‘Raised by Wolves’ was recently renewed by HBO Max for a second season, and deservedly so. The show has delivered an action-packed first season, replete with dynamic storytelling, multi-dimensional characters, and morally ambiguous conundrums. But series creator Aaron Guzikowski revealed that he still has five season’s worth of concepts ready to unpack – so fans looking for answers and closure may still have to wait a while. For now, the series has released its penultimate set of episodes – episode 8, ‘Mass’ and episode 9, ‘Umbilical’, ahead of its highly anticipated finale on October 1st, 2020.
Raised by Wolves Episode 8, ‘Mass’: Recap
In ‘Mass’, Marcus slowly but surely loses his grip on reality and becomes a shell of his former self. In a dream sequence, he rips into the flesh of his face, as if tearing off an invisible mask affixed to it. He begins to sink into a religious stupor bordering on fanatic. Erratic and paranoid, he also starts to lash out at Sue and Paul. Paul has secretly been ferrying food to Campion while keeping his parents in the dark. When the Mithraic leader catches wind of this, he prohibits Paul from making contact with the imprisoned Campion. He also compels Sue to accept and welcome Sol into her life. Sue and Paul, in secret, plot their escape from the volatile leader. Paul expresses his desire to take Campion along on their mission.
Meanwhile, Mother is facing an identity crisis of her own. In true human fashion, she seems to have contracted an ailment: a growing discomfort in her belly. To repair herself, she rummages through the Ark wreckage and finds a proverbial diamond among stones – an android trained in medical relief. The Med-Bot reaches a strange diagnosis after examining her – she may have a silicone tumor growing inside of her. Mother grows increasingly unsettled by the ‘tumor’.
Raised by Wolves Episode 8, ‘Mass’: Ending Explained
Campion, with assistance from Paul, burrows his way out of the silo and to his freedom. He sets the church ablaze as he leaves the settlement and Marcus, in his religious stupor, misinterprets this as a sign from Sol. Father catches sight of a scurrying Campion and follows in hot pursuit. Sue, Paul, and the rest of the children also make their escape from the settlement. After a failed attempt at flying the escape pod to the tropical zone, the group undertakes the journey by foot. Along the way, they encounter Campion, who has fled an ax-brandishing Father to meet them there. The group takes off into the night – which is, to quote GOT, dark and full of unknown terrors.
Not unlike Marcus, Mother loses her sense of rationale and becomes increasingly erratic. She develops a carnal appetite for blood (not the white milky kind) and has a seizure after attempting to transplant blood from a slain creature into herself. She screeches a concerned Tempest away, so as not to endanger the young girl and her unborn child. The show seems to make a pointed effort to show the frailty of the human race – the closer and closer Mother gets to human, the more irrational and barmy her wants and needs become.
Mother, like us, spends the latter half of the episode fervently searching for answers. Finally, the wreckage of the Ark yields yet another life-saving find – Mother gets her hands on another simulation pod. In the ‘sim’, Mother meets her maker, Campion Sturges, again and, in what is possibly the most crucial juncture of the season, learns of her real mission: to bear a hybrid android-human child born out of her and Campion Sturges’ passionate lovemaking. The ‘tumor’ growing inside of her is no tumor after all; it’s an embryo of sorts. Her surrogate parenting of the children was a trial run to prepare her for the mammoth, epoch-making task of raising a practically new breed of humans. For the first time, Mother reacts with hostility to her role as caregiver.
What should we make of Marcus’ descent into madness?
Marcus’ descent into madness is prolonged and tedious. He is trapped in a vicious cycle – his delusions give impetus to the unnatural phenomena he thinks he sees. In turn, the ‘supernatural phenomena’ – the voices in his head and the morbid visions – feed into his delusional beliefs. He begins to consider such phenomena to be manifestations of Sol. This leads to Marcus developing a savior complex, which is a belief that the survival of the human race rests on his shoulders. He is under the assumption that Sol speaks to him and through him because he is the orphan child the Pentagonal prophecy so speaks of; keeping with the Prophecy, he will go on to found a civilization on Kepler 22-b.
What are the implications of Mother’s pregnancy?
All along, Mother has served as a surrogate parent to the children of the settlement, yet she nurtured them like her own. Her pregnancy now poses several questions, whose answers could make or break civilization on Kepler 22-b. Will her maternal instincts toward her own child overpower her caregiving impulses toward her adoptive children – and to what extent? Is her unborn child, and not Marcus, the prophet destined to build the tenets of civilization on Kepler 22-b? Is Campion also born out of some sort of union between Campion Sturgess and Mother? The latter theory would finally make lucid why Campion, deemed special from birth, survived where none of his siblings did. At the very end of episode 1, in a narration sequence (which has since disappeared from the show), Campion says, “That part of [Mother] was always in there, hiding. Maybe there’s something inside of me too”, implying that he, too, bears some of Mother’s traits. Whether this happens by nature or nurture is the million-dollar question.
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