The figures of Mother and FatherTWITTER/KRITIKUSTIK

Sci-fi cinema has always had an appeal not just because of its flashy visual, but also due to its ability to explore philosophical concepts or moral dilemmas without being bound by realistic constraints. A good sci-fi ascends beyond fantastical ideas and action, providing deeper meaning or insight – HBO Max’s Raised By Wolves does just that. The show throws you into a world rich with history and a story needed to be uncovered. In the midst of a raging civil war between the religious Mithraics and an atheist sect, two androids, Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), are sent to an unknown planet tasked to raise a human colony from six embryos. It quickly becomes clear that raising the children is not easy; the planet is not what it seems to be, and everything changes when a group of Mithraic survivors find themselves on the same planet as well.

"She has guided us this far..."TWITTER/RAISEDBYWOLVESMAX

The biggest name on the bill is sci-fi auteur Ridley Scott himself, and the show is marketed as such. Scott has an executive producer credit with his company Scott Free involved, and also directs the first two episodes. It’s worth noting that the actual showrunner is Aaron Guzikowski, screenwriter for Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners (2013). Even so, it is extraordinarily obvious how much influence Scott seems to have had on the show. Raised By Wolves is riddled with Scott’s sci-fi hallmarks, just like his iconic Alien (1979) and Blade-Runner (1982), featuring bleak futurism and deceptively human-looking androids. At a deeper level, it is also an extension of the discussion of existential themes found throughout much of his filmography. Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017) both focused on the idea of creation — god versus man, creator versus created. With its distinctly philosophical slant, Raised works as a thematic companion to these films without any canon relation.

“When one has been so bold, one must see it through to the end.”

Here Scott does not shy away from the religious aspect that was more subtle in his previous works. In Raised it is both overt, with the key conflict being of a religious nature, but also more subtle in its symbolism. There is Mother and Father, like Adam and Eve. There are the mysterious serpents that used to roam the planet, akin to the serpent of the Garden of Eden. The Mithraics are clearly based on Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism, but also take direct inspiration from actual Mithraism, a secret cult of the Roman Empire. Countless theories have tried to dissect the show’s allegories, including one postulating that the show is based on the Book of Enoch.

"Don't stray too far from Mother"TWITTER/HBOMAX

While the most familiar cast member is probably Vikings′ Travis Fimmel, it is really the android performances, especially Collin’s Mother, that make the show. She evokes both anger and sympathy for a character so caring, yet terrifying. If there is one image that will stay in your mind after watching Raised, it is her, a floating archangel of death, decimating her enemies with her shrill scream. She is a unique character, but not the only layered one in the show. While the child performances vary in quality, the adult cast is excellent, each with their own background and motivations. The show is as relentless to its characters as the harsh planet it is set in.

Most importantly, it does not hold its punches when it comes to choosing a side. While it portrays the Mithraics like an extremist cult, it also gives them credit where due, helping you understand why the Mithraics believe what they do. Between one Mithraic losing faith after a traumatic experience, and Mother developing a god complex with her creator, the internal struggle of choosing what to believe in runs through each character arc, a consistent thread that is not at all an afterthought. This moral greyness supplies an undercurrent of intrigue that draws you in.


Mountain View

Hope and the Zombie Trope in the time of Corona

It’s not at all uncommon for TV shows to lose steam halfway, and this is where Raised by Wolves falters. To put it neatly, the show is a massive tease. It keeps so much a mystery; with every question it answers, it raises ten more. When the plotline sometimes feels like no-one is getting anywhere, a lack of answers only leads to confusion, and you can’t help but wonder if the captains of this ship have any idea where they are going. Guzikowski has said that he has plans for five to six seasons, so we can only hope he does. It is far from clear exactly what the showrunners have planned – both a blessing and a concern, as it is uncertain whether they can do justice to the extravagant groundwork already laid. While it may drag at times, at its core, this is a story with incredible ideas and competent execution. The ultimate decision for the showrunners will be picking a side – faith or science – or coming to a new middleground. When one has been so bold, one must see it through to the end.