‘Raised by Wolves’ is a science-fiction revelation. The HBO Max series is prestige television at its best; it features intricate world-building, mythological lore, and, to put it crudely, killer robots. In ‘Raised by Wolves’, after cataclysmic war renders the earth inhabitable, two androids endearingly termed Mother and Father descend on the planet Kepler 22-b to give new life to humanity, and raise a band of human children as atheists. We soon learn that Mother is not merely an android designed to serve; she’s also programmed to protect. She’s a Necromancer. ‘Raised by Wolves’ does no thematic spoon-feeding and leaves viewers to unpack the nature of a Necromancer themselves. Here, we decipher the essence of a Necromancer for you.
The Mithraic Necromancers
We learn that the enmity between the religious Mithraic and atheists escalates into full-blown war – a war that the Mithraic eventually win. We then discover what gave the Mithraic an edge over the atheists: Necromancers. Necromancers are, put simply, Mithraic-engineered weapons of mass destruction. What can the Necromancers do? It would be easier to ask ‘what can’t the Necromancers do?’ The answer is singular: be warm and nurturing. (ironically, that is precisely what Mother is reprogrammed to become).
But originally Mother’s, and the rest of the Necromancers’ most potent skill was this: with a piercing shriek, obliterate everything in sight (and by obliterate, we mean, literally turn to dust and bones). In a Christ-like pose, the Necromancers would don a suit of armor, fly, and wage war over atheistic territory.
Necromancers derive their core strength from their eyes; without them, they’re rendered powerless. For humans, even staring into the eyes of a Necromancer can prove fatal. As many would recall, this is why Mother fashions make-shift eyes for use around the children.
Mother, the Necromancer
Mother is the brain-child of hacker Campion Sturges, who rebelled against his Mithraic roots in favor of his atheistic ideals. She started out like other Mithraic Necromancers did, meting out destruction to anyone who dares cross the Mithraic religion. But Campion Sturges, with technological marvel, reprograms Mother. Much like Campion Sturges, Mother, too, evolves from being the Mithraic’s weapon of choice to weaponizing her prowess against them and for the cause of atheism. Campion slowly but surely reprograms Mother’s murderous intent towards atheists into just the opposite.
Mother transforms from a lethal weapon that is triggered at just the utterance of the word ‘atheist’ to a loving, nurturing caregiver who would lay down her life for her atheistic wards. Yet, Campion ensures that Mother retains her Necromancer abilities to thwart any threats she, Father, and the children might face and preserve the future of humanity on Kepler 22-b.
But Mother is so evolved an android that her capabilities almost supersede that of the average Necromancer. In the sixth episode of the series, ‘Lost Paradise’, Mother’s potential is put to the test. As she lies unconscious in the ‘sim’, the Mithraic handicap her ability to move. This poses little to no challenge for Mother who, as the Mithraic astonishingly discover, can move things with her mind. Mother telekinetically eliminates the Mithraic threat.
‘Necromancers’ in Science Fiction
Science fiction would be bereft of ingenuity if it didn’t feature androids and robots devised to kill. Mother’s overarching design and functioning in ‘Raised by Wolves’ pay homage to several such precursory sci-fi films and television series. Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, widely considered to be the pioneering film in science fiction, features one such ‘Maschinenmensch’ – machine-person in English – who incites murder and helps destruction and chaos run rampant within the metropolis. Mother’s Necromancer visage, build, and golden-bronze hue seems, in fact, to be heavily modeled after that of the Maschinenmensch’s.
Yet another sci-fi classic, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ depicts Gort, a deterrent robot who is programmed to inflict violence on humans in order to prevent a catastrophic inter-galactic war. On Gort’s capabilities, science-fiction historians Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell said, “This paradox is one of many that typify the film — the threat of unimaginable violence as a means to prevent war” In ‘Raised by Wolves’, too, Campion Sturges designs Mother to be a harbinger of peace to the settlement and her tribe of children, even if comes at the cost of destruction of several Mithraic lives.
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