Thursday, February 10, 2022

REVIEW: 'Raised by Wolves' - Mother Hunts Down the Serpent While Father Fights with Marcus in 'Good Creatures'

HBO Max's Raised by Wolves - Episode 2.03 "Good Creatures"

Upon learning that the serpent is nonviolent, Mother fiercely protects it, while Father busies himself with the regeneration of a new android. Endowed with mysterious new powers, Marcus grows his congregation.

"Good Creatures" was written by Julian Meiojas and directed by Sunu Gonera

Android programming is an idea basically used as a catch-all to explain any sudden change in a character's actions. It can be jarring for the audience as things can shift in an instant. It makes it more difficult to feel as if each character journey is developing as a gradual thing. It comes across more as the plot dictating thrills as necessary to happen and then running into the consequence of not letting anything too dramatic happen too soon. Mother is determined to kill Seven. It's her mission for the first half of this episode. She runs into Father as the whole Collective is given the task of hunting down the creature. They don't want each other to take any unnecessary risks. However, they are the ones aware of the true nature of this beast. They know where it came from. They tried to kill it once. They failed in that mission. They won't do so again. They are determined to make that true. And then, Mother brings it back to the Collective upon realizing Seven is a herbivore. When she is physically interacting with Seven, her programming compels different instincts within her. She is determined on one path. She was marching towards death. She could climb the summit to that fateful confrontation when the humans could not. She is the only entity on the planet who can handle this mission. And then, the story suddenly shifts. Mother cannot kill her child. That's a dramatic change. One informed by her simply saying it's a result of her programming. That's such a lame and lackluster explanation. One that doesn't reward the audience for being invested in this conflict. Instead, it's just bringing a renewed sense of danger back to the proceedings. Mother believes she knows best. Plenty of people fear her and her decisions. She wants to be perceived as powerless because she doesn't have the eyes that make her a dangerous Necromancer. She is still capable of incredible feats. All of this plays out as Father is beaten in a fight by Marcus. That too is inexplicable. Even the children question how it could have possibly happened. The narrative seems to suggest that Marcus is gaining newfound strength that places him on par with Mother and Father. His faith is rewarding him. As such, his flock is growing and he has allies to warn him before the Trust mounts an attack against them. It requires the audience to be trusting of the storytelling. Marcus has to be charismatic enough to survive all of his brushes with death. He then has to emerge stronger. In doing so, he has to knock down the sense of security present within other characters.

Father feels disposable and less than simply because he cannot provide for life in the same way Mother can. He becomes attached to rebuilding an android skeleton that originated on the planet. In doing so, he realizes his life blood actually builds on this entity as well. And so, he is left with a mission to collect more of it. He too can bring life into this world. That's not exactly seen as a positive regarding Mother and her most recent offspring. Seven is still presented as a threat that lords over this community especially if Mother's truth is ever exposed. Mary is starting to piece together what's going on already. But that doesn't matter much because Father also needs a confidence boost in winning a fight with another android. He does so to obtain a valuable resource. He won't allow Hunter to trade away anything of value. He prevails and earns adoration from a cheering crowd. That validation is something he has always wanted. And now, he has achieved it from what seems far away from his natural programming. This journey has the potential to be interesting and compelling. He doesn't question the wisdom of the Trust. He worries for Mother and their children. But his purpose shouldn't be seen as a clear-cut endeavor. It has to evolve over time as well. Campion is comforted by the idea of Father always existing and looking after the children of this new settlement. Mother and Father believe they have to prepare humanity for life without them. The narrative doesn't fall victim to that eventuality though. They remain the power players dictating the choices available to everyone else. They control all even when characters are seemingly given the illusion of free will and choice. Those ideas don't seem to exist in this world despite people putting on a cheerful disposition and talking up some profound concepts. That makes everything ring just a little hollow. That's also an explicit point because it highlights how empty the things humans ascribe value to can ultimately be. And then, weirdness creeps in to keep the audience entertained just enough to keep watching.