“Nature’s Course” proves problematic for Campion, whose empathy is putting him at risk, while the Mithraic squabble over leadership.
This recap of Raised By Wolves season 1, episode 4, “Nature’s Course”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
If you think back to last week’s triple-bill, you’ll recall that poor Paul was left down one of the treacherously deep holes on Kepler-22b, and that’s exactly where we find him in “Nature’s Course”. Mother, though, is on-hand to rescue him, even if it requires embracing her full Necromancer form and plunging deep enough into the pit that she can see the smoke curling up from the bottom. So, these things go right through to the core of the planet?
The Mithraic, meanwhile, are ferrying His Eminence Ambrose across the dunes, where they happen upon some kind of structure half-buried in the bleached sand. This vibes pretty well with Mithraic prophecy since it’s obviously of intelligent design and is giving off heat. It was built, and it has some kind of function, which kind of puts paid to the idea that the planet was an uninhabited wasteland prior to these recent arrivals. True to form, the Mithraic all kneel before the structure and pray to it.
Things at the settlement aren’t looking too grand either. Mother returns with Paul to find Father still having something of an existential crisis, questioning his usefulness and unsure what to do with his alien captive. Despite Campion’s cheerleading, he feels he’s losing the respect of Mother and indeed himself, and now that Paul is regaling the others with tales of Mother’s heroics, he can’t even rely on assuaging their fear to give him a sense of purpose. Hunter tries to insist that praying to Sol brought about Paul’s rescue, but even the other Ark kids aren’t buying that at this point.
Father eventually decides on killing the alien so the kids can eat it. Predictably, Campion doesn’t like this idea, so wants to look for something else to eat instead. This is partly inspired by Paul telling him that death is the end for animals — they don’t get an afterlife as humans do. Of course, Campion shouldn’t believe in the human afterlife either given his staunchly atheistic upbringing, but here we are. He and Father venture out together in search of alternative sustenance. Am I the only person who thinks Campion is getting just a little bit irritating at this point?
One of the more compelling figures beginning to emerge in Raised by Wolves episode 4 is Tempest, whose relationship with Mother is the closest and most unique, and who has exhibited the most individual characteristics. Mother opens up to her about Father potentially feeling inadequate after her powers began to manifest. She also confesses her desire to be a creator rather than a creation. There’s still a hint of fear in this relationship, though, as evidenced when Mother starts wielding a scalpel, and Tempest bricks it. After lulling the young girl to sleep, Mother slices the tracking device from her heel, flies off with it, and dumps it down one of the planet’s holes.
Obviously, Sue and Marcus are tracking that signal, and immediately think the kids have moved again. Ambrose and the rest of the Mithraic senior leadership are reticent to jeopardize their mission by being too weak to sacrifice the things they love, which I suppose is easy to say when it’s not your kids who’re being babysat by a murderous android. Then again, Paul isn’t technically Marcus and Sue’s kid either, but let’s not get hung up on the details.
Besides, how murderous is Mother, really? She seems pretty keen on Tempest, apparently keen enough to grow her baby using the same gizmos she used to brew Campion and his siblings, which would be doing Tempest a solid since her child is a product of rape and she can’t stomach the idea of carrying it to term. Father isn’t in agreement, of course, since he thinks that nature’s course shouldn’t be diverted. He also needs to feel useful by slaughtering the alien, especially since the only promising foodstuff he and Campion managed to find on their excursion turned out to be toxic. Both Mother and Father are worried that Campion’s sense of empathy is going to get him killed.
The leadership struggle continues in the Mithraic camp. Marcus is ambushed with some kind of earwig implant that he naturally assumes was a scheme cooked up by Ambrose to get him out of the way. That assumption is complicated when the remaining Mithraic android pulls a gun and Sue is forced to shoot her. It seems she was to blame for the earwig, but it’s a little too convenient. For now, though, it doesn’t amount to anything, but Marcus is sure to shoot the android to bits so it can’t be repaired.
Feeling increasingly guilty about the captive alien, Campion decides to set it free, but Father’s adamant that he kills it as part of growing up and preparing himself for a life without his Mother and Father. Naturally, Campion runs and tells Mother, so Father enlists the other kids in killing the creature, despite Mother’s reservations about Campion participating. Hunter shows his cowardice here, citing the purity of his bloodline as justification for why he can’t kill, but nobody seems particularly keen. Once one of the kids does pluck up enough courage to stab the thing they do a terrible job and all of them run away.
The most significant development of “Nature’s Course” comes when Mother goes exploring more of the Ark of Heaven wreckage in the hopes of finding parts to repair the mobile lab and stumbles on one of the stasis devices that kept the Ark’s passengers in a shared unconscious during the 13-year voyage. Despite protestations from the machinery. Mother plugs herself in regardless and relives some of Campion’s earlier childhood when some of his siblings were still alive.
Eventually, Marcus and Sue decide to go for Paul on their own. Marcus wants to kill Ambrose and make it look like an accident, but Sue thinks that’ll backfire. Nevertheless, during the night when temperatures have dropped way below freezing and Ambrose proposes blowing open the structure they’ve been using for warmth, Marcus takes the opportunity to declare to the group that their leader has lost his faith. Marcus sets him alight with the rock, which comes to life just in time. After, Marcus tells Sue that he “heard a voice”. Is the atheist becoming a believer?
In a final grim development, Tempest uses Mother’s scalpal to hack up the alien and eat its innards raw. But when she staggers outside the hut, she’s cradling a half-developed fetus she’s cut from its belly. “It was a mother,” she whimpers, as the episode ends.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.