Ideologies are tested in “Virtual Faith”, as the kids all fall ill, and we see how far parents are willing to go for their children — even if the circumstances aren’t quite as clear-cut as that.
This recap of Raised by Wolves season 1, episode 3, “Virtual Faith”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The kids from the Ark of Heaven have had a tough time of things. First, a bronze-plated android broke into their home and popped everyone they’ve ever known with a banshee scream. Then she kidnapped them and took them to a barren planet where creepy indigenous species tried to eat them. As Raised by Wolves episode 3, “Virtual Faith” opens, they learn that they can’t even head to the idyllic tropical zone until Tempest has given birth. The only thing to do in the meantime is to be told stories by Mother; she goes for The Three Little Pigs, even though Campion plays up about it.
“Virtual Faith” then deploys some quick explanatory text as we’re told that as the thousand Mithraic passengers made their 13-year journey to Kepler-22b on the Ark of Heaven, their bodies traveled in a state of hibernation while their minds were able to interact with each other as if they were awake. Thus we see Marcus dreaming with Sue, as they both debate what to do about Paul since they don’t really know him. Luckily for them, his own parents didn’t really know him either; when they speak with him, he asks them why they’re bothering since they never do usually. Being in the sim, where things are a little weird, gives them a convenient excuse to get involved.
This is to help give us context about why Marcus is so distraught to wake up in the present day and be informed by Sue that the Necromancer has Paul. They’ve spent years raising this kid as their own.
Elsewhere in “Virtual Faith”, Hunter continues to plant seeds of doubt in Campion’s mind, and the younger child begins parroting him, calling Father a generic service model incapable of protecting them. But Father is too agreeable and smart to be bothered by that. In parallel, though, the Ark kids, led by Tempest, begin to become a bit disenfranchised with their own beliefs; Tempest saw genuine sincerity in Mother, who she believes has a real instinct to protect and nurture her child. They all sit around to eat and make “polite conversation”, but their warring ideologies lead to a huge argument during which Tempest starts coughing up blood.
Marcus, meanwhile, tries to persuade the surviving Mithraic leadership to authorize a rescue mission. His theory about Mother is that she’s a Necromancer who was re-engineered to be a caregiver but is regressing; thus, more violence is in her future, and the Ark’s kids, including Paul, are in great danger. But given how few of the Mithraic remain and how scarce resources her, the mission can’t go ahead.
The kids are indeed in danger, but not necessarily from Mother — they’re all sick. All, that is, except Campion, who believes this is Mother’s doing. So, too, does Mother, who wonders if she killed the other kids without realizing it and is doing the same again now. This is a morbid but compelling dramatic question that “Virtual Faith” will answer before its end.
In more flashbacks to the sim, we see Sue and Marcus bonding with Paul, with leads to a flashback within a flashback as Marcus recalls his time in the war, drafted by the atheists as a child, and made to fight with turbo-charging backpacks. Thus far the zealotry of the Mithraic has been presented as harmful, but here the show is presenting a counter-argument since the believers didn’t draft children in the same way.
Back on Kepler-22b in the present day, Mother finds the Ark’s wreckage, and the Mithraic are forced to hide as she combs it for medicine. There’s obviously a leadership struggle going on here, since “His Eminence” tries to get Marcus to go out on what is clearly a suicide mission in order to distract Mother. Marcus, though, a secret atheist, can’t be swayed by blind devotion and suggests an android is sent out instead. Mother takes her eyes and processor and lets her run, blinded, into one of the planet’s holes.
Under the guise of Paul having lost his mouse, Campion stages an escape, locking Father in one of the huts as the kids set out together. He tells them that the alien creatures aren’t real; Mother can make them see things. That justifies the excursion, but they realize quickly that perhaps it was a bad idea — especially for Paul. After seeing Marcus bequeath the mouse to him in the sim, we see him lose it for real, which leads him away from the group, whose sickness is worsening and who aren’t as safe from the “imaginary” aliens as they thought.
At least Marcus is finally able to get that rescue mission off the ground by turning the Mithraic’s own faith against them, even if it doesn’t exactly make him popular. The facade is starting to drop in his desperation; a mirror of Mother’s own arc as she has been driven increasingly mad by the desire to protect her children. Perhaps the believers and the atheists aren’t as different as they think.
When Mother returns to find the children missing, she lets out a bloodcurdling scream. But Father has made a discovery — the produce they’ve been eating contains pits that become radioactive once they’re picked. That’s what killed the other children — Mother didn’t. She gives Father the antibiotics and he quickly catches up to the children. He lets Campion know about the radiation, which he verifies for himself. In the nick of time, and as if to prove several points at once, Father saves Campion from an attacking alien.
Raised By Wolves episode 3, “Virtual Faith”, ends as Paul, wandering alone, falls down one of the planet’s pits.
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