5:00 pm EDT, May 14, 2021

‘Love, Death + Robots’ season 2 review: Half the episodes, half the thrill

Our Love, Death + Robots season 2 review answers the question, “Does it hold up against the first season?”

When Love, Death + Robots season 1 hit Netflix back in 2019, it took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting Black Mirror-level episodes that’d make me laugh, cry, and think in equal measure.

Coming in at 18 episodes, the first season had a lot to offer, from completely inane premises (“When the Yogurt Took Over”) to far-flung apocalyptic futures (“The Secret War”) to everything in between.

With stand-out episodes like “Sonnie’s Edge” and “Three Robots,” there was high hope for Love, Death + Robots season 2. Unfortunately, I have to say I’m disappointed.

‘Love, Death + Robots’ season 2 review (spoiler-free)

First and foremost, the second season comes in at only eight episodes—less than half of the original. It’s difficult to compare the two seasons when the first is so varied in style and story. I would have hoped season 2 would be a more concentrated second outing for the series, but it appears to be the opposite.

Each episode of the first season did what any good short story should do—leave a lasting impression that makes you revisit the concept time and time again to see if you can glean anything new. I’ve watched “Sonnie’s Edge” a dozen or so times, and I never get bored.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a strong pull to rewatch any of season 2’s installments. That’s not to say they’re bad. They’re not. Rather, they didn’t pack the same punch as season 1’s, and I have less of a desire to linger in these worlds, basking in their wonder (or their horror).

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Of the eight episodes, “All Through the House” and “Ice” come in as my favorites. They are two wildly different tales that stick out in my mind for two different reasons: the former’s big reveal, and the latter’s beautiful animation.

My main criticism of Love, Death + Robots season 1 was its clear lack of female creatives in the writer’s room. Most of the women in the episodes were either highly sexualized and objectified, or were survivors of some sort of sexual violence.

While my Love, Death + Robots season 2 review isn’t exactly full of praise, I do recognize that this season was filled with far less misogynistic and sexist content. Was it because there were fewer episodes and fewer female characters? It’s a strong possibility.

I appreciate the women who worked on this show, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in seeing the series expand its writer’s room to include more female voices. Love, Death + Robots is unique in its freedom to create bizarre worlds and characters with memorable and thought-provoking story arcs, and I’d love to see it expand its current roster.

You won’t be wasting your time by watching Love, Death + Robots season 2, but if you were hoping for a superior set of episodes to season 1’s list, you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed.

‘Love, Death + Robots’ season 2 review (spoilers)

Episode 1: ‘Automated Customer Service’

love death robots season 2 review

This episode is like WALL-E meets iRobot meets The Terminator. A woman who lives alone with her dog is attacked by her Vacuubot and must rely on her wits (and luck) to survive. This was a somewhat silly, irreverent story that neither made me laugh nor made me afraid. The fact that the woman saved herself (plus her dog and neighbor) was a welcome change from much of season 1’s themes.

Episode 2: ‘Ice’

love death robots ice review

This episode gets bonus points for style, especially when it comes to the animation. The world and its inhabitants were immediately intriguing once you learn that being “modded” is the norm. In a (literal) race to prove himself, Sedgewick must outrun cracking ice and a gigantic whale despite being the only one without enhanced abilities. This story is about bravery and brotherhood, and one of the few that’ll stick with me for the foreseeable future.

Episode 3: ‘Pop Squad’

love death robots pop squad review

This episode immediately felt like a video game, both because of the animation style and the immediate immersion into the story. The basic premise is that humanity has willingly given up their ability to reproduce in exchange for immortality. Any unregistered babies are killed on the spot. After years working these kinds of cases, one cop is having a change of heart. While I appreciate the lesson that life is only precious because it is fleeting, the episode also feels like its preaching the idea that deciding not to have a child is selfish and unnatural. Out of all the episodes I talk about in my Love, Death + Robots season 2 review, this is the one that sits with me worst.

Episode 4: ‘Snow in the Desert’

Another episode about immortality, this one follows a man named Snow who is being hunted because he has regenerative abilities. A woman helps him survive the latest onslaught of bounty hunters, only to be revealed as part synthetic. They’ve both been alone for a long time, and therefore find comfort in each other’s presence. While I didn’t hate the episode by any stretch of the imagination, it felt like it was missing heart.

Episode 5: ‘The Tall Grass’

This is another episode that gets points for animation style. Though it might give you some Polar Express vibes, the train and its conductor are where the similarities stop. When the locomotive briefly breaks down aside a field of tall grass, one of the passengers wanders too far and comes across a hive of deadly creatures. Even the train conductor has no explanation for their existence, but I find this to be an asset of the episode rather than a hindrance.

Episode 6: ‘All Through the House’

With a gun to my head, I’d pick this episode as the best of the season for my Love, Death, + Robots season 2 review. It starts out harmless enough, with two children excitedly sneaking downstairs to see if they can spot Santa Claus leaving their presents under the tree. Instead, they come face-to-face with a creature that’s more of a cross between a xenomorph and the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s creepy and yet almost endearing. This is the type of twist I look for in episodes of this show.

Episode 7: ‘Life Hutch’

love death robots michael b jordan

Unfortunately, even Michael B. Jordan couldn’t save this episode. As good as the CGI was (and it was incredible), there isn’t much to this story. You don’t spend enough time with Terence to feel for his situation, and the episode is over and done with before anything spectacular happens. There was a tiny glint of brilliance in using the flashlight to make the robot destroy itself, but otherwise, this was another dull and lifeless episode.

Episode 8: ‘The Drowned Giant’

A modern version of Gulliver vs. the Lilliputians with a morbid twist, this episode begs the question of whether the giant is really a giant or if the people are really minuscule in size. The question is never answered—or even hinted toward—which stops any speculation as to the truth. The narrator’s prose is the highlight of this episode, exploring life, death, humanity, and even morality, but it’s not enough to make me linger on this episode’s premise any longer than the 10 minutes I spent watching it. There was something uncomfortable in seeing people walk across a giant corpse with no respect for the dead, let alone the fact that we, of course, had to see where the man’s penis went after they cut up the body.

What did you think of ‘Love, Death + Robots’ season 2?

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