Foundation: Barbarians at the Gate   Books Included 
October 8, 2021 7:05 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Salvor faces off with an enemy of the Empire. Brothers Day and Dusk are at odds, while Brother Dawn wrestles with his truth.

Are we still watching this show? I’m still watching this show.
posted by rodlymight (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aw shoot, forgot the books included flag.

Very good last word from Demerzel, surprising that “Empire” keeps her around with such deadly zingers.

Brother Day is totally going to get himself killed and accelerate the crisis, right?

Salvor has got some extremely keen insight, almost supernatural, even. There were hints that Gaal might have too.

While this might seem out of place in this story of math and spaceships, in the books …psychic powers, or “mentalics” are kind of a big thing. But not with these characters and not for a while yet. But like with Demerzel being a robot, the show is taking points from later in the books and mixing them back in from the start. So Gaal has gone to, or is about to about to found, the Second Foundation. And Salvor has the talent too. Is the series going to have all the pivotal characters have a bit o’ that space magic?

Not sure what I think about it all, but I’m still watching.
posted by rodlymight at 7:28 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


While this might seem out of place in this story of math and spaceships...

I had forgotten about that aspect of the books you mentioned. I think you might be right.

I'm personally glad my "wild speculation" on last week's episode was mostly verified this week. And it just occurred to me why the repulsion field is growing.

mild book spoilers insideNot sure if hiding this is necessary but want to be kind to those who haven't read the books.

Seldon's hologram is about to fire off. The repulsion field is growing. At first I couldn't understand why. But then, with the big gun aimed at the nascent colony, it became obvious. Seldon not only anticipated the "barbarians" arriving, but anticipated violence. In a colony made up of scientists & mathematicians, the colonists will need a little help. The field will neutralize the invaders and the whole thing will have a peaceful, if slightly painful, ending.

Only question is: was psychohistory precise enough for this all to be activated by a timer? Or does the artifact scan the planet and near space for the expected invasion? Or, if Salvor is a mentalic (almost wrote mentat), does the artifact react to her feelings as the trigger for knowing the exact moment to strike? Is the artifact using her abilities to rewrite the formula & plans in real time, just as the books' Second Foundation did?

Looking forward to the Empire getting a Mad King at the worst possible time. Looks like Dawn will get a sudden promotion he's not even remotely qualified for. Maybe he'll fall in love with the gardener and start a new dynasty. Breaking the cloned triumvirate for good. Palace politics, while the fires are starting, is a great way to accelerate the decline.

The only complaint I have so far is I'd love to see more of Trantor, but there's been little sight-seeing so far. The planet has lurked in my imagination since childhood. Before Foundation started, I had hopes of Trantor being featured as much as Coruscant was in Clone Wars. Planet sized cities are probably unrealistic, but I've always been fascinated by them.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:44 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Talking about setting up threads early for a more organic payoff, i really like how this version of Salvor's skepticism of the Encyclopedists' belief + the encounter with the Anacreon's... holy warriors lay down the path for the eventual creation of a sciencey religion (... Dare I say, scientism?)
posted by cendawanita at 12:32 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Still very much watching. I'm fascinated by the little (and not so little) quirks of individuality Dawn shows in this episode: quickly "correcting" his left hand for his right when picking up a glass at dinner with his clone-sibs, his growing fascination with the gardener (as opposed to the distant and aloof character of his other selves; I assume Cleons are forbidden from forming lasting attachments, preserving the Emperors both from outside influence and possible future claimants), and obviously the suicide attempt.

It leads me to wonder if these are all aspects of a teenage "phase" all Cleon-clones (just noticed that anagram) go through, or something new, strange, and aberrant. Based on the gardener's reaction to his stalled plunge, my guess is that it's the latter. Of course, Dawn could just be testing the limits of his kinetic field, but that seems particularly foolhardy. Then again, spending every day with your time-displaced selves - each Emperor seeing what they were and what they will become across the same table each morning, with no possibility of escape - has to be a very strange memento mori.

If Seldon's cold equations and an increasingly fractured system weren't enough, this development suggests that, after 400 years, Empire's path is neither predestined nor perfect, and an answer to Luminism's claim regarding the Emperor's lack of a soul may lie in the unique nature of its most recent version.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:55 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Are we still watching this show?

