Scavengers Reign’s Greatest Strength Has Nothing to Do With Its Main Characters

Survival of the fittest.

Scavengers Reign

Scavengers Reign, now freshly available on Netflix (and ripe for a second season), is full of monsters. From the opening few minutes, it’s clear the show’s creators put a lot of effort into concocting beasts of all shapes and sizes, ones that would stand out even amid the crowded genre of “science-fiction creatures.” However, this approach to fauna (and flora) extends far beyond littering the planet Vesta with creepy-crawly window dressing. Scavengers Reign invents a full-fledged ecosystem from the various critters and their habitats, and it makes the show all the more effective.

The animated series is most frequently compared to the original Alien, and it’s easy to see why. They both share a sci-fi/horror atmosphere, one where intricate wonder is just as prominent as lurking dread (with the former often giving way to the latter). Alien’s Xenomorph, a creature that evolves from a deadly symbiotic attachment to an large, unstoppable hunter, has become the preeminent space monster of the modern age and one can find traces of its influence not only in Reign but throughout the genre. But while the Xenomorph remains terrifying, we’re rarely granted the chance to see what it can do when it’s not hunting down humans.

Our heroes encounter a massive (and deadly) insect.


Scavengers Reign, on the other hand, is devoted to a world that would be interesting to watch even if there were no crash-landed astronauts. One can practically hear the David Attenborough narration as Velociraptor-esque birds hunt for worm-like lifeforms or “Hollow” monsters use their oozy black bile to force creatures into hallucinatory servitude. Even the non-hunters, like the little avian creatures adhering to large, white tree-like structures or the slimy fish that expand in balloon fashion have a place and purpose in this world. If our heroes hadn’t been dropped unceremoniously into their midst, you know these monsters would continue living, breathing, communicating, and hunting as normal.

As the series goes along, we’re introduced to not only physically larger monsters (like the massive water bugs that penetrate living organisms in order to feast on their eggs from the inside) but more psychologically threatening creatures. Without spoiling too much, some are based on the themes of a loss of control and how horrific that is when it’s applied to humans. Many sci-fi frights often come from the realization that humans are no longer at the top of the food chain, but by rendering us on the level usually seen in small parasitic plants and insects, Scavengers Reign goes one step further. Additional plotlines, like a robot’s slow transformation into emotional consciousness, further serve to disrupt the pecking order we once took for granted.

Humans and alien creatures alike hitch a ride on this larger animal.


The creators of Scavengers Reign have cited Jurassic Park as an influence, but the series finds some of its closest kinship in another dinosaur-filled epic: Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Though the concept of a “lost world” was nothing new by the time Jackson got around to remaking the 1933 classic (itself was inspired by the The Lost World), Jackson’s Skull Island feels like an actual environment, one where creatures interact, fight, and eat in a way that makes its human intruders seem all the more helpless.

To frame Scavenger’s Reign as nothing but a parade of nightmares would do it a disservice. Like in real life, there’s beauty to be found amid the callous machinations of nature’s many hierarchies. We get to watch creatures be born and perform their small role in the continuation of various species, inadvertently sending ripples across the planet’s interconnected environment. In quiet moments, such as when the character Azi takes shelter from a windy storm, we find little enclaves of harmony — like lifting a log to see various bits of animal life moving amidst the protected detritus.

A more peaceful moment in Scavengers Reign.


It’s uncertain whether Scavengers Reign will get the second season that so many people are clamoring for (though it’s certainly been cool to see people like Guillermo del Toro sing its praises). But in just 12 episodes, it’s invented an ecosystem of simultaneous beauty and horror that cements it as one of the greatest animated shows in recent years. If you haven’t given it a chance yet, check it out. Scavengers Reign is a stunning example of what happens when you don’t just set out to create monsters, but a world for them to live in.

With any luck, we’ll get the chance to drop farther down the food chain again.

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