A two-part premiere establishes a new status quo while still teasing answers to some big, interesting questions.
This recap of Raised By Wolves season 2, episode 1 and Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 2 contains spoilers.
The more I think about Raised by Wolves, the more I realize how little I know about it. It’s a big, complex sci-fi adventure with important, nuanced themes and many novel ideas, and it’s virtually impossible to know what direction it’s heading in – though at least, judging by this two-part second season premiere, it won’t be around in circles.
But it’s an inscrutable bit of work, and the mystery surrounding the lingering questions that remain is what it burns for fuel. You’re not supposed to know what’s going on, really, at least not above the level of the basic A-to-B plot lines, because that’d ruin it, the same way unmasking the killer in a horror movie does. The unknown is more terrifying and interesting than anything tangible, and what has always worked about Raised by Wolves, and what continues to work here, is that nothing in it feels all that tangible – everything’s closer to a dream or a digital creation than actual reality.
Raised by Wolves season 2 premiere recap
Consider, for instance, Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), the android couple sent by atheists to sire new human life on Kepler-22b following the destruction of Earth in a holy war. Neither are human, per se, but they’re becoming more and more like us, including all our petty foibles and anxieties. This isn’t an especially funny show, but these two trying to navigate their burgeoning emotions is always good for a laugh; it’s like watching two slot machines trying to ring cherries. Even some of the human characters speak in the same arch, robotic way as if they’re becoming more and more synthetic themselves.
In the first season finale, you’ll recall, Mother and Father tried to sacrifice themselves in the planet’s molten core because Mother had accidentally given birth to a giant flying lampray eel that may or may not have been written into her programming like a virus (the show is deliberately coy about how this whole thing works, but if I were to theorize, I’d imagine Mother is basically like a 3D printer.) The serpent escaped, and as of Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 1, “The Collective”, remains missing. Mother and Father refer to it as “Number 7”, their seventh attempt at seeding new life, the first six having been all but wiped out at this point aside from Campion (Winta McGrath), who speaks like he’s doing the show’s audio description.
The real nature – and often existence – of Number 7 is kept secret by Mother and Father as they, along with Sue (Niamh Algar) and the rest of the surviving kids, are welcomed into a new atheist colony established in the planet’s Tropical Zone. Dubbed “The Collective” and presided over by a pulsating artificial intelligence called “The Trust”, this place is ideal for a follow-up season, seeing where the intimate, unconventional family dynamics fit into a wider social context. The lingering effects of the war, the distrust of androids like Mother and Father, and the general dislike of the Mithraic adherence to the deity Sol, trap everyone within crosshatched philosophical lines. We still don’t know much about the atheist sect in this show, or why Kepler-22b is so important, or anything, really, but anyone who has seen any sci-fi knows that AI’s are not to be trusted, at the very least.
Elsewhere, Sue’s fellow atheist imposter husband, Marcus (Travis Fimmel), has rebranded himself as an evangelist for Sol, and he’s steadily recruiting a band of converted terrorists to badger the Collective. His ally, although neither of them necessarily knows it yet, might turn out to be Paul (Felix Jamieson), the kid whose parents he killed and impersonated. Since Season 1 established that something is communicating with Paul, he is beginning to see himself as Sol’s prophet and is putting his allegiance to this higher power far above his “parents” – either Sue or Mother and Father – and the Collective.
The new setting allows for a handful of new characters – look out for a scene-stealing Peter Christofferson as Cleaver – and warring ideologies that help to frame the nuclear family drama in a bigger picture. You can also see immediately that this new season is interested in inverting some of the dynamics it previously established – Decima (Kim Engelbrecht), a human, and her android charge Vrille (Morgan Santo), both of whom fall in quickly with Marcus, are already challenging the role of androids and their relationship to humans, just as Mother and Father continue to evolve beyond their base programming and grapple with new, complex emotions that they don’t understand.
For Mother, this manifests most obviously as a dilemma about what to do with Number 7, which comes to the fore mostly in Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 2, “Seven”. When the eel monster begins terrorizing the colony, the colonists decide to hunt it, with Mother herself leading the charge. But this is still her biological child, at the end of the day, and since Mother has been characterized throughout by her fierce maternal instincts, it seems unlikely to me that she’d be willing to simply gun down her own offspring. Time will tell, but for now, the themes and plot of the show are beginning to coalesce in several engaging emotional and philosophical contexts.