“The Tree” delivers a hefty helping of weirdness as the plot takes some very intriguing turns.
This recap of Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 6, “The Tree”, contains spoilers.
Things are getting weird in “The Tree”, which isn’t exactly out of the ordinary for Raised by Wolves. But just how this season has taken its body horror to new extremes, so too has it made its religious imagery and allegories more on-the-nose than ever. As the show’s genre machinery becomes more clogged with its broader ideas and ethical conflicts, it’s becoming a more coherent, singular work, but also more difficult to make sense of on a purely logical level. Then again, that’s faith in a nutshell, isn’t it?
Raised by Wolves season 2, episode 6 recap
In some ways, episodes like this are my favorite kind to recap, since I like to imagine readers getting to descriptions of events they perhaps haven’t seen yet and doing confused double-takes. There are several, “I’m sorry, what?” moments in “The Tree”, all of them entertaining, even if some make more sense than others. But that’s fine. Raised by Wolves is becoming the kind of expensive, ambitious television that we don’t get very often, the kind that is willing to be unconventional and complex and weird even to the detriment of its audience.
Anyway, picking up where we left off, Marcus has been captured by Father and Lucius and returned to the atheist colony, where Mother insists that he publicly denounces Sol. He won’t, of course, but as it turns out he doesn’t need to since Sue’s efforts to save Paul led to her own visions of this supposed deity, and now she believes he’s a signal, comprehensible to only a few, emanating from somewhere on Kepler-22b. Where the idea was simply that on Earth, just an idea, on this planet her version of God has become literal, someone – or something – she can find. This is the root of her sudden desire to free Marcus, although there’s a good case to be made that she’s also just trying to please Paul.
Everyone is trying to please Paul lately. Mother has given Campion a number of leadership duties, and he proposes that freeing Marcus would make a strong point about Mother’s mercy and understanding, but he’s mostly just parroting Paul’s suggestion. He also establishes a work-free Sabbath, which is a smart way to win the favor of a workforce. But that’s the problem with putting kids in charge. Campion might speak like an android, but he has a child’s desire to please, to be liked.
And yet Campion is somehow the least problematic of Mother’s children. At least he’s willing to play ball. Hunter is fixing up an android in case he ever decides to leave the colony and set up on his own, and Tempest, due to give birth at any minute thanks to that subplot having been suddenly turbo-charged, is so adamant about not laying eyes on the product of her sexual assault that she ventures out to deliver the baby alone, on some rocks by the acidic ocean. She does so on all fours, in a pretty extraordinary – and quite graphic – display of feminine fortitude, but the nipper’s squeals attract the attention of one of the Tropical Zone’s native mer-monsters. The creature fries Tempest’s forearms when it snatches the baby from her, but the infant is curiously unharmed, popped safely in the thing’s chest cavity, and taken into the murky depths for God-knows-what purpose.
Elsewhere, Sue takes the weird box that looks like the die from a particularly deranged tabletop game, frees Marcus, and attempts the open the container. Paul believes it contains the seed for the Tree of Life. Trying to brute-force it open causes No. 7 to go haywire in its cave, and when Campion tries to calm it down, the serpent almost kills him until Mother arrives to chastise it. This establishes a direct connection between No. 7, the puzzle-box, whatever version of Sol that Marcus, Sue, and Paul believe they have been communing with, and Mother – or at least whoever impregnated Mother in the first place.
Its easy to assume that the android Father has regenerated is involved also. In “The Tree”, we see Campion inadvertently activate it with his presence, and it speaks to him in Ancient Mithraic. Later, we learn it is almost identical on an engineering level to Mother, although instead of weapons like the necromancer has, it has… something else. We don’t know what yet. After Mother leaves, Father chats with Grandmother, now held essentially captive after Mother put it in Sleep Mode, but after mistaking him for her partner, it shuts itself off after Father reveals how many human beings are currently on Kepler-22b.
What turns out to be the key to unlocking the box is a lullaby that Sue sings to Paul when he can’t sleep. It opens and reveals a “seed”, which looked like a computer chip to me, and embeds itself into Sue’s hand. She starts to frantically dig, and the next morning, she’s nowhere to be found. A giant tree, though, has emerged in her place, and Marcus feasts on the fruit of it, which seems like a brain within a coconut-like shell. As he cries, he reaches his hand out to touch the tree as power courses through it.