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How Love Death + Robots Vol. 3 Balances Entertainment And Apocalypse - Exclusive

Netflix's adult animation sci-fi series, "Love Death + Robots" has always featured plenty of, well, death. But Volume 3 may very well be the most apocalyptic season yet. There's the zombie apocalypse on episode "Night of the Mini-Dead," the post-human extinction satire of "Three Robots: Exit Strategies," and major apocalyptic threats in "Swarm" as well as "In Vaults Untombed." Even the episodes where the world doesn't end, like "Bad Traveling," "Kill Team Kill," and "Jibaro," they end with almost — if not all — of the characters dead. The short with the most unambiguously happy ending, "Mason's Rats," still follows a genocide of intelligent lifeforms.

Looper had the chance to exclusively speak with the show's co-creator/executive producer Tim Miller and supervising director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and our first question was about Volume 3's increasingly apocalyptic tone. While neither Miller nor Nelson said they were consciously trying to push this season in a darker direction, they had some thoughts about how this trend could have come to be — and how "Love Death + Robots" still stays entertaining amidst all this gloom.

Current events might have affected the mood of the latest Volume

Neither Nelson nor Miller were specifically intending to make Volume 3 of "Love Death + Robots" its darkest collection of episodes yet, but both acknowledged the turn of events. "There is a lot of death this time," affirmed Nelson. "I'm not quite sure how that happened." Miller proposed, "We should have a little rating system for our volumes to see where they fall on the apocalypse meter, and if we're tipping a scale."

Both acknowledge it's possible that current events might have influenced this apocalyptic tone in some way. Miller noted, "There's a global pandemic, maybe you've heard ... There's a war in Ukraine." Nelson added that the darkness is "perhaps reflecting the times." While the war in Ukraine began too recently to have influenced the production of Volume 3, these latest episodes were produced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, even unintentional resonances can impact the way audiences interpret art.

Miller also suggested that one episode in Volume 3 might push the overall "apocalypse meter" extra hard: "Bad Traveling," the first directed by co-showrunner David Fincher. With a longer runtime than the average "Love Death + Robots" episode, Miller described it as a "a big fat 20-minute ****er. And it's dark." Based on a short story by Neil Asher, the episode deals with a man-eating crab and a sea captain who sacrifices his crew to it.

The apocalypse can still be funny

Interestingly enough, the two Volume 3 episodes that directly depict the death of all humanity, as opposed to merely implying it or just killing off a single group of people, are two of the season's funniest. "Three Robots: Exit Strategies" continues from Volume 1's "Three Robots" in following a trio of post-apocalyptic robot explorers mocking human civilization and the flaws that have led to our demise. As well, "Night of the Mini-Dead," which Nelson specifically singled out, has the plot of a typical zombie apocalypse movie, but it's sped up and filmed in miniature, turning all the grotesque violence into comedic slapstick.

Nelson said, "You have to leaven the darkness with some light, otherwise people shut down. The goal of this is to entertain people ... [with a] little bit of enjoyment, and sometimes you go very dark." Miller clarified it's for "a certain kind of people in a certain kind of entertainment," and expressed the importance of mixing humor into the darkness: "There's plenty of places where they can see happy, happy stuff, but we do think that there's a lot of laughs in the mix. We don't want to bring people down too much. Even dark humor is welcome in the show."

"Love Death + Robots" Volume 3 is now streaming on Netflix.