Editor’s Note: The article below contains minor spoilers for Raised by Wolves Season 2.
The first season of Raised by wolves was a left-field sci-fi highlight of HBO Max’s first year. Launched at a time of uncertainty in the world and in the entertainment industry, HBO Max experienced several early issues, most obviously the pandemic pushing back or completely halting a number of productions planned for the first day of the service, but also a general confusion with all the other HBO apps already out there. Yet all of these people stuck at home were people open to new and diverse streaming content.
Along with having HBO’s great reputation to fall back on, Max had a whole host of solidly done tricks up his sleeve, with market-tested talent. Between Max and HBO proper, 2020 saw the release of some truly weird goodness from Seth Rogen (An American pickle), Kaley Cuoco (The stewardess), and Armando Iannucci (Avenue 5). This significated wolves entered the world as a member of a motley family on an underdog streamer. Created by Prisoners scriptwriter Aaron Guzikowskithe initial marketing push of the series didn’t tout this fact much, instead relying on the name of one of its producers to both set expectations and generate interest, as one of its producers happened to be the director of Extraterrestrial and blade runner.
With Ridley Scott now in the viewer’s mind there is a strange feeling of continuation, even from the first moments of the first season. We are in a distant future whose full history is unknown to us, but it is not. to feel unknown. It feels like we’re picking up where we left off, but with two milk-blooded androids we’ve never met before: Mother and Father (played by amanda collin and Aboubakar Salim respectively), even though the first voice we hear belongs to their future “son” Campion (Winta McGrath). Its opening voiceover and the galactic visuals set a majestic tone, which implies the arrival of a story on an epic scale. The moment we meet Mother and Father, we can sense the whimsy in their personalities – Father tells Mother a joke that isn’t exactly funny but is at least amusing – but they are quickly inserted into a story full of sadness, terror and difficult decisions. .
In the first season, Mother and Father give birth to children and lose most of them before those children have a chance to grow up. They have to deal with the harsh conditions of the nearly deserted planet on which they are supposed to build an atheist colony. As they amass their surrogate family – made up of individuals who don’t all have a say – there are discussions of belief and oppression, loyalty and self-determination. There are characters that we learn sport stolen faces (literally) and flashbacks to the war that brought the universe to the point of needing such a colony to exist. We learn that Mother is a necromancer – a type of war android capable of spectacular destruction – and the series picks up momentum as it leans into the spectacle she creates, the maternal android floating easily in the tunes like an angel of death while the score show’s electronics swell around her.
Raised by wolves doesn’t have the budget for the WB theatrical adaptation Duneswith its equally muted color palette and barren landscapes filled with sci-fi action and explosive music, but it holds its own in as modest a way as it can, mostly in its writing, with the parenthood debates and honesty and warfare which causes tension within the family as humans and beasts pose threats without.
Father’s android father jokes aside, comic relief otherwise comes from sarcastic Marcus/Caleb (played with kinetic, alpha smarm by vikings‘ Travis Fimmel), the perpetually extinct hunter (played by British actor Ethan Hazard, in its most visible American role), and the clinical and unconscious ways in which androids describe human behavior and emotions. That is to say, the comedy is in the dialogue and not in the situations. When a character gives birth to a monster at the end of the season, in a finale filled with carnage and death, we forget that there was always something to laugh about.
We arrive in season 2 without this being the case. It starts out pretty serious, but soon our surviving cast is reintroduced and the new atheist collective framework is established. Before long, Mother is established as a very important person in this village – being an atheist necromancer will do that – and she settles into a sort of comfort zone. The show follows soon.
Perhaps an edict has come from above in the two years since last season’s premiere. Maybe the creative team just saw how good the casting was at delivering comedic dialogue without destroying the grounded tone, but the show now seems to intentionally create situational comedy. In the season opener, Mother often sports a blissful smile at a community whose members don’t really like androids, regardless of their beliefs, and the serious, wide-eyed look Collin gives her is infectious in her synthesis. naivete. The smile is like a mask, a parent wanting to set an example by giving this new place a chance. The mask only falters slightly in the face of insults, such as when his children stumble upon a video game depicting necromancers as violent killing machines. “It’s not very realistic, is it?” she invites them to conclude, clinging to her cheerfulness. “Well, for you it is,” one of the kids chimes in, in a pointed reminder of the events of the first season.
Later, still smiling, mom accompanies dad and the kids to choose “random” activities to help participate. “It seems we all have the same task!” The father happily announces after he and the children have received their homework. Mother turns the corner with a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. With semi-convincing, dispirited cheerfulness (so as not to spoil the family bonding moment): “How exciting. Looks like I got a different task.
Some of this new humor is of the gallows variety. In Episode 2, we learn that last season’s serpentine monster birth survived and brought a necromancer-like will to destruction. When a suicidal search and destroy mission is launched to kill the beast, Father is chosen to lead it – that lack of affection for androids reappears – and he is given a crew full of human rule breakers, employed as suicide not consensual. bombers, known as the bait squad. When a member of the bait squad asks how exactly they are going to conduct this unarmed hunt, Father is forced to observe, “I don’t think you fully understand the situation.
It feels like moments designed with their inherent humor in mind, not moments where the humor is only meant to make the drama more easily digested. Add to that the young Campion’s continued importance, there’s a family energy to the tone, like a twisted bid for Disney+-style entertainment, an attempt not to let a show about families and parenting go unnoticed for families and parents. It remains to be seen if the gambit will work to attract eyeballs, but it has added a welcome layer to a world still filled with brutality and mystery, spooky monsters and philosophy. If a third season is announced, we can assume that it did indeed work. If this second season is the last, at least Raised by wolves leaves with a smile on his face.
Before diving into the new season, we take a look back at what made the first season both beautiful and terrifying.
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