Raised By Wolves Season 1, Episode 1 recap: The beginning of a new sci-fi epic

Abubakar Salim and Amanda Collin in Raised by Wolves Season 1, Episode 1 - Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max
Abubakar Salim and Amanda Collin in Raised by Wolves Season 1, Episode 1 - Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max /

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: The beginning of a new sci-fi epic.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 begins with the destruction of Earth and a voiceover from a human child saying, “We were the first, the pioneers. We knew that no matter what happened, Mother and Father would keep us safe.”

From there, a space shuttle bursts through the starry sky and embarks on a path toward a virgin planet named Kepler-22b, one marked by caters and rugged terrain included rocky cliffsides, canyons, and various stone formations. Beyond that, it’s desolate.

More from HBO Max

It feels fitting, then, that the first characters we’re introduced to are the androids, Mother (Amanda Collin), and Father (Abubakar Salim). Reminded of their roles, each recognizes programming instructions to make the others’ wellbeing a priority. These androids are answering a higher power, someone who has programmed the way they will work and adapt to this new planet.

Perhaps to demonstrate the perils of this new environment, Mother and Father find themselves suspended over a crater the moment they arrive and dislodge from their ship.

Yet Father’s protocol to look out for the other is immediately put to the test as he allows them both to reach safety, and they set out to explore the area.

Upon getting set up, Mother undresses and prepares to have the six embryos they’ve been entrusted with connected to her via medical umbilical devices. Despite having no visible sex organs, Mother is immediately put into her first trimester for the children. Once born, one of the six is unable to breathe, and Father suggests breaking it down and feeding it to the others, ick.

Before doing so, Mother holds the child as a real mother would, shedding tears; suddenly, he starts fussing her arms, proving he’s alive after all. They decide to name him Campion, after their creator. It’s interesting to see Mother display such emotions, or was she programmed that way?

As time passes, we see the children grow, and it becomes apparent that they’re a diverse bunch, varying in race. An older Campion (Winta McGrath) narrates, lamenting how challenging Mother and Father found it to keep all of the children alive despite their best efforts. He foretells trouble to come just as the androids unearth a monstrous skull buried in the dirt.

One of the children, Tally, has strayed from the group, playing with a doll and humming without paying attention to her surroundings. She seemingly falls into a bottomless abyss similar to the one the androids’ ship crashed into at the beginning and marks the first child death. Four years later, only two of the children, Spiria and Campion, are left, four gravestones now stand near their shelter. That said, it becomes apparent that Spiria, too, is sick, showing similar symptoms to the others. She likely won’t live much longer.

Mother tells fairytale-esque stories of a group called the Mithraic, who believed allowing atheists to raise children was a sin, so they sent an ark filled with stasis pods to the planet, and it never arrived. Whereas the atheists, “so wisely” used a lighter, faster craft to send the androids and the embryos.

In her teachings, Mother enforces a strict no religion policy. Humanity’s new way of life will not be tethered to an “imagined deity,” as she says. Campion cannot help but wonder if perhaps the old ways were correct.

“They won the war, after all.” He comments and asks if it’s possible praying could help Spiria where science has failed.

Mother assures him only science can do that, and the only reason it has failed thus far is because they don’t yet know enough.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1
Amanda Collin in Raised by Wolves Episode 1 – Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max /

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: Mother begins to malfunction amid their failures.

Spiria dies that night, and Campion — who looks a bit like a young Jon Snow — fears they do not belong on the planet. As Mother tries to comfort him, she seems overcome with a glitch of some kind; she starts to have a nose bleed. Androids bleed white in this world.

Later, Campion can’t resist praying while he works, and Father tells him not to let Mother catch him. It would be in her best interest not to know. It’s interesting that despite being raised as an atheist, Campion still feels drawn to prayer. He would not even know what religion was if the androids had not taught him, right? Or is there some underlying desire in all humans to wish for something more? These seem to be questions Raised By Wolves wants to ponder.

To comfort Campion, Mother mimics Spiria’s voice, but it doesn’t work. Campion worries he’ll forget what she looked like. Then she molds her features to look exactly like Spiria. It’s creepy but impresses Campion, who has never seen her use that trick before. Mother says she wasn’t even aware she could do it.

Eventually, the Mithraic ark arrives and begins to orbit the planet. Father has a plan to meet up with them as he intends to send Campion to them, allowing him to live among their ranks. Slowly, he begins to descend into the pit where their ship crashed, and Tally died.  He intends to access the vessel and transmit its location to the Mithraic’s ark.

But before he takes the plunge, he tells Campion he’ll have to pretend to ascribe to the Mithraic beliefs, but then, Campion might already be a believer.

He tells Campion to promise not to notify Mother of the plan; they’ll let her know “when it’s too late for her to stop us.” It would seem Father is yet again doing something behind her back, but perhaps this too has been programmed if it is for her wellbeing.

Remember that giant skull from earlier? Well, Mother and Father have been telling the children that the serpents live in the pits to keep them from playing near them, especially after what happened to Tally. He’s confident when he tells Campion the snakes are extinct, and he has no need to worry, yet as Father goes down into the darkness, he notices a long tendril of what looks like snakeskin, the rope begins to fray, it all seems ominous.

For now, they abandon the plan to access the ship, and Father tells Campion they will try again later with a sturdier rope.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1
Abubakar Salim in Raised by Wolves Episode 1 – Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max /

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: Mother and Father have a difference of opinion on how to handle the Mithraic.

Despite Father’s orders, Mother can tell Campion is lying to her about his plans for the day. Collins’s portrayal of Mother is quite eerie. You never forget that Mother is an android. Even in her more human moments, there’s always something unnatural in her movements and mannerisms.

