Thursday 24 March 2022

Streaming on Foxtel Binge - Rod Bishop recommends the 'fast-moving, quite bonkers' RAISED BY WOLVES, Season 2 (Aaron Guzikowski, USA, 2022)

“Bonkers” is the most apt description for this Ridley Scott led TV series, now back for a second season. Like the first, his production company Scott Free has ensured everyone has plenty to spend on creating this sci-fi world.

Season One  (click here for earlier thoughts) listed close to 400 eager beavers working on special effects and we were introduced to the mysterious Mithraic religion and its battle against The Atheists for control of the Earth during the 22ndCentury.

 Actually, this bit isn’t as bonkers as it sounds. Mithraism was a real religion, popular among Roman centurions and slaves between the 1stand 4thCenturies CE. 

Known as Mithraeum, remains of their temples have been found across the Roman Empire in Italy (9), Germany (17), France (6), the UK (4), Israel (2), Spain (3), Syria (2), Hungary (3), Romania (2), Bosnia (2), Belgium (1) and Switzerland (1).

An offshoot of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, Mithraism lost popularity to the rise of Christianity. 

Martin Luther King Jr in his “A Study of Mithraism” (1949) points out the similarities between the two religions at the time of the Roman Empire – rebirth, sacramental rites, ethical behaviour, immortality and mediators between God and man.

Some believe had Christianity not risen in the Western world when it did, the popularity of Mithraism might well have made it the dominant religion of the Western world. 

In Raised by Wolves, there’s no suggestion Christianity ever existed. Rather Mithraism survived, thrived and dominated world religion into the 22ndCentury.

The Atheists have been at war with the Mithraics for god knows how long and the Earth is ravaged. The Atheists send a couple of robot parents and some human children to the Keplar 22b planet to start a new world free of religion. Not to be outdone, the Mithraics send their own space craft to 22b, packed with believer settlers and unsurprisingly, the war between the two continues.

By the time Season Two starts, the robot parent known as “Mother” has mated with a computer simulation and given birth - not to a human child as planned - but to a gigantic serpent the size of a Western Australian iron ore train. As the plot beds down, it concentrates on what it’s like to be robot parents to a brood of unruly children in an extraterrestrial landscape populated by boab trees (that seem to have mated with the Michelin Man); oceans so acidic you die and melt in minutes; and a rampaging Mithraic terrorist trying to assemble a congregation of believers.

Mother sets out to destroy the serpent, but having given birth to it, she can’t overcome her ‘care-giving’ programming and her emotions. Father, meanwhile has assembled some old relics and brought an ancient robot back to life. She too, quickly becomes all broody over the kids, exhibiting more artificial intelligence emotions.

So, despite his sole credit as an executive producer on Season Two - Ridley Scott has, after all, been off making The Last Duel and The House of Gucci – his decades long fascination with artificial intelligence and its intersection with homo sapiens is all over Raised by Wolves.

If a fast-moving, quite bonkers sci-fi series made on a decent budget is your thing, then give it a go. But remember, despite the new family emotions Mother robot is feeling, when she pops her eyes out, she transforms into a necromancer. And like Series One, she becomes terrifying and vengeful and still a whole lot of trouble.  


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