Love, Death + Robots Volume 3, Episode 1: What Did Santayana Say?

In Love, Death + Robots volume 3, episode 1, a robot is about to quote a philosopher before he’s cut off. Who’s the philosopher and what did he say?

The opening episode of Love, Death + Robots volume 3 “Three Robots: Exit Strategies” teases the audience with a quote from “the great human philosopher Santayana,” before the robot speaking is cut off – so who is Santayana? What did he say, and why is it relevant to the human extinction in Love, Death + Robots? In a similar twenty BlackMirror, the anthology series boasts an array of shorts in each season that toy with sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres. Created by dead pool director Tim Miller and produced by Fight Club director David Fincher, the series has won critical acclaim and several Primetime Emmy Awards, mostly for its unique, yet varied animation.

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Love, Death + Robots volume 3, episode 1, “Three Robots: Exit Strategies” follows the same three robots last seen in season 1, episode 2. Their sightseeing voyage of a post-apocalyptic world, in which humanity has rendered the world uninhabitable, allows the robots to criticize and mock the stupidity of humanity. When at a space station that is surrounded by the dead bodies of people who tried to escape on spaceships designed by the wealthiest people alive, 11-45-G, the robot with an automated voice and the least human-like of the three, tries to reflect upon the words of Santayana. The diminutive robot K-VRC quickly cuts him off, distracted by footage of the only spaceship that was able to escape earth in the universe of Love, Death + Robots‘ episode.


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The philosopher in question is George Santayana, a Spanish-American philosopher, who was committed to metaphysical naturalism schools of thought. His most famous quote from him, that the robot 11-45-G most likely referred to, is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” which came from Santanyana’s 1905 work, The Life of Reason. While this quote resonates with the themes of Love, Death + Robot‘s episode, another famous Santayana quote that is also relevant is “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which he wrote in 1922’s Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies.



Love Death Robots Three Robots Exit Strategies

George Santayana’s 1905 quote is poignant given how humanity “had all the tools to heal themselves but instead they chose greed and self-gratification.” Love, Death + Robots‘dystopian reality reflects on how humanity continuously chose to ignore the planet’s needs, sapping its riches until there were none more to take. Through greedy pursuits, instead of protecting the earth, the elite humans chose to inhabit a new planet, Mars. Although Mars is “dead and lifeless,” the humans in the episode chose to claim it anyway, proving that they had not learned their lesson when they ruined the earth and the societies that their ancestors had built. When the everyday people tried to force their way onto the spaceships, they were burned alive by the elite. This is where Santanyana’s other quote rings true, as even as humanity faces extinction, violence and war do not cease, and truly “only the dead have seen the end of war.”


The smaller robot in the Love, Death + Robots episode, K-VRC, appears the most human-like in personality, as instead of learning Santanyana’s lesson, it shouts, “Hey, shut up! That’s boring!” Although unconfirmed, K-VRC, seems to have been programmed by humans as it demonstrates the same capacity for willful ignorance. Like humanity, K-VRC is more interested in the footage of the only spaceship that escaped earth. This spaceship is flashier, more interesting, and an easy way out – everything the humans in the world of Love, Death + Robots desire. It seems like George Santayana’s quotes can be applied to otherworldly robots, as well as humanity.


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