Foundation Season 1 Episode 9: The First Crisis Review

The Crisis has truly arrived.

What They Say:
On Terminus, Salvor witnesses how powerful the null field has become. Brother Dawn makes a daring choice.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The penultimate episode of any season is always going to be doing more stage setting than anything else, though it may work some good storyline material into the mix beyond that. With this episode, Foundation is all about putting things into place when it comes to the majority of the main cast outside of Brother Dawn. And even then it’s just going to lead to showing more of how Empire has both changed and become static, causing its downfall. This episode has a lot of interesting things going on but I’m also appreciative, in a weird sense, that as it has progressed it has further moved from the books. As much as I absolutely love them, I won’t say they’re unfilmable but they wouldn’t make thoroughly engaging TV with the slim material as presented. I’d still love to see it done as my mind’s eye has the first book done almost entirely in black in white in my head ala Good Night and Good Luck.

Anyway, the storyline involving Brother Dawn is intriguing all on its own as he’s slowly working with Azura to find his way out of his situation and the palace itself because he knows it won’t be long before he’s discovered as being defective in the eyes of his brothers. So what we see here is that Brother Dusk has realized this a long time ago and has put into motion a trap for him. The visual artwork on the walls is brilliantly played here to make Dawn realize what’s going on and that causes him to flee ahead of schedule. But through his chaotic journey we also see the wonder that is Trantor. In some ways, it reminds me of how Elijah Bailey used to describe some of living in the dome cities of Earth in the past and Gaal in the first novel, the variety and absolutely busy life of it all. We’ve spent so long in the palace for the most part that now getting to see how more slices of Trantor lives is engaging.

The whole thing is part of a larger plot, and you get a sense of a couple of layers of things going on here with Azura, Dawn, Dawn, and Dusk. I’m intrigued by it but I can also understand why some would view it as a kind of filler piece. For me, the whole thing works because it does explain away as we saw before what happens if there’s an accident with one of the genetic clones or if there are defects that are discovered along the way. It could easily have just been a handy-wavy moment with a bit of dialogue so that it was covered in a couple of minutes, but I rather enjoyed Dawn’s journey down the levels, the discover there, his moment of defiance, and even the realization that Dusk seems to have along the way. And, frankly, I enjoyed the Azura character and the actors’ performance to bring something a little charming into a semi-innocent that Brother Dawn was.

The bulk of the rest of the episode focuses on Salvor as she awakens after the jump in the Invictus to have arrived at Terminus, thanks to Pirenne having wished them there. Pretty much everyone is dead at this point except for Phara, who is unconscious and quickly tied up while Salvor tries to figure out what to do. All communications with Terminus are down so she opts to make a space-leap to the Beggar ship that was caught in the jump and use that to get to the surface. It is absolutely zero surprise that you get Hugo showing up here but the whole thing is just a poorly explained mess because he’s also there with several Thespian ships that he called in for help in order to deal with the Anacreons on Terminus. Maybe I just didn’t connect the dots right but it really didn’t feel like it worked in terms of time, distance, and jumps for it to happen. But we all knew Hugo was alive, it was just a matter of what he was actually doing.

Terminus itself is a mess with everyone pretty much catatonic down there except for Salvor when she arrives. Her immunity to the null field is her advantage and we see how she’s almost quite literally the key to things here by accessing the prime radiant, which causes the null field device to open. That just sets the full crisis into motion with the Thespians arriving on the ground and you get a face-off with the Anacreons there. Who, for once, actually seem like they’re going to be reasonable until Phara shows up. Which unfortunately forces Salvor into violence, contradicting everything her father taught her as a child as we see in a flashback. I’m curious how they’re going to wrap that around things. But it does start moving us toward the reality of how the outer rim must be reshaped as the empire falls, as the potential rise of kingdoms will happen and the Foundation has to set its place as a gatekeeper among them. Salvor continues to be key, but a very unexpected one in a story where it was originally all about dialogue, statecraft, and careful planning to win without force.

In Summary:
I continue to understand and agree with almost every complaint about the show in comparison to the books and I think I referenced the books more in this piece than I have since the first installment, only because we’re hitting such a key period. Again, I’m thoroughly enjoying this show for what it’s presenting and the sandbox within which it plays as I can easily imagine Asimov completely rewriting those original books going by how he reshaped so much in the Prelude books. Not that Goyer and his team are Asimov in any sense. But I’m loving how so much of this plays out and I’m eager to see how the season, and likely this time period, wraps up in one more episode. There’s a lot to get done in the finale that’s coming and it’s going to be a busy episode going by all the setup and place setting here.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Apple TV+