Max Originals: Raised By Wolves - S01 E01 - Reviewed

Ridley Scott is back, working feverishly in his favorite, chosen genre with the new futuristic science fiction series, Raised By WolvesAnd damn, he’s back in fine form with a show that will have followers of hard sci-fi asking for more. 

Looking to reboot humanity after a cataclysmic event, children are transported to a virgin planet that they hope to populate under the lead of a pair of soulless androids. Delivering on consistent themes of humanity’s end, religious warfare, and a script shrouded in mystery, Scott shoots for the stars with a story that’s never derivative but wholly original. Armed with a massive HBO sized budget, Westworld better take notice. There's something so fresh about Raised By Wolves, that it may change the landscape for years to come. The visuals are absolutely stunning, the acting is strangely muted, and the build up (you can feel) is leading to something massive. 

After a nearly disastrous return to his Alien franchise with two mediocre entries, the director attempts to make a hard left turn back into the sci-fi based core that defined much of his early career. Centering on two robotic beings that have set forth into the universe to start a new civilization of humans, Scott once again finds himself digging deep to find the meaning of life in a series that promises to push the envelope by redefining modern televised sci-fi. By moving to the television format, he shows us that his oft criticized sequels may have been better suited as a longer, more episodic streaming event series. All the visual markers are here and they’re fully recognizable, but Ridley seems free of his past mythology as he strikes forward with something newer and more challenging. 

The first chapter of Raised By Wolves immediately calls back to Prometheus with long, cold but calculated, steady shots of an interstellar ship making its landing on an uncharted planet. Setting the tone immediately is a steady and mildly dramatic score that also has us feeling the Scott aesthetic in its purist form. There’s some of that same metallic flatness that made the later Alien films feel so futuristic but also highly sterile. Showing off his feelings towards religion and its underpinnings, we’re immediately pulled into a story of new life that’s already hinging on death, even as it’s just created. Tones of positivity are immediately shifted to doomed mortality among the stars as the search to build a civilization comes at the cost of lives, both human and synthetic. 

The only thing that may prevent the show from gaining a loyal base may be the pacing. The first episode is a slow burn that lacks much momentum. It takes a long time to finally give some semblance of plot, but does expose the incoming conflict that will see zealots and non-believers do mortal combat. When the explosive third act hits, we're sucked right back 1979 as our central female character unleashes her freakish strength on the god fearing men that seek to harm her settlement of children.  

We just hope that this doesn’t become a overtly repetitive like so many genre shows these days. Episode one has some excellent framing for a series unlike anything we've seen from Scott and his crew in years. This one makes the HBO Max subscription totally worth the cost. And if you're looking forward to Dune, this one will definitely serve as a delicious appetizer.