Raised by Wolves – Season 2


Title: Raised by Wolves – Season 2 (2022)
Creator: Aaron Guzikowski
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Amanda Collins, Abubakar Salim


Spoilers: As this is a review of the second season of Raised by Wolves, it goes without saying that it will contain spoilers for the first season.

It is the future, and Earth lies dying light-years away. A world-spanning war between militaristic atheists and the fanatical adherents of an ancient, resurrected religion has led to destruction on a massive scale.

After Earth went to the dogs (quite literally and not at all subtle; there is a scene in the first season of Raised by Wolves where all the dogs are left on the planet), survivors trek to a nearby star system to start again. And where humans go, they always seem to take their conflicts with them.

Aaron Guzikowski’s fiction series Raised by Wolves takes place on this new and mysterious planet. Two reprogrammed androids, the lethal Mother (played by Amandi Collin) and caring Father played by Abubakar Salim), arrived first with a set of human embryos to start the human race again; this time without any religion or superstition – a society based solely on science and rationality. But soon after, a colony ship of fanatical Sol Invictus-worshipping “Mithraics” arrive. Their ship is quickly destroyed by Mother, leaving few survivors.

Fun Fact: Mithraism in Raised by Wolves is a religion inspired by the worship of Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun), a kind of proto-Christianity that was practiced in the late Roman Empire, and Mithra, an ancient messianic figure imported to the Roman Empire from Persia, that may have inspired many of the stories of Jesus.

Ridley Scott is the executive producer of this series, and the conflict between man and machine, religion and rationality – set on a harsh alien world with its own mysteries – feels very much like the venerable British director’s “greatest hits” – or “biggest hang-ups,” depending on how you look at it. There are traditional questions about the soul and if a machine can have one, about parents and what it means to have a child. To fans of Ridley Scott’s previous work (like myself), this is well-trodden territory.

Raised by Wolves - Mother
Amanda Collin as the android Mother.

The story in this season picks up soon after the first. After getting “pregnant” in a virtual reality program, the android Mother gives birth to a huge, flying, biomechanical snake. Meanwhile, a new atheist colony ship… OK, wait a minute! Being an atheist myself, I just have to say how cringeworthy it is to use the word atheist as a political or factional term. All right, moving on! The… atheist… ship lands, and the crew soon set up a new colony. Mother, Father and the kids, most of them suffering from severe cases of Stockholm Syndrom after the first season, join them.

Not far away, the former atheist turned fanatical Mithraist with a messianic complex, Marcus (played by the seemingly always-drunk Travis Fimmel), finds his own way and plans to convert the new colonists. As his power from Sol Invictus (or is it the planet?) grows, he attracts more followers and sets out to start a new church, inspired by the mysteries and artifacts found in this new world.

Raised by Wolves Marcus
Travis Fimmel as Marcus the Mithraist.

The intriguing premise presented in the first season of Raised by Wolves continues here, and the series is slowly getting its footing on this strange, alien world. But unfortunately, it is as unsubtle and blatant as ever. The warring factions are caricatures of themselves: religious zealots vs. cynical atheists, all dialed up to 11. The religious themes are also unsubtle: there is even a prophecy about a “tree of knowledge” and a new paradise. It even has a huge snake! The same goes for the androids themselves, despite Amanda Collin’s and especially Abubakar Salim’s stellar performances (they’re both the highlights of this show). But these are not Ridley Scott’s more believable Blade Runner replicants or even the Davids and Bishops from the Alien franchise. It is too blatant and too on the nose.

But what kept me watching was the slowly unraveling mysteries of the planet itself. It may look a bit fake and plastic-y at times, but the atmosphere and feel of the story’s setting helped to really underline the strangeness and mystery of it all. The show is strange, often to the point of being bizarre, and sometimes confusing. And while the religious aspects of the show are blatant, Raised by Wolves is anything but predictable, despite its clumsy attempts at commenting on real-world religion, philosophy and ethics. The story was interesting enough to keep me coming back to see what happens next.

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