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Ridley Scott's latest epic is both chilling & captivating

The sci-fi master and creator of the Alien franchise takes us on an eerie and immersive trip with Raised by Wolves. In a post-apocalyptic future, we confront uncomfortable questions of religion and sentience
Author: Azande Makhosi
Thu, Mar 04, 2021

The robots are coming, but in this latest installment by sci-fi king Ridley Scott, they are coming to save us – although that depends on your religious beliefs.

In Raised by Wolves, Earth as we know it has been desecrated – destroyed by a great war between atheists and religious fanatics. In the quest to save humankind, the atheists have programmed two androids (Mother and Father) to save humanity by zooming off to a different planet, where they are to rear six human embryos.

Five initially survive but as the makeshift family becomes acquainted with harsh conditions of the barren planet, Kepler-22b and the fragilities of young humans, Mother and Father soon discover that being parents is not as easy as initially set out to be, resulting in the loss of all their children bar their son, Campion.

The pair are further thrust into turmoil when a spaceship carrying the Mithraics, the last surviving religious sect, also lands on Kepler-22b. This results in major tension, especially when members of the sect (who arrive aboard the spaceship, Heaven), try to 'rescue' the last surviving child from the androids who have not yet given their lives to the lord Sol, whom the Mithraics worship.

Mother, understandably not happy with this, is revealed to be programmed as more than just the nurturing matriarch but is rather the reincarnation of a former atheist-killing war machine. This results in a bloody tussle as both sides try to establish dominance over the other. Add to that the secrets that the new land harbours, and we are set for a wild ride.

Creator of the Alien franchise, Ridley Scott is undoubtedly the king of sci-fi and this, his latest offering, is a sign that at 83, he still has plenty to offer. Scott, who directed the first two episodes and executive produced the series, reminds us why he has continued to be at the helm of this genre.

Raised by Wolves unfolds into a mind-bending tale about a new world which, all things considered, is not too far off from a possible reality. Central to this philosophical tale are themes around humanity, religion and technology, asking the ultimate question: what is life and what does it all mean?

The series, which was shot in Cape Town, takes us into a world that is eerily barren and grey, yet manages to keep the viewer enthralled with its beautiful cinematography and carefully studied pace that draws you in.

The show's shortcoming for audiences looking for something less cerebral is that it does need one to focus to keep up with the parallel narratives that reveal the retrospective destruction of Earth, and the current war happening on the new planet.

With its sometimes complicated storyline (a la compatriot, Westworld), what truly keeps this show afloat is the performance by its lead characters, Mother (Amanda Collins) and Father (Abubakar Salim). Collins's turn as an android is so brilliant that it is easy to believe that she is in fact an android, such is her divorce of any instinctive human traits.

Her performance is both chilling and masterful as she convincingly portrays what the future of androids could be. Salim's performance is not far behind as he offers the only light moments in the production with his interspersed 'dad jokes'.

Ambitious plot lines aside, fans of the sci-fi genre will be pleased by the brilliance of the production, which despite its rather gloomy landscapes and themes, still makes for a visual feast.