Love, Death + Robots comes back with the most ambitious batch of episodes they have ever released. Volume three offers some of the best shorts in the anthology and the variety of themes, animation styles, and concepts are really fascinating. The second episode of the volume, Bad Travelling, stands out from all the rest thanks to its quality and the team behind it.
Bad Travelling represents the first dive for the famous director, David Fincher, into the world of animation. Fincher has served as executive producer of the show since its inception, but this is the first time he gets involved in directing an episode. Bad Travelling is produced by Blur Studio, and it is an adaptation of a story written by Neal Asher.
Love, Death + Robots: Bad Travelling Plot Summary
Bad Travelling tells a classic tale of nautical disaster. We are introduced to a shark hunting ship that is suddenly attacked by a thanapod, a giant crustacean that likes to eat humans. The thanapod kills most of the crew and leaves the ship in a very sad state. The monster makes a nest inside the ship’s hold.
The surviving crew decides to draw straws and end up sending the ship’s navigator, Torrin to the hold. The crew expects Torrin to die, but the opposite happens. Torrin ends up making contact with the monster, who uses a corpse to communicate. The monster wants to go to a place called Phaedin Island, its reasons are unknown, but the creature probably wants to feed on the island’s population. Torrin makes a deal, his life in exchange for passage. The monster agrees.
Torrin manages to make his way up to the deck, where he gets his hands on the captain’s pistol, which basically makes him the de facto leader of the crew for the time being. Torrin relates the creature’s demand to the rest of the crew and explains his plan. They will not take the monster to Phaedin Island, that would mean the death of innocent people, instead, they will take the creature to an uninhabited island that is close by.
The crew takes a vote on taking the thanapod to Phaedin Island, or taking the longer trip and leaving the creature on the inhabited island. They take the vote and Torrin executes two members who voted for Phaedin Island. They start the long journey to the inhabited island and feed the creature the corpses of the executed in order to win more time for themselves.
The creature is impatient and demands more food, as it reveals that it has given birth to hundreds of small thanapods like itself. Meanwhile, the crew mutinies against Torrin, but he expected it, and kills the rest of the crew. Torrin reveals that during the vote, everyone voted for Phaedin Island. He decides to cut the journey short and sets fire to the ship with the thanapod inside, killing it along with its babies.
Love, Death + Robots: Bad Travelling Explained
Bad Travelling is a classic nautical disaster, like the ones being told for centuries by the sailors of old, trying to explain the countless missing ships that the ocean demanded every year. Sea monsters were the stuff of legends, but superstition became a characteristic very much ingrained in the profession of a sailor.
The short film is a moral tale, as Torrin does terrible things for the greater good. Taking the thanapod to the island would mean hundreds of innocent people dead. Torrin sees his life, and the lives of the rest of the crew, as well worth the risk if it means saving the people from the island. Of course, not everybody shares his opinion. Self-preservation is a strong motivation.
Torrin then forces the rest of the crew to follow his morals, and the resolution is deadly. Yes, Torrin saved the lives of everybody on the island, but the cost of doing it was becoming a monster himself.