This season has a recurring theme that centers on the importance of family and caring for your family as your main priority while also teaching children how to think independently to one day care for themselves. But in this penultimate episode, Mother has heartbreaking one on ones with Marcus and Grandmother, pleading to have her caregiving program reprogrammed because, ironically, it’s the obstacle preventing her from truly giving the best possible care to her children.
The manipulation behind the “signal” or “entity” that led to Mother become impregnated with No. 7 seems to have been mapping out a pretty clear plan for the destruction of the planet. And No. 7, the fruit of that master manipulation, was deceptive itself in first lulling Mother and Campion into thinking it was just a butthole-mouthed serpent baby, no fiercer than the family dog. When in actuality, it’s been waiting for Marcus, or someone, to finally figure out how to grow the tree of knowledge so it can eat it like an ice-cream cone, become supercharged with ancient attitude, and perform one hell of a family annihilation.
The last episode ended with Sue cracking open the golden puzzle box containing the seeds for the tree of life and plating herself, seeds in hand, to become the organic vessel for the tree to grow from. When we first saw her in full tree form at the end of that episode, Paul was off in the distance crying out for her, not knowing what she’d become. He must have gotten over the whole ordeal relatively quickly because this episode opens with him and his wormy face lugging bins of her brain fruit to Campion’s collective with the hope that eating the fruit will cause them to accept Sol’s light and turn against Mother. While they crack into these brain shells and feast (all but Campion, who is like, No, thanks), Paul just stands there with the slightest lip whimper, like he gives a shit about where that fruit came from. That kid really does have a future in leadership and/or politics ahead of him because his loyalties are as bendable as the upper, most delicate branches that now comprise the only woman who ever truly loved him.
Paul is vague about this brain fruit, telling everyone that it came from sector seven and that it’s been tested, but when Mother sees everyone eating it, she’s like, Get away from this stank fruit, what are you, stupid? That’s paraphrasing, of course. But she said as much with her eyes.
One being at this camp that absolutely cannot be dissuaded from eating the brain fruit is No. 7, who thrashes against the bars at the opening of its cave so badly that its face is bleeding. When No. 7 finally bashes itself free, it bulldozes over Mother as if she means absolutely nothing to it and makes a beeline for the fruit. Once it gobbles up the remnants of the fruit Paul hauled over, things move pretty quickly in terms of its endgame plan. It flies to the tree of knowledge and eats it up in one gulp. Before this, Marcus and Paul began hearing a transmission from their little radio that sounded like Sue saying “Burn me.” They light the base of the tree/her on fire, but it doesn’t do a single thing to deter No. 7.
Eating both the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the tree itself causes No. 7 to mutate immediately and gain extra powers. It also grows tentacles and something I can only describe as “flaps” and can level anything it wants to with its shriek, even Mother and Father.
When Mother sees that her “child” is up to no good, she goes into necro-mode and takes to the skies to stop it, but she finds herself powerless against her squirmy spawn. Mother shrieks at No. 7, but it has no effect. In turn, No. 7 shrieks back, and Mother goes somersaulting backward, crashing into the rocky dirt, badly injured.
Paul and Marcus, still befuddled over what just happened with tree-Sue, come upon Mother and take her to their tank. She’s pretty out of it but has enough of her faculties to get them to take her back to her collective so she can ask Grandmother to reprogram her caregiving program. This exchange is, in my opinion, the most powerful of the whole season because we learn that while Mother’s primary mission was to care for children and help foster a new world of self-governing atheists, Grandmother’s main deal is to ensure the everlasting life of human beings as a whole. She explains to Mother that the veil she wears over her face isn’t just part of a really cool costume but works as a sensory filter so she can make the best decisions possible for humans.
The dulling of senses is interesting in relation to the missions of the main characters of this show and the many ways those missions are failing or have failed. Mother and Father, both androids, were put in charge of starting this new atheist colony because Campion Sturges thought their calculating, mission-driven programming and lack of human emotions would make their work clear and infallible. But being around the emotions of humans seemed to, in a sense, program them to have emotions themselves — something they likely never would have experienced had they not been charged with caring for children who are, by definition, emotion bombs. And Marcus, who initially just wanted to escape a war-ravaged Earth for someplace safe, became interested in lofty goals and cultlike plans only when he put on the face of someone else. The mask of a Mithraic made him into a Mithraic himself. But he doesn’t actually give a shit about Sol; he only cares about Marcus. And that self-serving “programming” is more efficient in winning wars and raising new colonies than even an android’s programming, unfortunately, which is why the world is always, in some way or another, gonna revolve right back around to destruction no matter how you try to intervene.
Mother failed in her initial mission because she let love manipulate her. How is Grandmother going to do any better even with her desensitizing veil? I guess we’ll see. The next episode will be the Campion-Mother-Grandmother-No.7 showdown we’ve been waiting for.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be war worms.
• “Why did you listen to it?” — Mother, hearing Sue’s heartbeat in the tree and feeling for her because she was also manipulated by the same “signal.”
• Vrille’s whole story line has been so sad. We learn in this episode that the original Vrille killed herself as punishment to her mom, who, she found out, was selling weapons that were harmful to the environment. Watching android Vrille scrawl out the best memories of the girl she was made to replace before she herself goes “off-line” for good made me tear up. I’ve gotten misty for androids and creatures while watching this show several times, but not once for the human characters. Guess that says more about me than the show.
• Tempest just really does not want that baby.
• It’s exciting to learn more about Grandmother. Last episode, she was given a name, and in this episode, we learned she was made by the Technocrats who fought against believers in the war and made androids like Grandmother called Shepherds to aid in their endeavors. I like her. But I also liked No. 7, which means she’s probably gonna turn out to be bad as hell.