Foundation Season 1 Episode 7: Mysteries and Martyrs Review

The past is closer to destroying the present than ever before.

What They Say:
The Anacreons and their hostages board the fabled Invictus warship. The bond between Brother Dawn and Azura intensifies.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Foundation moves toward the end of its first season with just three more episodes to go, things are building toward the crisis point even more. We know this is the first of the Seldon Crisis’ that will be faced even if it’s nowhere near the same as what was in the book. But that works out fine because this expanded view of things shows in more detail the various elements of the downfall that’s going on, and just how powerless everyone is to stop it. Centuries upon centuries of inertia are moving this toward what will happen, and while one can disagree about whether The Plan will mitigate it to something more manageable or not, the reality is that the fall is coming.

I’m definitely intrigued by how things are playing out for Brother Day as he deals with the Luminists and the push for a new proxima. We saw how things turned bad for him in the previous installment with Halima gaining a lot of position and attention with her speech. That even created a new rift because of Demerzel’s bowing as Day is now less certain of her programming than before, as she seems to have an answer for a lot of things. I do find Demerzel to be curious here as I’ve forgotten a lot of what the prelude books did with the character in expanding it, but working her as part of the Luminists and even going down the Spiral is intriguing for what she is. I do like how we see Brother Day attempting to figure out how to control Halima should she win but realizing that there is no controlling her. Her agenda is separate from the Empire, focusing just on the Luminists, and believing fully that the Genetic Dynasty is what’s wrong. The break will happen, either all at once or in various stages, and seeing Brother Day attempting to find ways to slow it and attempt to divert it is well placed. Lee Pace completely delivers as Brother Day once again.

Gaal’s story doesn’t get a lot of time in this episode and it is somewhat confusing if you’re not taking the leap with what it’s trying to sell. And it is a hard sell, giving us a neural uplink Seldon that will be part of a master plan that was set into motion with Raych. Getting holo-Seldon up to speed on what happened after helping him “normalize” from the final moments of the real-Seldon’s life just doesn’t unfold well here, because from our understanding it just looks like magic rather than science. But the dialogue we do get between him and Gaal as things start coming together as they get closer to Helicon works well, painting the picture clearly as I figured it would be as to why Hari had to die so that Seldon could live on in myth. Again, it diverges heavily, as it does with Raych and Gaal as well, but if this is going the direction I think it is, it does at least make some fundamental sense.

Brother Dawn’s story with Azura is certainly interesting as it shows another area where breakdown has occurred within the Empire. It’s not clear as to whether someone so different has come down the pike before like him, but the fact that we see deeper into the redundancies that are set up for the loss of one of the three makes it clear that the possibility was envisioned and ways to deal with it. It’s definitely something that you can see being a non-issue for someone who is identical to what has come before, but for someone like Brother Day, it’s the Sword of Damocles hanging over him and why he hides as he does. His showing this side to Azura has clearly doomed her, as one imagines that no matter how much the Emperor believes he is hiding something that someone somewhere knows, but I’m enjoying seeing this attempt at a little independence by one of the clones to be engaging. I knew from the start that Azura was going to face a bad end, and I still think so, which is why it frustrates me that I like the character and actor as much as I do.

The main part of the episode that plays big and delivers the action involves, of course, Salvor Hardin. What this episode delivers is something streamlined in execution where we learn that Phara’s needs of the Foundation and the Imperial ship were very specific for a reason. Her people had discovered where the 700-year-old Invictus ship was in the Anthor Belt and they intend to take it before it jumps again. Since it’s a jump ship, something the Empire protects more than anything else, gaining access to one would radically empower them. But she needed certain people to access it in order to take it over. We don’t get quite there for a lot of it, but the push into the ship with this small crew has loss almost from the start and just gets worse the more they go on. All while the ship is counting down to another jump that could drop them randomly into a star. It’s interesting to see “older” tech as we get here, and some action in a new location, but it just moves a bit too swiftly for my tastes when it could have leaned into both the action and the horror of it just a bit more.

In Summary:
In a sense, there’s too much going on in this episode. The last few episodes have mostly been of the two-track design, with a nod here and there, but this one spreads things out more. I wanted to get twenty minutes straight with Brother Day and the Luminists. Then a forty-minute run with Salvor and what Phara’s true mission is. But by breaking them up and mixing all of them together, it loses some of that cohesiveness. Which I am amused by because what I want is often what has The Walking Dead being such a problematic show for me, as that is one that I wish acted more like this. That said, there’s a lot of good forward movement here and I’m definitely intrigued by a lot of where it can go, and am curious to see if my guesses are right in the long run (without spoiling future books). No, this isn’t my father’s Foundation nor is it the Foundation I was raised on. But it’s a fascinatingly expanded adaption that is firing on all cylinders for me.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Apple TV+