A spotlight on parents protecting their own at any cost.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
There's a good deal of world-building that, thanks to Ridley Scott's vision, looks like it could be codas to the world of Prometheus. This is a future where it's more Tatooine than the silver spires of Coruscant. The world of Kepler-22b is an unforgiving landscape that's devoid of life… saved for the arrival of Mother, Father and six children that they are programmed to nurture.
At least, that was the agenda. When five of their charges died, leaving Campion (Winta McGrath) as the only child left, Father decided that to increase his son's chances of survival, Campion is to be taken in by a nearby Ark that's run by the Mithraics. There are two problems with that assessment: one, this was a decision made without the approval of Mother and two, the Mitraics are the ones Father and Mother were fleeing from.
Amanda Collin is great as the android Mother. Her cool demeanour belies her maternal instincts, that everything is to be done in the service of her children. There's something quite not kosher about Mother—the way she moves, the way she speaks—it's all meant to indicate her 'inhumaness'. But in the quiet moments—like the scene where Campion was delivered still-born and Father's cold mechanical reasoning for his body to be ground up and have his nutrients delivered to the rest of his surviving siblings—Mother, her tears streaming down her face, delicately holding Campion to her breasts the heat from her body reviving him—or poetically, willing him to life—showcases the bits of humanity from the android.
And when her programming reverts to the less-nurturing Necromancer mode (some sort of weapon of death), it is terrifying the lengths that she'll go to protect her own. Hovering in the air with outstretched arms more like a shrieking totem of doom rather than the Christian symbol of hope, Mother is a force to be reckoned with, annihilating anyone unlucky to be in her path.
Raised by Wolves is a unique IP of androids raising human children (though I Am Mother threads this topic quite recently) and one that touches a lot on religion and atheism.
The concept of faith versus the godless might be binary at the start (the Mithraics won the war against the atheists back on earth; the androids extoll the virtues of non-beliefs to Campion) but slowly, as the series continues, the line that separates this seemingly dichotomous systems start to blur. Wilful adherence to a belief system does not befit an evolved mind. Given the fanaticism of either party's stance, no one side is right.
(As an added FYI: Mithriasm and the deity Sol or Sol Invictus, if you wanna get proper, are earlier religions that predates and were the inspirations for modern Christianity.)
We like Travis Fimmel, a Vikings alum, who plays Marcus, one of the Mithraics, who may not be who he says he is. His mien may scream 'hardened soldier' but he is soft-spoken, kind towards his own son and loving towards his wife, Sue (Niamh Algar). There's a sentimentality in his actions that's weighed down by his brutal upbringing. Like Mother, Marcus and Sue will move heaven and earth, in order to protect their child.
What we didn't like
Pacing is a problem, which is weird. Because in a series that's fertile with imagery and content—the upcoming conflict between Mother and Father and the Mithraics; the secrets of Kepler-22b; the prophecy of an orphan who will lead the Mithraics to paradise or whatever—there's plenty enough to expound on.
Also, the clumsy dialogue does not do this series any favours. As exemplified by Mother's chilling retelling of The Three Little Pigs, later one of the children in Mother's care, Hunter (Ethan Hazzard) says to Campion, "y'know, she's the big bad wolf, right?' I mean… duh.
What to look out for
If you're looking for nightmare fuel, there's nothing better than to see Mother go into Necromancer mode.
Three episodes of Raised by Wolves debut on Thursday, 3 September, exclusively on HBO GO with two new episodes airing every Thursday.