The Raised By Wolves Colony Report: A 'King' Without A Kingdom

Just when you thought things couldn't get any nastier on Kepler-22b, "Raised By Wolves" turns up the horror. After the violent and disturbing episode "Control" last week, things looked bleak. Mother (Amanda Collin) shut off the Trust, the complex AI that controlled the atheist collective, and caused anarchy among the settlement. Father (Abubakar Salim) managed to resurrect the strange skeleton he found by pouring android "fuel blood" on it, discovering by episode's end that it was alive, glowing, and floating. Marcus (Travis Fimmel) lost his battle with Mother and had his "Sol powers" taken away when she took her eyes back, but at least he still had all of his followers and was headed inland to find new shelter. Bleakest of all was young Paul's (Felix Jamieson) fate, as it looked like he was doomed to be dissolved by the bio-weapon cocoon and turned into a snake monster. 

This week's episode, "King," sees Mother and Father intent on getting Holly (Aasiya Shah) back from the Mithraic; Hunter (Ethan Hazzard) and Tempest (Jordan Loughran) try to figure out what's going on with Father; and Marcus attempting to find new power in the wake of last weeks' losses. Everyone's looking for answers, but Kepler-22b seems intent on only giving them more questions — if it lets them live at all. If "Alien" was a haunted house story in a spaceship, "Raised by Wolves" is the tale of a haunted planet. 

SPOILERS for season 2, episode 5 of "Raised by Wolves" from here on out.

A quick recap

After Paul was encased in the cocoon as a result of the Trust bio-bombing his pet mouse, his mother Sue (Niamh Algar), the colony's medic, did everything she could to help him. Episode 5 starts with Sue trying desperately to save Paul, but Mother doesn't see the need. "It's not really death at all, it's more of an evolution," she tells Sue, who is furious. Paul is turning into some kind of snake monster, perhaps similar to Mother's snake-baby, and he's losing his humanity. Mother apologizes and tries to reassure Sue, telling her "you are my friend," and she seems to really mean it. The bond between these two mothers is kind of comforting, especially in a series where everyone's instincts seem to be more murder-y and less maternal. 

Over on Team Sol, Decima (Kim Engelbrecht) isn't too happy with Marcus retreating. She asks why he doesn't just use his Sol powers (which are gone, unbeknownst to her), and he pulls their little ship over for a chat. She's furious, telling him that she killed her robotic replacement daughter Vrille (Morgan Santo) because she thought he was the prophet. The other followers start bickering, and it's revealed that Holly has a Mithraic relic, the tooth of Romulus, on a cord around her neck. After she explains that it's real, and she feels its power, Marcus takes it for himself. 

"Romulus was a king, was he not?" he asks, and Holly allows him to take it because she believes he is their king now. She records a message for Mother, Father, and the rest of her "family," telling the androids to leave her alone and the other children to run and join the Mithraic cult. Mother discovers it and brings it home to Father. He's busy with his new resurrected android buddy, a rather large being with a veil over their face. Father tells his new friend a dad joke and tries to get them to respond in any way, but they do not, and Mother's arrival with Holly's message means he has to temporarily abandon his obsession, lest she discovers it. Mother and Father begin to argue over their individual fascinations: Father with his "project," and Mother with her snake child. 

While Mother and Father are having their chat, Tempest and Hunter sneak into Father's shed to see what he's been working on. The two are pretty close to Father, especially after their experiences together with the encampment and Father's fight with the gladiator bot. They discover the veiled android, and Hunter is immediately freaked out. He leaves and Tempest stares for a moment longer before the veil reveals a sonogram of her baby and she runs, too.  

Mother tortures Cleaver (Peter Christoffersen), the former head of the collective beneath the Trust, and we see her become truly terrifying as she berates him for changing his story with each new question. Mother and Father are both growing increasingly human, and her rage with Cleaver for allowing Paul to be hurt is apparent. While she's doing that, Father goes to retrieve Lucius (Matias Varela), the lone Mithraic survivor not following Marcus. They make a deal that if Lucius helps Father retrieve Holly, then Lucius can do whatever he wants to Marcus and the rest of the Mithraic. 

Meanwhile, Paul's adoptive human mother, Sue, finally gives over to faith in her most dire moment. She's a warrior, a veteran of all kinds of hell, but watching her son slowly die while she can't do anything to stop it brings her to finally pray. Sue has been a staunch atheist the entire series, so watching her pick up one of the children's prayer necklaces, get on her knees, and beg Sol to help her boy is heartbreaking. Her prayer is enlightening, as she might be onto something regarding Sol's actual nature:

"Sol, or whatever your real name is, I know you're not a god. You're a signal sent my some alien somewhere. If you can hear me, he's innocent. It's not fair he didn't deserve this. And he loves you, he's a true believer. So I am begging you please make him better and I will do anything, anything you want, just please make him better please. Please don't take my little boy away from me. I love him so much, so, please make him better."

