Raised by Wolves is going to go down as one of the most emphatic sci-fi narratives about motherhood. Given Ridley Scott produces the show and is known for playing with these themes, it’s not a huge surprise, but delivered in a television format it does feel quite unique. This show is very unique and has been from the start, with season two having some of the weirdest effects and story turns yet. In episode eight, titled “Happiness” the weirdness will soon transfer to its lead character.
This episode opens with Campion (Winta McGrath) taking down his robot friend’s final thoughts before she dies. Using a bit of cloth he copies it down seemingly with blood. Talk about Biblical allusions. Since Campion is a possible foretold prophet, this turn of events could mean big implications, especially since he’s been pro robot for the entire season.
Mother (Amanda Collin) continues the trend of showing how maternal figures in this show sacrifice everything for the kids. In this case, she takes on the veil of an ancient robot known as Grandmother (Selina Jones). Mother and Marcus (Travis Fimmel) made the assumption the veil would allow Mother to use her necromancer powers to kill a giant flying snake that aims to kill humanity and, specifically, Campion.
In an incredibly well-shot scene with beautiful cinematography, we see Mother take the snake into space just outside the planet, let it suckle from her, and then kill it. Consider for a moment that the snake is not only her child, but was boosted in power after eating a tree Sue (Niamh Algar) turned into. One can assume there’s a metaphor, symbolism, or some deeper meaning to these events. The show is filled with mysteries and symbology and there hasn’t been a show like it since Lost.
Thankfully there are a few more answers in this episode of Raised by Wolves which is great since a lack of answers can kill a show like this. One involves the tree Sue turned into and it’s nice to know most of the characters are on the same page as far as the effects of artifacts on the planet. What this tree means for the mysterious entity that keeps telling people what to do is starting to become clearer as well. For a show about incomprehensible alien technology, even sci-fi buffs who have read and seen it all have to admit this show has a very unique look and ideas.
The theme of humans messing with the technology they can’t comprehend is certainly not known, especially in the Alien franchise. The difference here, though, is that the threats have yet to attack directly, but instead manipulated people to do what they want. The greater mystery of who these creatures are or even what they are is yet to be revealed.
The concept of robots using a veil to limit their emotions is also explored adding to the themes around parenting. When Grandmother gets her veil removed, she’s immediately overwhelmed, for instance, and later reflects on how hard it is to parent without emotions. Mother, meanwhile, hides with the veil and becomes more authoritarian.
Special effects are inconsistent in the episode, unfortunately. Hologram effects remain highly advanced, but a few shots of the serpent look particularly unrealistic when matched against backgrounds. The space shots look great, however, but these inconsistencies become more obvious when occurring in the same episode. There’s also a scene where Grandmother shows the children a game and it doesn’t make much sense how it even works.
Raised by Wolves S2E8 “Happiness” is a real trip and quite possibly the strongest episode of the season. It not only shifts power dynamics — a favorite feature of the show – -but gives viewers new insight, features some resolution, and will most definitely make viewers utter, “What the hell” on its final shot. Raised by Wolves mixes the strange and the inventive in a blend of sci-fi originality.
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