We’ve just about recovered from last week’s head-scratcher on Foundation, so now it’s onwards and upwards into the storytelling of season two, right? Well, there’s plenty more exposition to get through before one of the best TV series on Apple TV Plus can spread its wings in earnest.
The mystery of Hober Mallow takes center stage in this new episode, as the characters react to the latest revelation about Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) and his unpredictable plan for humanity’s future. Meanwhile, the Empire is amassing forces to see if the Foundation really poses a threat to the established order of the Genetic Dynasty. We reckon the threats are mostly internal, to be honest, as Brother Day (Lee Pace) continues to act pretty darn erratically for a near-clone.
Take a look at our Foundation season 2 episode 2 recap to remind you about last week, then let’s delve into more of what one of the best Apple TV shows has to offer us. Oh, Asimov, you didn’t make it easy for these guys.
It turns out that the identity of Hober Mallow was only a mystery to us in the audience. The leaders of Terminus are well aware of who he is, but only Poly Verisof (Kulvinder Ghir) is such a devotee of Seldon that he wants to heed the Vault’s message. After all, it did incinerate the dude from Mindhunter.
Hober, y’see, is a priest turned con artist and well-known trader of dodgy goods. Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland) accompanies Poly to the planet Korell, where they find Hober (Dimitri Leonidas) on the verge of execution via a massive and very painful-looking spiked apparatus that we’re pretty sure is called Titan’s Prick unless our ears deceive us. Delightful.
He’s in this sticky situation because he tried to steal a priceless artifact from Korell ruler Commdor Argo (Philip Glenister) by deploying a device allowing him to switch places with someone else. It won’t surprise you to know he pulls the same trick to avoid his execution, fleeing on the Clarics’ jumpship with the two of them just about joining him.
Leonidas is a sparky addition to the Foundation cast and is having plenty of fun as Hober Mallow. As things stand, we have no idea why he’s so important to Seldon’s Plan, but we can’t wait to see more of him in the weeks to come.
Bel of the ball
The Empire portion of this week’s episode begins on the Lepsis Penal Colony, where Demerzel (Laura Birn) tries to convince the disgraced military leader Bel Riose (Ben Daniels) to fight for Empire and earn his freedom. Riose is less than keen – he tells Empire to “go fuck himself” – until Demerzel reveals that Riose’s husband (Dino Fetscher) is alive and not dead, as he had previously been told.
Riose comes to Trantor and has a tense exchange with Brother Day. Day wants Riose to take control of his crack military unit again and use his talents to explore whether the Foundation has become a threat in the Outer Reach.
Riose is granted a tearful reunion with his husband, who showers him and cuts his hair to make him look presentable. He takes control of his troops again after explaining that they can’t just flee because their military presence will protect the galaxy from a Brother Day who is both weak and scared – a lethal combination.
Day’s increasing insecurity is fascinating in these scenes, requiring reassurance of his power from Demerzel and playing games to test Riose’s loyalty. Pace is bringing it with his performance as the most fragile version of Empire we have seen to date – an imperfect vase on the verge of cracking.
They’ll be coming round the mountain
As usual, it’s Seldon’s scenes that are designed to check if we’re all paying attention. Hari says that there’s no way Gaal (Lou Llobell) can prevent Salvor’s (Leah Harvey) death in the future as it’s an inevitable event. He guides them to Ignis, except it’s not Ignis but the uninhabited Oona’s World – as mentioned back in our Foundation season 2 episode 1 recap.
Gaal is furious that Hari is taking his orders from the Prime Radiant itself – “the model is adaptive, not omniscient” she yells exasperatedly in the line of the week – but reluctantly agrees to accompany him into a cave within an enormous abandoned monument. There, they find a wall that Hari is pretty sure is actually a door. He’s like that.
He turns out to be right and they meet Kalle (Rowena King). Somehow, she’s not in the Radiant anymore. Hari convinces Gaal to leave him and return to the ship, waiting six hours before leaving him behind for good. When she and Salvor do decide to leave, they are attacked by sentient mining machines on the planet and then detect a sign of life on the hand of the monument.
When they arrive at the hand, it’s Hari – and he now has a real pulse, which is odd for a digital projection. Kalle disappears into the monument as the mining machines attack again. Salvor winches Gaal and Hari onto the ship, where Gaal yells for Hari to explain what’s happening. “I don’t know,” he says as the credits roll. More mysteries!
As much as the best moments of this episode – the machine attack, Hober Mallow’s introduction – are really fun, it feels like we’re doing a lot of table-setting at the moment. These books take some wrangling. The complexity remains fascinating, but it would be nice to swap some exposition for excitement soon, if at all possible. We don’t ask for much.
To keep up with one of the best sci-fi series on our screens today, check out our guide to the Foundation season 2 release schedule. You can also find out more about Apple’s best shows with our guides to the For All Mankind season 4 release date and the Invasion season 2 release date.
We’ve dug deeper into one of those shows in order to explain why For All Mankind is the natural successor to Star Trek. You can explore the genre even further as we reveal why Jack Nicholson wanted to play every role in this sci-fi movie.
Foundation continues to tease out intriguing character dynamics, but this very much feels like the wordy calm before the storm.