seen below the surface in all episodes of this season, namely a sense of duality between life and death, but deeper, that death is constant and strange and universal.

    The now first episode of this season highlights an apocalyptic world that always seem to be just on the horizon within the collective consciousness. “Three Robots,” while somewhat sardonic, focuses the viewer on what could happen in some not-too-distant future. This episode also affirms Fincher and Miller’s dedication to the exploration of death as a constant, rather than something that is hidden and reserved for the momentary. The so called “Death Instinct” is extremely visible throughout this episode and generally throughout the season.

    The aforementioned is further expanded through “Ice Age” where a couple moves into a new home and experiences the evolution and eventual nuclear destruction of a micro-civilization in their fridge-freezer. While fantastical, Fincher and Miller use such depth of narrative to question the finite nature of time and its transience. Something that often goes far beyond our individual understandings of this existence. This careful inclusion of philosophical questioning is done in an extremely approachable manner.

    Death, the Final Frontier

    From extraordinary examples of human ingenuity and suffering like that of the Astronaut in “Helping Hand,” to the death of a robot guised as a human in “Zima Blue” Fincher and Miller maintain a high caliber of metaphor throughout. Although each episode varies in content focus and length, a multiplicity of death in a vast array of forms always keeps the reader thinking, engaged, and ruminating on the only guarantee that any of us have in this life, aside from taxes that is.

    This season has received critical acclaim and is an excellent place to start for those thinking of exploring animation and naturally, different facets of death through entertainment. I urge you to check out this incredibly eye-opening series on Netflix now before the fourth installment drops!