“Control” is an eventful, surprisingly brutal chapter which will surely mark a turning point for this second season.
This recap of Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 4, “Control”, contains spoilers.
“Control” begins with a big development and never lets its audience off the hook from there, feeling almost like a season finale in its relentless barrage of major swerves and like a test of endurance in its litany of surprisingly brutal moments. Raised by Wolves has always been an ostensibly adult show, with big, chewy themes and ideas, but only rarely has it ventured as confidently into the outright macabre as it does here. It’s a heavy tone characterizing a memorable hour, and the rest of the second season will almost certainly not be the same beyond this point.
Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 4 recap
Following on from last week, we learn that Paul has indeed informed Marcus about the Trust’s planned search and destroy mission for him, which allows Marcus to ready his followers for an impending attack. Paul is much warmer to Marcus than he is to Sue, and he makes no secret about why — despite both of them having killed and impersonated his biological parents, he cannot abide Sue’s atheism, believing an absence of belief to be an unforgivable sin. In Marcus, then, he sees less a father than a prophet, as he believes himself to be. But as ever, faith tends to blind people from the obvious, and in this case, Paul’s mistrust of The Trust works to the advantage of the AI and the atheists. Knowing that Paul would meet with Marcus, the Trust implanted a viral bomb in Paul’s mouse, which messily explodes and infects several of Marcus’s followers, and Paul himself, with a mysterious pathogen that gives him reptilian eyes and scales and eventually encases him in a kind of chrysalis.
Knowing their hideout — “temple”, as I believe a few of them call it — has now been compromised, Marcus sends his followers downriver, himself remaining behind to ambush the atheists who will inevitably arrive to check for survivors. In the meantime, he will implore Sol to save Paul. With Vrille having been blamed for bringing Campion and Paul to the temple, and Decima having been instructed to atone for the mistake, there’s immediate mistrust and hostility within the group that is only exacerbated when Campion flees to find Mother and ask for her help in saving Paul. Decima sends Vrille to retrieve him, but in a messy sequence of events, the android is grabbed by a native acidic swamp monster whose head Campion is forced to stove in with a rock. At some point in the chaos, he sees a glowing light that he believes to be a vision of Sol, converting him instantly to a true believer, and allowing him to make it back to the Collective, where he tells Mother what has happened.
While Campion is doing this, Vrille returns to the group in disgrace, and Decima, partly due to peer pressure and partly due to infatuation with Marcus, sets about her with a blade. She slashes her face in anger and eventually rips it loose from her skull. While we’re to understand that Vrille is a robot, this scene of a woman slicing apart a young girl is deliberately and effectively uncomfortable. In response, a frantic Vrille throws herself from a nearby cliff and lands in a crumpled heap on the rocks below.
A while after, Mother arrives to help Paul, but Marcus fights her. Campion intervenes, though, and she’s able to get the upper hand, at which point she realizes that Marcus’s supposedly divine power is in fact her power, stolen from her when he swallowed her eyes. She takes them back from him, pulling them up and out of his mouth in another nasty scene, and then popping them back in her own sockets. Her power restored, she takes Paul back to the Collective to confront the Trust about its misuse of him, and when she encounters resistance she enters full Necromancer form for the first time in the season and starts howling people into chunks. Seeing the tactical disadvantage, the Trust orders that she be allowed inside, and after depositing Paul with Sue, she confronts the supercomputer directly. One ethical debate later, and she has tearfully shut the system down.
Mother assumes leadership, which isn’t a decision that many of the atheists are fond of and given a conversation she had with Sue earlier about the serpent — which she was trying to build a control chip for — and her sometimes overactive mothering instincts, it probably won’t go down well there either. But it’s nonetheless a significant change in the status quo, with implications for everyone, and just as Mother has regained her powers, Marcus has lost his, trying to continue as if nothing happened but being told immediately by Decima that he “feels different.”
And then there’s Father. Still taking great pleasure in his pit fighting victory, he takes the fuel blood and a couple of the kids to the little organism he’s growing, which is now not so little and distinctly humanoid. At the very end of “Control”, he returns to find the thing missing, and assumes immediately that Mother has confiscated it. When he opens the door, though, he finds the creature outside, levitating and glowing very much like the vision of Sol that Campion experienced earlier.