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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Raised By Wolves ends its 1st season with bleakness, wonder, and shades of Rosemary’s Baby

Abubakar Salim and Amanda Collin star in Raised By Wolves
Abubakar Salim and Amanda Collin star in Raised By Wolves
Photo: Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max
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How do we determine what is in fact true? In the world of Raised By Wolves, characters attempt to understand the bleak, terrifying world around them by turning to stories rather than any empirical evidence. For the Mithraic, these stories are about worshipping a creator they call Sol, an entity that they insist is the benevolent driving force behind their mission no matter how terrible and strange things on Kepler-22b become. While Mother and Father attempt to teach their children a different story, both end up falling prey to the same blind faith in their understanding of “the mission.” In particular, Mother’s faith in elder Campion, the creator that transformed her from a machine of war to an emotionally engaged mother, blinds her judgment, making it impossible for her to see how her choices are ultimately putting her family at risk.

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Raised By Wolves has always been a show that is best understood as allegory, and “The Beginning” confirms that one way that viewers can understand what happens to Mother and Father is a kind of fall from grace. Kepler-22b may not be a lovely garden of Eden, but Mother’s curiosity about the Mithraic machine doesn’t bring her closer to her creator; instead, it causes her to become infected with some type of malicious virus. The baby she’s been carrying inside her, which the religious children see as a holy gift from Sol, and the atheists view as a wondrous growth of technology, turns out to be a horrifying snake.

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The world of Raised By Wolves is often overwhelmingly bleak, but this final episode felt both surprising and captivating too. Some of that sense of wonder certainly derives from the phenomenal acting of Mother. With her pixie haircut and delicate features that can soften and snarl in almost the same breath, Amanda Collin looks like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Indeed, the birth of the snake baby is utterly horrifying, not just the way the serpent escapes out of her mouth (I guess android anatomy is pretty different from human anatomy), but the way it then creepily nestles into her, suckling at her breast like a parasite.

“The Beginning” actively explores how the supernatural things that we’ve seen happen over and over again on Kepler-22b are neither random nor the result of a benevolent Sol. Despite their differing belief systems, both the Mithraic and atheists believed that humans were basically the center of the universe. In this episode, viewers are also implicated in this myopic view of the world, as we have been struggling to make sense of an increasingly bizarre and complex web of mysterious clues that we keep attempting to organize into some kind of coherent framework. And yet, the final episode of this season points to a far more sinister idea: that whatever sentient being is toying with human and android interlopers is actually patently disinterested in their motivations. Instead, the strange and powerful force that drives this planet is simply taking advantage of its prey’s hopes and dreams in an effort to carve out new life.

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Felix Jamieson
Felix Jamieson
Photo: Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max

In other words, nature has a course that has little to do with people. Indeed, mankind is so unimportant in the world of Keppler-22b that they are literally devolving into those strange creatures that we’ve seen all over this Sol-forsaken planet. When Mother and Father see how dangerous Mother’s snake-baby is, they devise a plan to try and kill it, driving it into the pit so that it can’t fly away. Mother and Father embrace this strange new mission, even though they both know they may not survive it. In the craft, they smile while going through old memory files that show earlier idyllic moments when they were raising their family together. Their craft cuts through the center of the planet and, miraculously, makes it through the molten center through to the other side. When the episode ends, both Mother and Father, as well as the snake creature, have made it to the tropical zone, while Campion and the other children remain on the cold, unyielding opposite side of the planet. Only time will tell if Mother and Father’s sacrifice was actually in the best interest of their children, and whether their faith in their mission and each other has managed to remain intact.

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Stray observations

  • I find it bizarre that Father was more upset with the idea that Mother mated with their creator than the fact that SHE LITERALLY MURDERED HIM. Honestly, the whole jealousy subplot seemed tired and boring, the least interesting part of this episode.
  • The fan theory about the creatures was true—the children have definitely been subsisting on devolved human meat. Campion was right to adopt his vegan diet.
  • Do we know how Paul find out about Sue? Are the voices he is hearing supposed to be the real Sol? Or is this something the Kepler 22-b spirits are using to control Paul and prevent Sue from finding Mother?
  • Likewise, what do we make of the strange, destroyed machine that Mother finds right before she gives birth to the snake? I know the intact version appeared in earlier episodes. Do we think Mother’s baby changes when Mother encounters the machine?
  • Marcus is both alive and insane, but he did manage to make it to the tropical zone, where it appears that another Atheist ship has landed. For me, this plot point just seemed like an afterthought throughout this episode, but it does make me curious to find out just what exactly will happen with his story in the second season.
  • Thanks for watching with me, everyone! It’s always such a treat to review at The A.V. Club because readers always make such astute and interesting comments that get me thinking about the show in all sorts of new ways. It was a delight to read so many fun theories with you all. See you next time, all you crazy humans and androids!
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