It's my favorite nowadays. Some other shows I might keep an eye on while checking email, surfing the web, etc., but not this one. I try to make sure nothing will distract me from this one when I sit down to watch.

In this episode I particularly enjoyed Day's frustration with the mathematicians, Dawn in the garden, and the appearance of a religious issue, whether clones have souls.
posted by kingless at 12:10 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]




Although my cliffhanger from ep 2 never really got the resolution I was hoping for (spaceship court!) I can say now with utter certainty that the episodes of this show are too short and few in number. I'm always thinking "what? its over already?" when the credits roll.



I guess you could say I enjoy this show.
posted by some loser at 4:51 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


you guys, I think… I think I might really like this show

I’m getting the same sort of vast, sweeping epic feel that I really enjoyed during the good seasons of Game of Thrones, and it’s great to know from the podcast that the showrunner actually has plans for an ending down the line, especially given that Asimov himself never really wrote a proper ending to the series
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:07 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


We're doing books in this right?

From Forward FoundationThings didn't go super well between Cleon and a gardener in the last Asimov written prequel. I do wonder if they're borrowing ever so slightly from how that ended up.

posted by NormieP at 11:10 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


We're doing books in this right?

Yes! As long we're mindful that not everyone watching has read the books and judiciously use the details tags for potential spoilers as you have here, book discussions are welcome.

I don't remember that particular detail (it's been a looong time since I read any of them, but the prequels seem to have left less of an impression on me as the original trilogy), but they've already incorporated at least one thing from the prequels, so you may very well be right!
posted by rodlymight at 3:19 PM on October 10


I'm still watching this show, but I feel like it hasn't got a hold of me. After the two episode premiere, I reread the Foundation novel (It's about 200 pages, an amalgamation of four novellas, with a new prelude which made up most of the first episode. It was a fairly easy read for me, a white guy that has read all of this stuff before YMMV).

As the way it was written originally, it's hard to believe the Foundation were the good guys, they were just a means to an end. They used all kinds of tactics: colonization, gentrification, selling things with an artificially high fail rate.

I think that the original writings are a great starting point for delineating a culture (the Foundation) that exploits their workers, makes them believe in a sham religion, and unduly influences lesser states.

Unfortunately, that is not what we got here. I feel like we have been positioned to believe that Foundation = Good and Empire = Evil. I'm hoping that this is not the case--that the Foundation's faults will be revealed--but that has not happened at this point.

I know, my worries don't mean much in a series that wants to go nine seasons
posted by Quonab at 3:03 PM on October 11


Are we still watching this show?

Faith is a sword forged in the fires of the infinite.
posted by flabdablet at 9:49 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I feel like we have been positioned to believe that Foundation = Good and Empire = Evil.

The Foundation is not, IMO, being positioned as ‘good’. The current mayor (Lewis?) seems to be a pathetic, credulous imperial lapdog. In 30 years they seem to have made no progress on the encyclopaedia. They’re on the verge of deifying Seldon. They basically still live in a tent city.

They have a long way to go to be the light of technology and knowledge in a sea of barbarism. We’ll see what happens to them after the first set of instructions from holographic Seldon, if that even happens in this show.

And with Empire? Well, we are seeing it at the start of its decline. It’s the height of their hubris. But it’s kept peace and stability for many thousands of years.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:27 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


I think my memory of the books is far off enough that I keep having sort of vague thrilling moments where I go "oh hey yeah I sort of remember something like this, that's dope", which is maybe the best possible case?

I was finding it a bit challenging keeping the various ages of Brothers Empire straight, but I think the actors are doing a solid job at keeping them separate enough that they had clear motivations.

But yeah, I'm 100% enthusiastic about this. I'm kind of hoping they manage to keep our visibility into the state of the crumbling Empire though the brothers without having to make it an entirely bifurcated series. On the other hand when they jump 300 years (or whatever) into the future for the next Seldon Crisis, that's all fine and well enough for the Foundation (here's a bunch of new characters, no you don't know them, no you don't need to, we've got a multi-episode miniseries dedicated to their crisis), but keeping continuity with the Empire might be tricky. I'm curious to see if or how they manage it.
posted by Kyol at 7:20 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]


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