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Foundation Episode 2 – Preparing to Live – Review

This episode was written to establish that the show is definitely not the book. We further follow Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) as she and the other Foundation colonists struggle to prepare for survival aboard their colony ship on its way to Terminus. Gaal, as the second-best mathematician aboard the ship after Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), increasing finds herself tasked with administration and leadership responsibilities because she understands Seldon’s equations even better than her boyfriend, Raych (Alfred Enoch), who has been Seldon’s secretary and foster son for decades. 

Tensions rise between Raych and Seldon the further everyone journeys into space. Seldon’s colony initiative requires the would-be colonists to train constantly in a holodeck for survival situations they might encounter on Terminus. Unfortunately, most of these situations fail. In addition, the group’s finances look dubious, which prompts Seldon, rather bafflingly, to promote Gaal to oversee budget meetings despite her self-admitted lack of qualifications. Gaal is also confused by the equations as she realizes they cannot be as complete as Hari Seldon claims. Thorniest of all, pregnant women must deposit their zygotes in a kind of stasis since the risks of pregnancy are deemed too high until they reach Terminus. Gaal and Raych do this with their child once they find out she is pregnant.

Despite their misgivings, the crew continues to treat Hari Seldon with the highest possible respect since he knows every single one of their names because Dale Carnegie is apparently still canon this far in the future. Good leadership is wasted on Raych, however, who resents the breach his work with Seldon caused with his actual father. Raych shanks his boss one night and sends Gaal off in an escape pod, well outside the reach of Terminus. 

Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) and her mentor, Hari Seldon (Jared Harris). Photo courtesy of Apple.com

The god complex conflicts are echoed back on Trantor where Brother Day (Lee Pace) and Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) each attempt to deal with the terrorist attacks in their own ways. Brother Dusk, feeling helpless, chases down leads through meditation and empathy with the families of the attack victims. Meanwhile, Brother Day attempts to interrogate the ambassadors from Anacreon, first by playing mind games and then finally asserting the Empire’s zero toleration policy by hanging them both regardless of their innocence. Assisting both emperors, Eto Demerzal (Laura Birn), their robot butler, keeps an outwardly placid appearance despite the fact that the human empire killed off and outlawed most of her robot kind.

And, for those of you who don’t know Isaac Asimov’s robots yet, remember that they live by the three laws of robotics: First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Those three quirks drive the conundrums and conflicts for Asimov’s robot stories. For example, is Eto Demerzal going to save the Empire or betray it? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out the next episode because in the Asimov universe when the robots get involved, “it” gets real.

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