Raised by Wolves is a new series on HBO Max, HBO’s new streaming service. There was a lot of hype around the show since it’s executive produced by the legend, Ridley Scott. After watching the trailer, I decided to give the show a shot. So far, there are three episodes on the streaming service, with new episodes being released every Thursday. Since I’m already literally and figuratively invested in the show, I figured I’d share my thoughts with you readers!
Warning: my recap and review will NOT be spoiler-free.
Episode one of Raised by Wolves is narrated by a young boy. We don’t initially meet the boy but by the narration, we know that this is his story. We see a spacecraft crash land on to a barren planet, Kepler 22B. Inside we meet Father (Abubakar Salim) and Mother (Amanda Collin). Father and Mother set up a Capsule Corp-style home. Once inside the orange igloo, Mother is laying naked in the center. Beside her are six containers with tubes attached to them. Father attaches each tube to Mother, so that she may begin trimester one.
It is now nine months later. Father has managed to grow crops and build a bigger home. He is alerted to the sounds of Mother shrieking. It’s baby time! Mother’s labor is painless; Father simply removes the tubes from her body. It is from this scene that we can surmise that Mother has been laying in the igloo for nine months. As someone who was on bed rest for two weeks, I found it unbearable! I can not imagine doing it for nine months! More power to mothers who have!
Back to the babies. Father opens each container and takes out a baby. The babies look like CGI Baby Alive dolls and are not very cute. Father gets to baby number six and it is not breathing. Father tells Mother that they should “break down” the baby and feed it to the other five. Mother does something that I’m certain is not in her code. She asks if she could hold the baby. Something she did not ask to do with the other children. Father reluctantly obliges and hands the little one over. Mother does what I think any mother would do, she holds the infant to her skin and begins to hum and cry. It’s at this point that I’m in tears. Then something happens straight out of a fairytale and not the sci-fi thriller this is supposed to be- her tears land on the baby and he begins to breathe. Now I’m bawling my eyes out. Through narration, we learn that number six, Campion (Winta MCGrath), is our narrator.
Congratulations Father and Mother, you are now the proud parents of sextuplets! They need to only wait for TLC to offer them a show. While they wait, we get to see how the new parents handle parenthood. We see Father struggling to get his three sons and three daughters to eat their food. Mother laughs as she makes clothes for her children. Next, we see Mother and Father tending to the crops while the children play. Campion climbs on the house and Mother yells for him to get down. Lastly, we see the happy couple find a skeleton of what looks to be a giant creature. They decide to play a prank with the children. Father hides inside the mouth of the fossil and Mother brings the children to see it. Father jumps out and scares his kids. Oh, what a happy family!
Like any HBO series, happiness is short-lived. Over the next four years, the children begin to die. Some through accidents and others through sickness, until there are only two left: Spiria and Campion. Mother is teaching her children about their mission to restart society on Kepler without religion. Religion is a fantasy and they are atheists. Campion asks his mother if praying could save Spiria, who is visibly and audibly sick. Mother says no, “only science can.” Campion notes that science didn’t save the others. It is in this scene, that we once again see Mother be more human. You can see in her eyes that she is struggling with the loss of her four kids and denying that her fifth has not long left.
Campion wakes in the night to hear the same humming that gave him life, only this time Mother is holding Spiria. Father looks at Campion and with a nod confirms that his sister has passed. Father begins to bury Spiria as Campion watches on crying. Mother goes to comfort her son but she then freezes and white liquid comes out of her nose. Mother is breaking down. This concerns Father. he doesn’t want his son to grow up alone, soon Father will break down too. So like a good parent he decides to do what he deems is best, by attempting to contact a ship in orbit with other humans. Only these are humans who believe in God/Christianity. Father is unable to due to a flimsy rope and tells Campion not to tell Mother. Just like in real life, Mother always finds out.
The once-happy couple begins to argue. During the arguing, Father reveals that this isn’t their first time trying to raise children. They lost 6 others before. Things then turn violent. Mother is oozing more white liquid. Father tries to put her in sleep mode so he can fix her but mama ain’t having it. She picks up Father and impales him with the tooth of the fossil that once made their children laugh. In fear, Campion runs to the hole with the ship and climbs down. He enters the ship and signals for help but is not sure who or when they will come. Campion returns to his home only to find Mother laying on the ground. She’s not dead but she is in sleep mode. Campion lays with her for an unknown amount of time.
The “help” Campion called for arrives. Three men and one android dressed in what looks like Templar Knight attire find them. They ask Mother what is their religion and Mother says she is an atheist. The head “knight” Marcus (Travis Fimmel) knows Mother is an android pretending to be Human but doesn’t immediately say so. He asks for food and Mother obliges. During the awkward dinner, Marcus tells Mother, now going by Lamia, that they plan on settling their ship on Kepler since it can grow crops and sustain life. Mother doesn’t like that and says the land is dying. Marcus and the crew aren’t buying it. Mother wants them to leave but Marcus says its too cold and asks to stay the night. Mother is pissed but says yes, only they must leave at first light!
In their sleeping courters, Marcus tells the others she is an android in breakdown. The Cleric says Campion seems like the boy in the prophecy and they need to take him with them. Marcus agrees to take the boy but he isn’t so sure he is “the boy.” They plan to take Campion in the morning and have their android, Jinn kill Mother. Sounds like a simple plan. Nothing could go wrong!
Everything goes wrong. Mother is not about to lose her last son. She takes down the android easily, kills the Cleric and the other knight. Marcus runs for the ship sans Campion but Mother has already hacked the ship and he can’t leave. She bashes his head and throws him out. Mother flys the smaller ship to the bigger one, called an Ark. There she slaughters every adult on board and instructs the Ark to crash on Kepler 22B. She then gets herself sanitized and blindfolds herself before entering a snowy room filled with children, deer, and what looks to be an android.
On Kepler, an injured Marcus and scared Campion watch as the Ark crashes on the planet. However, the same smaller ship lands in front of Campion. Mother and the children walk out. Mother tries to hug Campion but he recoils. She instructs him to make his new friends comfortable. She can’t do it because she has chores to do.
I personally really enjoyed episode 1! The show is visually stunning and the acting is top-notch. Amanda Collin perfectly captures all the complexities of being a mother. Though her actions are extreme, Mother is simply trying to do what she thinks is best for her children. And when you haven’t dealt with the emotional trauma of losing eleven children, it can manifest in dangerous ways. I felt bad for Mother because she clearly wasn’t programmed to do such a thing. When you think about it, what parent is programmed to deal with the death of a child? I wish we got to see more of how Father dealt with the loss of the children. Was his heart just as broken as Mother? Of course, I want to know what happened to humanity and to Earth. For now, I’m more invested in what becomes of the characters than the big picture of the series.
Episode 1 of Raised by Wolves gets an A- from me.
Are you watching the series? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments or on our socials! Come back to read my recap and review of episodes 2 & 3.