TL;DR – We start to see the main story unfurl, but some of the more frustrating elements are still there.
Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.
Foundation Review –
‘Non-linear storytelling’ is a method of creating a narrative that does not follow the usual A->B->C->D pattern but can jump all over the place C->D->B->A. Sometimes this comes in the form of a narrative hook where they show something shocking and jump back in a week to show how they got there. Sometimes it can be used to keep an audience off-balance. Sometimes it can be a complete surprise, like in Westworld. But if you are going to employ a non-linear story, you need to make sure it improves your narrative and that you are not losing your audience in the process.
So to set the scene, at the end of Preparing to Live, we had a moment of horror as Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) is apparently murdered at the hands of his own son Raych (Alfred Enoch) while Gaal (Lou Llobell) was jettisoned out of an escape pod. This episode we open 400-years earlier when Cleon the First (Terrence Mann) is looking over the construction of the Starbridge and preparing to create the legacy of his clones. We then jump 19 years after the bombing in The Emperor’s Peace, as Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) has started his final day before becoming Brother Darkness. While 36 years after the bombing, the colonists have landed on Terminus and have been spending their time founding a colony and starting the task of softening the fall of the galactic empire.
Here we have another episode with some clear highs and lows. In the highs, one of the areas where the show triumphs are still the sheer amount of work that has gone into the location scouting. Terminus looks like it has elements of Iceland, the Canary Islands, and even Malta, I think, smashed together. This mix creates a unique world that is both familiar and also alien, a powerful combination. It is also good to see the main narrative starting to come together at the end of the episode. Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) and Hugo (Daniel MacPherson) make a good team, and I am interested to see how they navigate the coming crisis. I also want to point out the MVP of the Empire side of the narrative Eto Demerzel (Laura Birn).
However, while there are good elements on show here, there are also elements that are becoming frustrating. Look, maybe it is just me, and I have gotten out of the habit of watching non-linear narratives, but I am not sure the show needs the amount of time jumping that it does. Part of this might also be because I have read all the novels, so I have a rough idea of the main narrative thrust. Because of this, a lot of time is spent building up people that don’t matter and not enough on those who do. It also feels that the show did not do itself any favours by jettisoning its main point-of-view character because now it just feels even more untethered.
In the end, do we recommend The Mathematician’s Ghost? Well, while it was more tease than substance this week, it was nice to see the narrative push forward. Also, while the show’s rough edges are on clear display, they are not fatal flaws, well, not yet. At the very least, it has still made me interested in seeing out this first season.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Foundation
Directed by – Alex Graves
Written by – Olivia Purnell
Created by – David S. Goyer & Josh Friedman
Based on – Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Production/Distribution Companies – Skydance TV & Apple+
Starring – Lee Pace, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Mann & Cassian Bilton with Elliot Cowan, Daniel MacPherson, Jairaj Varsani, Buddy Skelton, Chloe Lea, Joni Morris, Clarke Peters, Kim Adis, Johanna O’Brien, Nikol Kollars, Ben Bazell, Matt Gavan, Stuart McQuarrie, Catriona Loughlin, Garry Mountaine,