Hari and Gaal have a crucial appointment with an ancient power. Cleric and Day both need to rescue the last men in the galaxy that either of them wants to ask for help. And new and greater puzzles wait behind every corner.
Great pacing, great character work and a couple of welcome additions to the Foundation cast make this week’s episode, “King and Commoner,” appointment television.
Foundation recap: ‘King and Commoner’
Season 2, episode 3: Gaal Dornick (played by Lou Llobell) and Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) find themselves at a little rhetorical impasse this week. Gaal’s had a premonition that Salvor, her daughter, dies on a battlefield 150 years in the future at the hands of a supersoldier called The Mule (Mikael Persbrandt).
Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) isn’t making her feel any better. He is a mathematician, not a grief counselor, after all. And furthermore, he’s got bigger fish to fry. He has to visit the top of a mountain on a mission critical to the creation of the Second Foundation. Gaal doesn’t trust Hari, but they don’t have much choice. So it’s off to the Monuments of Industry, as the mountains were nicknamed when the place was still an inhabited mining colony.
On Terminus, the counsel of the Second Foundation faces a real crisis.
Who is Hober Mallow?
When they find him, Hober (Dimitri Leonidas) is in the middle of selling bunk goods to a warlord. He almost gets away with it, too, but he winds up with his head in a noose (or rather under a huge spear) in front of an angry Korellian mob. That isn’t great news for Cleric, who tries to dissuade the authorities, but nothing doing. If not for a bit of sleight of hand, Hober would be a stain.
However, he escapes, and Cleric and Constant just barely manage to catch him before he steals their ship and flees. Constant actually has a little crush on Hober (very cute — great work from). But she has no problem subduing him so they can fly him back to Terminus.
And where is Bel Riose?
At the request of Brother Day (Lee Pace), Lady Demerzel (Laura Birn) goes to search for an old war hero named Bel Riose (Ben Daniels), who’s currently working a prison farm called Lepsis. They want him to lead the Empire’s army in the coming crisis, which Day has a clue is on its way, what with the assassination attempts and general discord throughout the galaxy.
Bel agrees once he hears that they didn’t kill his husband — they just told him that to make his punishment worse. Bel, a tough nut to crack after six years of hard labor, manages to get the better of Day during their negotiations. Bel’s reunion with his husband (Dino Fetscher) is quite an affecting, tender thing. Props to director David S. Goyer for getting this moment right, though it could have been even more agonizing for my money.
Off to the Monuments of Industry
Hari and Gaal find an old chaotician named Kalle (Rowena King) deep in the mountains, which is odd for a few reasons. First of all, she’s been dead for hundreds of years. And second, who or what is she anymore? Gaal doesn’t get a chance to find out, because the two scientists lock her out of their secret cave and tell her to leave the planet if she and Salvor don’t hear from him in six hours.
Salvor would be more than happy to leave him, but she suspects that Gaal needs or wants Hari around more than she lets on, no matter how scared she is of the half-man/half-projection. Having said that, they can’t just act on sentiment alone. So they try to take off, but the ground beneath them vanishes and two giant predator drones try to kill them.
The giant machines eventually leave them alone, but then they head right for the monuments where Gaal left Hari. The only reason two giant killbots would turn away is because they found something else alive to go hunt. But what could it be? It’s just Hari down there, isn’t it?
Killer drones, a light touch and a fantastic addition to the Foundation cast
Very strong stuff all the way around this week. The ending set piece with the robots was nicely handled. And the little scene of Hober outwitting the Korellians was very fun and funny, offering a little window into what a more brutal version of this show might have looked like. It gives off an early Game of Thrones vibe, but with a much-appreciated lighter touch.
Plus, the addition of Ben Daniels to the cast as Bel is a master stroke. The guy plays grizzled veterans of chaotic situations with just the right energy. (His work for Rupert Wyatt on The Exorcist and in the movie Captive State, both sorely underrated performances, made me love the actor, who I’d seen in bit parts for years.)
This season of Foundation just keeps getting more exciting.
Watch Foundation on Apple TV+
New episodes of Foundation season two arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.