Love, Death + Robots: The Very Pulse Of The Machine Explained

Love, Death + Robots

Love, Death + Robots Volume 3 now available on Netflix offers the most varied batch of episodes to date, and in terms of quality, the level of consistency is just through the roof. The Very Pulse of the Machine could be one of the most experimental and metaphoric episodes of the whole show, and it does it by being not only deep on a thematic level. But also by delivering some amazing visuals that serve as a clear homage to the legendary comic book artist Moebius.

The Very Pulse of the Machine is based on a short story written by Michael Swanwick, and it is produced by Polygon Pictures, an animation studio from Japan. The episode uses heavy use of internal monologue and follows a very vague plot. It is one of those episodes that spends more time developing its characters, than trying to deliver world-building or cool concepts.

Love, Death + Robots: The Very Pulse Of The Machine Plot Summary

The short film introduces us to Martha Kivelson, an astronaut on a mission, and her companion Burton. Both of them are on board a Space Exploration Vehicle, but sadly, the landing turns into a dreadful accident that kills Burton in the process and leaves Kivelson gravely hurt. Kivelson’s oxygen levels are dwindling, so she takes Burton’s air for herself. Her friend and coworker is already dead. She will not need it.

Kivelson takes Burton’s corpse, and she takes on the mission to reach the closest base while dragging Burton’s corpse over the surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. Her calculations say that it is possible if she hurries, so she embarks on the odyssey right away. Not long before starting, Kivelson’s wounds slow her down, so she uses her suit’s medical options to take on a dose of morphine to numb the pain.

Love, Death + Robots

The suit’s interface warns her that the drug could cause hallucinations, hysteria, and other unwanted secondary effects. Kivelson takes the dose anyway and pushes forward. It isn’t soon after that strange things start happening with Kivelson’s perception of reality. Burton’s corpse starts talking to her, apparently, the voice heard by the corpse is that of Io, the moon itself. Kilveson pushes forward, taking even more drugs as she pushes herself to reach her destination.

Kivelson falls unconscious, and it is there that she finds herself in front of a lake of thermal liquid. Io explains that it is part of a machine that wants to assimilate Kivelson, she only needs to jump into the lake and become part of something more than her. The voice explains her body will disappear, but her consciousness will remain. Kivelson jumps, and she is assimilated, her last report is seemingly heard by her station on Earth.

Love, Death + Robots: The Very Pulse Of The Machine Explained

The Very Pulse of the Machine deals with some very vague concepts, such as consciousness and life after death. These are some of the greatest mysteries of human life. Consciousness and our own perception of being is something that differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but we still don’t know where such perception generates from.

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The same occurs with life after death. Could our consciousness be the soul or the spirit so many religions talk about? Can our consciousness transcend our earthly bodies, thus giving us eternal life? None of these questions have answers, but the short film proposes that maybe beings that are more advanced than we are could have reached that level of existence. Possibly that is the next level of human evolution.

The short film ends up in a very ambiguous manner, thus leaving open the questions and the answers. Maybe Kivelson was actually hearing the voice of Io, or maybe it was just hallucinations from the drugs, we might never know the true answer.

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.