Imperial intrigue rocks Foundation [Apple TV+ recap]


Cassian Bilton, Laura Birn, Lee Pace and Terrence Mann in ★★★★☆
The Empire
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewEveryone’s making compromises this week on Foundation, the gorgeous and exciting Apple TV+ sci-fi series based on the writings of Isaac Asimov.

Day and Demerzel sweat their next move as the Second Foundation rears its head (and Queen Sareth shows her fangs). Salvor and Gaal make the most of a new home. And Bel Riose meets Hober Mallow — with disastrous consequences.

Foundation recap: ‘A Necessary Death’

Season 2, episode 7: Entitled “A Necessary Death,” this week’s episode of Foundation finds Cleric (played by Kulvinder Ghir) and Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) in an imperial jail awaiting judgment. They came to talk peace with Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann), Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) and Brother Day (Lee Pace), and it went as well as you’d expect.

Now, Day and Demerzel (Laura Birn) are having them monitored. It’s not very like Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) to ask for peace talks, so they suspect something more underhanded is at play, monks or no monks.

Day takes a minute to apologize to Demerzel for announcing his intention to marry Queen Sareth of Cloud Dominion (Ella-Rae Smith). He also plans to end dynastic cloning and thus make Demerzel somewhat obsolete.

Later, Sareth and Demerzel make their mutual enmity known during a check-up with the royal fertility doctors. They need to make sure Sareth can carry Day’s child. Sareth is humiliated, and Demerzel is none too subtle about letting her know how much she enjoys seeing that.

Secret meetings, ugly plans

Sareth meets with Dawn in secret after Day confesses to the massacre of her people. She wants Dawn to step up and join her rebellion. And she says she doesn’t want to have Day’s baby.

She plays Dawn like a fiddle, convincing him he’s about to be written out of history and stripped of his birthright. Why don’t they stick it to Day by having Dawn impregnate her before he can? Wouldn’t that upset the balance of power?

Meanwhile, Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) and Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) have their own problems. On the planet of the Mentalics with Tellem Bond (Rachel House), Hari Seldon apparently just left them in their ship to flee Tellem’s psychic stranglehold. Of course, Hari’s actually been kidnapped and drowned. But Salvor and Gaal don’t know that — it’s more Mentalic sleight of hand.

Not knowing this, Gaal and Tellem are starting to get along better. Salvor doesn’t like any of that, of course. Her only consolation is Loron (Michael Akinsulire), the guy who masqueraded as her probably-dead boyfriend Hugo (Daniel MacPherson) a few days back. Loron apologizes, and Salvor starts helping him fish to feed the rest of the Mentalics, an uneasy truce between them.

Salvor isn’t convinced something strange isn’t happening, though. Late that day, she goes back to Loron’s boat and sees that he erased the navigation data. Why would he do that if he were just fishing? She decides to commandeer the boat that night and she’s horrified by what — or rather who — she finds. It’s Hari Seldon, tied to a post and left to drown. Before she can do anything about it, Tellem incapacitates her.

Say hello to the Spacers

Hober Mallow (Dimitri Leonidas) arrives at the coordinates Seldon gave him a few days ago — it’s a stronghold owned by a group called Spacers, who exist in random places in deep space. They exist thanks to a rare nutrient that the Empire gives them in return for a huge portion of their newborn children.

Seldon and the scientists on Terminus found a way to synthesize the substance. If the Spacers agreed to join the Second Foundation, they would no longer need to give up their kids. Hober makes a pretty compelling pitch for a criminal and a cad, but they reject his offer and turn him over to Bel Riose (Ben Daniels) so as not to piss off the Empire. Hober manages another daring escape (thanks in no small part to Brother Constant’s pet dragon, Beki. (sorry, a bishop’s claw).

Empire takes a shot at the Foundation

Dino Fetscher and Ben Daniels in "Foundation," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Glawen Curr (played by Dino Fetscher, left) and Bel Riose (Ben Daniels) consider changing sides in the looming battle between Empire and the Second Foundation.
Photo: Apple TV+

Day and Demerzel take this news as poorly as expected. It’s all proof that the Second Foundation is gearing up for war. Glawen Curr (Dino Fetscher), Bel’s husband and second-in-command, thinks this might be a good thing. If the Foundation is this confident, maybe they could defect, help the cause, and at last be free of Empire’s empty promises. Bel isn’t so sure. He’s put his faith in causes before and it’s turned out miserably. (Daniels sells this stuff quite beautifully.)

Day, Dawn and Dusk finally grant Cleric and Constant an audience. The three clones toy with the monks at first, knowing they won’t agree to open up diplomatic channels or even begin to consider peace. When Day asks what it is they have to offer Empire, Constant projects Hari Seldon into the throne room. He’s there to prove that the technology of the Foundation is formidable indeed.

Day is unmoved. He tortures Constant and sends Bel Riose to Terminus to shut down the Foundation.

This week’s episode of Foundation is a rare bummer episode with an unhappy ending and a lot of pain for nice characters we’ve grown to like. Still, it packs some exciting stuff, like Hober’s second great escape and the reveal of the gorgeous interior of the Spacer’s home swarm. It provides a good mix of human drama and sci-fi table setting. It’s just such fun to be in this show’s world.


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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