The following contains spoilers through Raised by Wolves S2E5, “King” (written by Aaron Guzikowski and directed by Alex Gabassi).
Welcome back, dear reader, as we continue to review the HBO Max series Raised by Wolves with the Season 2 Episode 5, “King.” This episode was written by showrunner Aaron Guzikowski, so even though we do not carry forward the kinetic frenzy of last week’s episode, we have to figure this one is an important one in the show’s overall mythology. Just for the record, Guzikowski also wrote both of the Season 2 premiere episodes, as well as six of ten episodes in Season 1.
With this episode’s descent into schlock horror tropes left and right, I’m actually starting to worry that Guzikowski is indeed being influenced by Ridley Scott—in all the wrong ways. Let’s just say this now and get it out of the way: yes, that alien humanoid in the cave looked like a Prometheus “engineer.” Vrille drops in behind Decima like a xenomorph. She also kills all of Marcus’ church members with the speed and grace of a Nexus 8.
But no, damnit, this still is not connected to either the Alien or Blade Runner universes.
We get a lot of Sue in this episode, as she tries to find the cure for what is happening to Paul. The holosphere is out of options and tries to recommend they make his inevitable death as painless as possible. Except it’s not a death at all. Paul is being turned into a snake, an evolution that fascinates Mother to the point of rudeness.
Sue has one last option though, picking up where Marcus left off and saying “magic words” to Sol to heal her boy. Except she knows she’s not praying to a god. Sol’s just a “signal sent by some alien somewhere.” She’s rewarded with the first of many B-movie horror sequences in this episode, cluing her into the potentially medicinal leeches.
She takes the recently converted Campion with her to go collect some leeches off of one of the marine creatures that dwell in the acid ocean. Mother would not approve, but it’s a good thing she did, because Campion saves his other mother figure with another well placed slingshot stone.
Back at the med lab, the magic leeches work their medicinal magic and magically heal Paul—all conveniently off screen, saving a little bit on that VFX budget. Of course, I won’t be surprised to find out later that Paul is not completely back to normal, right? As an added bonus for Sue, now that she’s taken up praying, she and Paul are cool again. She’s also cool with her new buddy Sol, who is already cashing in on her promise to do whatever he wants.
Marcus and his merry band are on the lam, cruising around the countryside in their stolen tank. Decima is nagging him so badly that Marcus invokes the tried and true dad threat of pulling this car over. The kids are also fighting in the back, over the relic that Holly picked up back in Season 1. Now there’s a deep cut callback. I had totally forgotten about that thing.
When Holly mentions that she can feel real power emanating from it, Marcus’ ears perk up. He just happens to be in desperate need of power at the moment, and any little bit helps. So once again, he swipes his power from the women of the show, in a slightly creepy exchange with the young girl that makes us all want to look away. Decima, thinking the relic is as fake as Marcus, dubs it the perfect accessory for him. The lady’s got bite.
Marcus’ lucky streak continues as they spot another pentagonal temple and make their way over to it. This one, however, has been cracked in half like an egg. Being able to see inside, we find out that these temples are built over pits, harnessing the power at the planet’s core for unknown reasons. This broken temple offers a test, and Decima nudges Marcus into fulfilling his prophetorial duties. Down he goes into the pit, while everyone else stays topside and prays for him. His luck may have run out.
The cage stops at a tunnel entrance, quite some depth down. And here’s where we transition into crazy town. Marcus comes to a place where the tunnel is completely blocked by bones. As he’s excavating his way through, he sees the body of one of his followers fall screaming past. Because up top, things have turned into a psycho killer murder spree, with Vrille slashing her way through everyone but Decima and Holly.
Undeterred, Marcus presses on, breaking through to find the corpse of a Kepler native, lying in a small cave. This is one of the evolved types, similar to the one who tried to push Mother down a pit last season. When Marcus picks its pocket, its eyes pop open like a vampire whose sleep has been interrupted.
Marcus’ other stolen relic starts glowing green in reaction, and he wisely casts it aside. The tooth emits a glowing fog that moves purposefully toward the Keplerian, animating him fully back to life (if he was ever dead), and then devolving him on the spot. Like I said, crazy town. Marcus puts a bullet in the feral creature and leaps back onto the cage just in time for the slow ride back to the surface.
Father comes back online, having been apparently dragged back into the shed by his creation. She greets him in her unintelligible machine language and Father tries to make some awkward small talk. To break the ice, Father tells her the joke that Hunter was just bugging him about in Episode 3. We’ve waited a year and a half for that punchline, and it was a groaner. It works on her though, and she laughs a good hearty robotic chuckle.
Of course, the implication of this charmingly innocent moment is that she understands their language. She probably downloaded that information straight out of Father’s memory files, causing his overload at the end of last episode. Similar to how the Trust was able to read all of Mother’s files, except the ones she encrypted out of shame. Father, on the other hand, is likely an open book.
