The Very Pulse of the Machine
Episode 3 of Love, Death & Robots Season 3 starts with a couple of explorers on a Jovian moon. Unfortunately, they meet a disastrous end. A large earthquake cracks the ground beneath them, sending their rover crashing over and landing upside down. Burton is dead, leaving Martha Kivelson as the lone survivor on this planet. This expeditionary mission has gone badly wrong and she’s also unable to get through to Orbital.
Martha continues on through this alien landscape, dragging Burton through the endless sickly yellow deserts. After injecting herself with a cocktail of different drugs to keep herself going, Martha starts to hallucinate. Burton’s voice echoes through, reciting poetry and seeing a variety of different images, including a large astronaut trudging through the landscape.
It’s soon revealed though that the voice she’s hearing is that of a machine, as the moon they’re on is apparently one giant robot. Somehow this consciousness manages to connect with Burton through the cracked hole in her mask, connecting with Burton’s mind and physically carrying an exhausted Martha to her destination.
When Martha awakens, she’s still on the moon but has less than a minute of oxygen left. IO, the mechanical moon, encourages Martha to take a leap of faith and dive into the 230 degree Celsius heat and connect neurologically with the machine.
Apparently Io’s purpose is “to know you”, and as Martha dives into the lava, her entire body combusts and causes a chain reaction. As we zoom out, seeing the moon from a distance, Martha’s voice bleeds through: “Earth station come in, this is Martha Kivelson”
The Episode Review
The Very Pulse of the Machine feels quite similar to “Fish Night”, that episode in season 1 with a lot of dreamy visuals and interesting thematic content. This chapter seems to follow suit, with a really solid premise and a simple but effective twist midway through.
Learning that this moon is actually a machine makes for a trippy and hallucinatory twist, although one could argue that Martha has just dreamed the whole thing up given how she’s on drugs and running out of oxygen.
The chapter is intentionally ambiguous in that respect, with the ending featuring Martha walking away and eventually taking a leap of faith into the lava, signifying the end of her life. That ambiguousness is ultimately the best part of this chapter, and it’ll be interesting to see different theories crop up surrounding this one.
For now though, Love, Death & Robots delivers another great episode.