Foundation: The Mathematician's Ghost   Books Included 
October 2, 2021 9:43 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Brother Dusk reflects on his legacy as he prepares for ascension. The Foundation arrives on Terminus and finds a mysterious object.

I didn't see a third episode post and since the first two were done by different people I thought I'd jump in and continue the trend. Hope nobody minds!
posted by rodlymight (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bit of a tease not having Hari appear with that episode title.

I think if anyone was worried that the show was going to rush through the books to the bigger, exciting events can put those fears to bed. Not much happens here! Not that I'm complaining, We learn about life in the fledgling Foundation, meets some characters, set up some stakes, and spend a surprisingly touching interlude with our three (briefly four) emperors.

And I just want to take a moment to appreciate the excellent lighting in this show. Such chiaroscuro, very renaissance master, wow.
posted by rodlymight at 10:00 AM on October 2 [4 favorites]


And I just want to take a moment to appreciate the excellent lighting in this show. Such chiaroscuro, very renaissance master, wow.

Seconded. It's a genuine joy to watch something that's not so dark I'm squinting at the scene for 70% of the runtime.

I really enjoyed this episode and I am 100% here for this crumbling space empire that's neatly cherry picking a bunch of cool stuff from the books while also creating characters with a bit of depth who do more than just exposit at each other.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:34 PM on October 2 [5 favorites]


Did I miss what happened to the woman who got shot out of the space ship in a pod and the guy who stabbed Seldon? Were they in this episode and I didn't recognize them cause they were aged?
posted by starfishprime at 2:24 PM on October 2 [3 favorites]


This would have made a good pilot episode, odd choice throwing it in here, where I was expecting a continuation of the last episode.
posted by some loser at 2:28 PM on October 2


I was disappointed and had to stop watching mid-episode. The books showed little interest in humanizing its characters and had little diversity and 1950s era values mostly. BUT. The book character of Salvor Hardin was one of my favorite aspects. He defuses the threat of war on the Foundation by its neighbors through clever diplomacy and becomes famous for the slogan "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Instead here we get Hardin reaching for the ammo at the first sign of threat. I understand the impulse to not treat the book as Holy Writ because it's deeply flawed, but given SO MUCH of our entertainment represents righteous violence as exciting and not stupid (the Foundation is grossly outmatched in arms) this was a lost opportunity. Maybe Hardin changes?

I think Gaal Dornick, who was shot out of the space ship, may turn up, preserved for the future? I think someone hinted she'd zip by a black hole or something? Is she narrating? Was it Raych who stabbed Seldon? For some reason I thought he died?

The humanizing of the characters sometimes seems grafted on. There's just enough connection to the plot and themes, but it feels there should be more. Sometimes you can reveal more about characters through action, and sometimes the action flows from personal issues. There's some of that here. The Dusk Cleon thinking of his legacy being his painting, and yet the new Dawn Cleon erasing it was poignant, also given that the former Day Cleon vaporized the Seldon-reading old painting restorer, who'd spent his life on this... That sense of impermanence could be linked to the sense of the Empire in decay, but (1) wouldn't rulers who WEREN'T clones be even more likely to erase what their predecessors had done? (2) stasis and keeping everything as it was might also be seen as a sign of decay.
posted by Schmucko at 3:17 PM on October 2 [4 favorites]


There's nothing in this episode to suggest Salvor won't be a diplomatic savior of the Foundation. She's obviously been disarmed, but still alive, at the end of the episode.

There are more questions raised than answered, though. What is this structure she keeps running to in the middle of the night? Who exactly are these mysterious, bow-wielding visitors? What, indeed, happened to Gaal, who is narrating? What are the Encyclopedists actually doing, and why isn't the hologram of Hari popping up to offer guidance at opportune moments?

I'm enjoying this very much, but the week-long wait between episodes is like torture.
posted by lhauser at 6:07 PM on October 2 [2 favorites]


I figured that the mention of how the trader has more years than his apparent age because he’d spent so much time in cryo-sleep was their way of seeding the explanation of how Gaal shows up looking the same when she inevitably resurfaces.
posted by jimw at 7:29 PM on October 2 [5 favorites]


It seems to me that the trader is smuggling his people (Anacreon? I forget which ones gave the bow to the Emperor) onto Terminus, and the others (Thespis?) have turned up to demand them back. I’m pretty sure the writers are doing this because they lack the confidence to tell the story without much more personal stakes; and because of course the bow people planet doesn’t have any other weapons.
posted by andrewdoull at 10:27 PM on October 2


I think if anyone was worried that the show was going to rush through the books to the bigger, exciting events can put those fears to bed.

I don't think there's going to be much rushing. I believe I read it was pitched and sold as an eight season, 80 episode series.
posted by mumkin at 12:44 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


What is this structure she keeps running to in the middle of the night? Who exactly are these mysterious, bow-wielding visitors?

That's the scuttled slow-ship. Quite a lot of it remaining, all things considered, would've thought more would have been salvaged for the settlement.

