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Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

For the past 16 years, Sanctuary 573 has been Eva’s home. This is where she was born, where she learned to walk, where she first met Muthr, the robot programmed to raise her.

But it’s also the place where, for the past 16 years, she’s been trying to leave.

See, while Sanctuary 573 is equipped with all the latest technology, including an interactive hologram system and Muthr (official name M.U.T.H.R., which stands for multi-utility task helper robot) herself, it’s also incredibly lonely. And as much as Eva appreciates Muthr’s company, for as long as she can remember, she’s just wanted to meet another human like herself. To make a friend.

Eva’s been told that Earth was once populated with billions of humans but that they poisoned the planet, making it uninhabitable. Dynastes Corporation created hundreds of underground sanctuaries, just like 573, to preserve the human race until the earth had time to heal itself. Once enough time has passed, the children raised in those sanctuaries—children just like Eva—will be allowed to resurface and reclaim the planet.

Eva can’t think of anything she wants more in life. And it’s said that the surface is indeed now safe to repopulate. But Eva won’t be allowed to leave Sanctuary 573—to make a friend—until she can pass Dynastes’ survival and aptitude test. And she won’t be allowed to take that until her 16th birthday.

Unfortunately, on the eve of her 16th birthday, everything goes wrong.

She Wasn’t Supposed to Be Alone

Unable to contain her excitement—or her anxiety—about meeting other humans, Eva stays up late the night before her test. She discovers a hidden door in 573. And upon crawling through, she learns that her little sanctuary is much bigger than she ever knew—six times bigger to be exact.

It turns out that Eva wasn’t supposed to be the only human child raised in 573. Five other children were supposed to be with her. But the sanctuary had been compromised, forcing the previous generation of humans to flee.

They left Eva alone to be raised by Muthr. But one of them also left her a clue: A picture of a fantastical land—the word “WondLa” printed on it—and a handwritten note telling Eva to “find me.”

Before Eva can investigate further, she’s attacked by Besteel, an alien bounty hunter. Eva flees to her section of 573, but Besteel pursues her. Muthr protects Eva and helps her to escape to the surface.

But the surface is nothing like Eva expected.

Since humans went underground, Earth has, in fact, healed. But it’s not Earth anymore. It’s now called Orbana, and it’s inhabited by strange plants and animals and aliens.

Eva doesn’t have many options. She could return to 573, but Besteel would just find her there. So she decides to pursue the only lead she has: WondLa.

If Eva can find the other humans, she’s sure she can survive on Orbana. But in a place where fauna communicate telepathically and flora try to eat you, it’s gonna be a difficult journey.

Wonderful Land?

Based on the book series by Tony DiTerlizzi, Apple TV+’s WondLa is a fascinating sci-fi series that most families will find charming and entertaining.

At its core, this a story about family. Eva sets out to find humans because she’s been taught her whole life that they will become her friends and family. However, what Eva discovers is that family doesn’t have to be related to you—or, in this case, even the same species as you—to love you.

Eva makes friends with Rovender Kitt, a scavenger with an uncanny sense of direction, and Otto, a gliding “water-bear.” They help her on her journey to WondLa. But Eva also realizes that Muthr (who manages to make it out of Sanctuary 573) is part of her family, too. Muthr hasn’t just raised Eva because of programming but rather because she loves Eva.

There are some other nice messages mixed in about growing up, stewarding nature and pursuing justice, too.

Obviously content concerns include the sci-fi aspects of the show. There are the aliens. And it’s never outright mentioned, but evolution likely played a role in Earth’s transformation into Orbana, and it can be presumed that Eva and the other sanctuary humans were cloned. There are also a few perilous moments and potentially frightening creatures, but so far, the series is largely void of anything too troubling for parents.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

June 27, 2024 – S1, E1: “Chapter 1: Doors”

Eva, born and raised by Muthr inside Sanctuary 573, longs to go outside and meet other humans. On the eve of her 16th birthday, she gets her wish, but not in the way she expected.

We aren’t given details, but context clues show us that Eva and other humans may have been cloned. Humans are largely blamed for the destruction of Earth. However, it’s revealed they created the sanctuaries to allow the planet time to heal.

Eva breaks Sanctuary rules by tampering with the magnetic lock on a door. On the other side, she finds a facility similar to her own in ruins. Muthr reveals that eight other generations of humans were raised in that facility before it was compromised, and they fled. Eva is the last human in 573, but there may be other human survivors on the surface.

Besteel uses a weapon that fires forcefields. Muthr fights back using shock lasers. She protects Eva from Besteel and helps Eva escape to the surface. Besteel disables Muthr and carries her to the surface, hoping to earn a bounty for her capture. In an episode-ending cliffhanger, Eva literally falls off a cliff while running from Besteel.

As a toddler, Eva throws a very typical toddler tantrum when she isn’t given what she wants. A teenage Eva sometimes has an attitude. Eva is mostly obedient, but it’s clear she’s very lonely. Muthr tells Eva that they are not family since a family is a group of humans.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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