‘Foundation’ Recap, Season 2, Episode 6


Why the Gods Made Wine

Season 2

Episode 6

Editor’s Rating

5 stars

Photo: Apple TV

I’ve mentioned before that the TV version of Foundation is very, very different from the books, and nowhere is it clearer than in the show’s portrayal of Hari Seldon. Asimov’s Seldon is kind of a saint of science, an incredibly humble genius whose only fault is that he made a small error of calculation and that he was jealous at one point in his life. Granted, this is in no small part because book Seldon is little more than a series of recordings, not really a character, but still. Jared Harris’ Seldon is not like this at all; as Foundation asks, what does the knowledge and ability to either save or completely doom the entire human race do to a man? Turns out, as Nolan showed in Oppenheimer, nothing good happens.

That’s because, as we find out this week, Seldon is in it less for the pure good of mankind and more because he wants revenge and to see Empire crumble to dust. We saw glimpses of Seldon’s flaws in the first season, which portrayed him as a flawed martyr with a very big ego — which, if you are the only person who realizes the world will end, and knows how to prevent it, it will also make you full of yourself. Seldon does sacrifice himself and dedicates his life to the good of the Foundation and the betterment of humanity, but he also is an arrogant prick who thinks of everyone else as just pieces on a chessboard. What season two does is expand on Seldon’s motivations and interrogate whether his approach is right. Not the math, which we know to be accurate, but rather Hari’s belief that he alone has everything figured out when we know he doesn’t — The Mule alone proves this, as does Foundation’s weekly argument that individuals aren’t just numbers, but capable of deeply impacting the masses.

We see this in the flashbacks to Hari’s life that we get in this episode. While in the present, Hari is still confounded at Gaal’s emotionally-charged anger toward him and for Raysh ruining his plan because of his love for Gaal, the flashbacks show Hari himself changed the trajectory of his life (and perhaps that of humanity at large) because of personal feelings. Raysh chose to change places with Gaal and sacrificed himself for the murder of Hari despite that not being Hari’s plan, all because of love. Likewise, the flashbacks show a young Hari falling in love with Yanna Kine (the AI ghost we’ve seen throughout the season, responsible for Hari’s return to a physical body), who helped make psychohistory practical and came up with the idea for the Prime Radiant. Meanwhile, Hari’s constant talk about the fall of the Empire obviously catches the Empire’s attention, and the director of the university where both Yanna and Hari work threatens to confiscate and destroy their research if they don’t move to Trantor — where the Empire can monitor them more closely.

When they refused, the university director tries to force Yanna to hand over the Prime Radiant and ends up killing her and her unborn child. When Hari realizes this thanks to a cool sci-fi pendant (in the shape of the Vault, no less!) that monitors Yanna’s and the baby’s heartbeat, he tricks the director into heading to the desert, where he kills her by pushing her into a stampede like Scar in The Lion King. This is the final push Hari needs to actually move his research to Trantor as requested — or, he’s actually following an earlier suggestion by Yanna that moving to the heart of the Empire makes it easier to hide the knife that will stab it. This poses an interesting question, is Hari’s plan for the Foundation actually to prevent the incoming Dark Age, or is it mostly just an elaborate revenge plot to destroy that which killed his family?

In the present, Hari’s plan is in disarray thanks to the Mentallics on Ignus, and we get some cool visuals to represent every time Hari’s mind is being messed with — the image looks distorted, with wide angles and lens flare used to give the impression that reality is not as it seems. The great psychohistorian is being manipulated by Tellem.

Foundation continues to grab inspiration from the stories that were inspired by the original Foundation books, and this week we get Tellem acting like the show’s version of Sheev Palpatine. She manipulates Gaal by playing on her fear of losing Salvor and planting seeds of mistrust between her and Hari by pulling the “How can you be on the Council and not be a Master?” card on Gaal, saying Hari will never see her as an equal because he’s jealous and afraid of her. It is comically evil and you can almost see the lightsabers Tellem hides in her robes, but Rachel House makes the character a joy to watch. She offers Gaal her whole community of Mentallics so she can lead them after Tellem dies and fight The Mule and also save Padmé Salvor. And yet, she absolutely will not have Hari Seldon be a part of it. Turns out, Gaal bites and agrees, much to Hari’s dismay. The two fight and Gaal and Salvor see Hari take their ship in anger and fly away. Except he didn’t, because he was trapped by Tellem, tied to poles in a cove and left to die drowning as the tide rises. So much for resurrection.

Meanwhile, Poly and brother Constant arrive at Trantor and have a fun little convo with TSA. Poly decides to get sober, and praises Constant’s pure faith.
They are arrested by the guards. Day gathers the entire court in an ancient Arena, used for barbaric games. He erects a statue of the last empress, mother to Cleon I, who loved that arena. He wants to bring that back. Announces his engagement. Announces the end of the genetic dynasty. Sareth addresses the crowd, much to Day’s shock and distaste. She tells the people that she rules for the people, she cares for their needs and wants, announces that they belong to the people, they serve them. Their voices will be heard. Not exactly what Day “they live because I allow it” is about.

Meanwhile, on Trantor, Poly and Constant arrive at the Imperial capital and are almost immediately arrested and brought to an ancient colosseum where brutal battles were once held. It is here, at the favorite place of the last empress, that Day proclaims that he is ending the genetic dynasty and marrying Sareth. Much to his surprise, however, she will not be a subservient empress because Sareth decides to also address the crowd, tells them that Empire will listen to its subjects’ wants and needs, and announces that she and Day are here to serve the people. This is a little different from Day’s whole “they live because I allow it” motto.

• Salvor tells Hari that maybe he got resurrected in an actual human body, so he becomes vulnerable and stops thinking of people as pure numbers. But who exactly is planning all this? As far as we know the Prime Radiant is a tool, not a being, so who is actually pulling the strings?

• Hober Mallow arrives at the place the Vault version of Seldon told him to go, which turns out to be a massive beehive-like ship belonging to the Spacers that control the Empire’s ships. Given how essential they are to Empire, this can be a monumental win for the Foundation if Mallow does things right.

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