This Raised by Wolves article contains spoilers.
Employing a hybrid release model that avoided dropping an entire season at once, the HBO Max science fiction series Raised by Wolves concludes its initial season with far more questions than answers and gives fans a lot to process while waiting for the just announced continuation. With a science vs religion theme providing a steady undercurrent, the show also explores mankind’s evolution and its accompanying growing pains while still finding time to weigh in on whether or not an AI can ever be viewed as a person. With a renewal in hand, what might we expect in the second season?
At the heart of the Mithraic story arc, however, sits the question of “the chosen one’s” identity, and while a case can be made for either Campion, Paul, or Marcus, we must accept the possibility that, in the end, it’s simply a narrative misdirection. Though it’s difficult to ignore Marcus’ unexpected religious conversion and Paul’s unexplained knowledge of what really happened to his parents, Campion remains in play as the favorite to ascend to a position for which he’s really not ready. Does Sol truly speak to his followers, or have some of the characters simply exhibited the early phases of psychotic breaks as they navigate the alien world of Kepler 22-b?
Even more puzzling is the discovery of multiple life-forms on the planet, and the notion that the human race may be devolving here rather than devolving presents one of Raised by Wolves’ more fascinating ideas. Who are these shadowy figures that appear to worship, at least to some degree, the mysterious dodecahedron seen in the caves? While they may represent a devolved state of contemporary humans, it’s also possible that the evolutionary cycle proceeds differently on Kepler, and the Neanderthal skull may not fit where we might ordinarily think it might.
And with trailers for the latest attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s classic novel Dune to the big screen appearing across the Internet, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons of Mother’s offspring with the Sandworms of Arrakis. Science fiction fans have some experience with human/alien hybrids, but the human/AI progeny both terrifies and disgusts. Mother and Father’s true mission becomes a source of disagreement between the two AI, but in the end, raising this new being appears to be out of their hands moving forward. More to the point though, we’re not sure whether or not Mother and Father survive their deep descent into the planet’s molten core because it seems possible that the two emerge on the other side as Campion waits patiently for their return.
Though the fates of Mother and Father remain somewhat clouded, the importance of Tempest’s baby should not be overlooked despite her conflicted feelings surrounding its conception. There’s no question that her child will play a significant role in Raised by Wolves season 2, and whether that includes being considered a possibility as “the chosen one” remains to be seen. Additionally, some of the Mithraic children have begun to question their faith in Sol, and while Tempest has the most reason to abandon the sect, Hunter and his superior intellect presents one of the more interesting character arcs that could carry over into a second season.
Of course, the arrival of the atheist battlecruiser dramatically changes the landscape, and if nothing else, this group possesses seemingly overpowering numbers and technology. How will they interact with the few remaining Mithraic followers once the ship lands with the bulk of their force? Marcus quickly eliminates the initial redshirt landing party, but things likely won’t be so easy once it becomes clear what the atheists face on the planet surface.
Amidst a genre television landscape that often seems more concerned with fantasy and supernatural elements, Raised by Wolves gives hardcore science fiction fans a welcome diversion that promises plenty of room for expansion and tons of opportunity for reflection. Thankfully, another season looms large, and we can only hope the medical community gains control of the real life pandemic so the network production crews can get back to work and bring us the next part of the story.