Is it just me or does Foundation just improve with each and every episode? Foundation Episode 8 was another fantastic addition to the series. I find myself rooting for some characters, even though I know deep down that they’re going to disappoint me, and other storylines become even more compelling as the season progresses. The latest episode was a masterful weaving of three disparate storylines that still were tied together by common threads. We assume these characters will all collide at some point, but it’s impossible to guess just how.
Below is a review for Season 1 Episode 8 of Foundation, “The Missing Piece,” 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.)
Brother Day’s Journey Was Compelling & Heartbreaking
This week, I found Brother Day’s journey to be the most compelling storyline. The push-pull between him and Demerzel was fascinating to watch. I used to have a theory that Demerzel was secretly running things from behind-the-scenes, but this week’s episode proved that theory to be wrong.
Because we know that clones exist that can replace the emperors, I wasn’t even certain if Brother Day would survive his trek around the Spiral. It seems like someone who has lived a life of luxury would be especially hard-pressed to make this journey successfully. He’s never felt pain, never had to develop callouses on his feet… I would think that if an Emperor truly wanted to succeed, they would need to train for years for this. But Brother Day did succeed. It was not easy. He only made it because of the help of a friend. And at one point, he seemed truly crestfallen when that friend died on the trail. I thought, briefly, that he would get in touch with his humanity and empathy again because of that journey.
However, it was not to be. In the end, he reached the cave and the heart of the Spiral, but he was given a vision of absolutely nothing. The emptiness of that compelled him to take Demerzel’s three-petaled flower, which he had seen before, and combine it with the story his friend told him about another person’s vision. He then claimed that as his vision. It was a risky move, but enough to convince the elders that he was indeed accepted by their goddess. They proclaimed that he should be respected from now on.
Later, he ordered Demerzel to kill Zephyr Halima, even though her chance at becoming Proxima was already gone. Apparently someone who stood so strongly and almost successfully against Empire cannot be allowed to live. It was a heartbreaking scene, to see Demerzel suffer so greatly at not being able to fight against her own programming. Seeing her very fight convince Halima that she did, indeed, have a soul was a beautifully sad moment.
Just as Demerzel cannot fight her own programming, I cannot help but wonder if Brother Day can’t fight his “programming” either. He seemed to be truly affected by that one man’s death during his journey, but it ultimately didn’t change him at all. Perhaps he and Demerzel are both on a set path that neither can veer from.
Salvor’s War with the Anacreons Continues
Another big storyline that highlighted Episode 8 was Phara and Salvor’s fight for control over Invictus. The episode began with a flashback to when Phara’s planet was attacked by the Empire and she saw her brother die before her eyes. This helps us to better understand things from her perspective and why she’s so driven. But still, she’s not a pure character seeking the downfall of an evil Empire for the betterment of her fellow man. Instead, she is solely out for revenge and doesn’t care how many millions of people die in the process. She can watch the innocent people of Terminus die before her, not caring at all about the survival of mankind’s knowledge, as long as she can continue to pursue her revenge. It’s very hard to maintain sympathy for a character like this, and I wish they would at least show that she had some misgivings or sorrow over what she’s had to do. But instead, she is filled with a rage that has given her a singleminded purpose — one that is deaf to the cries of suffering around her. In many ways, she is ignoring pain around her just like the Emperor did.
As I suspected last week, Hugo was not killed, but had made a risky move so he could call for help. Help did arrive, but a little too late. While Salvor intended to make the risky move of connecting herself to the Invictus and directing it back to Terminus, her plan was stopped short by Phara. In the end, the two were fighting and neither was able to redirect the jump. The ship jumped to an unknown location, and none of the humans on board were sedated in time. We learned before that the experience of jumping is too much for a human mind to bear. But neither Phara nor Salvor was sedated before the jump.
I’m going to guess that Salvor will be OK. We already saw that Gaal woke up during a jump and was put back under. I believe their minds are able to endure, and I can’t wait to see what Salvor experiences during the trip.
Gaal Frees Herself of Hari
The parallels between Gaal’s storyline and Salvor’s storyline must have been intentional. Both have found themselves unwillingly forced onto strange ships against their will. Both spend the episode fighting against a superior force and must take drastic measures in order to regain control. (In some ways, we could consider Demerzel a similar storyline, except she cannot free herself from her immovable force – the Empire.)
While Phara cares about nothing but her revenge and is, thus, an easier person to root against, Hari is a different story entirely. Hari has created Terminus, along with a second, secret Foundation on his homeworld. This man is brilliant. Terminus is like a honeypot drawing all the attention away from the secret Foundation that will help usher mankind’s knowledge past the dark ages.
For this storyline, I can better sympathize with both sides. Hari should trust Gaal and tell her why he wanted her to come to his homeworld. He could much more easily achieve his goals if he did so. At the same time, it’s understandable that he’s reluctant to divulge such a precious secret whose loss could come at a huge price for all of mankind. Gaal, on the other hand, doesn’t trust Hari because he and Raych enacted a plan that ended up getting Raych killed. And he’s seemingly betrayed her before. She refused to go to his homeworld because his history with her doesn’t lend her to trust him.
In this episode, I felt more uneasy with Gaal’s choices, while I more quickly supported Salvor’s. While Gaal might not trust Hari, she could look back on Raych’s decision to put her on this ship and perhaps trust Raych instead. But in deciding to take a drastic measure to escape Hari’s ship, she may have put the future of the second Foundation at risk.
At the same time, we also know that Gaal and Salvor have a sixth sense about things and they should follow their instincts. And unless Gaal was lying to Hari, she felt very strongly that she should not be going to his homeworld. So she did whatever it took to follow those instincts that have helped her in the past. Confusingly, however, she chose to return to her homeworld — the one that wanted to kill her — and she won’t even get there for more than 100 years. Unless something intervenes, we won’t be seeing Gaal again until Salvor is long gone and the Terminus/Invictus fight is a fleeting memory.
This was an excellent episode that moved the plot of three storylines along at a brisk pace. It wasn’t rushed, but it never felt slow either. As we near the season finale, I can’t imagine how they’re going to wrap all of this up.