Raised by Wolves Ending Explained

HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves wraps up its first season with a harrowing birth and a shocking discovery that will carry the Mithraic-vs-atheists war into next season.

Raised by Wolves Ending Explained
Photo: Coco Van Opens | HBO Max

This piece contains spoilers for the Raised by Wolves season 1 finale.

Once HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves introduced a seeming immaculate conception for its necromancer android Mother (Amanda Collin), there was no doubt that the season finale would revolve around her giving birth. However, it is anything but the miracle that the humans and androids alike have hoped for, and only further complicates the question of how this ragtag pack will continue to survive on an increasingly deadly planet.

The series concludes its first season with a lot of unanswered questions, including some new ones posed in this episode alone. From the identity of the Mithraic prophet to revelations about Kepler-22b’s inhuman inhabitants, we sort through what we know about this planet and its various factions, and make some educated guesses about next season.

Mithraics vs. Atheists: Who Will Win?

By the final episode, “The Beginning,” Earth’s warring sides are both still building to a final showdown. Sue (Niamh Algar) has escaped the increasingly fracturing cult led by her increasingly unstable husband Marcus (Travis Fimmel), with the children in tow. She reluctantly allies herself with Mother while they escape to another part of the planet where Mother thinks it will be safest to give birth.

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Meanwhile, Marcus hasn’t been doing a good job of keeping the few remaining Mithraic soldiers together. He killed one soldier who questioned his plans, prompting Lucius (Matias Varela), whose father Marcus supposedly killed in battle on Earth, to trick him into revealing that he is actually an atheist.

Lucius and Marcus fight, with the former shoving one of Mother’s killer eyeballs into Marcus’ mouth and leaving him for dead. After the Mithraics continue on after Mother, Marcus gets up and follows Mother and Father’s (Abubakar Salim) lander, led by what seems to be an altered state caused by the eyeball. Eventually he makes it to the snowy part of the planet, where he witnesses a hallucination of Hunter (Ethan Hazzard) with a snake for a hand, telling Marcus that he is Sol’s one true servant before the snake bites him in the neck. 

Marcus later encounters a group of atheists, though it’s unexplained how they made it to Kepler-22b. After killing all but one, he makes contact with their leaders and introduces himself as “the king of this world” there to bring about Sol’s judgment. While he guides the survivor to pray with him, the atheists’ ship emerges overhead. It would seem that Marcus is embedded so deep within his own delusions to believe himself a Mithraic, despite being reunited with his supposed allies from the war.

Who Are the Planet’s Other Inhabitants?

When one of the creatures tries to attack Mother while she’s still pregnant, she easily kills it. At first she and Father believe that the humanoid-looking body is proof that the more feral creatures are evolving, like humans did on Earth. Then they discover that it is holding a Neanderthal skull—but it didn’t come from Earth. The androids realize that these creatures are humans whose existence on the planet far predates their warring settlements.

The humans aren’t evolving, Mother further realizes, they’re devolving. Father backs this up by suggesting that “this planet has a history [that] I fear we are dangerously ignorant of.”

Exploring the caves on her own, Mother discovers the lifeless components of the strange creature she glimpsed in her vision (after scanning the atheists’ tarot cards): a dodecahedron with a helmeted head swiveling on it, spitting out the androids’ white blood. When she removes the helmet, she discovers a petrified head that looks as if it could be some sort of android (with wiring), but whose expression looks very human and tortured.

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It’s unclear how these figures relate to the devolving humans, but it clearly has some significance to Mother’s fetus, because it compels her to give “birth” to whatever is inside her.

Who Will Save the Children?

The children seem to be doing a commendable job taking care of themselves. Tempest (Jordan Loughran) finally gets closure with regard to her rapist Otho, who the group encountered in the remains of the Mithraic Ark. While initially Mother stopped Tempest from killing him, in favor of draining his blood to feed her fetus, he soon reverses the process to strengthen himself with her android blood. After he attacks Mother, Tempest and Holly (Aasiya Shah), the latter emboldened by the Mithraic relic of Romulus’ tooth, steal the head of Otho’s android guard. By throwing it ten feet away from him, they cause his helmet to crush his head, killing him right before he manages to strangle Tempest.

