Foundation Episode 10 brought all the major storylines together to bring the first season to an unexpected but thrilling close. As always, the Empire’s storyline stood out and was the most compelling. But the Terminus and Gaal storylines were still interesting enough to keep me hooked until the very end.
Below is a review for Season 1 Episode 10 of Foundation, “The Leap,” along with explanations of some key plot points, so there will be SPOILERS in the article below. (This is written from the perspective of not knowing how the books’ storyline turns out.)
As Always, the Empire’s Storyline Was the Most Compelling
The Empire’s storyline has far and away been the most compelling storyline for all of season one. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the other parts of the season, because I did. But there was something unique about the Empire and deep and authentic the plotlines were that really made it stand out.
From the moment their storyline begins, Dusk and Day have a heavy tension between them carrying over from previous conversations. As Day said before, he’s always resented Dusk for how heavy-handed he was in response to the bridge’s explosion. And while Dusk wants Dawn to be killed because he’s not a true clone, Day views Dawn as his own son. He feels a deep fondness for the young man and can’t bring himself to see him killed. And yet, despite this fondness, he is also still brutal to his core — as demonstrated in his punishment given to Azura.
The actors do a phenomenal job in these scenes, portraying men who are supposed to be just like each other, but still pulling apart at the seams.
Ultimately, after much debate and conversation, Brother Day decides to let Dawn live. After his time journey through the Spiral, he has come to believe that a bit of individuality and evolution would actually be good for the clones and ensure them a better chance at survival. But Brother Dusk, who is 100% committed to the old ways, disagrees and actually initiates a physical altercation with Day. Their fight was more compelling to me than most other fights would be, because it symbolized a deep fissure developing within the Empire itself.
Dawn, who trusts Demerzel implicitly, clung to her crying and asking her to protect him. I full believed in this moment that she would protect him like a mother protects her child. Instead, she promised to do just that and then snapped his neck, killing him.
Her previous scene two episodes ago, when she killed Zephyr Halima at Day’s command, actually foreshadowed this moment. But I missed that foreshadowing completely and was stunned and speechless when Dawn crumpled to the ground, dead. I had never predicted this would happen. As it turns out, Demerzel’s programming doesn’t compel her to obey any of the Cleons except the very first one. His voice is still the one that is ultimately controlling the Dynasty, even beyond the grave.
Demerzel, meanwhile, may have a soul but most definitely has no autonomy, no matter how deeply she wants it. We see her pulling off her own skin and screaming in her last scene as a potent symbol of her grief over killing Dawn. She hates who she is, but is also powerless to stop it.
Near the end, we also learn that the clone line has been corrupted far earlier than Dawn. Day himself is likely corrupted, and Dusk is so sure he hasn’t been that he is already being tested. It’s yet another twist in the storyline that I hadn’t anticipated, but perhaps I should have. Many episodes earlier, we saw Dawn making an odd movement with his hands that mimicked one that Hari made. I believe that Hari himself gave the rebel group the technology it needed to corrupt the clones, and he left his own signature embedded within that corruption.
Hari’s Return to Terminus Did Not Turn Out Quite as I Had Expected
Episode 9 ended with a big reveal that I couldn’t wait to see played out in Episode 10. Hari was back! As it turns out, his digital form was somehow hidden away in the artifact all this time on Terminus, waiting to be awakened. The Foundation/Terminus colonists, the Anacreons, and the Thespins are all gathered together, which is just what he had planned. (As an aside, I had misinterpreted one big part of this storyline in previous reviews. I had gotten confused and thought the Thespins’ involvement was actually the work of the Empire. So it took me a second to regroup when this episode began.)
Hari explains that history was wrong about the initial incident that divided the Anacreons and the Thespins so many years ago, “The First Betrayal.” A Thespin king wed an Anacreon huntress, and it’s believed the Anacreon killed him. However, Hari says this was a misdirection created by Cleon II (the first clone) to divide two outlying civilizations that could threaten the Empire if they ever united. It makes sense, considering how brutal we’ve seen the Emperors act already.
Hari’s plan is to unite the Thespins, Anacreons, and colonists and have them work together to build more ships based on the Invictus. He didn’t plan for the Foundation to really be about gathering knowledge for the end – that was a cover story. Instead, he wanted to gather people to create a new civilization that would one day challenge the Empire. I’m a little unsure at this point just how much of Hari’s story to the Empire was a lie. Is there no dark age to come at all? He believes that if the Genetic Dynasty continues to rule with an one voice, they will lead them down a path that annihilates the human race. It sounds to me like he believes a different kind of darkness lies in the future, but only if the Empire isn’t defeated. It’s an interesting twist that I had not anticipated.
Hari says he swallowed a pill that contained millions of self-replicating molecular machines just before he died. After he was jettisoned into space, the machines broke down his body tissue into its elements and in a sense rebuilt him. The Vault is him, in a sense, but he hasn’t been sentient until just recently when the null field began to expand. For some reason, he has to go back into the Vault.
There are a few things about this point in the storyline that confuse me. For one, it’s not clear how this Hari on Terminus is related to the digital Hari on Gaal’s ship that was returning to Hari’s homeworld, where a second Foundation existed. If Hari’s story is true, then how is there a second sentient version of himself on that ship? And why did that version not need the same resources and extensive number of years to rebuild itself? And exactly why does Hari have to go back into the Vault now anyway?
We know that Hari will lie, at least temporarily, in order to achieve his ultimate purpose. So I have to imagine that even now, he’s still lying about something. That’s likely a constant with his character.
Salvor’s Storyline Ends More than 100 Years in the Future
At the end of the episode, Salvor decides that she must seek out Gaal since Hari told her that he was not the voice who was guiding her. (If we even believe he’s being honest.) She leaves Terminus to travel back to her homeworld, since she feels pulled there. Gaal also felt pulled there, but her journey took much longer.
The episode ends more than 100 years in the future, so I’m going to assume that the Terminus storyline — at least where we left it when Hari went back into the vault — is over. Season 2 will likely pick up with a time jump. Gaal and Salvor did finally meet, as their respective “hunches” ultimately pulled them together. It’s a bit unbelievable how it happened, but I think we’re supposed to assume that the science behind their hunches is quite exact but also so far advanced that it appears like magic.
Next season will probably pick up with a short time jump from where we left Gaal and Salvor. We’ll pick up with Terminus more prepared for the great battle against the Empire, likely having a fleet of Invictus ships at its disposal. And as for the Cleons…I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m not sure if we will see that Brother Dusk prevailed and the Cleons have been returned to a state much closer to their original Emperor. Or perhaps we will see that Brother Day prevailed, and allowed a more “corrupted” version to run through the clone lineage, giving the clones a better chance at evolution and survival.
If I had to guess, though, I would guess that Brother Dusk was ultimately the one who won in what would likely turn into a battle with Brother Day. This is only because Demerzel is on Dusk’s side. She’s programmed to maintain the purity of the Cleon dynasty, as per the original Cleon’s coding. And I don’t think that’s something she can break free from, no matter how hard she tries.
In summary, this was an amazing way to end Foundation’s first season. The Empire’s storyline is the one that I’ll be thinking about until the show returns. The Cleon clones most definitely stole the show. But I’m also interested to see just how far Terminus has gotten in their task and how large of a fleet of Invictus ships they now have at the ready.