With the task marble machine on the fritz, Mother has to come find Father in person to task him to go collect Holly. She suggests he take along someone who isn’t “perpetually distracted” and he has the brilliant idea to take Lucius. They catch up with Marcus and Holly, the lone survivors of Vrille’s insane robot murder spree, just as they are lighting the funeral pyre for their friends. While Lucius wants to send Marcus off to join them, Father won’t let him carry out the execution right in front of Holly. They decide to take Marcus back to the Collective to face justice. Right into the briar patch.
A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode and other tangentially related things:
- The Kepler native was wearing serpent skin, similar to how Marcus was adorning himself just last episode.
- So was the wall of bones to keep the Kepler native in, or to protect him from something outside? I’m going to guess the latter, since he could have dug himself out same as Marcus dug himself in.
- One wonders if the pentagonal temple was damaged by something breaking out, or something breaking in? And does that have anything to do with the vent not outputting heat anymore?
- Vrille is remarkably nimble, her multiple leg injuries having been magically healed. Seriously, they have some explaining to do here. She better have been revived / fixed by Grandmother or Sol or something. Please don’t let this go unexplained.
- Vrille is using the same knife that Decima used on her. Decima dropped it as she looked over the cliff edge at her “daughter” lying dead below. Didn’t expect that to ever be seen again.
- I do expect to see Vrille again, as she is left at large at the end of the episode.
- What the heck does Father mean by saying he’s a farmer by trade? I guess he’s referring to his carbo farming days? Just seems a weird thing to say.
- In the extras material, they have explained that Grandmother’s cowl is intended to keep her from seeing the humans she was around and developing emotional attachments.
- Holly addresses Mother and Father as “necromancer” and “generic service model.” Ouch, kids can be so mean.
- I love the little aside Hunter and Tempest had before running across Grandmother. Hunter is having doubts, fearing that Paul is going to die. Tempest confesses that she misses it sometimes, being able to believe that there’s someone out there listening with the power to make it all better. These two are growing up.
- When Grandmother flashes the sonogram of Tempest’s baby on her cowl, there is also some digital data flashing around it. Did she upload something into the child, perhaps causing it to be restless later in the medical lab? Remember that Sol was behind Otho raping her in cryo-sleep on the journey to Kepler-22b. Perhaps the first naturally born baby on this planet won’t turn out to be 100% natural.
- Wonder how Cleaver feels about “the needs of the many” now that he’s found out his entire life may have been sacrificed to them?
- Why is it that Sol can just talk to Sue at the end of the episode, but to tell her about the medicinal leeches, he has to put her through a horror movie hallucination trauma?
- So now that they killed off Marcus’ new girlfriend and have maneuvered him to be taken back to the Collective, are the writers setting it up such that Marcus and Sue might get back together? Does anyone actually want that though?
- I feel bad for those actors playing the Mithraics from Season 1, being brought back for a few episodes of Season 2, only to be unceremoniously killed off in Episode 5.
Best lines of the episode:
- “I apologize, I misspoke. I value your feelings. You are my friend.”
- “I’m sorry, you’re right. It’s the perfect accessory for you.”
- “Who are you? You a parent on a mission to restart humanity, or are you some rogue android who fights and tinkers? It’s one or the other, Father. Can’t be both.”
- “Mother, I fear we’re becoming too human to be the parents that our children deserve.”
- “Looks like he posed it. Do you think he’s been in here pretending it’s functioning?”
- “They’re your eyes, Cleaver.”
- “Please don’t take my little boy away from me.”
- “Hallucinations will also, as you say, fog you up.”
- “Help me, Sol!”
- “You know what, I’m going to tell you all the geeky details later, but you need rest.”
- “No mother f*cker, I’m the last true Mithraic come to snuff out the darkness.”
- “Are you serious, or are you just saying that because I almost died?”
- “What’s the difference between a god and an alien?”
- “I’ll do whatever you want, just keep him safe.”
I’m skipping the “In the News” section this week. Just not a lot going on right now, we’re apparently in the mid-season interview slump. Hopefully Guzikowski hits the circuit after this episode to explain some of the weird mythology stuff from this episode.
While a lot of the NPCs have dispersed to the four winds (leaving Tempest in the lurch), all of our primary characters are contracting back together in one location. Looking forward to some more, diverse, one-on-one character interactions next episode. After the unexpected culling of these last two episodes, I’m beginning to wonder if any of the new characters introduced this season will survive to the end. We’ll see.
That’s all for this week. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about this week’s episode, and any theories you have on what’s to come, in the comments below. Remember that 25YL will provide continuing coverage of Raised by Wolves throughout Season 2 and beyond.
All images courtesy of HBO Max