Raised By Wolves is back, picking up from its crazy first season

So much crazy stuff happened in the first season of Raised by Wolves that we almost don’t know where to begin. In his recap of season one, Steve Newall reacquaints himself with the world-building and mysteries of the sci-fi show ahead of its new season.

Watch yourself—this piece contains season one spoilers.

If there’s one thing we learned from Raised by Wolves‘ first season, which arrived last year, it’s that the show had no shortage of mysteries to tease. From its intriguing premise—android “parents” raising the survivors of a ruined Earth on an alien planet—onwards, in just a 10 episode run the show has littered the surface of Kepler-22b with all sorts of puzzling artifacts, events, and no shortage of both human blood (bloody) and android blood (milky).

Sample questions you might be asking after the season one finale may or may not have included…

“Did Mother really give birth to a snake alien that’s now giant and can, hold on, fly?”

Yes, pretty much.

“Does it have anything to do with the giant snakey skeletons seen around the children’s compound throughout the season?”

Um, probably?

“How the hell did Mother and Father fly through the centre of the planet?”

Honestly, I have no fucking idea.

“Who is keeping all the future-mullets looking so sharp?”

Hey, we don’t know much about space-toilets either, loosen up.

“Whose ship arrived in the finale?”

Ah, that one I can help with—this is an atheist ship that’s followed the religious zealot Mithraics to Kepler 22-b. That means both factions in the war that destroyed Earth are now on the planet. While the Mithraic ranks were thinned out considerably over the course of season one, including a spectacular display of the Necromancer death machine powers possessed by Mother, the freshly-converted/revived Marcus (Travis Kimmel) seems to have some spectacular abilities of his own.

“Yeah, what’s the story with that shit on Marcus’s face?”

You again? Question time’s over, sorry.

Specific unresolved mysteries aside, I’ve been thrilled by the world-building and general thrust of the show. The Mithraics claim their scriptures had hidden information inside them, including designs for the Necromancer androids and other advanced technology—hidden by their God, they might say, but if true, in the context of the show it’s more likely something off-world has been engineering mankind’s journey to Kepler-22b.

In a similar vein, Mother’s impregnation (by a digital ghost! inside a simulation!) seems preordained—indeed she’s told at one point that the human children in her care were actually just practice for the motherhood to come. Paired with a terrifying vision of a creature seemingly imprisoned in a dodecahedron, its humanoid head leaking milky android fluid—and the subsequent discovery of its remains, mouth open as if it had given birth in the same way as Mother—there’s seemingly a bigger Purpose at stake.

OK, I said I wouldn’t talk about specific unsolved mysteries, but the dodecahedron temple seen in season one (that crucially provided heat to some Mithraic survivors/far too much to one of them in particular) was a bigger version of that biomechanical maternity ward. And other relics and structures littered across the planet nod to a previous civilisation, as do the humanoid creatures roaming around, cave paintings, and neanderthal skull examined by Father.

Did humanity originate on Kepler-22b? Or has it been drawn there repeatedly? Both feel like suitably Ridley Scott-like notions that may have encouraged his participation as executive producer as well as directing the first two episodes (also another great time for the phrase “milky android blood”).

Raised by Wolves is very much showrunner Aaron Guzikowski’s baby though. Little in his previous screen work would have hinted at the dense and engrossing mix of science fiction and religion seen here, though thanks to Dune we can now draw a throughline to Denis Villeneuve (Guzikowski wrote Villeneuve’s tense and grim English-language debut Prisoners).

Guzikowski is very much blessed by his Raised by Wolves leads, particularly the talented pair bringing Mother and Father to milky life. Danish actor Amanda Collin has been a revelation in her English-language breakout, her physicality employed in numerous ways inside the latex android costume—sometimes chilling, other times terrifying, always occupying the uncanny valley of not-quite-human.

Abubakar Salim’s turn as Father, meanwhile, impresses in other ways. The more vulnerable of the pair, in both emotional and physical terms, he’s a complex creation in his own right. While he might not have the sleek killing machine movements sometimes displayed by Collin, the Brit brings a distinctly different flavour to Father, making the pair a complex duo of central characters.

“Central characters, you say? What about all the people and the adorable children?”

Yeah, I wondered where you were… Let’s go with the idea that flesh and blood humans are just vehicles for the true grand design of the show for now, and bask in what promises to be another wonderfully batshit season of top-tier sci-fi.