Raised by Wolves
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Two androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet when the Earth is destroyed in a great war.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
With the state of the world today, many probably feel like they want to hop off and start over somewhere else - another Earth where we can avoid the follies of man and prosper in peace. That is the premise of Raised by Wolves, a sci-fi series that puts a magnifying glass on the fragility of humanity, our hubris as well as our strengths in the face of species annihilation.
With Alien creator Ridley Scott as executive producer and director of the first two episodes, it's a desolate tale that can both inspire and depress audiences about our future, and what we might have to do to survive as a whole.
Ironically, the series' main character isn't human - it's an android called Mother tasked with raising human children on a new planet after Earth had been decimated by war. Alongside Father - a simpler service android - she tries to keep her family safe while struggling with the resurfacing of strange programming that she doesn't understand. Their mission becomes more complicated with the arrival of The Ark - a lifeboat filled with humans who had escaped Earth with the promise of a new home.
Mostly focused on what happens on the new planet, the story offers a few dribs and drabs of what happened on Earth. In the war, there were two sides - the religious Mithraic and the Atheists. Our real history - and even today - is full of religious wars fought by people who felt like their belief was the only belief, so this fictional war feels just a little too close to home. While Raised by Wolves is a heavy sci-fi series that requires a lot of attention to understand the mechanics of this universe, it's core themes are extremely down-to-earth and universal. Humanity's compulsion for violence, the need for belief in something greater, the love of a parent whether biological or not - these topics elevate the series beyond the sci-fi and horror genres into a philosophical debate in each episode. The eyes of an android - even physically - frames these questions outside the muddled perspectives of humans for a somewhat objective discussion.
Raised by Wolves is an engrossing tale for those who like a bit of meat on their TV viewing, but it does tend to over-metaphorise itself where subtlety would have been better. If they can represent some intangible theme in physical form, they do it in abundance, and it can become quite cumbersome for the viewer trying to piece everything together without a pause here and there. The last episode also raises many questions about the direction of this show - which has been renewed for a second season - with some bonkers climatic scenes that completely throws the ambience of the series out of whack. One can only hope the absurdity pays off in the next season; otherwise, it might be one of those shows that's only good in the first season.
As for the performances, everyone involved is absolutely brilliant, especially Amanda Collins, who plays Mother and Abubakar Salim as Father. It's not an easy feat to strike a balance between the logical clarity of a robot and the emotional musings of a being programmed by humans. Salim has experience doing voice acting and motion capture for video games, which has definitely influenced his performance. Together, their brilliance isn't just in the way they talk, but also how they move - a sort of mechanical grace where you can see the calculations they make to create facial expressions that fit the situations they find themselves in.
South Africans will also be thrilled to know that Raised by Wolves was filmed in Cape Town and it's quite surreal to recognise the Western Cape's mountains and the Zeitz MOCAA while it's warped into an alien planet and digital simulation. And luckily for our film industry, the second season will continue to be shot here.
I really liked Raised by Wolves for its genre and think any other Alien-franchise fans would be fascinated about this reimagining of that classic story of the horror of isolation in the depths of space. I just hope it doesn't lose itself in pompous ponderings about the condition of humanity further down the line.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: