Schemes and royal screwups shake 'Foundation' [Apple TV+ recap]

Schemes and a royal screwup shake Foundation [Apple TV+ recap]


Leah Harvey and Lou Llobell in ★★★★
Salvor (played by Leah Harvey, left) and Gaal (Lou Llobell) wonder what Hari Seldon's up to this week on Foundation.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ Review Foundation, the epic Apple TV+ sci-fi show about the political machinations and battles being fought for control of a galaxy, finds its players being manipulated in all sorts of scary and surprising ways this week.

Hari looks backward and forward and finds nothing he likes. Cleric and Constant get Trantor’s version of a warm welcome. And finally, Brother Day unveils a new succession plan — that immediately backfires on him. It’s a very fine installment of this most exciting show.

Foundation recap: ‘Why the Gods Made Wine’

Season 2, episode 6: In the episode, entitled “Why the Gods Made Wine,” Gaal Dornick (played by Lou Llobell), Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) and Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) are on the planet of the Mentallics, people who read minds under the guidance of Tellem Bond (Rachel House).

Salvor is suspicious of this way of life but she winds up hearing many unvoiced testimonies from Tellem’s people, and sees at least that there’s been a lot of pain around these parts. The Mentallics are treated like gods, but they’re just people with special abilities. That hasn’t stopped others from fearing them.

Hari has come to warn Tellem that Gaal saw the future and that a powerful Mentallic called the Mule (Mikael Persbrandt) will rise to power and start a brutal, bloody conflict. Tellem reads Gaal’s thoughts, sees the vision and also finds out that Gaal is Salvor’s mother. It’s an awful lot, and Tellem’s poker face drops enough to genuinely inquire how Gaal is handling all this information.

Tellem offers to train Gaal as a Mentallic, knowing how strong her unharnessed mental power is and how it could make her even more powerful than Seldon, whose Second Foundation Tellem wants to stop. With Gaal on her side, she might have a bigger chance at it. Hari hates hearing this, of course. He knows that Gaal harbors enough resentment toward him that giving her powers and a new mentor could permanently put a rift between them.

Searching for the Prime Radiant

That’s when things get twistier than normal for Foundation. Hari tells Salvor to find the Prime Radiant (the device his consciousness was held in that he designed to calculate the mathematical truths of the universe). Gaal hid it in their dropship, and when Salvor goes to find it, Hari takes the ship and flees, confusing them both.

Of course, it’s not Hari, but a Mentallic that’s assumed his shape. While Gaal and Salvor think Hari fled, the Mentallics can search the ship for the Prime Radiant. Tellem, meanwhile, has the real Hari chained up by the ocean. She plans to drown him, then use Gaal and Salvor however she sees fit.

Facing death, Hari flashes back to his childhood, his first love and being drummed out of academia. He also revisits his creation of the Radiant — and remembers how badly Empire wanted it, and the bloody means they used to get it. It doesn’t look good for Hari as we take our leave of him.

Brother Day makes a serious miscalculation

Lee Pace in "Foundation," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Brother Day (played by Lee Pace) turns a spectacle into a royal screwup.
Photo: Apple TV+

Meanwhile, Empire gets its hands on Cleric (Kulvinder Ghir) and Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland), ferrying them back to Trantor for peace talks with Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann), Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) and Brother Day (Lee Pace). This comes at the behest of one of the Hari Seldons — the one from the vault on Terminus, who appeared to them a few weeks back.

Cleric and Constant make themselves comfortable. But naturally, they wind up captured by the Empire’s goons a few hours later. So much for peace talks.

Brother Day announces his engagement to Queen Sareth of Cloud Dominion (Ella-Rae Smith) in a huge public spectacle, complete with an enormous statue reveal. He’s ending the genetic dynasty and appointing Sareth empress.

Dusk and Dawn are furious. So is Day, when Sareth takes the floor at the ceremony and promises to do right by the people of Trantor, thus making her, momentarily at least, more popular than him. Day suddenly understands what a firestorm he’s just unleashed. Even Demerzel (Laura Birn) seems unsure of this one.

Jared Harris shines this week on Foundation

Jared Harris and Nimrat Kaur in "Foundation," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Fantastic actor Jared Harris gets a rare opportunity to stretch out this week on Foundation.
Photo: Apple TV+

This is Jared Harris’ episode and he just nails it, showing a lifetime of Hari Seldon’s emotion and dissatisfaction in just a few minutes of screentime, while also juggling his torment in the present-day storyline.

Foundation doesn’t always utilize Harris as well as it ought to. But the second season has really given him some meaty material to bite into. He handles Hari’s grief and anger just beautifully. What a showcase. What an actor.


Watch Foundation on Apple TV+

New episodes of Foundation season two arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch 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 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


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