'Raised by Wolves': Mother and Father's relationship issues are a strangely familiar suburban nightmare
Spoilers for 'Raised by Wolves' Episodes 1-3
Though 'Raised by Wolves' starts off as a dystopic tale about religious fundamentalism and a violently dangerous android slowly losing her mind, by the third episode of the series, it has become something much more than just that. At the heart of this story is what makes a family, and there are no better people to be able to tell that story than a pair of androids, who are coming into parenting from an outside perspective.
To be fair to Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), all new parents can feel like they're coming into it from an outside perspective. It doesn't matter what advice or aid the rest of their family gives them, or how much time they may have spent babysitting nieces, nephews or other people's kids, parenting is always a brand new adventure, it always is an uphill struggle, and it most certainly always puts a strain on a relationship.
While Mother and Father aren't a romantic pair who chose to be together, they're a couple due to societal pressure - that is, if they don't work through things, it's the end of human society and existence, period. There is a lot of pressure on young people to settle down, raise a family, and the enormity of that can feel like the end of the world - the fact that this is literal for the androids doesn't make it any less of a familiar situation. Mother and Father are trying to raise a family, and it's not going as well as they hoped it would.
Ask any adult working through their childhood issues with their therapist - no parent is perfect, not even ones who have devoted themselves completely to raising their family. The androids are about as devoted as they can get - their core function is to raise this family, keep them safe, and start a new society from it. However, it's not long before the cracks begin to show, revealing Mother and Father to be more human than even they realize.
Mother has just come into possession of new powers she never knew she had. It's not dissimilar to a lifelong housewife finding independence through a new job in terms of just how much it's shifted the dynamics at home - especially considering the relatively powerless nature of Father, who lack of flight makes him the ideal candidate to be a stay-at-home dad. That's not to say that stay-at-home dads are powerless, or less important, but Father obviously has trouble seeing the value of being the emotional anchor to his son Campion (Winta McGrath) and teaching Campion to think for himself. Financial independence is power, actual power is power, and Father has neither - the colony is kept safe thanks to Mother, and Father doesn't know where he fits into the scheme of things.
Mother may love her children, but she has no idea how to relate to them and finds purpose in alternative ways of keeping them safe. She can obviously sense her children's discomfort with her, as much as she would like to deny it, and she throws herself into her work - growing ever more distant from them. Father, on the other hand, is trying to do the work of instilling practical values and skills to his children. It's something he struggles with, as the kids can sense his lack of self-respect, leading them to constantly question his authority. They fear Mother and listen to her, and Father is obviously the parent who will let them get away with things if they just push hard enough.
It's not a perfect metaphor, of course - most mothers can't kill you just by screaming at you - but for a young child afraid of his strict Mother coming home and finding out what they've done, it can feel similar. The androids of 'Raised by Wolves' doubt that they feel true human emotion, but unprompted they fall into familiar family patterns that have emerged across generations. Mother and Father don't understand each other completely, but there is one thing on which they both can connect; when Father discovers what has been killing the children, he knows how to tell Mother the one thing she's been desperate to know - "You're a good parent."
How true this is is doubtful, given that Mother kidnapped the children under her care and contains the ruthless programming of a genocidal killer in her head, but she tries. Whether she can see just how much Father is trying, too, is something that remains to be seen - and the fate of humanity's future depends entirely on how well they can work things out.
The next episode of 'Raised by Wolves' airs on September 10 on HBO Max.