Thursday, September 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Raised by Wolves' - Campion Starts to Doubt His Parents as the Children Grow Sick Once More in 'Virtual Faith'

HBO Max's Raised by Wolves - Episode 1.03 "Virtual Faith"

After the Mithraic kids fall sick, Campion believes Mother is poisoning them and plans an escape. As Mother and Father attempt to prove otherwise, Marcus and Sue work to convince the other surviving Mithraic to mount a rescue of the children, desperate to get their son Paul back.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO Max's Raised by Wolves.

"Virtual Faith" was written by Aaron Guzikowski and directed by Luke Scott

This drama positions a war centered around religion as bringing about the destruction of Earth. It's not a battle amongst different ideologies of faith though. It's about one, all-consuming religion against the absence of religion entirely. It's Mithraic versus the atheist. Plenty of stories have been told about the battle between faith and science. Things happen that people can't always explain. It's comforting to seek refuge in the idea of something larger out there. However, this show doesn't really want to have a nuanced conversation on religion. The Mithraic are a simple stand-in for the concept. It's such a broad idea too. They pray to a god named Sol. That's basically the only true characteristic at this point. Marcus was originally positioned as an entry point into this different ideology. He landed on the settlement with a unique perspective. And then, it was revealed that he was nothing more than an imposter. He knows enough buzzwords about this faith in order to fake his way through this civilization. However, he doesn't operate from the same devout place as the other followers. It makes this a more alienating experience. The audience doesn't actually understand where the two sides are coming from in this conflict. It's more of a war built on ideas each side has about the other based on events that happened in the past. Those events are teased and shown a little bit. The Mithraic are terrified when they hear Mother's sirens. They know that they need to seek shelter after she previously destroyed their ship. They are still trying to regroup. Marcus is determined to rescue the children. He has to save Paul. He isn't his father. However, he stepped into that role while on the journey through space. The people were held in stasis during that time. And yet, their minds could still interact in a virtual world. That means everyone has a mind that is thirteen years older than their bodies. That could be a fascinating concept as perceived through the children. Mother and Father believe they are raising them for the first time. They have to fight against the beliefs that have already been given to them. But they think they can overcome that messaging with some time. In reality, the children have had much more time to learn. None of them truly seem like they are wiser beyond their years though. They still present as children. The teenagers lash out and are full of drama. The toddlers need to be cared for at all times. Campion is seen as a prophet at the center of a Mithraic prophecy. This also presents as the show being incredibly formulaic. Mythology driven shows seemingly always have some grand prophecy that entails the main character. They may not be mature enough to accept this responsibility. It's still forced upon them. Campion is told over and over that he is special. There is no meaning beyond that simple word though. He is still susceptible to attack by the mysterious new creatures. He still thinks that Mother is actually poisoning the children. He has survived. That's his cling to prominence at this point. He can navigate this world for the Mithraic children. He helps them. Meanwhile, Father argues that Mother is actually a good parent because she isn't knowingly or unknowingly killing the children in her care. That is such a low bar for success though. It means the show is a bit all over the place with the overall message it is trying to dictate. It attacks the idea of organized religion and hierarchal societies. However, it also wants empathy for those caught in the crossfire of people fueling this conflict that doesn't have to be as intense as it seemingly has to be all the time. It's a lot with no real purpose beyond keeping the narrative tense and uncertain. An answer is given as to why the children have continued to get sick on this planet. The food was radioactive. Only a certain amount of tolerance could be built up to it. Mother and Father know how to correct their actions now. They still can't inherently be trusted. Campion doesn't believe that they have feelings and can offer him any true kind of support. They are tools that serve a purpose. They have helped him survive. And now, Mother may be reverting to her original programming. She reigns over the sky destroying any threat that stands in her way. She wants to be seen as a beacon of hope when Paul is lost in the woods. However, he falls down another hole because this planet still has numerous terrifying threats. The androids have built a contained society. And yet, they don't know what all is normal on this planet. As such, threats pop up that surprise them despite the fact that they have lived here for Campion's whole life. The mystery of the creatures is still apparent with no answer just yet. Father has captured one though. That may be progress. Or it could just further signal despair that wasn't apparent before the Mithraic appeared. They aren't responsible for all that is wrong in the world. They may still be blamed for it though.