Also, despite being robots, Mother and Father are capable of emotion. They appear to feel things a little differently than we do, and it gets weird when they try to mimic something closer to human emotion.

Unhappy with his deception, she confronts Father. She would try to stop him from transmitting their location. It goes against their core programming. She wonders if he’s the one who needs a systems check and not her.

That might be the truth, but as Father points out, the two of them will soon cease to operate when the timeframe of their mission is over. Their programming will lead them to break down. Father tries to make Mother see reason. When they are gone, Campion will be entirely alone, better he goes with the Mithraic than to be abandoned. Especially since Campion is already veering closer to their beliefs with every death he sees.

Well, despite the fact Father is making some good points and noting that they failed their creator and their children, Mother doesn’t see it that way and goes off the deep end as she starts drooling and going ballistic. The two get into a violent fight that ends with Mother impaling Father on a serpent’s tooth. She rips out his android heart.

When Campion finds her, she fabricates a story about Father breaking down already and having to throw his remains down a hole because of radioactive power cells.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: Campion takes matters into his own hands.

While Mother rests, Campion tries to finish Father’s last mission. Finding a sturdier rope, he prepares his descent down into the pit with the ship. Making it inside, he notices a strange gray orb that reacts to his touch. Pressing it a few times and pleading for help, Campion seems to trigger a reaction that causes the ship to turn on and release a powerful flare of energy that sends it plummeting down into the hole.

Luckily, he manages to get out before he’s taken down with it. Meanwhile, Mother scampers in the dirt in the serpent bone graveyard for some unexplained reason. When Campion finds her, she’s collapsed. Thinking her dead, he burrows close to her and holds her as the weather shifts.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1
Travis Fimmel in Raised by Wolves Episode 1 – Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max /

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: The Mithraic arrive.

Campion and Mother are awoken by arriving Mithraic members led by a man named Marcus (Travis Fimmel). Mother pleads with Campion not to tell them what she is as they question their faith. She proudly announces they are not believers as the men close in to meet young Campion.

Even though Mother wants nothing more for these men to leave, she’s unable to avoid offering them hospitality, including food to eat and a place to sleep for the night before they return to the lander. During dinner conversation, we’re told the Mithraic are mostly warriors and some clerics. They also travel with their own androids, although it is clear they function in a more servile capacity. They’re fascinated by Campion and he by them.

Within their refuge, Marcus immediately debriefs his men. Mother did not fool them. Marcus was smart enough to deduce her android status quickly. The only way they could have gotten to the planet so fast is with a small, sleek ship that did not house any life support systems, only embryos, and robots.

They start to wonder if Campion is a prophet who has been foretold, someone who can decode the “Mithraic Mysteries.” The zealots worship a being they refer to as Sol, and it would appear these “mysteries” might have something to do with that. Campion might be their version of Jesus Christ, or so they hope — Marcus is less sure. Given the sun designs they wear on their white garments, it would appear their worship is tethered to the sun.

Raised By Wolves Episode 1
Raised by Wolves Episode 1 – Photograph by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max /

Raised By Wolves Episode 1 recap: Mother slaughters all of the Mithraic.

In the morning, Marcus tries to coax Campion into coming with him onto the ship, enticing him with the idea of playmates his own age and real animals. But Campion refuses to leave without Mother, and once she’s heard enough, she goes on the attack. The Mithraic android, Jinn, assaults her immediately as Marcus picks up Campion and tries to run off with him. Jinn gets far more than he bargained for because whatever Mother is, she’s far from any “low-end model.”

After suffering a beatdown, she bounces back with immense power and unleashes a crazy screech sonar ability that makes people blow up, basically, but only if their eyes are open — kind of like a futuristic Medusa. Killing the Mithraic, she gives chase to Marcus, who drops Campion to save his own skin.

Flying up into the air like a bird painted in gold body paint, Mother chases after Marcus. Attempting to take off in his ship, Mother overrides its commands and steals it. Marcus is savvy enough to close his eyes, so Mother knocks him out and tosses him off.

She takes his ship back to the ark and once onboard — using her Marcus camouflage to get entry — she kills everyone in the vicinity. Then, she finds the area of the ark where the human children are housed. It’s like a snow-covered forest with deer running around.

Before entering, she takes an ultraviolet shower to purge herself of all the blood and carnage. I thought it interesting to note she tied a blindfold around her eyes.

Are androids weak against UV rays? She keeps the blindfold on for the remainder of the episode, perhaps the power of her weaponry is derived from her eyes, and she wants to ensure none of them are harmed?

Mother finally returns to Campion with the children in tow, after crashing and destroying the ark. Campion’s perspective of Mother has entirely altered since witnessing her violent side. By the end of the episode, he’s faced with a new future, one that involves the Mithraic children and understanding that he is no longer safe with the android who raised him.

Stray Observations from Raised By Wolves Episode 1

  • There are lots of biblical allusions in the opening hour, which makes sense, considering one of the main themes of the series is religion. The Mithraic build a literal ark full of animals, and the ark is actually named Heaven.
  • Father mentions that they had 12 embryos on their ship. Mother only gave birth to six, including Campion who was initially thought to be stillborn, I believe. Where are the other six embryos?
  • I really hope we see one of those massive serpents alive.
  • Winta McGrath is doing phenomenal work as Campion, and I wonder what makes him unique from the other children? Why didn’t he get sick? Is he a prophet, as one of the Mithraic soldiers suggested?

5 reasons you can't miss Close Enough. dark. Next

The first three episodes of Raised By Wolves are now available on HBO Max. New episodes debut on Thursdays.