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Foundation Episode 9 Review & Recap: ‘The First Crisis’ Was Outstanding

Foundation Episode 9 review

Foundation Episode 9 might very well be the season’s best episode so far. While last week’s episode focused mostly on Brother Day’s journey, he was almost entirely absent from this week. And Gaal was mostly missing too. Despite their absences, the episode was brilliant. It had so many twists and turns, moving the plot forward quickly in preparation for the season finale.

Below is a review for Season 1 Episode 9 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 Dawn’s Story Was Suspenseful & Compelling

Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

One of the things that I love the most about Foundation is that I have no idea what to expect from various storylines or how they will ultimately converge. I have no idea which characters are safe and which might not survive. They killed Raych off early in the season, teaching viewers that anyone can be expendable. Although Gaal was a centerpiece in the beginning, she wasn’t even present for a good part of this season. Anything can happen, so you never feel quite comfortable imagining that one of your favorite characters is safe.

This is especially true with the Emperors. Now that we know they have clones at each age range, who can step in at a moment’s notice, no one is safe. The Empire won’t collapse if one of the Brothers dies an untimely death. They have “backups upon backups.”

So throughout this week’s episode, I wasn’t certain what was ultimately going to happen to Brother Dawn. Was he going to die? Was he going to escape? I felt like we could have equally compelling storylines no matter what road they chose.

Brother Dusk at the murals
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

Dusk had a trap set up for Dawn. If you recall, Dawn’s inconsistencies with the other clones mean that he’s a better hunter, is left-handed, colorblind, along with a myriad of other tiny differences that amount to a lot. In a previous episode, he tried to hide how many more birds he killed than Dusk, but his secret was uncovered anyway. Then in this episode, Dusk tested whether or not he was colorblind by hiding drawings of the extra birds in his paintings.

Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

When Dawn realized what happened, he followed Azura’s step-by-step instructions for escaping and finding her. The scenes where Dawn was escaping were suspenseful because I wasn’t sure where the show would take the plot next. And in the back of my mind, I wondered if Azura might be a spy for Dusk, but I didn’t suspect what really happened.

Azura was working for a group that had been planning for more than 20 years to take down the Empire from within. They had absconded with Cleon DNA and grew their own clone, while sabotaging Dawn’s DNA so he’d be different and feel compelled to escape at some point in his life. They planned to send this “perfect” clone in his place and take over the Empire from within. It was a brilliant idea. But Dusk had picked up on Azura and Dawn’s romance, supposedly because the Cleons have a history of being rebellious and making mistakes when they’re young.

Two Brother Dawns
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

So Dusk and his Imperial guards took out Azura and her group. But Dawn’s future still hangs in the balance. He’s still an imperfect clone and, thus, a threat to the Empire, in Dusk’s viewpoint. He’s a constant reminder of their weakness. But because they rule as a trio, it is ultimately going to be Brother Day who is the tiebreaker and decides whether Dawn lives or dies.

I really don’t have a guess as to what Day will choose. Although he disapproves of how brutally Dusk responded to the destruction of the bridge, he also responded brutally when his rule was threatened and forced Demerzel to kill Zephyr Halima. He lied about a fake vision in order to gain acceptance and help the Proxima sympathetic to the Empire be chosen. But he also witnessed a man help him from dying along the way, and he was hurt when the man died. So I’m not sure which way he’ll lean when it comes to Dawn’s fate.

One of the murals
What does this mean? (Apple TV Plus)

I’d like to take a moment, before moving on from this section, to mention how impressed I was with Cassian Bilton and his role as Brother Dawn in this episode. He really nailed Dawn’s fear (and unfamiliarity with fear) as he fled for his life. And even with only playing the other clone for a few minutes in this episode, he really sold how different that other clone was and how confident he was in his plan. Bilton is phenomenal on this series.

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We Finally Said Goodbye to Phara & Terminus Just Got A Lot More Interesting

Phara
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

We learn at the beginning of the episode that humanity no longer remembers its roots, but only “guesses” that it might have evolved from Earth. It’s just a small name drop, but it helps anchor the series, which I appreciated.

After this peaceful moment with Salvor, things are about to get intense again. Salvor discovered that Invictus had made its way to Terminus after all. Now they just have to figure out how to gain control of the ship, for everyone’s sake. But the Anacreons are still trying to kill all the Foundation people and the Empire. The good news is that Hugo’s plan was also a success. He ended up at Terminus too and is able to help Salvor get to the surface. Salvor is able to somehow access memories of when Hari and Gaal interacted with the Prime Radiant, putting herself in Gaal’s place. She figures out how to turn the Prime Radiant on, which in turn frees the Artifact. (Or, more accurately, triggers a  hidden program within it.)

Artifact opens
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

Military forces from the Empire arrive and are about to take control when Phara flies in on her own ship after escaping Invictus. She’s somehow able to destroy the Empire ships and gain the upperhand (again.) That’s when things plotwise get a little dicey. Salvor gives a speech about unity and for some reason, everyone decides to buy into it. Phara, unsurprisingly, doesn’t. But then, for no apparent reason, Phara decides to destroy the Artifact, giving Salvor a chance to kill her. With Phara dead and the Artifact unleashed, a door appears. And Hari emerges, pleased to see all three factions in one place.

Salvor gives a speech
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

So, let’s analyze all of this for a moment… I already theorized that Salvor is Gaal’s child and they both share the same ability to intuitively know what’s going to happen next. Salvor’s honed her skill more than Gaal. This power somehow also allows Salvor to see things through Gaal’s perspective. I’m still banking on the “Salvor is Gaal’s daughter” theory, but I guess someone might also be able to argue that Salvor is a partial clone of Gaal that Hari created. But I think that one’s more far-fetched.

Hari appears
Foundation Episode 9 (Apple TV)

Hari, obviously, is his digital AI self. I’m guessing he made multiple copies of himself, hidden in various artifacts (there’s probably another one on his homeworld.) So in the end, it didn’t really matter if his digital self died on his ship when Gaal sabotaged it. Some of the Foundation people honor him like he’s a god, so I’m interested to see how they interact with his digital self.

As for Phara, I’m glad they killed off her character. Her motivations were one-dimensional and it became unrealistic to see her easily survive so many times. But she’s also the only plothole that I’ve seen in this series. The show talked up space jumps so much, letting us know over and over that the human mind can’t handle being conscious during a jump. Yet Phara somehow turned out just fine. It would have been interesting if she had turned out to be from Gaal and Salvor’s family tree somehow, and also possessed their ability. Instead, I feel like her surviving that jump with her mind intact was more of a plothole designed to give her a dramatic death. Which is unfortunate.

But I also thought the show had a plothole when Dusk was determined to “kill” Dawn and the military was backing him up (since they’re supposed to be equally loyal to all three, and the tiebreaker wasn’t there to issue a verdict.) The show ultimately revealed that this was not a plothole, but just part of Dusk’s plan. So I’m hoping there’s more to this Phara storyline than meets the eye.

All in all, this was an excellent episode and perhaps one of the best in this series so far. But one moment still haunts me. In a voiceover near the end, Gaal said something about history that seemed to indicate that she was not telling an accurate recounting of what happened. Are we watching a story that’s being told by an unreliable narrator, and things aren’t quite as they appear?

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Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. Her favorite shows of all-time are Battlestar Galactica and Lost, and she's always happy to talk about her cats. 🙂

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