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Review of 'Foundation' 2.3 & 2.5

Hari, Bel Riose, The Original Cleon, and the Robot

By Paul LevinsonPublished 9 months ago Updated 8 months ago 3 min read
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I'm not going to review every episode of the second season of Foundation, unless the hour strikes me as adding something really important to the story on television. So, I'm here reviewing episodes 2.3 and 2.5, but not 2.4.

Bel Riose and Hari Seldon don't meet in Foundation 2.3, but they are accorded the most compelling treatment in this episode up on Apple TV+, so I thought I'd focus on them in this review.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Let's start with Bel Riose. In Asimov's trilogy, he was a Belisarius of his future time, that is, the last great Roman general, who in our reality under Justinian's rule reconquered a lot of Roman territory lost to the Vandals and other barbarians. He hasn't yet done the equivalent of that in the TV series, but in episode 2.3 we get a powerful backstory, including an agreement to help Empire in return for being reunited with his husband, the love of Bel Riose's life. In addition to that, the character benefits from being played by Ben Daniels, a perfect actor for this role.

Meanwhile, here's the story with Hari: Instead of appearing after his death in pre-recorded holograms -- a pretty bold move when Asimov was writing this in the 1940s -- he instead appears in digital form after he orchestrates his own murder and Gaal locks his mind and his essence in the Prime Radiant, which contains in both Asimov's novels and its adaptation on television all of Hari's equations. I was beginning to think, before this episode, that maybe substituting the digitality of the radiant for the holographic recording was a good move, after all, since the digitally living Hari provided more possibilities for the character than the pre-recorded holographs.

But now at the end of episode 2.3, we get Hari literally turned back into a living presumably flesh-and-blood being by some apparently hocus pocus. Certainly a surprise. And this feels like an improvement over imprisonment in the radiant, which has more possibilities (maybe he'll replace Ebling Mis?) but we'll just have to see.

And I'll conclude with with one more character who shows up from the novels as a very different person. Hober Mallow. I didn't put his name in the title of this review because I by and large didn't like him in this episode. Foundation doesn't need a Han Solo character. But, again, we'll just have to wait and see, and one out of three for a great development (Bel Riose) and another one out of the three as a very likely good development (Hari), makes two, and two out of three ain't bad.

***

Let's get to episode 2.5.

First, we get to the meet the original Cleon. Dawn and Dusk call him forth in their (mainy Dusk's) need to find out if Day has edited Dawn and Dusk's memories. Dusk provides a good succinct explication of their dilemma: if their memories were really altered, how would they would they know that?

The original Cleon is of course played by Terrence Mann, who plays Dusk, and he does a good job of it. The original Cleon has a vibrance, a presence, a wisdom, that Dusk doesn't have. Other than that, the original offers no surprises, urging Dawn and Dusk not to rock the boat. But now that we the audience know that the original Cleon can be summoned, that adds a powerful resource for the Cleonic triad.

The other great discovery is made by Sareth's family: Demerzel is a robot! We of course already knew that (from earlier episodes in the TV series, and of course from Asimov's novels). And the Cleon clones know Demerzel is a robot, with warm, organic flesh -- indeed, in episode 2.5, Demerzel reassures Dusk that she would have memories of everything, even if Day somehow edited some out of Dusk and Dawn's minds.

But speaking of Asimov's novels in a review of this episode of the TV series, it needs to be mentioned again that Demerzel was a male robot in the novels, who basically gets Hari Seldon started on psychohistory, and gets Dors (a female robot) married to Hari, where she continues as his protector. If this sounds more intriguing a story than what we've seen of Hari so far on the screen, I'd say that's because it is. At this point, the Seldon story still hasn't come close to what's happening on Trantor, but I continue to watch in hope.

Reviews of other Season 2 episodes of Foundation: 2.1-2.2... 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.]

postcard from Isaac Asimov

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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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