**Spoiler Alert – This review contains discussion of some early plot points from the first three episodes of this series.**
HBO Max’s new series, Raised by Wolves, illustrates why HBO continues to be one of the best streaming services available. At first glance, the series appears to be a simple tale of human children raised by androids. However, in reality, it’s a complex tale of religious, scientific, and alien forces vying for supremacy with limited resources in a hostile environment far from Earth and civilization.
The series was created by writer Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners, Papillion) with Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) serving as executive producer, as well as the director of the first two episodes. Raised by Wolves continues Scott’s exploration of the interaction between androids and humans. Guzikowski takes up the writing helm to tell this sometimes frightening tale of what may be the ultimate interplay between androids and humans.
Raised by Wolves takes place on Kepler 22-b, a planet in a distant star system where two androids, Mother (Amanda Collins) and Father (Abubaker Salim) have escaped the fighting and destruction on Earth caused by two competing factions: the Atheists and the Mithraic (Believers). These androids bring several embryos to this new planet in hopes of saving the human race, as well as propagating their belief (Atheism). The survival of the androids and the children in this hostile environment would be an interesting story in and of itself but the writers add more complexity (and drama) when an ark ship led by the Believers arrives in the system.
The ark is led by Ambrose (Steve Wall), a religious leader who is ill-equipped to deal with the exigencies of life on a dangerous new planet. Part of his group includes Marcus (Travis Fimmel) and Sue (Niamh Algar) who, unbeknownst to the members of the Ark, are imposters who took over the identity of Ark members to save their own lives. Marcus and Sue are a husband and wife who were soldiers on the side of Atheists. They did not realize at first that they had inherited a son with their new identities.
If this were not an already complicated milieu, Mother was once, and apparently still is, a very powerful android known as a Necromancer. Necromancers are androids who use a sonic weapon to destroy any living creature. They were the ultimate weapon used in the conflict on Earth. The general assumption among the Believers on the Ark is that the Necromancer androids could never be reprogrammed to be anything other than weapons of mass destruction.
Here is a quick recap of everything that has happened in the first three episodes as the intertwining plots are gordian in their complexity:
- Mother and Father are androids.
- They escaped from a war-ravaged Earth with several human embryos.
- They arrived on a distant world, Kepler-22b, where the children are raised as Atheists.
- The children eventually were lost or died from an unknown ailment with the exception of one child, Campion.
- An Ark arrived from Earth populated with a group of survivors who are Mithraic.
- Among the crew are two imposters from the group known as Atheists, the mortal enemies of the Mithraic.
- Mother is really a weapon of mass destruction known as a Necromancer who can destroy any living creature via a sonic blast.
- Mother caused the Ark to crash while she saved the children of the Ark to be companions to Campion.
Apparently, the writers did not believe that this tale of people who are willing to die for fanatical beliefs as well as travel to a distant star system to continue this misguided belief system was complicated enough, they added an extra element: a predatory species on Kepler 22b that attacks the Earth settlers. However, what is a tale of fanatical belief without a prophecy? The prophecy tells of one who will lead the true Believers to a new world where they will live in peace and harmony. In literature and life, prophecies tend to lead to false prophets.
In the first three episodes, Raised by Wolves has woven an intricate and complex tale of survival, destruction, love, familial bonding, and fanaticism. The drama has taken viewers on a frightening, thought-provoking, and intriguing journey. This tale of humans, androids, and aliens invites comparisons to where humanity currently is but does it truly hint at our future? Viewers will have to watch future episodes to discover the answers.
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