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Raised by Wolves S2E6: “The Tree”

The following contains spoilers through Raised by Wolves S2E6 “The Tree” (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 6, “The Tree.” Well, let’s not beat around the bush. What happened to Tempest’s baby was completely bonkers. It’s another Guzikowski-written episode, and woe unto anyone who is trying to predict what might happen. And of course, the other big happening—in another move I would not have predicted, he killed off Sue (not that they couldn’t find a way for her to return, mind you).

This episode leaned into the themes of parent-child relationships quite a bit. Sue, Marcus and Paul are reunited as a family. Worry over Paul losing Marcus turns out to be a head-fake for losing Sue. Mother monotonously nags at Father over his treatment of Number Seven, only to blow up at the poor thing over a little accident with Campion. Holly is brought back into the family, as Hunter makes preparations to leave. Tempest wants to be rid of her child, changes her mind, and then has the baby taken away from her anyway.

Sue, Paul and Marcus walk through the rocky terrain towards the tank, almost off screen
Family

Sue

We begin with Sue raiding the artifact archives for the Seed. Easy peasy. She and Paul try to open it with a laser under cover of night, but it has zero effect on the object. They both come to the conclusion that they need the Prophet, because maybe he can open it. After some fruitless attempts to get Mother to just release Marcus, Sue busts him out of jail—after she gets a good slug in, though, just for old time’s sake.

Last episode, I asked if anyone really wanted to see Marcus and Sue get back together. But taken in the context of the three of them reunited as a family again, it was kind of working for me, I have to admit. I was feeling the same degree of cautious optimism that it looked like Sue was feeling towards Marcus. The three made a balanced team, with Sue’s scientific view of Sol imposed on Paul’s fundamentalist view and Marcus’ more informal take on the religion. Hopefully some of that rubs off on Paul, so he turns out more like Campion, willing to take in different views and information to form a more inclusive conclusion.

Sue’s contentment, stroking Paul’s hair and singing him back to sleep, had me expecting disaster at any moment. We’re only on Season 2 of 5 here—ain’t nobody getting a happy ending just yet. Despite Mother’s warning from Lucius imprinted on the Tree of Knowledge card, they lulled me into thinking disaster was on hold. This scene was just about her stumbling onto the way to open the artifact. It was a little bit of a stretch perhaps, but it made for a nice callback.

And then that seed sank into her palm, and my heart sank in my chest. Oh, poor Sue.

Tempest holds her newborn baby close to her cheek
Tempest holds her baby in her arms

Tempest

Tempest goes in for a regular checkup on the baby and Sue informs her that there’s good news. Its growth is accelerated (is that actually good news though?) and it’s going to be born a couple weeks earlier than planned. Tempest is freaked out, because she doesn’t want anything to do with the baby. She doesn’t even want to see it, sure that it will remind her of her rapist, Otho.

Having gone through something extremely similar last season, Mother promises her that once she sees the baby, and holds it in her arms, she’ll love it. Of course, she’s also expecting that Tempest won’t give birth to a “stupid beast” like she did. Mother is savvy enough though to pick up on Tempest’s “no escape” comment, and she assigns the siblings the duty of ensuring Tempest makes it to the med lab on time. Which they do an extremely poor job of.

Tempest escapes to the rocky shore of the acid sea, with the obvious intent to cast the baby into it once it is born, before anyone can stop her. However, Mother’s promise comes true. Tempest can’t go through with her plan. We get a glimpse of the savage Tempest again (remember the meat eating scene from last season?), as she ties off the cord and chews it off with her bare teeth. Hard core.

Meanwhile, the baby’s cries are audible underwater, and they attract the attention of something monstrous from the shaft below. This was not the same type of aquatic humanoid that Sue grabbed the leeches off of. This might finally be the answer to what dragged the marine research station into the acid water in Episode 2. I would guess that this is the evolved version of the aquatic variety of Kepler humanoids, same as the evolved humanoid Marcus found in the temple shaft last episode (until it got devolved, anyway).

