Not quite sure if spoilers apply to this or not, but hey, it’s back. It’s as short as Season 2, but the stories themselves are much more focused. I do get that Season 1 was pretty much Heavy Metal in visual form, but this particular season has much less fantasy and more sci-fi, which I consider an improvement. I think the season overall is the best of the bunch, and that more than a few episodes really make you question the ending/moral. That’s the beauty of sci-fi shorts after all.
On a per episode aspect:
Three Robots: Exist Strategy
This was the original short in season 1 and the robots are back with pretty much the same format as before. Slightly different take on what society is doing with regards to the climate crisis and how “castes” of society are trying to address it. I found it the weakest of the bunch.
This is pretty much a horror story set on a ship on the high seas. It’s more or less a continual set of bad events that people simply try to survive through, somewhat similar to the zombie/pirate story in Watchmen. The claustrophobia of a single ship really helps sell the horror aspect. There’s no sci-fi here, but the short is still quite good.
The Very Pulse of the Machine
This is pure sci-fi and could only work in this medium. Without spoiling much, the gradual decline (is it?) of the protagonist mental space makes you question if what you’re seeing is real or not. This one is a true highlight of the season.
Night of the Mini Dead
Zombie apocalypse filmed so that it looks like miniatures. The only point that seemed to matter to me what that this was but a speck of dust in the galactic scale. It looks cool mind you.
Kill Team Kill
This is a very violent take on a CIA robotics program gone rogue. I immediately shouted “that’s Shardik!” but sadly it wasn’t. Every season seems to have some set of soldiers fighting impossible odds, and then a horrible twist at the end. This is that episode.
This one turned out way better than I expected. I find that the best sci-fi are the ones that make you question the context and imagine the world-building around the story. This is like a kid with their toes in the surf of an infinite ocean. I’d rank this higher if there wasn’t an absolutely useless sex scene.
A comic short and a military organization of rats and a farmer’s attempts to get rid of them. This is a weak story overall because the ending isn’t earned. Looks cool and talks about the excess of AI robots, but it could have used another 5 minutes.
In Vaulted Halls Entombed
This is a weird one since it’s quite similar to Kill Team Kill… a solider squad it tasked with finding a thing, and that thing is killing them. The big bad here is an eldritch horror, and the ending is unnecessarily ambiguous. Cabin in the Woods did this story line better.
This is a stunning take on infatuation and obsession which lead to horrible loss. The main character is deaf, which means that the sounds shut off completely when he’s the focus, making for a really amazing sensory experience. This one is a real highlight of the season, and plays out like a fable of old.
I’m in agreement with your assessment and relative ranking of the episodes where you’ve said, I reckon.
I was probably most disappointed by the Three Robots episode as I did quite enjoy the original appearance of these characters in Season 1. Ah well!
Great minds think alike!