Sue starts seeing slugs in the room with Paul and tries to yank them off of him. She soon realizes that it's all a hallucination, and uses her robotic companion to narrow down what the slugs could have been. It turns out they're a leech used in medicine, and they live in the acid oceans of the planet. Sue and Campion (Winta McGrath) go to the ocean to retrieve some of the leeches, luring one of the sea monsters out before Sue knocks it out with some gas, and then scrapes the leeches off. The creature wakes up and Sue challenges it, trying to make herself look bigger and scarier — and it works. She and Campion take the leeches back to Paul, hoping to save him. 

Inland, Marcus has found another temple. This one doesn't have a door or windows, but there is some kind of lever inside a hole in the cliff face. Marcus pulls it and a strange geometric cage with a chair in the center descends. He gets into it and the cage descends further, deep down into the planet. While he's down there, looking for some kind of challenge to prove himself as the chosen one, Vrille returns. It turns out that her fall from the cliff didn't kill her, and she's out for revenge. Vrille kills almost every single one of Marcus' followers, save Holly, who managed to hide. She even cuts off Decima's face the same way Decima did to her, before hanging her from the chain that holds the cage for Marcus to discover when he returns. In the cave, the tooth relic starts burning, and he tosses it. Smoke escapes and goes into the corpse of a massive being, which then attacks Marcus. He shoots it in the head and kills it, then escapes back up the cage. He sees Decima and is horrified, then realizes his followers are all gone except for Holly. 

Father and Lucius near Holly and Marcus, and Lucius asks Father "If the Necromancer is Queen now, does that make you the King?" This episode has had three kings: Father, Marcus, and Romulus, the long-dead king who somehow revived a corpse in a cave. Father denies the idea and says that Campion will lead once he's old enough, but Lucius is uncertain. They happen upon Marcus and Holly while the two are burning the corpses of their fallen comrades, and Father has to stop Lucius from killing Marcus in front of Holly. He promises Lucius that he can kill Marcus once there isn't a child present, and they will take him back to the compound.

After the horrors faced by Team Sol, we're given a brief respite with the lovely surprise that Paul is going to be okay. The leeches worked, and the cocoon has dissolved entirely, leaving a healthy and slightly confused Paul behind. After he's recovered a bit, he and Sue go outside to chat about how she discovered the leeches. She reveals that she prayed to Sol, that he helped her, and that she feels like a crazy person. "That's what it's like to be a believer," Paul tells her. When she explains that she thinks it's some kind of alien, not a "god," Paul posits one of the show's main questions:

"What's the difference between God and an alien?"

Team Robot: Becoming more human than human

While Team Robot has the upper hand on Team Sol for now, there's still a lot of tension between its two most powerful members: Mother and Father. Mother questions Father's newfound human traits, asking him:

"Who are you? Are you a parent on a mission to restart humanity? Or are you some rogue android who fights and tinkers? It's one or the other Father, it cannot be both."

Mother frequently talks down to Father and treats him as lesser than her, but he's been proving that he's just as capable of protecting the children and leading them into a decent future. Both Mother and Father are distracted by their own unusual children — in turn ignoring their actual children — but perhaps that's because they feel closer to the inhuman things than their human brood. Father even voices his concern, saying: 

"Mother, I believe that we are becoming too human to be the parents our children deserve."

Mother and Father are both becoming very human, making mistakes because of their feelings instead of relying on pure logic. They're discovering new feelings, like guilt, shame, and longing, and don't know what to do with any of them. Worse still, the two androids are completely at odds with one another, so instead of helping each other through such difficulties, they only bicker. Mother and Father's domestic bliss has been gone for a while, but it's looking like it might turn into actual, potentially violent conflict. Mother has been acting weird since the first episode of the season, but Father's distractions make things even more complicated. 

Team Sol: Your God has abandoned you

Sol has abandoned Marcus and his followers. Paul explains to Sue near the end of the episode that Sol always puts his followers through a test, and it looks like Marcus failed his. He killed the creature in the cave, but nothing else came of it, and now he's been captured by the atheists and Lucius. His new love, Decima, has been brutally killed, and the rest of his followers are dead as well. Vrille is still out there, angry and murderous, and there's no telling how many more lives she'll end in order to get her vengeance on humanity. Marcus has only caused death and destruction, and now he's left with nothing at all. Even his faith seems a little shaken, though he'll probably be back to telling everyone he's the chosen one pretty quickly, as long as Father keeps Lucius from killing him first. 

Looking forward

While there are a half-dozen mysteries and potential plot threads swirling through "Raised by Wolves," the two big themes of parenthood and faith seem to finally be coming together. Faith has seemed very binary for much of the series: characters were either believers or atheists, with no real middle ground. Now we're seeing Father believing in Hunter's "superstitions," Tempest communicating with an alien android, Marcus doubting himself, and Sue believing in something other than science for the first time. 

Tempest's baby begins kicking after Paul wakes up, and Mother has to reassure her that the baby is not in distress, though it is more active than usual. Tempest will probably give birth soon, becoming the first human mother to deliver on Kepler-22b. She is a true child of both the Mithraic and the atheists and is one of the most interesting and heartbreaking of the large cast. Tempest is the heart of the colony, and perhaps even the heart of the series. Her future might just determine the fate of the planet. 

New episodes of "Raised by Wolves" premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.