A new hope for humanity emerges in “Umbilical”, as allegiances are tested, beliefs are challenged, and we race towards the finale.
This recap of Raised by Wolves season 1, episode 9, “Umbilical”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
A subplot that has been burbling in the background of Raised by Wolves all throughout its increasingly excellent first season is the matter of Tempest, her rapist, and their unborn child, which finally reaches something of an endpoint here in the penultimate episode, “Umbilical”. It begins with Tempest, still roaming the Ark’s wreckage, bumping into her baby father, Otho, whom she immediately confronts. She’s empowered by the fact his helmet ensures he can’t do anything more to harm her, while she’s free to do basically whatever she wants to him. Only she isn’t, since Mother won’t let her. As explained by Otho’s security android’s head, which is in his backpack, Otho’s head will be squished if they venture more than ten feet apart, and Mother needs Otho to feed her fetus. Tempest is rather perplexed to hear this, one supposes understandably.
Marcus, meanwhile, prays for guidance. And he’s going to need it since Hunter, in a long-awaited face turn, hacks into Father’s programming and resets it. When Father comes to, he tells a joke. He’s back! On the case immediately, he instructs Hunter to convince Marcus to take him on the search, which he does. They’re going back to the temple, since Sol will speak to Marcus there, apparently. They venture out in the lander that looks rather hilariously like an AirPod, and Marcus does indeed pray.
The kids, meanwhile, explore the Ark wreckage, while Paul insists to Campion that Sol brought Mouse back to him. This kind of chatter is more compelling to Campion than usual since he has been dealing with visions of Evil Tally — he has always been drawn towards faith to help him deal with loss, and his recent experiences have only driven him further down that path.
Tempest, though, isn’t as easily convinced, since her ultimate betrayal by a high-ranking Mithraic has shaken her faith, and the baby she’s carrying is a constant reminder of that. She’s especially annoyed by Mother, who explains she got pregnant in the sim pod, since Tempest now feels she’s turning away from her and reneging on her promise to focus on her own child instead. Mother concedes that her new need to feed has made her programming unpredictable, but let’s be frank here — was her programming ever predictable? Either way, they’re going to a place where successful delivery of the child is most likely and dragging Otho along via blood transfusion tubes. He tries to turn Tempest against Mother — turns out he’s still a closed-minded fundamentalist, who’d have thought it? — but his preaching is falling on deaf ears.
Eventually, Mother and Tempest run into Sue and the other kids. In a fitting and thematically apt scene, Sue pulls a gun on the android, and the kids all shield her, including Paul. Mother once again explains that she’s pregnant and that she’s hooked up to Otho for sustenance, and then promptly collapses. As Sue says, she’s a doctor, not a mechanic, but that snide remark won’t satisfy the kids, who want her to give Mother a once-over.
Back at the temple in Raised by Wolves episode 9, Marcus quickly figures out that Hunter isn’t really on-side, interrogating him about what he knows and noticing when he very obviously keeps turning to Father for aid. Marcus, having already lit a branch using the monument’s fiery glory hole, shoves Hunter’s arm inside it, but while he screams like a baby, he doesn’t burn. This, according to the other Mithraic, means that Sol has shielded him, and therefore he must be telling the truth. Religion is convenient like that sometimes, isn’t it?
Less convenient, then, is atheism, since it means that Mother and Sue can’t just easily put aside their differences, even if Mother wonders that their shared lack of belief might give them more in common than not. It doesn’t help that Mother immediately lets on that she knows Sue isn’t really who she says she is, which Sue understandably takes as a threat. Nevertheless, they have a chat, and you can see the beginnings of some understanding there.
No such luck among the Mithraic, since Hunter and Father make off in the lander during the night. Marcus is furious enough that he slashes the throat of the man who was supposed to be on guard, which he later tries to dress up as a sacrifice to Sol and not the petty act of revenge it obviously was. This will lead to his downfall, but more on that in a minute, since it makes for the big last-minute twist of “Umbilical”.
Anyway, Mother discovers that her intravenous blood flow has been reversed, and she has actually been pumping empowering sustenance into Otho. He takes the opportunity to attack her and then leer over Tempest until she stabs him, Sue shoots him, and everyone else gets involved too. He’s able to fight them off and drag Tempest outside, but Holly distracts him for long enough that Tempest can steal the android’s head from his back and toss it away. He gives chase, but just as he straddles her once again, the distance activates his security helmet, and his head gets fatally pulped.
This is a bit of a problem, since as Father and Hunter arrive, Mother isn’t looking good and the baby isn’t responding. She’s worried that Otho might have drained it, so Father — he’s thoroughly baffled by the news that his missus is pregnant — and Hunter head out to find a creature and harvest its plasma. In the meantime, Sue sets up a transfusion of her own blood. “What are you doing?” asks Mother. “I’m saving your baby.” Aww! While this goes ahead, they talk again, and Sue explains how she can’t have children of her own after a bad miscarriage years prior. She understands how people make up a god to thank when they can’t believe their luck.
As if to prove this point, Paul tells Campion that Sol put the baby inside Mother to try and help them, since the baby will change everything. He’s probably right about the last bit.
And that brings us to the final scene, in which the Mithraic finally figure Marcus out. He tries his usual shtick of playing up to their beliefs, but it doesn’t work. He’s attacked, brutally, and left for dead. But as he turns on his side, it isn’t blood that leaks out of his mouth, but the tell-tale white goo that courses through the android’s veins. Just what is going on here? I guess we’ll have to wait a week to find out. (A commenter pointed out it’s because he has the android eye shoved in his mouth and yeah that makes sense.)
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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.