Sir Ridley Scott's sci-fi series Raised By Wolves returns for a second season on Sky Atlantic on Wednesday, 6 April. When audiences first clapped eyes on the first season almost eighteen months ago, it proved to be quite the revelation.
Streaming subscribers applauded it, irascible critics lauded it and Scott accepted plaudits from all comers without reservation. This science fiction series from the mind of Aaron Guzikowski, felt epic in scale, theological in theme and had more than a hint of Prometheus when it came to production design.
With a barren location and talk of colonisation, Raised by Wolves also tapped into James Cameron’s spiritual sequel Aliens, as androids nurtured life and lay down roots alongside their human counterparts.
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In that opening season Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim ensured their performances worked in perfect unison with other elements. As Mother and Father, they remained pragmatic, detached and resourceful making sure any emotions came from a place of clinical precision.
Not only were these actors crucial to making this world feel relatable, but more importantly, when events escalated and those placid automatons were forced into an altogether more aggressive mode, it needed to feel justified and organic.
With the return of Raised by Wolves for a second season audiences will be eager to learn whether this world building science fiction opus can level up and bring it home. In the aftermath of that season one finale a deactivated Mother lays prostrate on the lush forest floor of an unfamiliar tropical zone.
Two minutes into episode one of season two entitled 'The Collective', she is surrounded by Atheists in combat gear, they assume this one-woman weapon of war is nothing more than ignominious cyber scrap. From that point on audiences should be no doubt, they are in for something special.
Whereas that first run was about establishing ground rules, defining boundaries and giving viewers a real sense of place with regards to Kepler-22B, this time things are a little different. There is still an ideological divide between the Atheists and their more humanistic Mithraics, as one seeks to destroy the other. Yet this time round, with the latter almost eradicated and any remaining survivors assimilated, season two feels more about sensibilities than any distinctive distrust of non-organic lifeforms.
As Mother, Amanda Collin gives another superbly restrained performance, as she fights with internal conflicts which find her loyalties divided. Having given birth in season one, as well as nurturing embryos into existence alongside Father, she embraced the maternal elements of gestation despite her synthetic origins.
Over the course of season two this central conflict of interests that she must address, gets challenged at crucial stages, which in turn only raises further questions about her place in this world.
Surrounded by her brood, who have all been indoctrinated into this regimented culture, writer and show runner Aaron Guzikowski uses her to explore the thematic contradictions of human behaviour. That Mother was originally designed to destroy the Atheists, is an important point to consider in light of her evolution. In a world where orders are followed without individual consideration, this show seeks to explore notions of free will, both in terms of man and machine.
On the flip side of this equation sits a lone philosopher, embodied by Travis Fimmel’s Marcus. An idealistic survivor banished to the barren wastes beyond the tropical zone, but hunted like an animal from minute one. His unwavering belief in the power of love and free thinking, as the last surviving Mithraic, pits him against a multitude of likeminded people all following a rigid doctrine.
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Inevitably, even this high-minded series has to bend to convention on occasion, as romantic connections occur and personal epiphanies are never in short supply. Whether that means Kim Engelbrecht’s Decima getting close to Fimmel’s Marcus, or Felix Jamieson’s Paul experiencing a moment of clarity opposite Megan Theron’s Junia these things happen. Thankfully, this adherence to tropes never detracts from the impact of the series as a whole.
Raised by Wolves still has Sir Ridley Scott’s fingerprints all over it. Whether that comes through in the brutalist production design of Jonathan McKinstry’s military hardware, or those sun-baked vistas captured by cinematographers Mark Patten and Kolja Brandt.
Whether that incorporates ancient rock carvings or hi-tech all-terrain armoured tanks, everything is given the same consideration. A fact which ensures this show never feels less than cinematic, and occasionally even achieves Dune levels of scale for certain sequences.
If audiences also appreciate that these film makers have done away with pedestrian pacing, which was an issue in season one, then this second bite of the cherry just got a whole lot sweeter.
So much so, that Raised by Wolves may well have pulled off the impossible, in giving audiences a sci-fi with depth which manages to muster some mainstream momentum to boot.
Every episode of Raised By Wolves S2 is available to stream on NOW with an Entertainment Membership from today.
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