Foundation Season 1 Episode 10: The Leap Review

The fall takes on new paths and turns as Seldon lays out some of the stakes.

What They Say:
An unexpected ally helps Salvor broker an alliance. A confrontation between the Brothers leads to unthinkable consequences.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Foundation draws to a close and I’m definitely looking forward to taking it in again without weekly breaks between episodes. There are a lot of shows that work better binging and I suspect that this will be one of them for a lot of people in order to see the threads tie together more clearly. The series isn’t one that gained itself a lot of fans from the hardcore novel side, I suspect, which is unfortunate because so much of what’s here feels like Asimov’s prelude books that he wrote in the 80s. It doesn’t feel like the original book, which we have to remember was serialized over time in magazines before being collected and re-edited into something more coherent and cohesive. But it was still a threadbare book in terms of storytelling. And bringing that to life in long-form TV resulted in choices by the creative team here that hasn’t sat well with many. And I totally get that, as I’ve said before. But for me, it’s been a delight across the board outside of a couple of particular choices.

There’s a good bit going on here and while the episode may feel more like an epilogue, especially after recent events, it’s one that I hope basically wraps up the current era and does move us forward into more of what the original novel has to offer. The first crisis was interesting after the initial setup, but it’s the expansions that come after that have me more interested. Here, we see how Seldon has orchestrated things for this first crisis by using his psychohistory with this event as its first real test years ago. Right down to the Invictus, having used his math to understand and predict how it operates. With the not-real Seldon walking among everyone on Terminus for a little bit, he explains how he and the Vault itself are the same and came into being, which certainly plays to that far-flung future tech angle. I’m not exactly super keen on it considering the original way it was presented, but I’m not wholly against it either.

What Seldon gets into in dealing with the three forces at play here with the Anacreons, Thespians, and the Foundation serves to reveal how they’ve been played for so long. While the Foundation folk aren’t exactly thrilled about Seldon’s lies in order to put this mission into motion, his exposition about the origins of the fight between the other two, which resulted in hundreds of years of back and forth events, makes it clear that they have to break the cycle. It’s not something easily done all things considered, but I do like that Salvor’s words about Phara before are utilized later on with the other Anacreon. Talking about how she was solely focused on revenge and the last move, he was looking for more and is willing to work that path that is being laid out in the partnership that’s orchestrated here. You know it’s not as easy as presented and the events unseen are where the hard work is done, but seeing how Phara is laid to rest and how it sets a new change into Terminus itself is definitely very well realized.

Salvor, for her part, is at least talked about as being mayor even if it’s not actually happening. Book fans be angry, understandably so. But what we get is that instead of her taking up that position, she’s intent on finding out where Gaal ended up after learning the truth of her own heritage upon learning that Seldon was not sending her messages. This is all a little too-connected for my tastes and it unfolds in a way that really stretches the limits, but as a quiet final epilogue and sequence to the episode and the season, having Gall return to her homeworld 138 years later and discover that Salvor has been in cryo under the water for a 100 years at that point has its resonance. It’s a quiet sequence overall but it does land with the reveal of their connection. That said, I sincerely hope that neither return for a second season as I want it to move forward into the captains storyline and more with what’s going on there. But I get the sense that they’re not going to want to let go of these characters and actors just yet, which worries me.

Unsurprisingly, the storyline involving Empire – which can carry forward thanks to the Genetic Dynasty element – is utterly fascinating. The initial focus is on dealing with Brother Dawn and Azura. Azura is dealt with in a way that really feels like Brother Day would, as he knows full well the loss of legacy over Dawn even if they are going to basically send in another clone. His time with Azura after taking her out of confinement is brutal as he delves into her legacy – and where she came from – and just how easy it is for him to eliminate it all. And does so with just a simple turn of the wrist. And then to pile on top of that the punishment that she will suffer until death decades down the line pushes it to what it all is, pure and simple cruelty. Which is the point. There are a lot of interesting moments in the garden ahead of the reveals, and the analogy of the garden and the galaxy works well, but seeing how personally it’s all dealt with just takes it to a whole other level.

But even that’s just starting to scratch the surface of things as we get things settled for Dawn in how he’ll be eliminated and replaced. But that takes its own turn when he’s brought before his brothers, though Dusk makes it clear he is no brother for all his defects. What Day has gone through with the Spiral and being off-world has changed him, however, which infuriates Dusk all the more. He’s so intent on the permanence of things as established by the past and his upbringing that even Day is now becoming defective. This all plays out brutally as it turns physical with a scared Dawn watching it and it leads to what will be the final make or break moment for most book fans and the most controversial of all changes for some as Demerzel snaps Dawn’s neck.

And I can totally understand why when going by the zeroth law and how she’s playing the long game in protecting humanity from itself. She makes it clear she serves the Genetic Dynasty first and foremost and the individual pieces come next in the three parts of Cleon. It’s a lot of mental jujitsu when you get down to it, but that’s part of what the zeroth law was created to handle. But even here we see that it has a real impact on her when she’s alone later and screams out about it. I totally understand the anger over it but it does provide conflict for the character and fits in with some other additions along the way, such as their journey on the Spiral. With the Genetic Dynasty being what she believes is needed to keep functioning, to hold together the Empire long enough as needed for Seldon’s Plan to work, than an individual death that was already essentially a given is the price to pay. Not an easy one, not one without real impact, but one that can be paid.

In Summary:
Adaptations are always difficult, though they’ve gotten better in this past decade than in years before. I remember reading Asimov’s Nightfall book and then seeing the movie that was made for it and being so incredibly disappointed. With Foundation, we get a book that can be filmed but a direct adaptation is something that I simply don’t think would work. While this doesn’t adhere to the source like early Game of Thrones material did, it captures the sweeping elements in the right way and a lot of the concepts. I know there’s a sea of hate out there for this show from a lot of book fans and I get it. I’ve watched so many books, comics, and more get adapted into mainstream forms and hated the results. For me, this series hit a lot of what I had hoped for with it while also challenging me in its differences to avoid the rigid conformation to the source. Yes, they could have just slapped an inspired-by line on it and it would remove a good chunk of the hate, but that’s semantics. I thoroughly enjoyed this season and am eager to see more of where they go with it. There’s so much great material here that it moves me quite deeply at times.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Apple TV+