With the Mentalics moving on our two heroines, it seems that everyone has their fair share of trouble in the episode, entitled “The Last Empress.” Cleric and Constant find themselves at the business end of a Trantor firing squad. Dusk and Dawn see themselves fading into obsolescence. And Sareth’s running out of time to make her move.
Foundation recap: ‘The Last Empress’
Season 2, episode 8: Brother Dusk (played by Terrence Mann) finds Enjoiner Rue (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) sneaking through Demerzel’s (Laura Birn) things. Although he should be mad, he’s mostly impressed that she found a way to get around the Empire’s royal chambers undetected.
That’s when she drops the other shoe. The whole time they’ve been rekindling their romance, she’s been playing at having her memory erased. But she actually remembers everything — especially about her last visit to Trantor on a similar diplomatic mission — so all the secrets she gave up to Dusk were strategic. She’s gotten the better of him.
When Rue asks him what Demerzel really means to the Empire, he says, “She has always been here and she always will.” Twice. Three times. It’s all he can say. Almost as if he were programmed to say it. Dusk and Rue put it together that Demerzel, who has been overseeing the cloning program that produced Dusk, Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) and Brother Day (Lee Pace), has planted this phrase in their brains.
A Mentalic plot
When Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) confronts Tellem Bond (Rachel House), the leader of the Mentalics comes clean about killing Hari Seldon (played by Jared Harris) and possibly Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) by drowning.
After Tellem confesses, she says she did it because Gaal was growing too powerful. Salvor and Hari would have held her back from becoming a powerful Mentalic capable of reading minds and altering reality.
Gaal is being kept in a prison that drowns out her mental frequency. It’s designed to break her so she’ll go along with Tellem’s plan. But Gaal may already be too strong to be controlled.
Hari Seldon’s puzzling reappearance
However, Salvor isn’t as dead as she appeared last week. She’s in a different prison cell a few yards over from Gaal’s. She feels hopeless until she remembers something Hari told her a few days ago about a duplicate Prime Radiant. That’s when she realizes she’s got it on her person.
She opens it and finds the other Seldon in the Radiant’s vault. Her sudden appearance surprises him. And he’s even more surprised when he finds out about the other Seldon copy, and that he isn’t supposed to know everything about the Second Foundation. When the real Seldon died, he left pieces of the puzzle a deliberate mystery from even his other selves.
He joins her back in her dungeon cell and helps her reprogram the machinery that’s keeping her from communicating with Gaal. Salvor only has a few minutes to work her escape plan, because Gaal learns that Tellem wants to absorb Gaal’s power and make it her own in order to better protect the Mentalics from Empire. This process will kill Gaal.
An execution thwarted, and a flawed plan
Back on Trantor, Brother Day is televising his public execution of Cleric (Kulvinder Ghir) and Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) to send a message to the outer reaches — especially Constant’s father and commander,
Shifting imperial allegiances
Afterward, Constant and Hober celebrate by having sex. (This excellent scene takes the time to really get into the human experience beyond how it relates to Foundation’s plot and sci-fi mechanics. This is a sure sign that the show is discovering itself and giving itself time to be more than plot. The same goes for the scene of Sermak mourning Constant, who he thinks is dead. That sequence serves as a great window into a character we don’t know much else about.)
Constant and Hober’s celebration proves short-lived, though, because Bel Riose’s ship appears and he captures them.
Dawn and Sareth do a little celebrating of their own with Day off the planet. They realize that the reason Demerzel is so opposed to her marriage to Day is that she has been pulling the strings of Empire for a long, long time. It’s a spooky and fun reveal after seeing this character grow to more prominence over the course of Foundation’s second season.
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.