“King” is rife with body horror, mystery, and worthwhile themes, as the second season continues to impress.
This recap of Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 5, “King”, contains spoilers.
The secret to Raised by Wolves, I think, is that it takes everything equally seriously. Some moments of deadpan humor notwithstanding, this is a show that treats sci-fi weirdness with the same sincerity as a fundamental religious debate between faith and skepticism; one is often a metaphor for the other. It’s as about people and what they believe as it is immaculately conceived flying serpents, androids, and acidic oceans. You can’t take its wackier elements any less seriously because they’re not just set dressing, but fundamental components of metaphorical creation myths, or integral worldbuilding details, or pieces in some grand, as-yet unknowable puzzle. Everything matters equally.
Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 5 recap
This has been true of both seasons, but it’s becoming especially true of this one. Last week’s episode turned the gonzo body-horror up to eleven, and “King” continues in the same style, plumbing Kepler-22b’s depths for assorted horrors. More ideas became literal. More theoretical dangers become real. The sense of rapid escalation and peril has been felt profoundly in the last two episodes, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
The key dramatic question is what is real and imagined; what is divine and what is alien. Marcus, despite losing the powers granted to him by Mother’s ingested eyes, still believes himself to be Sol’s prophet and frames his descent into the bowels of a temple as a prophesized trial. The humanoid creature he finds and shoots down there, and the data card he retrieves, will surely be important in one way or another, but it’s hard to believe they’re Sol’s will, despite Holly’s Mithraic necklace reacting to the discovery. There’s more to the planet than meets the eye.
But Raised by Wolves Season 2 also continues to surprise on a simple narrative level. Last week’s episode was a game-changer in how Mother shut down the Trust and assumed ostensibly temporary leadership of the Collective, and here in “King”, we do away with the parallel plot of Marcus’s burgeoning cult by having a deeply annoyed and faceless Vrille brutally murder his followers, and Father and Lucius capture Marcus himself. All roads are beginning to converge.
But they’re converging in an unusual and potentially dangerous place. Despite Mother’s supposed leadership of the Collective, she’s becoming increasingly callous about human life and behavior and is constantly reinterpreting her desire to protect her “children” – though Campion specifically – as an excuse to do basically whatever she wants. This will hardly foster a sense of community, and her growing separation from Father is indicative of how Mother’s unwavering belief she knows best is ostracising her few remaining allies, not giving them faith in her leadership.
And Father might have discovered a bigger threat anyway. The lifeform he reanimated seems, at least to me, like an advanced race perhaps superior even to the androids, and this meshes with Sue’s newfound “faith”. In her efforts to heal Paul, she experienced something that she can’t quite explain, though, despite her desire to connect with Paul by suggesting it might have been Sol, she entertains the possibility of it being an alien lifeform unknowable in its advancement. Either way, though, her love for her “son” is enough to believe in it, and belief, as we’ve seen, is a powerful thing.