This week on Foundation, we expand the number of plotlines by one as we follow two missionaries of the Church of the Galactic Spirit spreading the gospel of Hari Seldon. But before we get to that, let’s check in on Empire real quick, shall we?
After a failed assassination attempt and a naked fight, plus the knowledge that Hari Seldon’s Foundation is alive and well, Brother Day is more convinced than ever in his resolve to end the genetic dynasty through marriage and be done with other people and norms. As has become a tradition in this show, the moment Lee Pace shows up on the screen, the energy immediately becomes more lively, even if Day is perpetually furious and/or smug.
Here, he scolds Demerzel, who has determined that the other two Cleons weren’t responsible for the assassination attempt (more specifically, they don’t have memories of it), for suggesting they hire a famous general to face the Foundation. Though Bel Riose is beloved as a war hero, Day just cares that Riose once disobeyed him and showed disloyalty towards Empire. Meanwhile, we get to properly meet Day’s empress-to-be. Ella-Rae Smith makes a huge first impression as Queen Sareth, a young woman with tremendous confidence and contempt for the strictness of Empire while also hiding tremendous fear for her life.
Sareth also has good reason, too, as we learn the reason she has the crown and is going to marry Brother Day is that her entire family was killed in a single attack. If she marries Day, then, what’s to stop assassins from killing their children and finishing the job? Of course, Day dismisses all concerns, he is Empire and he will not be stopped, but if this show is about anything, it is about the importance of history, and Day should probably look into the frailty of marriage-based dynasties of the past.
As for the Foundation, they are in big trouble. We catch up with Gaal, Salvor, and Hari, as the former living mathematician screams at Gaal for trapping him in the Prime Radiant. If David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman want to keep bringing Jared Harris back every season just to have him freak out and scream at people, then I hope they get their eight-season plan because Harris is a fantastic screamer, capable of eliciting both sympathy and laughter all while being intimidating in a single scene. As much of a jerk as Seldon can be, it is hard not to sympathize with him as he cries out about being conscious the entire time, 138 years, alone and trapped in a cube with nothing to do, and all because Gaal had no one else to lash out to and get angry at. But now it is time to get to work because the Second Crisis is coming, and after it, a potential end to the Foundation.
We finally get a proper explanation of the two Foundations. As Hari says, the first Foundation is meant to create a civilization that can withstand the end of the Empire without knowledge of Seldon’s plan, because otherwise, they’d tamper with the math and psychohistory wouldn’t properly calculate the future. That’s what the Second Foundation is for, a group of psychohistorians with access to the grand plan, who can interfere and course correct when needed or even fight the Foundation if they grow too close to a new Empire. This was the plan until Gaal messed it all up. You see, the Second Foundation was supposed to be created around the same time as the first, meaning Gaal is over a century too late, which explains the diversion in the calculations.
With time being of the essence, Gaal tries to see into the future and find out what the turning point in the far future is that can destroy the Foundation. Through a vision, she sees 150 years into the future, where a mysterious man not only sees her but recognizes she comes from the past and even somehow interacts with past Gaal. How exactly this all works is very much left up in the air, but this is one hell of a way to introduce what seems to be the ultimate villain of Foundation — the Mule. Though he is very much a part of the books, the show seems to be treating him like a proper mustache-twirling villain, a powerful and mysterious psychic looking for Gaal’s army of Mentallics (psychics) and the Second Foundation. This season seems to be treading closer to proper blockbuster territory, and the idea of a future psychic warlord definitely helps give the story gravitas and urgency (as much urgency as 150 can give, I guess). Oh, and he also killed Salvor, who apparently was still alive in 150 years somehow — and looking not a day over 119.
Lastly, we meet two new characters, and they immediately liven up the rather sour mood of the episode — Isabella Laughland as Brother Constant and Kulvinder Ghir as Poly Verisof, the drunken High Cleric of the Church of the Galactic Spirit. The two are using parlor tricks (and the high-tech warship from season one), like making people float to convince Outer Reach worlds to join the Foundation with the promise of technology the Empire denies them. We heard last week about how the Empire is shrinking, as it seems they abandoned a bunch of planets in the outer rim of the galaxy, giving them freedom but leaving them poor — the perfect conditions for religious indoctrination.
Constant and Poly get called back to Terminus, where things have definitely changed. As noted last week, this is no longer a temporary shelter but a flourishing society. Not all is good, though, as we realize that the Foundation is growing more powerful — and a bit corrupt too. There is now a big board of politicians in charge of the Foundation, and as Poly reveals, they are actually using their new ally planets as factories and depots for weapons. They’re not building a congregation but an army, and Poly is sick of it. He fears what Seldon will say when the Vault opens up again, but before he can go talk to Hari, the new Warden (who is way more military-oriented than Salvor was) decides he will meet the prophet alone. Nothing like keeping the truth from the people to show that you’re different from the Empire.
Sadly for the new Warden, the moment he approaches the vault he gets Raiders of the Lord Ark-ed, as the vault raises the Warden up in the air and disintegrates him. Then the vault goes pitch black, except for the writing of two words: Hober Mallow. Who exactly is this person, and why is he so important? Only Hari Seldon knows, but it is clear things are looking dire.
The Prime Radiant
• Turns out, all Cleons are sterile, though apparently that can be reversed. There’s no way that doesn’t come back to bite them in the ass later.
• The Mule does give us a few interesting hints as to the future of the show, like mentioning that Gaal is from the age of Empire, “Before Hober Mallow pierced Empire’s side,” whatever that means, but it looks like Empire’s days are counted.
• To detox Poly from yet another night of heavy drinking, Constant injects him with something that immediately sobers him up. Maybe the future won’t be that bad if we have miracles like that.