The French release of Raised by Wolves is coming on Warner TV, 7th December. This science-fiction show is produced by Ridley Scott and tells the story of two androids, “Mother” and “Father”, sent on a distant but habitable planet. Their mission is to raise the last surviving human children, following humanity’s annihilation on Earth.
Robots: the unsettling humanity of artificial life-forms
This isn’t the first TV show introducing the question of AI and its eerie “plasticity”. A recent successful example is Westworld with its oppressing Western amusement park universe; however, Raised by Wolves is somewhat closer, at least in spirit, to the early 2000s’ remake of Battlestar Galactica. And at the same time, it couldn’t be further away from any other shows ever made before. If the themes are familiar, the delivery is completely and excitingly new.
« Naked and afraid »: survival and primal fear
The costumes and decors are stripped down to the bare minimum. The characters evolve in a spartan environment. Everything is unadorned, antiseptic, austere and bleak. It leaves the characters completely exposed and vulnerable to the hostile wilderness and fate. Moreover, the lighting is dim and cold and as the audience witnesses the dawn of humanity if feels more like twilight. The viewer is haunted by these soulless shells, programmed to do, potentially, the most human thing there is: love and care for children.
« Can robots do a better job of raising mankind? » That is the question raised by the show. What these androids do is reflect the void, the absence of humanity in our souls. The show makes viewers reassess their own morality and beliefs. They’re forced to look at the man-made horror in the eyes and question themselves on their responsibility and role. The stakes are incredibly high from the first episode and will leave viewers, shaken and bewildered.
Raised by Wolves is irresistibly entertaining
It is a great sci-fi. Otherworldly, disorienting, unexpected: space is the ultimate adventure. Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Blade Runner) building on his previous science-fiction films, has created his own “android mythos”. This creative continuity is satisfying and constitutes the only familiar element in an otherwise original story. The show is beautiful. The light, like permanent dawn and twilight, gives the story a dreamlike quality but as the storyline unveils, the tale becomes more like a nightmare. Suspense and horror alternate seamlessly and slowly build towards satisfying plot-twists.
The stellar performances from the cast contribute to the unnerving atmosphere throughout the show. If the audience will be happy to rediscover the ubiquitous and charismatic Travis Fimmel (Viking), they’ll also delight in the astounding Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim. The costumes, that subtly echo human religious history, are also reminiscent of video games such as Mass Effect, Destiny or Assassin’s Creed. In short: they look very cool. The overall viewer experience is like witnessing an ancient myth, a legend from the past if that legend was the birth of mankind.
There’s something deeply disturbing about watching creatures who look and act like humans but are not. It’s the same unsettling feeling one gets when watching robotic lab videos showcasing their four-legged robots opening doors, or running across a set of obstacles. They “function” like us, they seem alive. It’s not unlike the fear we feel when faced with psychopathic individuals. We see someone similar to us, we see a living person but our survival instinct screams: run! – for the creature in front of us is not like us. Our humanity depends on our conscience, our empathy, and our ability to love and care. Raised by Wolves is brilliant and striking because it postulates that a machine programmed to love, might be more human than a person who only knows hatred.
Who is the wolf?