The situation looks pretty bleak for Phara. Most of her hostages – including a pilot – have been killed by the various booby-traps on the planet killer starship, and it’s established that the ship is going to warp away as soon as a countdown is over. Meanwhile Hugo, floating in the black, managed to point himself in the direction of a utility platform from his home planet and he hit his target. Hugo calls for help, which shows up a few scenes later, and ends the episode in a standoff. 

Brother Day walks 105 miles without food or water. He meets an inspiring old man, who dies along the way. After doing so, he reports to the college of Luminists in charge of the religion that he saw a flower in the air above the pool where people have visions. Everyone takes it as an Emperor Constantine-like moment, except Demerzel who recognizes the flower Brother Day describes as the same flower she keeps in her bedroom on the ship, but her programming prevents her from saying anything. Being a robot also prevents her from warning Zephyr Halima that Brother Day had Demerzel poison Halima until it’s too late.

Demerzel (Laura Birn) poisons Zephyr Halima (T’Nia Miller) to cement Brother Day’s victory in getting his candidate to ecclesiastical office to win. Demerzel has undoubtedly been my favorite character to follow this show so far. Birn has also done a great job of appearing unnaturally calm, but not chewing the scenery. Photo courtesy of AppleTV.

Brother Dawn and his girlfriend Azura attempt to have a romantic affair out of the public eye, exacerbated only by Brother Dawn’s knowledge that he is an imperfect clone, and will be replaced by a backup if Brother Dusk finds out. Dawn and Azura naturally begin to make preparations to run away together. I’m not really sure where this plotline is going, but I can’t think of a single story where this works out for the runners. 

Gaal decides to run away from Hari, too, after an episode full of arguing as she hurtles toward Hari’s home planet in a ship she can’t control. Disclaimer: I binged episode seven and this one and it’s easy to let the two “debate with Hari” episodes muddle together a little bit. Hari does try to sell Gaal on a Second Foundation he’s building that Raych was supposed to have started, but Gaal decides to get back in her escape pod and leave for my favorite set, Synnax. This is fine. I don’t want to watch Hari micromanage Gaal. The argument about Gaal ruining the plan by her actions is exactly why the books weren’t this specific about the actions of individual people. It’s a more interesting conversation if we’re watching individuals acting with history in mind than watching one guy tell everyone what to do.

However, there’s three clear examples of that exact phenomenon happening: the way Hari wants to run the Foundation; the way the Emperor(s) wants to run the Empire; and Demerzal’s role in the Empire’s administration. These three figures have come up with ways to live a long, long time if not forever – this is the most innovative nova, or “gee-wow-science” device, in the show thus far. No matter what they try, people of the galactic empire cannot help but be ruled by an individual, and a megalomaniacal one at that. 

This “rule of the few” outcome manifests itself in the show’s dialogue as a religious point. Gaal angrily tells Hari that he isn’t a god, and yet that’s how Salvor Hardin and the Foundation treat him. Demerzel believes in the Luminist traditions of myth and ritual, but expresses disgust at Brother Day for lying to the Luminists about his vision, because apparently when Demerzel did the pilgrimage thousands of years ago, she had a vision at the end. Demerzel isn’t human, though, so one wonders who built this robot and programmed it to have that experience. Again, Brother Day, who was built in a test tube, draws sympathy because he completed his first ultramarathon in order to prove his humanity and only to have his mom-figure tell him that he really isn’t human.

So, if Hari’s not going to be the boss of Gaal, who will? Gaal herself? An Emperor maybe? Will those crazy kids just slip away while the grown-ups are off on fun new planets? We’ll see what episode nine and the next entry of this review/commentary brings.