[Editor’s note: Spoilers for the Raised by Wolves Season 1 finale follow below.]
If you just finished watching the Raised by Wolves finale, you surely have, uh, some questions. The HBO Max original sci-fi series premiered in September to solid reviews for the show’s striking visuals (thanks to director Ridley Scott) and bold storytelling, and as the season went on it became clear that this was a sci-fi series that was not interested in getting less weird. Indeed, “strange” is perhaps the most apt descriptor for Raised by Wolves, but in the best way. This is a story about two androids raising young humans on a foreign planet in order to reboot the human race; it’s a story about the consequences of conflicting religious ideals; and it’s a story about an android having sex with a ghost in a machine and giving birth to a snake baby.
Raised by Wolves Episode 10, titled “The Beginning,” wraps up the first season of the HBO Max series in intriguing and shocking ways, covering a lot ground in a short amount of time. And while the streaming service has already renewed the series for a second season, you may still have questions about what, exactly, happened at the end of that finale. Luckily, Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke extensively with showrunner Aaron Guzikowski about Season 1 (and Season 2), and during the course of their interview he pulled back the curtain on some of the finale’s biggest mysteries.
But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s recap what actually happened during that Raised by Wolves ending. The finale is primarily focused on Mother (Amanda Collin) preparing to give birth to the baby inside her, who she believes was put there by her creator while interfacing with the crashed Mithraic ship’s AR program. “When I accessed [the archived memories] I triggered something that allowed me to interact with our creator,” Mother tells Father (Abubakar Salim) in the finale. “And while we did information was downloaded into my drives, instructions for how to build a new kind of being. It was as if my sensors began to multiply and my programming seemed almost infinite.”
Indeed, during this “interface” you’ll recall that the creator told Mother that her new child is the mission, and the human children were merely “practice” for her and Father’s parenting skills. Which is an interesting twist! And then we get to, you know, the birthing scene.
Bringing to mind Ridley Scott’s own iconic Alien chestburster scene, later in the finale Mother finally gives birth to the child inside her only to learn it’s not a human at all. It’s a snake-like lamprey figure that has the ability to fly through the air as if swimming in an ocean – a mix of organic and tech material that spews out of Mother’s mouth with disturbing urgency, reveals a mouth full of sharp teeth, and then begins suckling on Mother’s belly.
Clearly horrified, Mother realizes she’s been had. It wasn’t her creator who she was interfacing with in the AR space. “Something else put this inside me,“ Mother tells Father when they’re later reunited and the Snake Baby is still attached to her belly. “As long as it’s suckling, we’re safe. But it grows and I fear that once it has drained me from my milk, it will want blood.”
Mother and Father then decide to hop into the lander and drive it straight to the center of the planet, where they hop to destroy the creature before it can cause harm to the others. A funny thing happens once they reach the center of the planet, however. They appear to perish, but then are spat out the other end and revived, surfacing in the Tropical Zone the characters have been discussing all season. The last we see of the characters is Mother and Father jumping out of the lander before it crashes, and the Snake Baby – now having grown exponentially in size – exploding out of the vehicle and slithering away.
And that’s how Raised by Wolves Season 1 ends. Not with a whimper, but with an Android Snake Baby growing into a monster and slithering into the air on a mysterious planet. But it’s also kind of a heartbreaking ending, as we’ve seen Mother evolve over the course of the first season from a robot originally created for destruction to an over-protective maternal figure trying to save her children. Only to discover she’s now the mother to something that could destroy them all. Her destructive original programming comes back to haunt her.
You may have noticed that Mother’s baby bears a striking resemblance to the giant skeleton she and the children find towards the beginning of the season, and during our interview Guzikowski said that’s no accident:
“It is that [same] breed of a snake with some differences. It’s a hybrid version of that. Yes, there is definitely a connection there. It’s definitely… DNA is in common. But there is a little bit of a difference, because this one comes from Mother, so it has some attributes that some of the snakes that originally existed on the planet do not.”
Guzikowski here confirms that these snakes originally existed on this planet, and whatever impregnated Mother may be interested in seeing that specific species return.
As for who is responsible for impregnating Mother in the first place, Guzikowski was understandably tight-lipped, but he did go into detail on how it happened:
“I can’t say who. I can say how. I think she was digitally impregnated while she was inside of the simulation. So being that she is as advanced as she is, just by getting basically the instructions for how to build something inside of herself, it’s like a 3D printer. And if she can get the materials — in this case, one of the materials is plasma, human blood — to build this thing, it can be done in a very different way than a human being would create a baby. She could kind of create anything inside of herself if given the proper instructions and given the right materials.”
Right before Mother gives birth to her child, we see flashbacks to an earlier period on the planet where some sort of creature is being held inside a box and is leaking android fluid out of its nose. Guzikowski illuminated what that meant, and how it was foreshadowing what was about to happen to Mother:
“Basically, when she has that dream and she sees that thing and that weird kind of helmet robot head thing, and the fuel blood starts gushing out of the front of it, kind of the nozzle on the front, what that is, there is actually an android inside of that. It’s sort of like a birthing prison sort of thing. So their body’s inside the pentagonal bottom half. The top piece is a helmet that goes over the android, and the android then births a circuit out the nozzle. So, that’s essentially what that is. That’s kind of what you’re seeing, this kind of foreshadowing of what’s about to happen to her, but she can’t quite put it together until the very last moment when it’s too late.”
