WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Foundation Season 1, Episode 7, "Mysteries and Martyrs,” streaming now on AppleTV+.
The seventh episode of Foundation opens not long after the sixth one ends, with the first shot being the vastness, if not emptiness, of space. Because instead, Salvor and Hugo are looking at debris, at destruction. Inside, Salvor is probably feeling very much like what she’s looking at, as she grieves her father. Hugo isn’t the type to offer empty comfort, though. Instead, he goes for something much better, distraction.
Before we can get more than a few seconds of heartfelt sentiment between our ship, however, Phara appears. They’ve reached their destination: the Invictus. A world killer. And now, they can get in, because they have …an Imperial officer.
Of course, Salvor and Hugo are planning mutiny, because they are who they are, and this is the show it is. They’re also sharing kisses and holding hands as they go off into space and it’s altogether so nice that it’s also concerning. Salvor is out first – Phara pushes her, but that’s neither here nor there – and it seems everything’s gonna go well, until Hugo’s suit malfunctions. We see him fly off into space as Salvor cries out his name. A part of us is crying out too – even if it does feel entirely too easy, and convenient.
We then move to Brother Day once again. He’s sadly wearing a shirt and upset at Demerzel about the kneeling before Zephyr Halima. Apparently, she’s incapable of being disloyal, or is supposed to be. Brother Day doesn’t seem so sure. Soon, however, he’s distracted by the real problem at hand. What does Zephyr Halima want?
In looking for that answer, he goes to where Halima is, except she’s with the sick, and the suffering, which doesn’t exactly seem to be something Brother Day has any experience with. They’ve all been injured trying to “reach the womb of the mother,” a journey Demerzel has apparently completed before. Brother Day is blunt, and so is Halima. What she wants is for him to end the genetic dynasty.
“A soulless creature cannot recognize itself,” she tells him, and then to twist the knife even further, she brings up Brother Day’s favorite person, Hari Seldon, who also asked him to end imperial cloning. They threaten each other for a bit after that and it doesn’t really go well, which isn’t really surprising. If anything, this is the least surprising of the Hari Seldon predictions to come true.
Back with Salvor, they only get to take a few steps before the ship starts firing on them. The commander manages to open the door, which makes the gun stop. Phara has no more use for him, though, so she kills him. She then puts Salvor in handcuffs as they walk in, because at least she’s smart enough to still be worried about what Salvor can do. Then, it’s time to get the ship back up and running.
Except the ship seems to be malfunctioning in a way that has it jumping from one random set of coordinates to the next – and time is ticking. They have four hours.
Brother Day and Demerzel are discussing the Halima problem, and how Seldon really did predict something like this would happen. Demerzel suggests upping the defenses, but Brother Day wants to go on the attack. If she wants to invoke something greater than him, he’ll do the same – and while doing so, he’ll prove both her and Seldon wrong.
“I will walk the great spiral, and I will let the mother, the maiden and the crone decide what is true, who is right, and who is wrong,” he proclaims, and it all seems like a really, really bad idea. Except, how can he be soulless when, back on Trantor, Brother Dawn is mooning over Azura and having clandestine meetings with her. Well, and sex. That too.
On the surface, it’s all going well, but Brother Dawn knows how fragile it all is. He has a whole list of all the ways he’s different from his “brothers,” and though Azura doesn’t understand how that’s a problem, he does. He takes her to see not just Cleon I, but what looks to be a backup Cleon, because of course, you always need a backup clone. There must always be three and all of that.
This does underscore why Brother Dawn is so cognizant of his difference, and what would happen if he were found out. “Every moment of my life is a test,” he says. “And if I ever fail, if they ever learn how different I am, it’ll be my last day.”
Azura suggest a way out. Escape. And she allows him to, at least for a moment, through her, see the world he could be part of – the world that exists outside of his job as Empire. “We are Trantor,” Brother Dusk tells him, not much later. “Nothing outside the palace walls is relevant.” But Brother Dawn doesn’t seem to believe that anymore.
We move then to Gaal, once again, the Gaal who was staring at a projection of a dying Hari Seldon. The projection keeps glitching, until Gaal figures out how to stabilize it and gets some semblance of the truth we already knew – this was not the plan. Gaal wasn’t supposed to be there, with Hari, because Gaal was supposed to lead the first Foundation through their first crisis.
Instead, Salvor is. But Gaal and Hari don’t seem to know that. Despite Salvor’s belief, Hari and Gaal seem to know nothing about her.
Gaal reveals to Hari the extent of which his plan went wrong, and for a moment, we see Hari, even if he’s not actually real, in the depths of the same pain any parent would feel at the thought of losing a child. We don’t get to stay on the pain, though, because time is ticking on the Invictus.
Salvor wants to make a move, but without Hugo, she’s got no one to back her up. Or at least, it seems like she doesn’t. The small mutiny doesn’t really go well, and Phara can’t kill her, as Salvor might still be of use. This doesn’t really make Phara happy. As Salvor tries to plead with Rowan, she is finally told the plan. They want the Invictus to jump, and then …they want to destroy Trantor with it.
In the meantime, Gaal is struggling as the ship is just not listening to her, and the life support systems are down. The ship was, after all, coded to Raych, and he’s not around. Her suffering is enough to bring projection Hari back, and he’s finally got some explanations for us – and Gaal.
The first part of the explanation was obvious – the Foundation needed more than a man; it needed a myth for inspiration. Gaal argues that the Foundation isn’t a religion, and Hari isn’t a god. Considering he’s dead, Hari seems to take the argument very well, even if he points out that you can kill gods, if you stop believing in them.
Gaal isn’t buying Hari as the martyr, so Hari goes one step further and confesses that he is – well, was – sick. Cognitive decline from the man that’s supposed to lead them would have destroyed the Foundation. What he wanted was for Gaal to lead, which is why he “engineered the narrative,” that he wanted her to lead by his side. Once he was gone, she would be the obvious successor.
In retrospect, Raych’s anger from Episode 2 makes sense. Hari was going to take his life, Raych was going to stay behind and explain his reasoning, then disappear and reunite with Hari on the ship. “He loved you, that wasn’t a lie,” Hari tells Gaal, which is cold comfort, all things considered.
But the revelations don’t stop there. “You made Raych kill you, then he would have to leave me,” Gaal finally understands. Projection Hari, however, turns the accusations right back on Gaal, pointing all the choices she made along the way. In the end, however, there are no answers. Hari could have let Cleon kill him. Gaal could have told the truth. They didn’t, and that’s why they’re standing in front of each other and Raych isn’t.
“I had a feeling,” says, the only explanation she can give as to why she was even near Hari Seldon’s cabin that fateful night. “A compulsion,” she says, and things start to come together. How she knew about the starbridge right before it happened. How she knew when they were going to arrest her right before they did. “I think I can feel the future,” she says, and though there’s no answer as to why, no reason, there’s something that feels both right and wrong about that proclamation.
To discover what the future truly holds for Gaal Dornick, Salvor Hardin and the Foundation, the first seven episodes of Foundation are available on Apple TV+.
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