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Foundation - Death and the Maiden - Review

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One of the main selling points that I had in Foundation from the start was that it wasn’t your typical sci-fi space opera, and Death and the Maiden went some way to establishing that – bringing a spaceship known as Invictus in the fray (If the ship name sounds familiar, you may recognise it from Return of the Jedi). It’s not subtle. It’s not original – it’s a tried and tested trope of sci-fi, an indestructible super-weapon. It’s a sci-fi trope that just feels cheap, emerging as what is probably my biggest issue with this episode as a collective whole.

Raych murdering Hari at Hari’s request was something that we all knew from day one was the reasoning behind why he murdered him, and Foundation gives away a fairly lazy answer “it’s all part of Hari’s plan” seems to be the get-out for this show – and its characters, especially those on Terminus, and if we’re following something predetermined I hope we get to see more characters make decisions that Hari didn’t plan for at some point in the future – Gaal getting in the escape pod instead of Raych could have been one of those, as he was ordered not to see her but either way – it’s likely that whenever we pick up with Gaal we’ll get some answers, but who knows in Foundation, which, if you’ll remember, has aspirations of 80 hours – meaning we’re only 6 in. Hopefully we get to learn more about why the mission would have failed if Hari had stayed alive next time out – the explanation that Raych got was rather thin on the ground, but the facade of Hari as a noble idealist is already slipping away, meaning that Jared Harris' portrayal may be sharing more in common with his character from The Beast Must Die than Chernobyl.

The resistance on Terminus was quickly put to the sword in the previous episode, but we eventually see Salvor unite with her father Abbas and Hugo with the intent to take out the Anacreons’ ships. They succeed – but at the cost of Abbas’ life, sacrificing himself to save the colony. At the moment it looks like that was all in vain as the Anacreons are able to get off the planet anyway, but Hugo and Salvor are on board, with Salvor in command – piloting towards the Anthor belt on Phara’s orders.

After being largely absent from the previous episode, we returned to Trantor to spend some more time with Brothers Dawn and Dusk. There is some wearied suspicion of Dawn from Dusk – Dawn’s hiding of three of his kills so as not to upstage Dusk is something that he’s unaware of, but the refusal to sleep with one of Trantor’s escorts afterwards is something that he is – this episode does a good job at illustrating just how different from his Brothers this Dawn is. Not only is he colour blind, he’s developed feelings for Azura – and the pair bond over a rooftop.

Brother Dusk or Brother Day might have killed Azura here – especially after her learning the secret that Dawn is colour-blind, a first for Empire’s clones – but the fact that he does not suggest that a change is coming, and tension between the siblings is in the air. Whilst Azura may be safe from Dawn – Dusk and Day may have other ideas.

Brother Day – with the obligatory shirtless Lee Pace intro shot, meanwhile – arrives to Opal’s Funeral on Maiden, and a power struggle between Zephyr Gilat and Zephyr Halima takes place – with Brother Day watching on. We got to learn how Maiden’s population viewed that of Trantor – and we got to learn the divide between the two – Gilat was the Empire’s favoured candidate, but Halima meanwhile is the daring of the two, both completely at odds at each other – and Halima is able to attack Day’s clones with a speech that illustrates just how much support that she gets, including that from his own assistant – Eto. Coupled with the voiceover at the start of this episode (which I’m not a fan of overall, it feels a bit clumsy and awkward still) that reminded us that Hari Seldon put uncertainty into the eyes of the Empire – this may throw Brother Day further off his balance of unchecked power – especially when he returns to Trantor to find Brothers Dawn and Dusk at odds and potential rebellion in his own line of clones, who are supposed to be uniquely identical to him in every way. And that’s of course, assuming that Day returns at all.

I did like how in contrast to the action on Trantor this coup was a bit less bloody and a bit less action packed – I do feel like the pacing of this series is still a bit too messy for its own good and it has been one of its weakest elements so far with storylines coming all over the place – perhaps lending Foundation to a more anthology approach as opposed to that of a traditional series would have been a better idea – or at least separating out the two arcs between that of Terminus and that of the Empire across two different shows could have worked as they feel at odds with each other in terms of pacing. Furthermore, the idea of a predetermined destiny for every character that they can’t escape from is something that I’m happy to see the series is starting to move towards from, but it still feels like a weak link that will inevitably rear its head when Gaal comes back into play – after all, Salvor and her are clearly linked, making their eventual encounter being all the more anticipated.

See you next Friday for episode seven – as we go from one AppleTV+ sci-fi pairing to another – rather than being paired with See Season 2, Foundation is now joining Invasion, which I’ll be reviewing over the weekend, and that has its first three episodes up on the streamer available now.

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