What They Say:
Enjoiner Rue confides in Dusk about her distrust of Demerzel. Hober Mallow pulls a daring move. Day sets course for Terminus and the Foundation.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The struggle of enjoying Foundation this season continues but I will continue to say that anything involving Trantor and the Empire triumvirate continues to be thoroughly entertaining and doesn’t feel like it breaks but rather updates the original work. When it comes to Gaal and Salvor, however, it just makes me want to tear my hair out. The whole point to them this episode is that Tellem is trying to put her mind into Gaal’s body so she can live on and do the work she wants but it’s Salvor that messes things up. It’s what provides for some action this time around and it’s all about her breaking Gaal free and trying to get offworld. It’s not bad per se in how it’s executed but the characters shouldn’t even be here and then they bring the physical version of Hari back – a Hari that we were basically told has been dead – to save the day at the end. It’s just bad and it’s not even worth discussing much because it’s nonsense.
One of the promises of this episode was delving into Demerzel’s past and it is interesting at the start as we see how the original Cleon found her as a child in a secret room. She’d been placed there in a careful trap for thousands of years until Cleon made this accidental discovery. We learn some things about Demerzel but it’s all very superficial with her age and what she’s done prior to being placed here millennia ago by an Emperor that wanted her to both be his forever and not betray anyone. This betrayal takes place again as we see how Cleon grows from the child he was when he found her to the old man nearing the end of his days as Emperor – and one without heir. There’s a lot in-between but it never gets to anything good and it avoids making clear what Demerzel’s prior names were, which I find unfortunate.
But we see through this that over the years Cleon found a way to get what he wants, a kind of immortality, and to make sure that Demerzel is his because he’s a twisted man having spent decades being manipulated by others and having his own dark soul. He essentially traps Demerzel into his genetic dynasty plan while also making it clear that he’s gifting her the galaxy through it because the clones will essentially be their offspring. The horror from Demerzel upon realizing the trap plays well but honestly, so much of what makes it effective isn’t even here. There’s only the lightest of mentions of the first law of robotics – and not even laid out proper – never mind the other two or the zeroeth law which is what would make this truly tragic while also giving Demerzel some agency. Instead, it’s like they can’t commit and keep it all superficial.
The best material basically involves Empire and Day specifically as he has arrived on Trantor and is looking to reclaim what’s there while showing that he’s broken Seldon’s premise. His whole stopping the genetic dynasty thing is his way of saying that the path that Seldon saw doesn’t hold up and it’s a pretty great sequence has he heads to Terminus, deals with the locals, and uses Poly to try and prove his point. It hits a lot of different points and everyone brings something great to the table – with Lee Pace outshining them all as Day when he chews the scenery – and it plays into the whole conquering Roman leader thing without actually doing anything himself. It’s so hollow but he has command of so many, which gives us a gorgeous space battler. The show delivers in a big way with special effects and ship design among everything else so it’s all very exciting. And the way Day lords overall of it gives it the real impact it needs.
The show delves into a few things along the way, notably the sacrifice that Riose has to go through while doing his duty and his attempts at trying to curb some of Day’s worst impulses, while we also get some decent time with Mallow and Constant since they’re stuck in the Imperial ship. The bits we get with the Foundation Director and others is good and seeing more of their “church” delights me but makes me wish they actually explored all of this more over the course of the season instead of this awful stuff with Gaal and Salvor. The Empire material dominates this episode and we get a big radical change toward the end of it that has me wondering what their intent is because it kind of blows up so many other things as it diverges ever harder from the source material.
Streamed By: Apple TV+