Love, Death & Robots: Beyond The Aquila Rift is an episode that will have you questioning your own existence. The 16 minute short is one of the standout pieces in the series and whilst it didn’t break my recent top 5 list, it still is definitely an episode that deserves a lot of attention.
Throughout this, I’ll be breaking down everything that you need to know about the episodes history, inspiration and overall meaning.
This is full spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way, I’m Deffinition and welcome to the channel where I explain it so you don’t have to!
Beyond The Aquila Rift Source Material
Beyond The Aquila Rift is actually inspired and adapted from the book of the same name by Alistair Reynolds. Beyond The Aquila Rift is a collection of short sci-fi stories that, similar to Love, Death and Robots, all have their own things that can be taken from them.
Interestingly, Zima Blue too appears in this collection which is, of course, another episode from the series.
The book in question though, Beyond The Aquila rift, is shorthand for the trip that no one hopes to ever make. Similar to the Netflix episode, the original story features a group of men ripped out of time and space, separated by millions of light years that are haunted by ghosts from their pasts and struck with the realisation that life as they know it is now just a fantasy.
Which ties in neatly to the episode itself.
Beyond The Aquila Rift: Plot Summary
The 16 minute short is set in the far distant future when humans have created technology that is advanced enough to slingshot us across the universe. We follow the crew of The Blue Goose who set out on a journey across the stars on their way to a high profile job. However, they awaken months later to find themselves vastly of course and in near uncharted areas of space after a mistake by their course controller, Arkangel.
However, not all seems lost, when the Captain of the ship Thom reunites with a lost love from his past named Greta who appears to have rescued the marooned ship and brought it into a safe space station.
On the surface, it seems like it was written in the stars and the two reconnect amongst the vastness of space and begin building a relationship once more. However, Thom’s crewmate, Suzy, seems to notice that something isn’t quite right with Greta and when awakening from sedation she screams that Greta is not what she seems and tries to harm her, cutting her neck in the process.
Later in the episode, after spending another night with her, Thom notices that the cut on Greta’s neck has disappeared and he confronts her about it which is when she reveals that Thom is in fact still lying in hypersleep in his tank. All that he experienced since waking up has been a simulation and whilst Greta didn’t lie about them being adrift, there isn’t really much hope for his survival.
Beyond The Aquila Rift: Ending Explained
Greta, or at least the thing behind her, doesn’t really strike me as a malevolent creature and she has concocted this fake reality in order to keep Thom believing that he can still find happiness even though he is doomed. Whilst she warns him that, should he be freed from the simulation, he would not like it, Thom still protests until she shows him where he really is at, a nightmarish hive, drifting through space.
It appears that Greta was right and we see that Thom is drastically malnourished, close to death and extremely fearful of his surroundings. Thom sees Suzy who looks to have recently died and he witnesses Ray who is completely skeletal which explains why Greta would not allow him to be awakened earlier in the episode.
The Monster Explained
We hear Greta’s voice and notice a female like figure approaching Thom, however, as it gets closer we witness that it is, in fact, a giant spider-like creature that is terrifying to look at. To me the Hive is a space spider’s web that catches off course ships and uses them for food, supplying them with vivid fantasies to keep them complacent. Thom is doomed and the episode ends with him waking up from his tank once more as he is greeted by the apparent rescue of Greta.
Those who have hope for the character and think that this may have just been a bad dream are quickly shown flashes of the Hive to cement that Thom is definitely doomed and still trapped in the horrifying location, forced to live out this nightmare until he inevitably dies.
What’s most distressing is that Thom only really has two options, he can either accept the simulated world and live there until he dies or continue rejecting it and relive the same trauma. It appears that the spider slowly does this to it’s victims one by one which is why Suzy, who appears dead at the end, earlier in the episode, already knew that Greta wasn’t real. Clearly, she had been through the process before Thom and this is why she woke up ill in the initial awakening.
Whilst The Spider isn’t necessarily a villain, it’s pretty obvious she is keeping the crew subdued in order to feast on them easier.
The spider states that she has been through this countless times with many lost souls and that she does care for them so perhaps she implements these simulations in order to ease their passing.
Many More Victims
In the end the Spider will no doubt go through this process countless more times as, when Thom sees the truth, there are a number of other ships stuck in the net. Clearly, Arkangel has sent large quantities of travellers there and whether this is on purpose or not, it doesn’t seem like it will stop any time soon.
It took the Blue Goose hundreds of years to arrive there despite it only being a couple of months for those on board so it’s safe to assume that the other ships we see traveling through the transport at the start may have been there for hundreds of year before Thom and the Crew’s arrival.
In that time millions of ships may have traveled through Arkangel successfully so The Blue Goose may just be viewed as a statistic similar to ships that go missing amongst the ones that don’t.
Overall it’s an exetremly chilling episode and it stands strong as one of the top 10 episodes in the series. If you enjoyed this video then please like it and make sure you check out my top 5 list of the season which will be linked at the end.
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