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Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap — A galactic bloodbath

After last week's sci-fi spectacle, Apple TV brings Foundation's second season to an explosive conclusion. Here's our Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap.

Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap - Gaal Dornick and Bel Riose

Our Verdict

Foundation season 2 comes to a very fitting end. It’s head-scramblingly complex, occasionally maddening, and poses more questions than it provides answers. But after all, that’s the way we like it.

During the Foundation finale, I found myself thinking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a lot. Bear with me. The day I read the concluding novel of that series, I felt whiplash at the sheer number of major characters being wiped away in a merciless cavalcade of deaths. With its season two finale, one of the best TV series of 2023 so far gave us a similar bloodbath. Even the best slasher movies have less of a body count.

But before we get to everyone who dies in Foundation season 2 episode 10, there’s the small matter of all-out war between the Empire and the Foundation. We’ve also got the increasingly Machiavellian antics of Demerzel (Laura Birn) to unravel, as well as the fate of Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) and Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) after their murder of the Mentalics’ leader in Foundation season 2 episode 9 created a heck of a power vacuum.

There were a lot of threads to resolve in just an hour of TV, even for one of the best sci-fi series on Apple TV Plus, but Foundation season 2 mostly stuck the landing. It’s not last week’s masterwork, but it’s a satisfying closing chapter.

Day turns into night

Still basking in the demise of Terminus, Brother Day (Lee Pace) orders Bel Riose (Ben Daniels) to destroy all of the worlds where the teaching of Foundation has spread. He refuses, so Day assumes control of the ship and gives the order. But it transpires that Hober Mallow (Dimitri Leonidas) has a trick up his sleeve – well, embedded in his arm.

It turns out he did make a deal with the Spacers way back in Foundation season 2 episode 7 and they’ve been playing a long game ever since. Within his arm are the jump coordinates to destroy the Imperial fleet by jumping them into each other. Furious at being played, Day fights both Hober and eventually Riose.

Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap - Lee Pace as Brother Day

It’s a brutal, blood-soaked, and gritty fight scene, with Pace giving it both barrels of Day’s maniacal intensity. Eventually, the Emperor emerges victorious, forcing Riose into the airlock. But as he ejects Riose into space, they switch places. By using Mallow’s nifty little tech from earlier in the season, Riose has tricked Day into firing himself off into the void. It’s fitting to see a man so determined to achieve greatness being humbled in death by a simple bit of sleight of hand.

There’s a way for one of our heroes to escape the exploding ship and, after some argument and a kiss, Hober convinces Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) to leave and continue to spread the word of Seldon. Left to die, Hober and Bel Riose share a toast and drink together.

Later, Constant wakes up in her pod as it approaches what appears to be the Vault, floating in space. Inside, she is greeted by Poly Verisof (Kulvinder Ghir) and the entire population of Terminus, who used the Vault to survive the planet’s destruction. A version of Seldon tells her that it was “always the plan” to sacrifice Terminus for the Foundation to live on.

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Do androids dream of eccentric people?

In a powerful and thought-provoking sequence, Demerzel tells the imprisoned Dusk (Terrence Mann) and Rue (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) that she still loves Cleon I. However, because of her programming to protect Empire at all costs, she can’t trust that any of her feelings are genuine. She hired the assassins to kill Day way back in Foundation season 2 episode 1, but has framed Queen Sareth (Ella-Rae Smith) so thoroughly that even a memory audit will show her guilt.

Demerzel, knowing she has to kill Dusk and Rue, is torn up by the guilt of it all. Birn’s performance is nothing short of remarkable and she has quietly become the MVP of the entire season. There has been a lot of complexity placed on her shoulders and she, along with Pace, has powered these final two episodes with tremendous flair.

Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap - Laura Birn as Demerzel

Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) is shocked by Sareth’s arrest, but notices that Dusk has secretly daubed green paint – signifying a betrayal – on Demerzel’s neck. He releases Sareth and the two of them address the people, announcing Day’s death and their engagement.

Dawn contacts Demerzel and they discuss whether her programming will mean she has to hunt them down. He argues that, as their capture and execution could turn the people against Empire, there’s grounds for her to let them go in order to preserve the population’s faith in the leadership. Sareth says their story is a strong one, especially as she’s pregnant with Dawn’s naturally conceived child.

Later, we see Demerzel decanting three new Cleons at once for the first time ever. She tells them that she has recently acquired a new tool that she doesn’t yet fully understand, but she’s clearly excited about it. It’s the Prime Radiant.

Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap - Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn and Ella-Rae Smith as Queen Sareth

The Dornick of a new era

Gaal explains to Salvor that her mind linked with Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) when Tellem attempted to drown him. She was able to use her Mentalic powers to dupe one of the guards into approaching him, allowing Seldon to replace his own body with the guard. They found a way to keep their thoughts hidden from Tellem by counting prime numbers until the moment was right for Hari to kill her.

The remaining Mentalics pledge loyalty to Gaal, who has freed them from Tellem’s mental control. But during a celebratory feast, youngster Josiah (Kit Rakusen) is briefly possessed by a remaining fragment of Tellem and attempts to shoot Gaal. Salvor intervenes and saves Gaal, but takes a fatal wound in the process. With her last breaths, Salvor tells Gaal that her dying now rather than at the hands of The Mule shows the dark future can be changed.

Grief-stricken, Gaal frets to Hari about how they’ll know if this is all part of the right path, to which Hari explains that he often thinks about whether his own partner’s death was inevitable. “Those losses matter if we make them matter,” he says and he still believes in his plan.

Gaal and Hari agree to go into cryosleep together, emerging once a year to check on the progress of the Mentalics as they form the Second Foundation. 152 years later, we see The Mule realizing that Gaal has made it to his time. He vows to find her before she finds him, adding: “I have to destroy her, even if I have to burn everything to do it.”

Foundation season 2 episode 10 recap - Jared Harris as Hari Seldon and Lou Llobell as Gaal Dornick


Well, after an hour packed with surprising deaths, poignant thematic conversations, and more rug-pulls than a David Copperfield show in Las Vegas, Foundation season 2 is in the books. Lee Pace and Laura Birn can consider themselves the stars of it all, though Isabella Laughland deserves praise as one of the unsung heroes too.

There’s not quite as much anarchic spectacle as last week, though the fight between Brother Day and Bel Riose is a gnarly set piece to match Pace’s naked fight from the season’s opening episode. And finally, a word for Leah Harvey. If this is their final appearance as Salvor Hardin, they should take a bow for taking what could theoretically been a cold and emotionless character and imbuing them with real heart and complexity. Farewell, Salvor, and roll on that Foundation season 3 release date.

For more from the world of Foundation, find out why its biggest Asimov book change was for the best. We’ve also answered the question: ‘is Demerzel from Earth?‘ and ‘why did Raych kill Hari?‘. You can also head back in time to read our Foundation season 2 episode 1 recap.

Elsewhere, learn more about the best Apple TV shows as we bring you everything you need to know about the For All Mankind season 4 release date, the Silo season 2 release date, and the Severance season 2 release date. We’ve also explored why For All Mankind is the natural successor to Star Trek.