Epic battles lift 'Foundation' to new highs [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Epic battles lift Foundation to new highs [Apple TV+ recap]


Lee Pace and Laura Birn in ★★★★★
Terminus had better watch out for Brother Day (played by Lee Pace, left) and Demerzel (Laura Birn).

TV+ ReviewApple TV+ science fiction show Foundation reaches the penultimate episode of a very fine second season this week

Brother Day demands answers from the people of Terminus, who disappoint him with their conviction. Gaal and Salvor plot a daring escape from the Mentalics. And a great big dogfight in space precedes the showstopping image of the season.

Foundation recap: ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’

Season 2, episode 9: In the episode, entitled “Long Ago, Not Far Away,” Rue (played by Sandra Yi Sencindiver) and Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) are being given a history lesson by a long-dead clone of one of the earliest empires, whose memory has been preserved in a secret part of the palace.

When the first emperor Cleon ((Lee Pace)) was a boy, he found the pieces of a robot, Demerzel (Laura Birn), imprisoned — the last robot kept by the empire after the wars that led to androids being killed and outlawed across the galaxy. It took the first emperor decades, but he had Demerzel reassembled and eventually released from her prison.

He also modified the robot’s circuitry to make sure she stayed loyal to him forever — and he meant it. Plus, he devised the cloning program by which Empire is ruled to this day — or was, until this iteration of Brother Day (also Lee Pace) married Queen Sareth of Cloud Dominion (Ella-Rae Smith) and outlawed dynastic cloning.

Dusk is horrified to learn all this. But now he has a new perspective on the end of the dynasty. It also means the end of Demerzel’s secret reign.

Trouble for Terminus

Aboard Bel Riose’s (Ben Daniels) space cruiser, headed for Terminus, the old soldier interrogates Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) and Hober Mallow (Dimitri Leonidas). He’s curious why a rogue like Hober would risk his life for Constant’s Seldonite religious beliefs. Well, Hober has feelings for Constant for starters. But he’s also starting to believe some of Constant’s ideas about the universe.

Hober and Bel don’t get very far into this discussion of philosophy before Day and Demerzel board Bel’s ship. They’ve encircled Terminus, the planetary stronghold of the Second Foundation, which Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) planned to overthrow the Empire.

Day demands to land on Terminus to speak to the human heads of the Second Foundation: Cleric (Kulvinder Ghir) as collateral, then demands to see their church. Neither Bel nor Sermak know what to make of this gesture.

Then Day demands that Cleric perform a miracle, which quickly becomes a humiliating ordeal. Sermak rushes to Cleric’s defense to keep him from collapsing during the demonstration — a tense and loving gesture. Cleric gets a second wind, but Day isn’t convinced. He demands Bel Riose take the planet by force. Then Day stabs Sermak in the gut, and orders the execution of every priest on Terminus.

Just as Day’s about to leave, he’s struck by inspiration when he sees the Vault. He wants in. Hari is waiting for him outside the Vault for the royal envoy and he invites Day inside. Day says he’ll spare Terminus if Seldon admits he’s a false prophet — that his study, psychohistory, isn’t real. Hari refuses, so Day asks Bel Riose to destroy the Invictus, the ship floating above Terminus to protect it.

A Mentalic moment

Lou Llobell and Rachel House in "Foundation," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Less a meeting of the minds for Gaal (Lou Llobell, left) and Tellem (Rachel House), then a mugging. 
Photo: Apple TV+

Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) escapes her prison on Ignis, planet of the psycics, and saves Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) in the nick of time from having her powers subsumed by Mentalics leader Tellem Bond (Rachel House). The two women flee to their dropship, but Tellem is waiting for them there.

Tellem confiscates the Radiant and thrusts Gaal into a projection of her worst fears, but the move backfires. Gaal gains the upper hand. Then, Salvor must fight Loron (Michael Akinsulire) — brutally — to gain entry to the ship while Gaal does mental and physical combat with Tellem. They’re both saved by the unlikeliest of people.

An epic sci-fi space battle with a devastating outcome

Ben Daniels in "Foundation," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Ben Daniels delivers a stunning performance this week as the conflicted warrior Bel Riose.
Photo: Apple TV+

Foundation delivers a truly handsome space battle this week, with excellent CGI aiding in clarity of direction and motion. It’s amazing to think there are 70-something Star Wars shows out there, and none of them are as good at this kind of thing, to say nothing of their respective emotional and political content.

This show was always headed toward a big, impressive conflict like this — and it didn’t disappoint. The battle ends with Glawen Curr (Dino Fetscher) on the surface of Terminus just as his husband, Bel, is asked to destroy the Invictus and crush everyone on the planet, Glawen included. Ben Daniels, unsurprisingly, kills Bel’s big moment. Beautiful work.

Cleric, Sermak and Glawen have only moments to prepare for death along with everyone else. The ship crashes. Fade to black. Very good.


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 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.


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