Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 3/5
When it comes to tone and atmosphere, very few people match up to Ridley Scott’s vision. From the moody bleak vistas to wide-sweeping ideologies, this man has a knack for creating unnerving alien settings. Concise narratives and a well-paced screenplays however are not this man’s forte.
On the surface, HBO Max’s flagship sci-fi Raised By Wolves looks like a surefire winner to buck the trend. There’s a lot of intriguing concepts here, mixed in nicely with thought provoking themes and some strong acting to produce one of the more original sci-fi projects of the year.
Much like fellow sci-fi drama Devs, Raised By Wolves has a bit of a pacing problem. In fact, as the episodes tick by it soon becomes apparent that this entire series uses its visuals and unnerving atmosphere as a façade. A façade that hides some of the weaker writing and logic lurking in the corners of this show – especially in the third act of the season.
Backdropping all of this is a story set in the not-too-distant future. Earth is a ravaged wasteland, laid bare by murderous robots known as Necromancers. From the ashes of this devastation and bloodshed is the last ray of hope for humanity.
Tucked away in a small lander with two androids – aptly named Mother and Father – are the last DNA remnants for a brand new colony.
The spaceship descends on a bleak planet called Kepler-22B; a potential habitable ground for a new breed of humans. With Father’s help, these new-breed children are grown in strange pods that allow humans to grow outside a living organic body.
As the children grow up, Mother and Father do their best to instill a distinctly atheist way of living onto their offspring.
As the episodes tick by though, it soon becomes apparent that something is very wrong with this planet. Whispers of a deity called Sol grow, strange skeletal forms lay buried underground and all of this seems to point at a civilization wiped out in the past by someone…or something.
Complicating matters further is another ship inbound for the planet. Occupied by human religious knights, this group crash-lands down and find themselves locked in their own battle with Mother and her colony.
I won’t spoil much more but suffice to say the show grows and evolves over time into a much more far-reaching and consuming story. The result is something that loses the initial charm hovering over the early episodes and ultimately shatters any suspense and tension by the end.
Don’t get me wrong, Raised By Wolves is certainly atmospheric and holds all the hallmarks of a tonally sound show but it’s constantly undermined by weak writing and wide-sweeping ideologies that go absolutely nowhere.
It’s a shame too because there’s an awful lot that this show does right but the screenplay – the most important part of the show – is the one part that really fails to follow through on its ideas.
Given the cliffhanger ending and lack of answers given, this plodding series drags its feet for much of its runtime with little in the way of satisfying answers at the end. Instead, that’s left to the imagination of its viewers.
While that may be fine for some, it’s almost certainly going to cause a good portion of viewers to feel disappointed. This disappointment turns to incredulous confusion around episode 8 when a big plot twist suddenly and quite aggressively descends in quality.
Most of the characters are difficult to empathise with and worse, have incredibly weak and unsatisfying arcs. Ironically, it’s Father who’s the real star of the show – the one character with a single defining trait programmed into him. His refreshing upbeat persona is a far cry from the rest of the cast, who border on insane or moody for much of the season.
Despite all this, there’s something endearing about Raised By Wolves that will keep you watching through to the end. There’s certainly potential here for a really special and original sci-fi entry but the series slips up with its writing.
Raised by Wolves fails to raise to the occasion, slumping into mediocrity rather than rising up to become an alpha leader in the pack.