Well, you probably won't be surprised that I have mixed feelings about the Foundation Season 2 finale, up on Apple TV+ since September 15, but I've been so busy expanding my alternate history short story It's Real Life into a novel, I haven't had a chance to post my review of the Foundation Season 2 finale here until now. And, if you've been reading my reviews of this second season, you probably won't be surprised to find out that, although there were things I really didn't like in this episode, the things I did like were in the majority, if not in number of their appearances then in the intensity of the stories they conveyed.
[And, of course, you definitely should not be surprised that there will be spoilers ahead in this review ... ]
Ok, so here's what I liked:
1. Everything on Trantor, and concerning the Cleonic clonal triumvirate, Dawn, Day, and Dusk, on and off that planet. I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: the whole Trantor story in this Foundation TV series is a bona fide masterpiece of science fiction, in spite of its abundant divergence from Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy, also a masterpiece in science fiction, indeed the best science fiction that I've ever read.
But are some specifics about what I found really original and compelling in the Trantor story in the Season 2 finale:
1a -- I especially liked the life-and-death battle between Day and Riose, and the way it was resolved. I liked this even though (again) it had a cloudy connection at best to the story of Bel Riose that Asimov told in Foundation and Empire, the second novel in the original trilogy. But a combination of this titan vs. titan storyline, and the sheer power of the two actors (Lee Pace as Day and Ben Daniels as Riose) really brought this confrontation home.
1b -- I also liked everything Demerzel said and did on Trantor, which was every scene she was in. What we saw not only clarified and strengthened her character, but it set up a provocative foundation, if I can use that word without it being capitalized, for what we will likely see in Season 3. Demerzel is both very much in control but keenly vulnerable. That's a provocative combination for such an intelligent, sophisticated android. And here, again, though her story has little in common with the Daneel android that became Demerzel in Asimov's written sequels to his Foundation trilogy, the Demerzel we see on the Apple TV+ screen has enough depth, complexity, and charisma to make her a highly memorable character.
But here's what I didn't much like:
2. Almost everything other than what I said I liked in #s1, 1a, and 1b.
2a -- Although The Mule isn't much like what he was like in Asimov's trilogy (where he appeared in Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation) -- what else is new -- that's not what really bothered me about our knowledge of him that's been doled out in this second season. What irritates me is the way we become aware of him, in a series of nightmare flashes that Gaal endures. What this does is rob the television series of one of the prime thrills in the trilogy, the way the Mule continually surprises us. Instead, we a get a vision that Gaal is urging the living Hari to prepare for -- or a narrative that's the complete opposite of suprising.
2b -- I didn't see the purpose in killing Salvor. And, frankly, that whole extended scene felt like it was included because the producers thought it was necessary to at least have a very major good-guy hero character die, especially since Hari himself, as I predicted when it seemed he had drowned, actually survived.
So, these are big negatives indeed, but the superb story of the Empire clones and Demerzel is more than enough to make me eager to see the next season of Foundation.
[I didn't review episode 2.4.]
[Search on "Foundation" for my reviews of the first season.]