Foundation Season 1 Episode 6: Death and the Maiden Review

More truths are revealed as the pieces fall into place more.

What They Say:
Brother Day meets Zephyr Halima-a would-be leader who opposes the Empire. Brother Dusk grows suspicious of Brother Dawn.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After an episode that largely focused on events on Gaal and what happened to her after being shoved into the escape pod, this one returns to the position of exploring multiple storylines. And not just the usual two-track approach but one with more events going on, though you can still basically divide it between the Fall of the Empire and the Rise of the Foundation. As the show continues to chart its own course while sticking to the general concepts of the book, I find myself appreciating it even more for the path that it’s chosen. I love and adore the books to death and reread them regularly over the past forty years, but at the same time, they were not conducive to serialized visual storytelling. Loose or not, this adaptation I think continues to have a really solid hold on what this work is about but is spreading its wings wider, much as the later novels did, and fleshing things out in a way that I hope Asimov would approve of.

In terms of the Fall of the Empire, we’re seeing the schisms in very different ways. Brother Day has gone to Surah in order to deal with the Luminists, a religion predating the Empire that has three trillion adherents, as they’re going to be raising a new Proxima after the death of Proxima Opal. The problem is that one that’s looking to take the position is a radical that wants to go back to the very old ways while the favored one wants to stick to what they’ve been doing for as long as they can remember. Brother Day is there as the Empire in order to assure his weight goes behind continuity, but in reality, all it does is serve as example to the “heretic” what is wrong with the Empire as it stands, and why the Luminists must make a change. Now, pivoting an entire religion isn’t easy and I imagine this would splinter for many, but that just furthers the Fall across the Empire. It’s a fascinating series of events and when Brother Day and the Cleon’s in general are called out directly in front of him, and he really is in no position to push back, it’s a rare moment of repudiation and humiliation for him – made worse by Demerzel’s actions (which I really want them to explore more).

As that plays out, Brother Dusk is looking to help Brother Dawn on his education, a portion that Brother Day would normally help with. Initially, it’s all about the hunting in the “wild” area of the Imperial gardens, allowing him his time to go after a particular type of bird. Dawn is certainly interested in this as part of the ritual path and all and we see that he’s actually a natural at it, eliminating six of them on his first run without any prior weapons training. But, when he learns that Dusk only killed three on his own first time, he knows that this is a bad sign. There’s continuity among the Cleon’s but this shows that he’s an aberration. And we know that in other ways as well, such as his colorblind aspect. This plays out in a surreal kind of tense way for me because of the heights, but bringing in the young gardener to his bed chamber and looking out at the gardens with her – without force fields – is just basically asking for her death in any number of ways. But there’s also a kind of charm to the innocence of his interest, yet at the same time, that massive power imbalance is there that lends itself to a disturbing creepy side.

Of course, Brother Dusk does help him prior to that to take the edge off, introducing him to the Gossamer Court where it’s filled with men and women that the Cleon’s can spend time with as their minds are wiped nightly before they depart the world with presumably some wealth. It’s an outlet for them where they can speak and act however they like, to let loose with things that bother them, anger them, confuse them, and so on. Naturally, Brother Dawn takes advantage of it but just by talking because he really does seem to have feelings for the gardener girl – which again is simply going to doom her – but it’s also dangerous because he doesn’t realize that even though it’s confidential time, his brothers have full access to what is said there through those he spends time with. Again, it further shows the ways that Dawn is not just different from the others but that it’s going to create a real schism in the Empire as his elders learn of this – depending on what he says in the Gossamer Court.

A good chunk of the episode focuses on the events on Terminus as well, keeping Salvor’s story going as she deals with the plan of the Anacreons. It’s not exactly drawn out as there’s a lot going on, from the troops killing lots of the Foundation people to the kids rescuing Salvor and then to her leading a group that pushes back hard against the enemy. But we start to learn along the way more of what the Anacreon’s plans are in that they’re going after a supposedly lost ship that’s essentially a planet-killer, the Invictus. With continued reinforcement about them viewing themselves as a ghost army with no home anymore, there are some good methodical approaches here to getting what they need. It’s spread out in acquiring the crew from the Foundation members that they need, under duress, and it has an intriguing twist in commandeering Hugo’s ship that has me wondering how far it’ll go. I know this is already so far beyond book-Salvor’s story, but as the first Seldon Crisis, it’s definitely one that works well for the medium.

Salvor also has another moment where she ends up remembering the past again for reasons that are still unclear. This does give us a look at what happened between Seldon and Raych and it does seem like I was largely on track with the why of it, but it was more complicated by the way Raych wasn’t supposed to get close to Gaal and that has made things more difficult. Of course, seeing the two men talk and then knowing how Raych seems to have thrown things off certainly has me even more curious about it. I do wonder if Raych was supposed to go and start the Second Foundation as part of the plan, and his relationship with Gaal was going to cause that to not happen. As Harry says, sometimes the universe can pivot on a single person, even though it moves by the trillions. I suspect there is still more to be revealed about this sequence of events overall that will flesh it out more clearly.

In Summary:
Foundation digs into a lot of material here and there’s a lot going on across it. In a way, it feels like there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Lee Pace puts in some of the best work with Brother Day here just in how he composes himself as we dig into the religious changes coming. Cassian Bilton puts in some really interesting things within the Imperial Garden and I really like what Amy Tyger brought to Azura as the gardener. Salvor’s story is what dominates here and while I feel like we’re all just waiting to get to the fireworks factory that is the Vault, I’m thoroughly enjoying her journey and how this will change the Foundation and encyclopedists going forward. Four more episodes to go and so much ground that can be covered.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Apple TV+