Raised by Wolves Season 2 Episode 8, “Happiness,” was truly anything but happy. (Unless we’re thinking about Grandmother’s happiness, which is something different entirely.) I knew the title would have a pretty dark connotation, but there were some major twists in this episode that I absolutely did not see coming.
This is a Raised by Wolves Season 2 Episode 8 review. As such, there will be major spoilers up through the Season 2 finale.
Writing a review about Raised by Wolves is never easy. This multi-layered, majorly confusing show requires so much thought and analysis, I know that I’m always going to end up leaving something out. But it’s also a phenomenally intriguing series, and it deserves our time. So here’s my review, and an explanation of some of those plot twists.
Did Anyone Else’s Heart Break During Snake’s Scene?
I know that snek is a bad snake. 🥺 I know we saw him decimate and kill a lot of people after he ate the Sue-Tree and evolved into a living lightning storm of anger. But when Mother donned her veil and went after him with her caretaking protocol quelled, it was the most heartbreaking of scenes.
I couldn’t help but remember the good snake we used to know, who just had some jealousy of Campion but that was about it. The one who was “framed” by the acid people and hadn’t killed anyone. But now, all of that is over. He followed Mother’s lullaby into space and when he tried to cuddle with her, she killed him. He fell to the Earth and was still alive as she dug into his eye and dealt the final blow.
It hurt me to watch that scene. I imagine somewhere in a more subdued part of her programming, it still hurt Mother to do it. You could see it when her veil briefly shined red. In fact, I think her original reluctance to return the veil to Grandmother was simply because she did not want to face those emotions. And Father offered to help her do it (which was the sweetest thing ever — Father is my favorite.) But she turned him down, so instead he offered to help Grandmother deal with her emotions later.
This show is pretty brilliant in how it can lead me to feeling real sadness and sympathy for characters that were murderous villains just one week earlier. Vrille falls into this category too, as does Mother. For a sci-fi show that goes off the rails in some pretty dramatic ways sometimes (but in good dramatic ways), the tug it has on my heartstrings is quite brilliant.
Grandmother Has a Dark Twist on Saving Humanity
Grandmother is an intriguing character. Many viewers had predicted that her version of saving humanity would be twisted, and WOW. It really was.
As she explained to Mother near the end of the episode, she decided that devolving humans was the best way to preserve humanity. They are happier with less anxiety and knowledge (or so she claims), and once they entered the ocean, the Entity quit trying to chase them down and went back to sleep. She’s very much a “tree of life” kind of gal. (While Father is decidedly on the side of taking a bite out of the “tree of knowledge.”)
Grandmother is an earlier android model that’s about a million years old, but surprisingly still quite similar to Mother and Father (except for very different eyes that I assume represent how an early evolution of humanity appeared.) Her technology is similar to Mother and Father’s, but also more advanced in some important ways. She also carries with her immense knowledge of history that Mother and Father were not programmed with.
I was a bit annoyed that no one tried to ask Grandmother more questions. Of course, we know now that she would have lied or told half-truths, so they wouldn’t have learned anything trustworthy.
Grandmother’s quite good at deception. Mother needed to wear the veil to defeat Baby Snake, but the veil is also the very thing that prevented her from stopping Grandmother’s devolution plan. She was playing 5D chess while everyone else was playing checkers.
While Grandmother’s intentions were pretty much spelled out in the finale, there are still a lot of questions about who she’s working with. She was built by the Technocrats as a way to preserve humanity. She figured out a workaround they would not have approved of. But her workaround is also at odds with the Entity that she says is trying to kill humanity. We assume that entity is Sol, whose signal was once muffled by the EMF shield around the Tropical Zone. So who built the Entity, if it wasn’t the Technocrats? Or did they build it but it went rogue, much like Grandmother later did?
What makes everything more confusing is that same EMF shield that protected the Tropical Zone from the Entity was later taken down when Mother used Grandmother’s veil tech to kill the snake. So Grandmother kind of helped the Entity, while later providing new tech to try to fix the very signal problem that she started. (My head hurts.)
But wait, there’s more!
We also know that Mother was built based on blueprints sent to Earth from Kepler 22-B. However, we have to assume those blueprints did not come from the Technocrats, because Grandmother wasn’t aware of some of modifications that Mother and Father had. The last thing Grandmother remembered, she had devolved humanity to keep it happy and safe from the Entity, and all of humanity went into the sea.
So it appears that while Grandmother was powered down, a bunch of other things happened that led to a later group of humans (or androids) sending blueprints to Earth. We also saw some cave paintings last season that seemed to tell the story of two androids from Kepler going to Earth with a bunch of embryos, just like Mother and Father did later but in reverse. So I think there could be more than one AI entity at play on Kepler 22-B at this point, and Grandmother isn’t aware of the entire story.
Believe me, I know this is confusing. If you have to reread this section, I wouldn’t blame you!
Vrille’s Diary Will Likely Come Into Play Later
Paul was super dismissive of Vrille’s diary and said it was just about Earth stuff. But I feel like that’s a small clue that’s going to play out in a bigger way in Season 3 somehow. We know that Vrille’s diary included a mention of how her mother had destroyed the Earth for profit. And we also know Grandmother said the snakes had destroyed the Earth, but no one can figure out why.
I can’t help but think there will be some kind of parallel history coming into play later. But heck, it’s really hard to predict this show. I didn’t predict a snake eating a tree or this week’s crazy ending. Speaking of…
What Happened to Marcus?
Can you even believe the photo embedded above this sentence? That is not happiness, Raised by Wolves!
Once the EMF shielding around the Tropical Zone was down (they ate the fruit of the tree and were kicked out of paradise), the signal was able to start communicating again. (Can we just pause for a moment and note that Sue heard Sol talking to her despite the EMF shielding still being up? How did it get through? Or was that a different entity?)
But back to Marcus… The first thing the signal did was take over Lucius, an easy target, and tell him to attach Marcus to the Baby Snake Tree and let him die. More specifically, nail him upside down to the tree (so all the blood rushes to his head), put a relic shield on his head, and wait for him to die. All very in line with Mithraic teaching.
I think it’s pretty clear that some nanobots from the tree (or something similar) entered Marcus and rushed to his head, taking him over after he died. Perhaps the relic face shield amplified Sol’s signal. However the technicalities work, Marcus is now floating upside down like a weird, twisted Necromancer. I don’t know what that means, except maybe Marcus is going to be some kind of tool of the Entity to fight Grandmother… Or even Mother.
But for now, Mother is in a stasis chamber, forced into a virtual reality monastery (according to the behind-the-scenes video), alone with her own thoughts. She’s going to come out of this different when she’s eventually freed, but just how different? I’m getting some Black Mirror vibes here.
Is Father the Key?
Grandmother’s devolution plan is working fast. The baby already started devolving, and Campion is noticing his hand changing. The source of it all isn’t clear. It could be from the game tech she created or the algae in the sea that can be used as food. It works slower than the nanobots in the tooth, but the tech is likely quite similar. What we can hypothesize is that the fruit of the tree is likely not the source of their devolving. The fruit originated from the Entity that she’s working against.
Father, meanwhile, is working right by Grandmother’s side. It’s just a matter of time before he realizes that something’s happening to his children.
I think Grandmother is underestimating Father. He will eventually see through her. He has some untapped strengths the show keeps hinting at, but hasn’t yet revealed. I think we’re going to be surprised by what we learn about Father in Season 3.