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“I’m not one who wants,” Mother tells Tempest, one of the children in her charge. “I’m one who serves.” Turns out she’s only half right. Mother was indeed designed to serve her human creators, first as a weapon of war, then as a caretaker for the children meant to restart human civilization.
But as we’ve seen thus far in Raised By Wolves, she does want. She wants to protect those children and she wants to serve well—those are a given. But her time reliving her buried memories in the crashed Mithraic ark’s still-functional simulation has taught her to want something else: her creator, Campion Sturges. Just before she was deployed, Sturges buried her memories of him deep down inside, so she wouldn’t experience the pain of separation. Now she’s been reunited with him, in electronic spirit anyway, and she treasures every moment. She even steps into her digital past to share a kiss with him before the simulation ends. It’s so achingly romantic you forget one of the participants isn’t human.
And, as it happens, Mother wants more than this.
She has vicious argument with both Father, who is suspicious of her recurring and lengthening absences, and Campion, who has assaulted Paul for building a trap for the planet’s strange creatures. She blames Father for the new drawing on the wall of their tent, a representation of her kiss with Sturges drawn in the style of their late “daughter” Tally; Father knows he didn’t do it, which only heightens his interest in what Mother has been up to. Struggling with the impossibility of the drawing, she flies off, to the only comfort she knows.
But this time, it’s as if Campion Sturges has been waiting for her. He appears to her outside of her memories, tells her how much he’s missed her. “You’re a virus in the pods,” she replies, smiling gently. “You’ve infected my systems. I’m malfunctioning.” She may be right! Or she may be wrong, and this vision of Campion Sturges is related to whoever made that drawing, or whoever keeps appearing as Tally to the children of the settlement, or the mysterious figure who collected all their tracking devices. Or maybe none of them are related to any of the others.
None of it matters in the moment. According to the vision of Campion Sturges, none of it really matters at all. “They have no future,” he says of the humans on Kepler-22b. “They’re antiques chained to time. Their lives are only dying. But you,” he continues to Mother, “you are eternal, pure as the expanse of space. Tell me what you want.”
The face of actor Amanda Collin strains and contorts as if there are gears of some great machine laboring beneath the skin. “I want you,” she says finally, forcing the words past whatever internal blockade exists against such desire.
And she gets him. A deeply lovely sex scene follows, in which Mother and Sturges float in midair, their bodies intertwined. But a rain of the white fluid that passes for blood in android bodies puts an end to the reverie.
Because outside the pod, Marcus and his fellow humans have prepared a trap. The convicted sex offender points a light-refracting disc at her face, overwhelming her processing power. Explosives rigged to the pod are intended to go off and destroy her in this weakened state (along with the convict and his security-guard android, though neither of them seem to grasp this).
But whether through some error on the Mithraics’ part or because of the prophetic nature of her white-blood-soaked vision, Mother begins to defend herself. First, pebbles and rocks around the pod start to float in the air. Then massive boulders join them. Then the glass disc bursts, and she’s a necromancer once again, blowing the boulders up with her powers.
She returns to her old self just in time. Back at the settlement, a team led by Sue and Lucius (whose father, we learn, was executed by the real Marcus for showing mercy to an atheist child soldier who turned out to be a suicide bomber) infiltrate the camp to rescue the children. An intense cat-and-mouse game with Father follows; he may be a mere “service model,” but he shows a resourcefulness and a knack for precision-targeted violence that belie his programming.
In the end, though, he is betrayed by his ersatz ward Hunter, who uses the PA system on the landing craft where he and the other children are hiding to alert the Mithraic soldiers to Father’s location. He gets shot full of lead—but then Mother arrives, blowing up soldiers with a scream and returning to her companion’s side. “I’m here now,” she says, in another line reading from Amanda Collin that’s simply oozing with emotion.
But it’s not over. Paul, who had separated from the other kids, is reunited with his “parents” Marcus and Sue, who intend to tell him the truth about their identities…but not just yet. Paul volunteers to return to the settlement, in order to steal the weaponized eyes that Mother wears in a pouch around her neck. He pulls this off with aplomb, and when Mother gives chase, Marcus leaps out from behind a rock and chops her in the chest with an axe.
But when he’s about to deliver the coup de grace, he hears a voice telling him “NO.”
He tries to bring the axe down again and again, but the voices instruct him to let Mother live. And so, to the amazement of Sue (who’d ignored his orders not to move in on the camp until Mother was confirmed dead), he spares the android before gratefully taking her eyes from Paul. “Good boy,” he tells him.
I don’t know what else there is to say at this point other than that this is a breathlessly entertaining show, full of genre thrills and deep human emotion with none of the pseudophilosophical bullshit that sinks other science fiction series like Westworld. Just reviewing an episode feels like reliving it, in all its beauty and terror. I feel bad for people who aren’t watching this show. They’re missing out on the best android story in nearly thirty years. They’re missing out on a great story, period.
Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island.
Watch Raised By Wolves Episode 6 (“Lost Paradise”) on HBO Max