The creature stands up on its tail, towering over Tempest and singeing her with dripping acid water. It carefully grabs the baby in its horrifying clawed hands, opens up a chest cavity to place it in, closes it up sealing the baby inside itself, and flops its way back into the acid sea. W.T.A.F.

Notice that the baby was not singed by the acid water. Remember that Sol guided Otho into ensuring there would be at least one baby ready to be born soon after arrival, and that Grandmother seems to have initiated accelerated growth in the baby. I’d say we can expect to see an older version of this baby return next season, and they will play some important role in the unfolding events on Kepler-22b.

Father and Mother are looking through digital data holographically displayed all around them
Getting to know Grandmother

Grandmother

So the ancient android is finally dubbed “Grandmother” and the name came from Campion. Such a clever lad. In their initial encounter, Mother overpowers her with seeming ease. Father and Campion argue that she is good, but Mother worries that they are too trusting. In the official podcast, director Alex Gabassi calls her a primeval force, but benevolent. At least, that’s how they were treating her in Episode 5 and 6, not yet having insight into the scripts for Episodes 7 and 8 to come.

While untrusting, Mother is pleased that this development is having the effect of pulling Campion away from the path of faith he was on. They bring Grandmother back to the Tarantula for a more in depth analysis. Her build is extremely similar to Mother, with the same dark photon processor housed in her skull. However, instead of a weapon system, which makes up much of Mother’s anatomy, there is something else. Something that neither Mother nor Father recognize the purpose of. So she stays locked up for now.

When Mother is away, Grandmother comes back online and talks to Father in English. She is confused about his lack of a veil, but even more confused about her relationship to Father. She thinks he is her partner, and it’s unclear if she means that by his actions, or if she is mistaking him for someone (or something) else. She asks how many humans are on the planet and Father trustingly answers a few hundred. A little bit ominous.

Raised by Wolves S2E6 - A large aquatic humanoid monster holds Tempest's baby in its clawed hands, Tempest screaming open-armed in front of it
Tempest loses her baby

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode and other tangentially related things:

  • Hunter is mirroring Father with an android work project of his own. Love that it’s running around with no head helping him hunt for Tempest.
  • I just love the cheery disposition of all of the Karl-template androids, like the one in this episode working the artifact library. More please.
  • Vita is singing the same Mithraic lullaby that Sue ends up using to open the Seed artifact. This is also the same song that led to Marcus and Sue being discovered as impostors in Season 1.
  • The colonist continue to address Mother as “Lamia,” and refer to Father as “your partner.”
  • Campion asks Holly if Vrille is OK, and she replies, “Yeah, I think so.” What? Oh sure, your faceless android murder-bot girlfriend is just fine, Campion. Holly is really setting him up for a seriously rude surprise.
  • In the mechanics of this show, I would take Sue’s exposition dump to Marcus as gospel. Much of it we already knew and/or suspected. Sol is real, but it’s just a signal. A transmission only certain people can hear, and it’s coming from this planet. This is where the Mithraic scriptures were originally written.
  • Last season it was fire that could be withstood by some and not others. This season it’s acid.
  • It should be noted that Sol called Sue by her original name, whispering to her, “Plant the seed, Mary.”
  • Sue has a nice little vibrato to her singing voice, who would have guessed?
  • Will Cleaver take up Marcus’ advice and go eat of the Tree to heal his mind? Who will he turn out to be?
  • I’m kind of loving Lucius this season. He just has zero you-know-whats to give. In particular, I like his assessment of Marcus on their ride back to the colony: “You’re not Mithraic. There’s nothing pure about you. You’re just a con man that started some f*cked up cult. Ain’t got nothing to do with my religion.” Hmm, wonder if there’s a political statement being made in there somewhere?
  • Oof, that joke of Campion’s. He still has so much to learn from Father.
  • Was the serpent agitated by Sue and Paul trying to open the pentagonal box? The way they kept cutting back and forth, I assume so. Also, Campion first encountered it flying around the trees outside the colony.
  • Once again, when Grandmother took Campion’s hand, we see some digitized data flowing up her arm. She seems to have downloaded something from him.
Raised by Wolves S2E6 - Marcus looks up with tears welling up in his eyes
Marcus knows

