Upon first glance, I thought the show were a modern retelling of the fairytale The 3 Little Piggies…
Not inaccurate, but oversimplified. The best ideas are. Raised by Wolves manages to gather all the ideas creator/ director Ridley Scott has developed through his entire career. Alien, Blade Runner, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Gladiator, American Gangster, Prometheus, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Martian, Alien: Covenant, even All the Money in the World bits of their ideas are all there. The show manages to crystalize them into a single story. The result provides a lot of storytelling meat and is a rich embodiment of all Scott’s strengths and weaknesses with one crucial game-changing difference: Television.
While most of Scott’s projects are an embryo of big ideas with a cocoon of philosophy surrounding them the television landscape allows them to change by growing and hopefully… eventually becoming fully-formed. The series concerns two androids who crash land (is there any other way?) on the last known habitable planet for humans in attempt to raise a colony in Athiesm. Concordantly, two athiest bandits who masquerade among a religious cult find themselves on a quest to recover the same group of children raised from said androids. Eventually they collide.
The raison d’etre that allows the show to rise above typically high priced productions like Brave New World is writer and creator Aaron Guzikowski. Scott directs the first two episodes, with his son Luke directing three and a mix covering the rest. Guzikowski writes the first five (out of 10). He is primarily known for writing the rather excellent Prisoners. I also didn’t mind his written remake of Papillon. In his writing you can definitely pick up on the themes of parenthood and brotherhood. He teaming with Scott and the opportunity provided by the newly launched HBO Max hint that this show could become the most fully realized original sci-fi idea in years.
There are rough edges. The pacing is sluggish. The acting is inconsistent. But if you let your guard down the show might surprise you with unexpected heart. Though Scott can be cold and remote his influence does extend to the characters. The show manages to draw out a few interesting performances despite their unevenness. Travis Fimmel is the most recognizeable star in what could be his definitive role. As a religious imposter on such a visually and tonally dark show he finds a way to bring a few humourous gracenotes with help from his sparring partner played by Niamh Algar.
There’s also a solid foundation for strong a.k.a. multi-dimensional female characters here. Ridley has always been a force behind both masculine projects; Blade Runner, Gladiator and American Gangster and feminine projects like Alien, Thelma and Louise, and G.I. Jane. And the relationship between the Mother and Father character played by Amanda Collin (typically androgynous for a female Scott protagonist) and Abubakar Salim is the shows most interesting dynamic.
Overall Wolves has a lot of places to go and despite its strange upbringing; it was greenlit at TNT before being placed on the confusingly branded HBO Max, (similarly it airs in Canada on CTV Sci-Fi channel formerly called Space) it offers a lot of potentially interesting territory to explore.