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Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap - Always darkest before the Dawn

In our Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap, we see a Mentalic plot unravel on Ignis and journey into the Prime Radiant, as well as visiting an execution. Busy.

Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap - Lee Pace as Brother Day

Our Verdict

Foundation delivers a stellar installment this week, combining big revelations with some memorable character beats. We’re ready for the finale right now.

OK, we’re really cooking with gas now. Foundation is ramping up for its finale and, after the slightly slower and more methodical setup of Foundation season 2 episode 7, one of the best sci-fi series around has pushed the gas pedal through the floor. It’s crisis time.

This week, the Mentalics play their hand in a big way, which is bad news for Salvor (Leah Harvey) and Gaal (Lou Llobell). Meanwhile, a botched execution causes chaos on Trantor, driving Brother Day (Lee Pace) towards a decision that puts him on a collision course with the Foundation.

Apple TV Plus has one of the best TV series for fans of heady sci-fi on its hands and this week shows it flexing its muscles as the shit begins to hit the fan. You’d need to be even smarter than Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) to know where all this is going.

Don’t lose your head

Day is in a theatrical mood as he presides over the televised execution of Poly (Kulvinder Ghir) and Constant (Isabella Laughland), by way of a grotesque beheading collar. However, Constant’s emotional pre-death prayer appears to ignite something throughout the watching galaxy.

Before Day can complete Constant’s execution, Hober Mallow (Dimitri Leonidas) arrives in his whisper ship, setting Becky the Bishop’s Claw on Day. Becky is sadly shot down before she can tear Day to pieces, but Hober and Constant manage to escape in the ship.

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Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) wants a war response, but Day instead vows to travel to Terminus to “look the ghost of Seldon in the eye”, taking Poly with him and leaving Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) in charge. On their travels, Poly maintains his faith in the Church of Seldon, despite Day’s dismissiveness.

In a hilariously matter-of-fact scene on the whisper ship, Constant propositions Hober and the couple sleep together. Soon after, they’re captured by Bel Riose (Ben Daniels) – he doesn’t even let them get their clothes back on – though Riose’s loyalties are less than clear at this point.

We hope this isn’t the end for Constant and Hober as their relationship has been a consistent joy throughout this season. This week gave us Laughland’s best performance yet, combining potent emotion with hugely enjoyable comic relief. If only all executions were this much fun.

Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap - Dimitri Leonidas as Hober Mallow and Isabella Laughland as Brother Constant

In search of Salvor-tion

On Ignis, Gaal approaches Tellem Bond (Rachel House), who admits to killing Hari and imprisoning Salvor. Tellem then reveals that Gaal herself has been locked in an underground cell, with puzzle dishes tuned to cancel out her psychic pitch.

Salvor, trapped in a similar cell, realizes that she has a version of the Prime Radiant with her. She uses this to project herself to the version of Seldon in the Vault on Terminus, revealing to him that he is effectively the “left hand” kept in the dark about things. He protests that she mustn’t tell him anything for the sake of The Plan, but she declares that the math isn’t important because Gaal is in danger.

He helps her solve the puzzle of the psychic suppressants and escape, while she tells him that “Hober Mallow will pierce the Empire’s hide”. This causes him to write the message about Hober on the Vault we saw way back in Foundation season 2 episode 2. We’d delve into the timelines, but it’s bound to be something about quantum states and it just makes our head hurt.

Tellem, meanwhile, has Gaal strapped to a stone table. She reveals that she has been enhancing her powers by forcing her consciousness into the minds of younger women whenever she ages – the girls are still there, in something like the Sunken Place from Get Out. Gaal has been earmarked as her next vessel.

This was a quieter week on Ignis, but the stage has been set for a showdown between Gaal and Salvor and the Mentalics. Will they find common cause against the threat posed by The Mule, and will Tellem Bond try to go a week without murdering anyone? Big questions, all of them.

Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap - Leah Harvey as Salvor Hardin and Jared Harris as Hari Seldon

Very empress-ive

Rue (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) has infiltrated Demerzel’s (Laura Birn) living quarters, but is disturbed by Dusk. He resorts to a stock phrase when asked about Demerzel’s true purpose, which they both realize means there’s something screwy going on in his cloned brain. This leads them to a mysterious artwork, which conceals a hidden door.

Meanwhile, Queen Sareth (Ella-Rae Smith) has taken advantage of Day’s absence to meet secretly with Dawn. He agrees to reverse his fertility and they sleep together, after which Sareth suggests simply destroying all of the remaining Cleon embryos in the Principium. Dawn replies that Demerzel would never let it happen but, when Sareth questions who programmed Demerzel for this task, Dawn realizes that he’s in danger.

Dusk and Rue find themselves in a secret room, where a hologram of Cleon I appears and tells them the room has been many things, but was originally designed as a prison. Dawn and Sareth realize that the Cleons are all “puppets” and Dawn declares that “Demerzel is Cleon’s only true heir… his forever Empress”.

This is a really strong ending to the episode, bringing Demerzel into the light as the most important character on the whole show. We can’t wait to see where things go from here.

Foundation season 2 episode 8 recap - Laura Birn as Demerzel


Foundation is cantering towards its season 2 finale and the rug-pulls came thick and fast in the latest episode. But we’d like to praise the performances of Isabella Laughland, Cassian Bilton and – perhaps unexpectedly – Oliver Chris as Terminus director Sermak, who gets a really significant and moving scene with Harris after Constant’s close escape. Really good stuff all round.

To keep up with everything going on in the world of this Asimov adaptation, check out our guide to the Foundation season 2 release schedule. Or find out more about the best Apple TV shows with our guides to the Severance season 2 release date and the For All Mankind season 4 release date.

Elsewhere, we’ve explained why For All Mankind is the natural successor to Star Trek and revealed which sci-fi classic Tom Hanks is the best movie ever made. And if that’s not enough, swap for a bigger screen and check out the best science fiction movies ever made.