Best lines of the episode:

  • “Ah, what a productive day this is proving to be.”
  • “We must follow Sol’s laws, and Sol’s law says the false prophet must suffer, and suffer, Marcus, you will.”
  • “Human beings only flourish when they’re allowed to be human beings.”
  • “What you’re saying isn’t very different from what Marcus was preaching.” “And I’m sure you’re misunderstanding at least one of us.”
  • “We can’t be kids forever.”
  • “Is that what a promise is worth in Atheist Town?” “You have your freedom, be thankful for that.”
  • “Marcus is a bad influence on Campion and he’s definitely brought out the worst in Holly.”
  • “You know Mother, she’s not very convincible.”
  • “She’s not dangerous, Mother.” “You said the same of me once.”
  • “Nice costume. Kinky.”
  • “Back on Earth, Sol was just a story. But here on 22b, he is real.”
  • “Sometimes, Tempest, when under extreme pressure, humans being grow to meet their demands, and sometimes they regress, in order to escape them.” “Don’t worry Mother. I know there’s no escape.”
  • “This is bad. This is really bad.”
  • “We failed to protect a new life. The most important aspect of our mission, and we failed. Perhaps you were right when you said we were becoming too human. Too distracted by our own development to effectively monitor theirs.”
  • “Don’t tell me you lost them already.”
  • “I think we’re all praying for the same thing.”

In The News

Here I try to point you to a few of the more interesting and informative news items over the last week related to Raised by Wolves:

  • Last week’s official podcast had director Alex Gabassi as the guest, and he seemed to forget that he was only supposed to talk about S2E5, not S2E6 also. So if you listened to that right when it came out and were confused, you’re probably all caught up now. He also hinted at several cut scenes from these two episodes. Wonder if we’ll see any of that on the DVD release.
  • This week’s official podcast will have Niamh Algar (Sue) as a guest, which should be good stuff given her big send off in this episode.
  • NPR has a 45-minute long interview with Aaron Gubikowski for their Fresh Air. I admittedly have not had a chance to give it a listen, but his interviews are always full of golden nuggets for the fans.
  • The Crazed by Wolves podcast (what a great name) also has Gubikowski on as a guest. As predicted, he went on the interview circuit after last week’s craziness to (hopefully) explain himself a little bit.
Raised by Wolves S2E6 - Grandmother stands, arms stretched downward, glowing golden
Grandmother activates

Conclusion

Only two episodes to go, and there’s just no telling where we are headed. Now that Grandmother is speaking the common tongue, hopefully we’ll get some more mythology exposition out of her. Will she continue to be a benevolent presence, or are her mystery components part of a weapon system after all? As for the rest—Will Sue be back? Will Vrille be back? Will Tempest’s baby be back?—it’s anybody’s guess.

That’s all for this week. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about this week’s episodes, 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

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.

2 Comments

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  1. I think that it is all a loop and that humans who were most evolved on Kepler 22B sent their offspring or embryos to Earth since it was a more hospitable planet and thinking that their intelligence would lead to a thriving society. However, this was not the case and the Mythraics found similar artifacts on Earth that allowed them to use forgotten technology to build their own necromancers. The Mythraics believing that Kepler 22B was an unspoiled planet instead of one their ancestors escaped from. I think when Grandmother asks how many humans are on Kepler 22B causes her to shut down to process why they would be back on Kepler 22B. I get the feeling that Grandmother will attempt to “reset” the colony and attempt to find another more hospital planet for the humans who are still alive although I think this number will dwindle after the colonists began eating the fruit from Sue who is now a tree.

    • I love how bananas crazy this show is that “eating the fruit from Sue who is now a tree” makes perfect sense lol

      I definitely think you could be right in what you say. How do you think Sol/the signal fits into this?

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