Love, Death + Robots season 3, episode 3 recap – “The Very Pulse of the Machine”

May 20, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Recaps
4

Summary

“The Very Pulse of the Machine” is a surreal, beautifully animated meditation on life after death.

View all
4

Summary

“The Very Pulse of the Machine” is a surreal, beautifully animated meditation on life after death.

This recap of Love, Death + Robots season 3, episode 3, “The Very Pulse of the Machine”, contains spoilers. You can check out all of our coverage of this show by clicking these words.


“The Very Pulse of the Machine” — which is rendered in a vivid, comic book-y hand-drawn style — opens with two astronauts in a Rover, exploring Jupiter’s moon Io. Seconds later, one of them is dead, killed in an accident caused by an eruption of some kind. The lone survivor, Martha Kivelson, is hemorrhaging oxygen, is 12 hours away from being able to contact help, and is stranded on a hostile chunk of rock gamboling through the empty void of space.

Love, Death + Robots season 3, episode 3 recap

At first, this episode seems like competence sci-fi, not entirely dissimilar from The Martian, which was also about a maker-nerd stranded astronaut trying to survive a barren planet with nothing but ingenuity and intellect. But “The Very Pulse of the Machine” quickly becomes something different when Kivelson, whose arm was badly broken in the Rover crash, takes a mighty dose of morphine. The subsequent surreality and ambiguity are what the story burns for fuel. Before long, the one-eyed corpse of Kivelson’s compatriot, Burton, begins reciting poetry. The landscape shifts and morphs.

The hook is trying to decipher whether Kivelson is hallucinating or the moon itself is trying to communicate with her through her altered mental state. Confused and panicked and exhausted, she takes more drugs.

“And now I see with eye serene. The very pulse of the machine.” This is a quote from William Wordsworth’s poem She Was a Phantom of Delight, but it’s also how the embodiment of Io tries to explain its supposed machine status. When Kivelson views the moon in the electromagnetic spectrum, she sees its snaking, luminous wires, disappearing through the hole where Burton’s eye once was, forming a highway into the data of her partially intact mind.

Kivelson, with only a minute of oxygen remaining to her, is implored by the voice of Io to dive into a pulsing river of energy, to sacrifice her physical form but preserve her mind forever, to live on within Io, a machine with the stated purpose simply “to know you.” Kivelson casts herself into the light and breaks down into nothing but atoms, but as the episode ends, her voice travels through radio waves and out into space.

You can stream Love, Death + Robots season 3, episode 3, “The Very Pulse of the Machine”, exclusively on Netflix.

View all

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.