TL;DR – The worlds come crashing down as damage comes to all.
Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.
Foundation Review –
When I first sat down to watch The Emperor’s Peace, I was not sure what I would get. I had read the novels that jump across time and space, making adaptation a challenging prospect. Indeed, it is not surprising that it has taken this long for someone to give a solid crack at it. As the season progressed, it became clear that the first episode might be the high-water mark for the show, but thankfully it was still always interesting.
So to set the scene, all the future plotlines had led to this point. On Trantor, the manipulations have come to a head. Still, thankfully, for the genetic dynasty, Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) was able to track Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton), stopping the plan of Azura (Amy Tyger) and her rebels in their tracts. But the question remains, what to do about Brother Dawn, who a pure Cleon is no longer, only Brother Day (Lee Pace) can decide. On Terminus, Anacreons and Thespeians have each other at a gun barrel with the colonists square in the centre. It is a recipe for slaughter, right up until Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) appears out of the Vault surprising all. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
If there was a theme in this week’s episode, it was that whatever you perceive your lot to be, the reverse is probably true. Empire had stemmed off a major catastrophe with the faith, only to find their very essence being brought into question. Every question about who they are got proven correct in an instant. This makes Demerzel (Laura Birn) killing Dawn all the more horrific, and it cuts to the deep of who she is. Something that is not lost on her as she rips her face off in one of the most confronting scenes of the season. On Terminus, all seems lost. Indeed everyone is about to die in a shooting war until Hari arrives and basically tells everyone he has been dicking with them for the last ten years. It is here where he reveals his big plan. The Foundation is not creating a time capsule. They will be starting the next global government.
The issue with this episode is that while two big and important things happen, there is still a long runtime to go through. Unfortunately, in comparison, the rest of this episode feels like filler, which is not something you want in your season finale because you want people coming back next season. Thus, we get an episode that starts strong but then kind of peters out by the end, which might be a good analogy for the season as a whole as it swings wildly from fascinating to boring in the space of the same episode.
I don’t envy the person/people that had to break down the book into the season arc that we got. These are not easy books to break down as they are ridiculously complicated in some areas and then also the hand wave important issues away with an almost, she’ll be right attitude. Trying to unite those two disparate parts was always going to be a challenge and would probably need you to add context to the show.
Where that expansion worked was in the reworked role of Cleon. At the very least, getting to watch Lee Pace pontificate every week as he chews every piece of scenery as he plays multiple different Cleons was an inspired choice. This gives a face to the global empire that was this intangible entity in the book. A bunch of rulers trying desperately to hold onto power even though a profit had prophesied their downfall. You can feel that clash of thousands of years of social inertia holding back everything they do.
Given how much I like Jared Harris as an actor, it is frustrating that his storyline with Gaal (Lou Llobell) is honestly the weakest part of the season. From the moment that Gaal is ejected from the ship in Preparing to Live, this whole story becomes superfluous for the narrative. Unfortunately, it felt tacked on, which was a shame because some of the themes it engaged with were interesting. I think part of the issue is that the narrative had to go wide before it could reveal its hand, which hurt its momentum.
In the end, do we recommend the first season of Foundation? Yes, yes, we do. This is not a show without its flaws. However, when it is on fire, it is fascinating to watch. The production was some of the best in Scifi, the use of some stunning location work made everything look better, and when the performances are good, they are fantastic.
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 – David S. Goyer
Written by – David S. Goyer
Created by – David S. Goyer & Josh Friedman
Based on – Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Production/Distribution Companies – Skydance TV & Apple+
Starring In Season 1 – Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Terrence Mann, Laura Birn & Cassian Bilton with Elliot Cowan, Daniel MacPherson, Chipo Chung, Sasha Behar, Kubba Sait, Pravessh Rana, Amy Tyger, Jairaj Varsani, Chloe Lea, Clarke Peters, Nikhil Parmar, Mido Hamada, Darragh O’Toole, Matt Gavan, Muiris Crowley, T’nia Miller, Julia Farino, Michael Elwyn, Ann Firbank, Jayne Giordanella, Sarah Naudi, Nikol Kollars, Nikhil Parmar, Geoffrey Cantor, Gerard Lee, David Jacob Sumod, Naisha Kripalani Dhankani, Alfred Enoch, Nikol Kollars, Christian Contrearas, Vanessa Ifediora, Martin McDougall, Fergus Mulligan, Martin McDougall, Geoffrey Cantor, Stuart McQuarrie, Rory Nolan, Zoha Rahman, Sofia Privitera, Dinesh Bhavnani, Buddy Skelton, Joni Morris, Kim Adis, Johanna O’Brien, Ben Bazell, Catriona Loughlin, Garry Mountaine, Carolina Main, Antony Bunsee, Brian Bovell, Reece Shearsmith, Cooper Carter, Florence Ordesh, Ahd Tamili, Georg Nikaloff, Sehan Aar, Laila Pyne, Abdul Alshareef & Alexander Siddig