He defuses the threat of war on the Foundation by its neighbors through clever diplomacy and becomes famous for the slogan "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Instead here we get Hardin reaching for the ammo at the first sign of threat.

But here we get Hardin very much not shootiing at the known-bad violent critter, instead firing into the air to scare it off.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:05 AM on October 3 [3 favorites]


Scattered thoughts:

- I would have appreciated at least one character mentioning what happened at the end of the previous episode.
- We seem to be getting set up for the revelation that Gaal is Salvor's bio-mom.
- This felt like a real Frankenstein of an episode, with two halves that have very little to do with each other awkwardly stitched together. I guess Trantor is going to continue to be relevant to the story longer than it was in the books, since we keep going back there?
- Related to the previous point: It didn't seem like much of consequence actually happened in this episode, and it left me bored and frustrated.

This show is pretty, but it seems deeply buried up in its own asshole, and I'm not sure how many more episodes I can hang with it unless they start digging out a bit.
posted by jordemort at 6:55 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]


The second part was so repetitive, down to the same framing of the same scenes being repeated. That could have paired well with the first part's sense of being trapped in a groundhog day of your own making.. but if that was the goal, it didn't work.

The vault being there when they landed, some alien artifact, is so out of place in the Foundation story.
posted by joeyh at 7:52 AM on October 3


So I re-watched episode 3, followed by episode one and two. Everything makes a lot more sense now. Hopefully we get the resolution to episode 2's cliffhanger next episode. that would be swell.

there were some other critically acclaimed shows whose first season episodes aired out-of-order right? maybe this one is like those too. Anyhow I agree that having to wait another week to find out how that cliffhanger ends is pretty lousy. The show is very nice to look at, and I do appreciate well produced stuff. I think they'll pull off something pretty great here if they get over this initial stumble.
posted by some loser at 9:17 AM on October 3


I think I just had an epiphany about the alien artifact. Maybe light spoilers based on the book.

Wild speculation hereNot alien at all. It was pre-positioned by Hari Seldon who will use it for his grand holographic entrance. Where he reveals the grand plan for the Foundation which has little to do with making the encyclopedia.

Seldon knew the exile planet was going to be Terminus, so he had this placed there well in advance of the colony. Probably knew the optimal colony location on Terminus, so put it in the right spot. This would explain why the settlement site just happened to be in the artifact's neighborhood.

Repulsion field is to prevent anyone opening it and discovering the messages in advance.

However, I could be wrong. No idea why such a device would be expanding the repulsion field. Or why Salvor would be immune to it. Unless it was keyed to match certain genetic signatures based on the zygotes put into cold storage on the colony ship. Or based on Gaal's signature. Salvor was probably one of the those zygotes. And possibly Gaal's daughter, which would give her a pass if the device was originally coded for Gaal.

I can't remember much about the later Foundation books, but the initial trilogy went all in on the lack of aliens in the galaxy. Humans were alone. I'm hoping the showrunners are sticking with that concept and the alien artifact is a misdirection.


At any rate, I really enjoyed this episode. Loved that the Salvor didn't kill the creepy alien predator. Warning shot the first time. Removing the arrow in the second. Was also nice that the animal acted like an animal, and not as a mindless killing machine. All good signs for the future of the series.

Absolutely loved the look of the colony town. Futuristic shipping crate housing with a small skyscraper based off the old ship. Really well done. Hope they'll show more of it in the next episode. That's one of my favorite things in sci-fi: the early days of a planetary colony.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:56 PM on October 3 [4 favorites]


Agreed, Teegeeack AV Club Secretary. I don't think that's wild speculation, that's what I assumed it to be as well. Just a little more dramatic than how it was portrayed in the text.
posted by supercres at 5:20 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I don't think I agree with the speculation about the Vault-thing. There was a VO line to the effect of "But could Hari have predicted what Hardin would find in the Vault?" (paraphrased)
posted by caphector at 1:11 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Who exactly are these mysterious, bow-wielding visitors?
Anachreons - pretty sure Salvor actually said so.
posted by Megami at 4:55 AM on October 8


I don't think I agree with the speculation about the Vault-thing. There was a VO line to the effect of "But could Hari have predicted what Hardin would find in the Vault?" (paraphrased)

Weird that the show would make Hardin an unpredictable outlier, when the books include The Mule as the unpredictable outlier that throws off the plan.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:09 PM on October 11


Also, it's been what, 20 years, and the Encylopediaists are still arguing about which basic clock to preserve? WTF. Get on it, people.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:36 PM on October 11


Makes me crazy that all the planets (in most SciFi) are single ecosystem, water planet, desert planet, the far far away planet is destitute. But cool that they are getting to a lot of them in this show. Kinda get that they needed to use the emperors narrative to show rather than tell the fall of the empire, but still a bit boring, but Star Wars already used the text setup scrolling to infinity. Don't remember much from when I read but do sort of recall thinking "want-want but no no this can never be filmed".
posted by sammyo at 2:20 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


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