True to his self-professed smarts, Hunter notices that Father has been tapping out a message in Morse code: Sol is the light. When Marcus cuts off Father’s finger to stop him from communicating, it prompts a system reset. Recalling the password, Hunter is able to revert Father to his old, bad-joke-sharing personality.

Meanwhile, Paul (Felix Jamieson) discovers a cave with paintings predicting various events of the series, including Mother and Father’s initial landing on the planet… and an eerie, shifting, snake-like figure. He also hears voices from what he believes is Sol. While initially he told his mother Sue that he was only faking it because Marcus had mentioned voices, this time he proves that he is communicating with someone because he learns that Marcus and Sue are really Caleb and Mary. With this information, he shoots Sue in the stomach.

Paul is also obsessed with helping Mother safely birth her baby, believing it to be a holy mission from Sol. Poor kid is about to get a nasty awakening…

What is Mother’s Baby?

Raise your hand if you saw Mother’s “fetus” starting to warp her belly before eventually emerging through her throat, and thought Raised by Wolves might wind up as part of the Alien extended universe. Instead, she gives “birth” to something resembling a lamprey eel, down to the circular mouth full of sharp teeth. It immediately begins suckling on her stomach, initially drinking her milk, she says, though she fears that next it will want human blood.

Previously, Mother had thought that the baby was somehow a gift from the memory simulation of Campion, her and Father’s creator. But once she gives birth, she seems to think that the creature’s origins are due not to Mithraic culture but to “something else,” presumably some unknown force on the planet. The androids agree that the eel cannot be allowed to reach the children or anyone else, as it will kill them all.

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Who Dies in the Season Finale?

Shockingly, almost no one except the Mithraic soldier and Otho. By the end of the episode, Sue is still bleeding from her stomach wound, but it doesn’t look fatal. And even though Mother and Father willingly take the lander in a suicide mission to destroy her eel baby, they both survive the flight through the planet’s core and the subsequent crash on the other side.

What’s Causing All the Visions?

By the end of the first season, various characters have all experienced some form of visual and/or auditory hallucination that has something to do with the strange workings of the planet. It could be ghosts—especially as Campion has glimpsed his deceased sibling Tally—but it could also be some chemical or radioactive effect of the planet’s atmosphere. Likely Raised by Wolves season 2 will delve more into how and why Campion, Marcus, Mother, and others are seeing and hearing figures that aren’t there.

Who is the Mithraic Prophet?

Believing Mother and Father to be dead, having seen them fly into the pit, Campion seems to accept that he must become the leader of the surviving humans. They all look to him at the end, Sue included, and the final shot is him walking over to them.

Yet Marcus is still alive and believes that he himself fulfills the Mithraic prophecy. It’s unlikely that the atheists would put much stock in that, but if he is still firm in his conviction, he may be able to make them doubt their own beliefs.

But now that Paul knows that Marcus and Sue aren’t his real parents—not to mention his recent visions from Sol—he might believe that he is the orphan boy in an empty land, meant to lead. No doubt he and Campion will clash next season.

What’s in Store for Season 2?

While Mother and Father’s Mithraic enemies have not yet caught up to them, they have a new and pressing threat to face next season: Mother’s eel baby was not destroyed in the lander crash, as they had intended, and escaped the wreckage to fly away to parts unknown. Based on how eager the fetus was for blood, however, it seems clear that the eel is going on a bloodthirsty spree from which humans, devolved humans, and androids alike will not be safe.

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Due to its accelerated growth, the eel is also much bigger than it was at birth, resembling somewhat the serpentine skeletons at Mother and Father’s original settlement. Is this the planet’s dominant species? Do they normally reproduce via a womb, or is this a dangerous new evolution?

No doubt the second season will explore what kind of threat these creatures pose. The attempt to destroy the offspring also revealed that the planet is pockmarked with deep pits—perhaps carved by the eel creatures—and that it is possible to descend into a pit, through the center of the planet, and out another side. Up until now, the pits have seemed like endless holes that have meant certain death; knowing that they are traversable may change how these new colonists explore the planet, and who they might cross paths with while doing so.

Raised by Wolves is available on HBO Max.