One of the many fascinating aspects of the new Apple TV Plus series Foundation it’s that it seems to confuse more people than those of us who haven’t read the Isaac Asimov books on which the show is based.
When I mentioned that I am among that latter group in my review last week of the two-episode premiere, I was hoping that, lacking so much knowledge of human history, it was trying to reboot after the fatalistic and pessimistic predictions of an extremely mathematician. sneaky would clear up my reaction as somewhat impressed but also a bit perplexed. Make me doubly stumped, then, to notice a number of people online (either in response to this review or just in general) saying that they had read the books cover to cover, and well, the show was confusing them too.
So what will people who know the books of the third episode think, “The Mathematician’s Ghost”?
The predictable aspects of prestige television seem ripe for Foundation to build on the astonishing suspense at the end of its second episode. The aforementioned mathematician, Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), was brutally murdered in the finale by his adopted son Raych (Alfred Enoch), who then quickly sent the shocked and innocent Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) into an escape pod to unknown locations. . It seems like a pretty big ending, one that raises a lot of questions: why did Raych kill Hari? Did Hari know this was going to happen? Was it supposed to happen? And what happened to Gaal, our old storyteller?
Well, the good news is that Gaal continues with her storytelling duties in “The Mathematician’s Ghost.” The bad news is that absolutely nothing comes up related to that suspense, unless you count a casual reference to Seldon’s funeral as something related to that suspense. The person making that reference, the mother of Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey), also points out that the only person, other than Hari, who could find heads or tails in her psychohistorical theory of humanity was Gaal. And that’s it.
If “The ghost of the mathematician” is any indication, Foundation It’s going to be a deeply maddening TV show, one that looks really amazing and is too busy keeping epic dishes spinning in the air to tell a coherent and cohesive story.
Part of the problem is that Foundation It has many different timelines to hold onto, as evidenced by the first 20 minutes or so, starting 400 years before the main action of the previous two episodes, before jumping to 19 years after the terrorist attack on planet Trantor, and then leap forward 17 years after that. As I write these words, I think of a true sci-fi classic, the Mel Brooks comedy. Space balls, and how the infamous Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) stares at the audience after an exhibition-laden monologue and yells, “Did everyone get that?” That’s what it feels like to look Foundation so far.
Anyway, those first 20 minutes are mostly focused on the older version of the three brothers overseeing Trantor, Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann), which is just the latest clone iteration of Cleon the First, the ruler of Trantor that seems closest to the eternal android Eto (Laura Birn), who keeps the same age even as he perpetually ages, just like a sci-fi Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and confused.
Brother Dusk is actually Cleon the Eleventh, with Brother Day (Lee Pace) serving as Cleon the Twelfth, and so on. As Brother Dusk faces the reality that, even as a clone, he is aging to a point where he will have to die and a new clone will be born to continue the Day / Dawn / Dusk line of succession, thoughts assail him that such Once Seldon was right. , at least on the unnatural aspect of cloning. When Brother Dusk sees a clone baby hatching in some of its final moments, it’s hard not to disagree with him.
This section of the episode ends with a clue to a perhaps even darker future for the three Brothers, as we meet a teenage version of the new Brother’s Day as he orders a long-standing mural to be removed on his wall showing the confines of the Galaxy. Perhaps it is a happy accident that he seems callous and haughty; at this point, it’s hard to know what Foundation has up his sleeve.
As was the case in the second episode, there really isn’t a point of connection between the story of the three Brothers and the exiled humans heading to Terminus. While last week’s episode focused on the ship and the humans making their journey to the outer planet, the rest of “The Mathematician’s Ghost” focuses squarely on what happened now that the humans arrived.
As we learned in the premiere, there is a strange alien object resting on Terminus that humans call the Vault, a large floating device that incapacitates almost anyone who tries to walk to its surface. In what the show doubles in an overlapping title like “Now” (aka the part of the first episode where we see what life is like in Terminus for the remaining vestiges of Seldon’s followers), we follow Salvor in her position as the Guardian of Terminus. , while trying to handle two potentially serious problems. One is the arrival of a group of Anacreontes, the outer-reaching race that was implicated as one of the terrorist groups that attacked Trantor. The other problem is that the force field surrounding the Vault, the field that bothers anyone (except Salvor), is expanding to a point where they may need to relocate their shantytown.
Not that any of this is bad, per se. Foundation It looks as impressive as any show depicting a sci-fi future should look, perhaps far more so than most entries in other genres. The biggest obstacle to this program is Foundation create a world that seems alien and strange but also futuristic and unforgiving? – is one that clears up with confidence. The headache is trying to figure out what is worth worrying about.
Three episodes in, Gaal Dornick is our omniscient narrator, but after spending two episodes trying to get involved in his journey, “The Mathematician’s Ghost” hints a lot about the ghosts the living are dealing with day after day, showing us nothing. of those characters.
That Foundation still raising doubts is perfectly reasonable. We are three episodes in a series that could run for eight seasons (at least if co-creator David S. Goyer has something to say, having mentioned earlier that he imagined the series would run for 80 episodes, 10 per season), so getting everything. solved would be a bad narrative. But the basic questions posed by the final moments of the previous episode: what happened to Gaal? Why did Raych kill Hari? – are still being raised now, and the worst part is that this episode doesn’t seem remotely interested in solving those questions or even acknowledging their existence.