Last week’s episode of Foundation was a terrific start to the second season of one of the best Apple TV shows around. As we wrote in our Foundation season 2 episode 1 recap, the Apple TV Plus adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s beloved books has continued to be one of the best TV series for sci-fi devotees. So, to business. What happens next?
We concluded last week with the resurrection of Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) – that guy just never stays dead for a second – after he escaped from the Prime Radiant. He’s now trapped on the increasingly flooded world of Synnax with his estranged protege Gaal (Lou Llobell), and her daughter Salvor (Leah Harvey). Things are tense.
Meanwhile, the ruthless ruling Cleon dynasty continues to splinter thanks to Brother Day (Lee Pace) and his controversial plan to marry Queen Sareth (Ella-Rae Smith) in an attempt to shore up succession plans. The Cleon DNA has been corrupted and there’s panic afoot. But first, let’s head back to Synnax…
Flooded with jargon
Hari Seldon is mighty pissed at Gaal, as he was conscious for the 138-year period she was in cryosleep. He didn’t even have a crossword to keep him occupied. Seldon is livid at Gaal for thwarting the Second Foundation by taking him away, but Salvor is much more worried about getting them off Synnax before they drown. Fair play.
Salvor climbs outside the ship to manually clear the blocked stabilizer, allowing them to zoom away. They’re soon squabbling again, with Hari accusing Gaal of disrupting his plan for the Second Foundation to gently guide both their predecessors and the Empire through the next crisis.
The trio decides to have Gaal use her powers of prescience to project herself 150 years further down her timeline – they guess that cryosleep will help her live that long – for a glimpse at the inflection point before the chaos. Gaal realizes she can’t project at will and needs to feel as if she’s drowning, so they vent the air supply from the ship to create a near-death environment.
In the future, Gaal arrives in the midst of an explosive war, where she is being stalked by a Terminator-like figure she knows as The Mule – played by Sex Education’s usually very charming plumber, Mikael Persbrandt. The Mule is perceptive enough to be able to tell that Gaal is beaming in from the past, which is a frankly chilling development. He’s gonna be a formidable foe for our heroes.
When Gaal returns, she recounts The Mule’s various proclamations about Gaal having an army of “Mentalics” and something to do with a dude called Hober Mallow. Gaal is also able to deduce that the planet The Mule wanted to know about was a habitable world orbiting a neutron star. They decide to head there ASAP.
En route, though, Gaal drops a bombshell on Salvor. She had seen something else in her vision, which she didn’t want Seldon to know – the fact Salvor was there in the future too, lying dead on the ground. Nothing like some mommy-daughter bonding chat about death.
On the Outer Reach planet of Siwenna, we meet the idealistic preacher Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) and her father, the frequently drunk High Claric (Kulvinder Ghir). They’re bringing the words of Seldon and the Foundation to other planets, but this one is particularly hostile – there’s the lightning-charred corpse of another Seldon missionary left as a warning to them.
In the town square, aggressive locals confront Constant, who is promising that the Foundation can help them increase crop yields. High Claric arrives and delivers a rousing speech, explaining that he is Poly Verisof and was present as a little boy the last time Seldon emerged from the Vault. He appears to win over the crowd until a message draws the clarics away: the Vault has opened again.
Back on Terminus, it’s clear that Poly isn’t all that popular, despite his status within the faith. Foundation Director Sermak (Oliver Chris) is more focused on technology and preparing for war with the help of Jaegger Fount (Mindhunter standout Holt McCallany), who now has Salvor’s job as Warden of Terminus. This council meeting is a highlight of the episode, helped by Ghir’s sharply comedic performance and some nicely-written quips as Poly spars with Sermak.
Poly is powerless to resist Sermak and Jaegger, so takes a step back as Jaegger approaches the opening Vault. Jaegger delivers a big speech about his devotion to Seldon and Terminus, before being levitated into the air.
He repeatedly yells “get Hober Mallow” as if possessed, before disintegrating in an inferno. The words Hober Mallow then appear written on the Vault. Whoever this guy is – and book readers will have an idea of his importance – he’s going to be key to this second season.
While all of this is going on, the Cleons are still reeling from the assassination attempt on Brother Day. Memory audits on the other Cleons show that neither has any memory of conspiring with the assassins. Demerzel (Laura Birn) suggests that Day contact military man Bel Riose to engage the Foundation, but he’s furious about this because Bel Riose has a history of disobeying orders from the Empire.
Day still thinks his marriage to Queen Sareth is the answer, and Sareth continues to brilliantly and fearlessly spar with the Cleons over dinner. She knows about the assassination attempt and tells a story of how she was forced into a leadership position, for which she was ill-suited, after the death of her older siblings in an accident.
Sareth asks to see the Principium, where future Cleons are kept, and continues to push Day’s boundaries, quoting a banned poem of rebellion, probing for information about Demerzel, and questioning the way clones will be euthanized if biological children are born.
She suggests to Day that the Empire might not be as healthy as he claims and reveals that she has heard rumors about the corruption of the Genetic Dynasty, which is very much the big secret the Cleons have been trying to keep under wraps.
Ella-Rae Smith continues to be a truly delightful addition to the Foundation cast, bringing plenty of the acidic comedy that marks this season as different from the first. It’s just nice to see even the toughest Cleons meeting their match.
Last week’s relatively plot-light reintroduction to Foundation already feels like a long time ago, as this was a hefty hour of dense sci-fi. We met plenty of new characters, brought in some lofty concepts, and did some serious timeline-hopping. The fact this episode stays on track at all is a marvel, but hopefully all of this exposition will take a step back in future installments. The table has been set, and we’ve just about kept up with it.
If you want to keep up with one of Apple’s best sci-fi series, check out our guides on how to watch Foundation and the Foundation season 2 release schedule. Alternatively, stick with Apple sci-fi and check out our guides to the For All Mankind season 4 release date and the Invasion season 2 release date.
Meanwhile, we’ve explored why For All Mankind is the natural successor to Star Trek and explained that Patrick Stewart doesn’t care about sci-fi at all, despite his impressive genre credentials.