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Review of Foundation 2.1-2.2

Major Players

By Paul LevinsonPublished 11 months ago Updated 9 months ago 4 min read

Foundation is back on Apple TV+ with the first two episodes of its second season. Here's a review, with some spoilers.

Here's what the first episode of the second season is most like: the first season of Foundation on Apple TV+. Here's what it's significantly not much like: Isaac Asimov's novels, upon which this series is supposed to be based. But you knew that, and I said that, already. In fact, I just did, when I said the first episode of the second season is most like the first season.

And, to be clear. as I said in my reviews of the first season back in 2021, the dissimilarity of this TV series to Asimov's novels doesn't mean that it's all bad. But nor can I help not being disappointed, not missing the trilogy that I read and loved three times, and the sequels which I read once and loved not as much but well enough.

Once again, my favorite part of the TV series are the Cleon clones and Demerzel -- Cleon wasn't cloned in the novels and Demerzel was very different, but their rendition in the TV series is often superb. This continues in episode 2.1. Lee Pace as Brother Day is once again a powerhouse. Same for Laura Birn as Demerzel. And Terrence Mann as Brother Dusk is simmering and outstanding, and Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn is memorable. All told, they tell an exciting, high intellect, high octane story vividly. And, yeah, they're the bad guys (I guess).

The good guys, who are supposed to be Hari Seldon and the Foundation, are not nearly as impressive, as of this first episode of the second season. Jared Harris is a great actor, but he's been put in a box in this TV series, and even when he screams and yells he barely breaks through. And as for the rest ... Gaal and Salvor, well, I don't think I'd mind at all if they were almost unrecognizable from the characters with their name in the novels, if they'd been given a riveting story. Instead, we get mental gymnastics and proclamations of profundity with not much substance or appeal.

But I'll keep watching, because I enjoy the clone story, and I still have some hope somewhere that the TV series will deliver some of what I most enjoyed in the novels.


And I thought Foundation 2.2 was much better than 2.1. Here's why:

It introduced, at this very early stage of the story -- by the standards of the Asimov trilogy -- both the Second Foundation and the Mule. And just for good measure, Bel Riose.

The Second Foundation, as described by Hari in this episode, is much the same as it is in the novels. It keeps track of how the Plan is faring, and makes amends, if possible. The big question, at first in the novels, is where it's located. In this episode of the TV series, the location is revealed, and it's not the same as in the novels. We'll have to see how this works out.

The Mule in this episode is just as evil as the Mule in the novels, but very different. There's nothing pathetic about him. He's just a monster. reminiscent of Sauron. I'd say that makes him less interesting and original than the Mule in Asimov's pages, but we'll have to see how this works out, too.

We don’t really know too much about Bel Riose at this point, except that Day doesn’t like him. That’s pretty much consistent with how the Emperor feels about the Empire’s last great general in Asimov’s novel. Of course, in the novels, the Bel Riose story happens before the Mule, and is indeed the last great triumph of the First Foundation in the Seldon Plan. The Mule is actually future to Bel Riose in episode 2.2 as well -- Gaal's mind travels to the future and encounters the Mule -- but this makes him present in her mind, and therefore in our, the viewers' minds, at the same time that we learn about Bel Riose and the Second Foundation.

Meanwhile, we have some profound developments on Trantor with the Cleons in episode 2.2. Brother Day wants to make babies the old-fashioned way -- well, not completely old-fashioned, they'll be created in test tubes not via sex, but at least they won't be clones. I have feeling that, whatever Demerzel is telling Day about this now, she may not let that happen. We also get a glimpse of the Emperor before the Cleon clones. And in the painting, I'm not sure, but it looks like Demerzel was there. She can live forever without cloning, because she's an android. I'm also thinking that, for this reason alone, sooner or later, the Cleons may come to regard her as a danger, because she in fact has more ultimate power than they do.

And how do I feel about the introduction of the Second Foundation and the Mule so early? It's ok. As long as major characters have some resemblance to their origins in the novels, I don't mind if they're changed or appear at different times. And in this second episode, even Hari seems more like himself.

Reviews of other Season 2 episodes of Foundation: 2.3 & 2.5 ... 2.6... 2.7... 2.8-2.9... 2.10

[I didn't review episode 2.4.]

[Search on "Foundation" for my reviews of the first season.]

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About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code, The Plot To Save Socrates, It's Real Life: An Alternate History of The Beatles; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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Comments (2)

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  • Kendall Defoe 11 months ago

    I have the books, but not the program. Interesting work here...

  • Joel11 months ago

    The Mule's appearance was nearly identical to Magifico's description on board the Bayta, speaking to Han Pritcher. There were the goggles and the strange eyes that could kill at a distance, except that it was some kind of weapon that did that. I wonder if this could mean this is actually a head fake and not the real Mule. I'd like that to be the case, but can't say I expect it.

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