What They Say:
Season finale. Gaal, Salvor, and Hari chart a new path forward on Ignis. Demerzel heads to Trantor, taking actions that will change Empire forever.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second season of Foundation does what it needed to do some time ago and actually kills off some characters and just let them not be there anymore. Not that it helps, so much of the damage has been done, and it’s working in such a nonsensical direction to get there. The threat of The Mule continues to power Gaal’s storyline but bringing it into focus so early when there are so many other more compelling stories tell is extremely frustrating. And just about everything with the Second Foundation sets me to grinding my teeth, from how Tellem operated and the absolutely dumb and insulting way that the worked out to have Hari survive being drowned. It’s all just forced drama and tension that never works because it’s been impossible to care about these characters as A) they shouldn’t even be here and B) all of their actions have actively made me dislike or hate them.
It’s just baffling and some of the worst stuff to the point where I truly don’t even want to acknowledge it being saying how dumb it is.
The sequence at Terminus holds up a bit better but it also admittedly loses its strength in dealing with Brother Day because, well, you know another copy is going to be decanted. Of course, his greatest victory in destroying Terminus is going to be his loss a well, though it’s an awkward and hard to pin down one because of the decanting that happens at the end. What we do get is the reveal of Hober Mallow’s true plan here, as orchestrated by both Seldon and the Spacers as they took the deal and are now essentially folding space with each ship, one by one, so they warp onto themselves. With it being the bulk of the fleet of the Empire, it’s a huge loss and one that unfolds painfully slowly. So much so that we see Day get into a fistfight with Riose over it once things become revealed as Riose wouldn’t give in to orders originally to go eliminate the other worlds that the Foundation had aligned with.
It’s a mess of a fight but give him credit, Lee Pace makes it work with his performance as Day and Ben Daniels delivers well as Riose. Right down to the post-fight sequence – after they pushed Day out an airlock – and we see him and Mallow share some alcohol knowing that the end is here. It’s nicely poetic in a way with how it plays out since there is time and no way to stave off what’s coming, but they do manage to at least save Constant first because there’s at least one craft that can set her free. Her story will continue into the next season to be sure but I’m still impressed at how much I enjoyed her story with Mallow, even if both of them frustrated me in the context of how everything was done with the Foundation and their work as the religious side of things. The main thrust of so much of this is that the Spacers are free and the Empire has no fleet, which will break down the Empire into a lot more warring if smaller kingdoms. So the acceleration of the fall is all part of The Plan.
When it comes to the events on Trantor, it’s pretty chaotic as Demerzel is able to return there before things go bad at Terminus. That’s because the warning she got about someone entering her former cage, which has her dealing with Rue and Dusk as they were dead the moment they discovered this place in her mind. She can’t let that secret be revealed and it’s also part and parcel of her other machinations to course corrected from what Day has been doing with Sureth. While Dawn thinks he’s rescued Sureth from the newly revealed assassination attempt on Day from the beginning of the season – which she didn’t actually plan, it was just made to look like she did by Demerzel – it falls apart fairly well for part of it though the two do still escape. It’s a mess of a situation but one where Demerzel again has the real power as gifted and cursed to her from the original Cleon and she decants all three recent versions of them that she has been able to edit and put back into play under her guidance. It’s not exactly a reset because of what happened at Terminus but we do end up with something that puts their positions in a more dangerous place because of it all. It’s interesting to watch it play out but it also feels like with so many bad steps along the way elsewhere, a lot is undercut here because of it.
The season manages to do some interesting things along the way and while parts of the end here frustrate me with how it plays out at Terminus, almost everything involving Empire in all its aspects was fascinating to watch. The cast for it was great, the special effects delivered, and it works so well. When you stray from that part of it, it gets weaker. Terminus and the Foundation itself felt fuzzy and incomplete, the material with Riose had promise but not enough time to develop. Mallow’s just frustrating in so many ways. And then the Second Foundation material just made me yell at the screen for being so badly done on every single level, especially in the finale. I’m mixed on whether there should be a third season or not because there are areas I enjoy, but knowing it’s going to be this terrible way of introducing the Mule and focusing on that, I’m beyond wary. It’s so rare to get such a beautifully filmed and designed science fiction show like this is what makes me sad about it.
Streamed By: Apple TV+