One of the major mysteries throughout this first season has been the planet itself. We learn in the finale that humans have existed here before, and Paul discovers cave drawings that appear to depict events that happened when Mother and Father first arrived, except they were drawn well before that. Guzikowski hints there’s much more to be revealed:
“This is not a virgin planet as we’re coming to discover. There was a civilization here. And here we’re seeing imagery that does suggest on some level that something that we know to have happened 13 years ago, here we see depicted on a cave a drawing that was made several hundred thousand years ago. And how can that be? So I think that’s sort of the question that’s being presented there, but I can’t answer it.”
We also learn in the finale that the humans that existed on Kepler-22b before have begun devolving, and those creatures that were attacking the camp are actually devolved humans. Guzikowski offered up some tantalizing teases regarding the history of this planet, and how it may have even been the birthplace of humanity before they migrated to Earth:
“I think one of the things we’ve learned is these creatures used to be human beings. And one might even imagine, for all we know, that maybe human beings evolved here first. We don’t know. So there is definitely a strong connection with this place in humanity as we’ve come to understand it. But you know, the idea here, too, is that for some reason something has caused these human beings to kind of turn around and start going the other direction, devolving. But the question is why? Why would that happen? What purpose would that serve? Or what is that? We don’t know. But we do know that that’s exactly what it was. This planet was populated by human beings, and for some reason they’ve all devolved into these more animalistic versions of ourselves. These kind of walking around on all fours creatures, very animalistic, completely devoid of all the things that today we herald as making humans, humans.”
It’s also important to remember that this planet was selected in the first place by the Mithraic based on their scriptures, which not only prophesized a new beginning, but contained the blueprints to build Necromancers as well as the coordinates to Kepler-22b. Almost as if something was calling them there. That connection is not an accident, Guzikowski says:
“We lay out in Season 1 sort of this kind of mystery in terms of where did this technology [for the Necromancers] come from? The Mithraic discovered that encrypted in their scriptures were these blueprints, essentially, these designs for various technologies, which they proceeded to build and then use to basically win the war [against the Atheists], but they also forced the end of the world in the process. So that we do know. We also know that there seems to be a connection between some of that technology and what we have found so far on Kepler-22b.”
Speaking of the planet, there’s also the whole “flying through the center only to come out the other end” thing that happens to Mother, Father, and Snake Baby in the lander. Guzikowski remained pretty tight-lipped except to say that this planet has attributes that are very different from Earth:
“You can look at the supernatural possibilities and then you can look at other things that could be at play here that would make that possible. Because we’re saying, ‘Okay, this is a planet, but what do we know about planets?’ And we’re applying all of that to this planet. But this planet is very, very far away from this one and may have attributes that our planet does not, despite the fact that it’s a Goldilocks planet and on the surface, it does seem to have a lot in common with Earth.”
The showrunner went on to describe Kepler-22b as a “haunted house” kind of planet, alluding to many more mysteries hidden within:
“But that’s on the outside. Like I’ve said, this planet is kind of like a haunted house, and it’s got a whole ton of secrets. A whole lot that goes along with it that the people who just moved in aren’t really aware of yet. So I think that would speak to the what happens here? This idea that they have passed through, shot out the other side. But again, I would say that this is not like Earth in the sense that taking a trip through the middle of it is a patently impossible.”
So what about the Tropical Zone then? We know that something there prevents ships from landing directly on it, but we also know it’s ultimately where everyone is trying to go – and it’s now inhabited by Mother, Father, and Snake Baby/Monster:
“We know that this is sort of the most bountiful place on the planet, so everyone believes. This is where it seems like whoever is able to plant their flag and really stake their claim to the tropical zone may become the dominant force on this planet forever kind of thing. It’s like that book Guns, Germs, and Steel about Earth and the idea of where people, just by chance, end up evolving on our planet geographically and what they have there, what materials, and weather, and all of these things that kind of come into play, then thousands of years later, they ended up dominating the planet because of it.
And you know, these folks coming to Kepler know that quite well, so they’re trying to stake their claim to the tropical zone. Though of course, tropical zone also has this other weird attribute, which is the electromagnetic field that prevents anyone from landing directly in the tropical zone, which also plays into questions about different sides of the planet and the voice and things like that, and how these things might interact with each other.”
One big game-changer that occurs at the end of the finale is the arrival of a new ship of Atheists, who confront Travis Fimmel’s Marcus (who is now fully convinced he’s fulfilling the prophecy of Sol). Guzikowski revealed in our interview that the ship actually belongs to the Mithraics, but the Atheists stole it, noting “It was hijacked while it was construction on Earth, so the people aboard the ship are in fact Atheists but in terms of the technology, it’s more Mithraic stuff.”
Guzikowski is already well into working on the story for Raised by Wolves Season 2, which has already been ordered by HBO Max. But the showrunner teased that the second season will change locations pretty significantly. He also revealed that for the show as a whole, he not only knows how it ends but how long it’ll take to get there:
“If I was forced to truncate that arc, it could be truncated. But hopefully it’s a good long five, six-season arc for the whole thing in terms of the map that exists now.”
As long as the show remains weird as heck throughout, I’ll be watching.
Click here to see what Guzikowski said about what fans can expect from Season 2, and look for our full interview on Collider soon.