Apple TV

Foundation – Episode 7 – Mysteries and Martyrs

We open by accompanying Salvor, Phara, Hugo, the hostages, and the Anacreonese (that’s the spelling Google docs accepts, so I’m going to run with it) to a “planet killer” of a battle station equipped with a “jump drive.” A jump drive serves the same narrative function as a warp drive and hyperspace in other franchises. Hugo and Salvor decide that their best chances for sending out a distress signal revolve around getting to an abandoned mining platform formerly owned by Hugo’s home planet, Thespis, or getting that Imperial commander that Phara took captive to an area where the distress beacon in his brain will light up. 

Meanwhile, Brother Day tries unsuccessfully to get the Luminists to pick his candidate instead of Zephyr Halima. It doesn’t work, and Halima even goes so far to suggest that Brother Day isn’t really human because he is a clone. Understandably offended, Brother Day decides to take a challenge that is one part pilgrimage, one part ultramarathon, and walk over a hundred miles in the desert without water until he finds a sacred oasis. In Luminism, those who successfully complete the task are rewarded at the end with a vision. So, Brother Day decides to step up to the plate and prove to the Luminists that he isn’t essentially an unnatural abomination.

During her misadventures with the Anacreonese, Salvor comes to realize that she excels at everything because she has a superpower that enables her to know things she shouldn’t and also see visions sometimes. While codifying that Salvor has a superpower does answer a lot of this review series’s criticisms about the depiction of Salvor, it still feels untrue to the principle of the show. A mutant with psychic abilities does appear in later books, though, so it’s more disappointing than a dealbreaker. Much more satisfying were the apparent deaths of the redshirt Imperial, who got a hole punched in his beacon, and Hugo, Salvor’s boyfriend, during a spacewalk.

The main antagonist of the series so far, Phara (Kubbra Sait), a vengeful Anacreonese. Photo courtesy of AppleTV.

I’ve been bouncing Salvor off Gaal, whom we haven’t checked on in a while. She was left standing over what appeared to be Hari Seldon. Rather, she encountered a digital version of Hari Seldon’s consciousness, uploaded before Raych killed him. Hari appears greatly vexed that Gaal came to the ship and not Raych. In fact, he and Gaal spend the episode wandering around the ship, arguing about why her being there could ruin the plan and where they should be going next. They ultimately come to the conclusion that Gaal also has a superpower that allows her to see the future.

If we call Star Wars Charybdis and Star Trek Scylla, then Foundation rides on the edge of the whirlpool. The book series precedes both major franchises, but the TV series appears trapped between becoming more like one to avoid the other. One mutant who upends an established pattern of logical predictions is revolutionary. Multiple such mutants pretty much blow Hari Seldon’s plan out of the water.  The book series features characters who stand on the bridges of starships or sit in offices and debate, much like classic Star Trek. The series wants to go in that direction with Hari Seldon, but the results are ending up rather a mixed bag.

If both Gaal and Salvor know what’s going to happen before it does happen, what’s really the point of psychohistory? Let alone the logistical questions of cloning for those poor Emperors who could have been making digital copies this whole time. Maybe the next episode will help Hari find his purpose again.

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