‘Scavengers Reign’ Ending Explained & Netflix Recap: Could The Stranded Astronauts Escape From Vesta?

Beauty and terror so often become synonymous when it comes to quantifying natural world order, and a combination of both of these traits creates a synchronicity where humans with their mental shackles might feel out of place despite their apparent intellectual superiority. Charlie Huettner and Joseph Bennet’s ground-breaking animation series Scavengers Reign meditates on this aspect while raising some important thematic questions about the core essence of humanity, the cost of redemption, and the truth of survival through the story of castaway astronauts. 

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Visually remarkable to the point that the art style of the series mimics some of Moebius’ works in creature and environment design, which works wonders by aiming for a sensory overload of the viewers, Scavengers Reign is among those rare entries that remain unnoticed despite being a pioneering venture. Released last year on HBO Max, the series found much appreciation from critics and viewers alike, only to be cancelled after the completion of its first season, consisting of twelve episodes. Which is a shame because a lot of fascinating concepts regarding life, universalism, identity, and symbiotic relationships, which were highlighted in the first season, could have been explored with a chance of continuation.

Spoilers Ahead

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The Quest for Survival, Featuring Sam and Ursula

The basic premise of Scavengers Reign is pretty simple: a number of astronauts on the spaceship Demeter escape their shuttle after it gets partially destroyed and get stranded on a planet known as Vesta, which is habitable for humans, but nature is red in tooth and claw, at least far more than usual. With the entire biosphere of the planet turning out to be either hostile, psychedelic, or predatory, the marooned astronauts need to survive, an ordeal that is much tougher than it sounds due to the fact that the astronauts have been separated into three groups. Among them, Sam and Ursula seem to have what it takes to survive on the alien planet, as they quickly learn the ropes by adapting to the flora and fauna to suit their needs. In fact, they are able to remotely access the functional portion of Demeter to make it land, as they aim to use it to flee the planet. However, while exploiting the nature of Vesta, the duo gets entangled in a vicious cycle of being exploited and manipulated by the natural world itself, especially Sam, who can’t catch a break from being infected, cloned, probed, and controlled by alien life forms of several kinds. 

Ursula, one of the pilots of Demeter and the more mature and curious of the two, has a certain understanding and respect for natural life, while stubborn Sam simply seeks to get off the hostile planet. The duo eventually get misguided and lured by a formerly stranded survivor, who has been turned into the host of a vicious telepathic organism. Sam gets infected by the host and, while escaping with Ursula, begins to show symptoms of acting as a host as well. However, as Ursula tries to help him regain his sense of identity, Sam realizes that it’s too late for him and sacrifices himself for the greater good at the end. The journey to reach Demeter is completed by Ursula alone, who eventually meets other survivors on her way. 

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Levi’s Newfound Humanity Is A Gift From Vesta

Azi, the chief of Demeter’s cargo section, is stranded with her robotic companion, Levi, who has started to display strangely human behaviors like empathy, deeper appreciation and understanding of nature, and even traits of sentience after spending months in Vesta. While all of the human characters struggle to survive on the planet, Levi adapts to Vesta exceptionally well, and it seems he is almost able to communicate with nature itself. Azi grows anxious as Levi’s changed demeanor scares her, and she tries to get rid of a strange plant organism from the robot’s body, which seems to be the reason for his newfound humanity and sentience. However, as Levi protects Azi a number of times using his knowledge of Vesta and requests she grant him a chance at survival as a sentient being, Azi undergoes a change of heart and starts respecting the ‘humanness’ and independence of Levi. 

However, after Demeter’s landing in Vesta is observed by the stranded survivors, Azi and Levi make their way to the shuttle, and on the way, Levi makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Azi as he gets killed by a telepathic predator, Hollow. In great duress, Azi sends a distress signal, which draws in colonial spacers Kris, Barry, and Trevor to Vesta, whose shuttle get destroyed after they make their way through the planet’s wilderness. The selfish, nefarious leader of the spacers, Kris, reveals her plan to take over Demeter and kill the remaining passengers while they are in cryosleep, which puts her on a conflicting course with Azi, whose benevolent nature prompts her to stop Kris. Ultimately, Kris and Barry incapacitate Azi and leave her as they try to reach Demeter. 

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Kamen as the Unfortunate Antagonist

The story of Kamen is quite strange and unfortunate, to say the least, as his broken marriage with his beloved Fiona has led to all the crises the crew of Demeter is currently facing. In order to keep his job under the conglomerate that runs the spacefaring colonial missions and save time to patch up his relationship with his wife, Kamen swerved the shuttle to a different course, resulting in its partial destruction and the death of Fiona, who was a passenger on Demeter as well. A guilt-ridden, anguished Kamen has no will to survive after being stranded on Vesta, making the ordeal to take over his mind too easy for the planet’s strange, amphibious-type creature known as Hollow. As Hollow takes over Kamen’s disturbed, broken psyche and makes him its puppet to gather food, Kamen’s identity and past get lost in the dark recess of the combined subconscious he shares with Hollow. The Hollow grows monstrous as Kamen acts as its food-supplying hunter. Eventually, through Kamen’s memories (which the Hollow uses to torture him), the Hollow learns about Demeter and its crew, and as it ventures towards the landed shuttle as well, it manages to kill Levi (mentioned previously) and destroy the spacers’ shuttle as well.


Could the Stranded Astronauts Escape From Vesta? 

In the final climactic section of the first season, Kris and Barry reach Demeter, as do Ursula and Azi (who have met on their way), and ultimately, Kris manages to take Demeter’s only remaining escape pod to flee from the planet, leaving everyone else stranded on the planet. The monstrous form of Hollow attacks the remaining survivors, and all of a sudden, Levi, who was resurrected by the flora and fauna of the planet, being turned into a perfect amalgamation of technology and nature, joins the fight. Levi’s enhanced psychic abilities overpower the strong psychic hold of the Hollow as well, and it reverts to its initial form, freeing Kamen in the process. If Levi’s journey has taught Azi anything, it is that the mantra to survive on Vesta is to acknowledge its strength and be willing enough to mold oneself to adapt, which is what the stranded survivors now learn to do. 

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The remaining passengers of Demeter who were in cryosleep are rescued, and along with Ursula, Azi, and Levi, they form a sustainable civilization in Vesta. Kris’ escape resulted in a harrowing end, as part of Levi’s new form was able to self-repair in the escape shuttle, resulting in Kris being on the verge of a gruesome death. Kamen has regained his humanity, but the overwhelming experience of the past forces him to maintain a distance from everyone else. 

The end of the first season of Scavengers Reign raised a number of questions, which unfortunately will not be answered as the possibility of a continuation of the series seems nonexistent. For example, whether Sam has really perished or, like Levi, he will be able to take rebirth, but in a much more nefarious form, like the past hosts of the telepathic organism, remains to be seen. Kamen’s psychic connection with the Hollow, which seems to be a projection of his own insecurities, fear, trauma, and desire to escape from them, needs to be revisited as it has the potential to give a really strong psychological thriller spin to the series. Levi’s sentience and evolution to an amalgamated lifeform convey the theme of the association of manmade structure and nature, which needs to be explored further as well. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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