Foundation: The Missing Piece   Books Included 
November 5, 2021 11:42 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Brother Day embarks on a journey that no other Cleon has ever attempted. Salvor prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice to return home.
posted by rodlymight (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Gaal, right? Don't think Salvor knows where Invictus will jump.
posted by kingless at 2:41 PM on November 5, 2021

I was pretty sure Brother Day was spinning a line with his description of his vision, but assumed that Demerzel had briefed him in advance. Having him come up with it by observing her own religious keepsakes was a neat idea though. I got the impression that not having some sort of vision was very rare and a bad omen; remember Londo Mollari in Babylon 5, who alone saw nothing when Kosh emerged?

Talking of Demerzel, she might be a robot, but she's not an Asimovian positronic-brain robot because she doesn't seem to have heard of the First Law of Robotics. It's not even as if she's applying Asimov's later bolted-on Zeroth Law, as that put the best interests of humanity over those of any individual human, which is not the same as "kill this person because Empire says it's for the Greater Good."

SENTIENT HOLOGRAM HARI SELDON: The Second Foundation is at Star's End, on Helicon.
posted by Major Clanger at 3:04 PM on November 5, 2021 [10 favorites]

I wonder if it’s being set up that psychics/newtypes*/whatever can handle the jump process, especially with that moment in the pilot where Gaal wakes up. Also, the visual effect around the edges of the screen reminds me a lot of the vault, so I wonder if that’s somehow related too, especially because what’s-her-name is unaffected by it.

*I used this term to refer to the Foundation characters to Mrs. Fedora, who suggested the idea of editing certain scenes to add in that sound effect from the original Gundam, and now my brain is poisoned
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gaal, right? Don't think Salvor knows where Invictus will jump.

That's the Apple TV+ description. Salvor's plan was to risk her life plotting a course for the Invictus to jump and orbit Terminus. Never mind that she'll be dead and she would be delivering the battle ship directly to the Anacreons.
posted by Gary at 4:23 PM on November 5, 2021

Ok, Goyer really really wants this to be Dune. But also Event Horizon a bit.

A cryopod's going to be better at managing it's temperature than the spaceship designed for this? And at dodging meteors? And it can just go wherever in the galaxy? Why are there even spaceships if emergency lifepods can do all this?

This show is pretty, but kind of dumb.
posted by rodlymight at 7:32 PM on November 5, 2021 [8 favorites]

lol at how, unlike anyone ever undergoing a suns-blasted physical trial on a desert planet -- you know who you are -- we get lee pace stripping to a loincloth
posted by mookieproof at 7:38 PM on November 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Lewis is going to do the sacrifice play and bolt himself to the navigator chair, isn't he? (Also, according to the podcast, they envisioned the tech at the time requiring the ship burning through multiple human brains at a time) Anyway, I'm calling that whole bit the dark!Farscape remix element.

But also, hah! Potential aliens!

Talking of Demerzel, she might be a robot, but she's not an Asimovian positronic-brain robot.

And speaking of another non-Asimovian element, I think she killed someone iirc in one of the first two eps, so I'm feeling the ship's long-sailed on that on how she's abiding to the first or even the zeroeth law, unless welding her brain straight to the association that it all means Empire all the time is another of Cleon's cruel legacies is something i expect the show would find "so cool!" to do.

I really appreciate that for all his little kindnesses, as with the whole arc with that old man demonstrated, capping a series-long exchanges with various charas, Cleons in general (maybe even the new Dawn) are just unrepentant assholes who's terrified of losing control.

But yeah, i was like, this is why Muslims wear the ihram during Haj! Cover yourself dude!

I'll be collecting the obvious winnings over Hugo, tqvm.
posted by cendawanita at 7:42 PM on November 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

A cryopod's going to be better at managing it's temperature than the spaceship designed for this?

This definitely cracked me up, but I'm definitely certain this show plots the emotional beats to supersede niggling technical questions if they can get away with it sufficiently (i can extremely see the writers' room conversation to involve, "well, baby Kal-El's lifepod escaped a whole exploding/burning planet!").

With that in mind, can i just say, whether by accident or by design, it's been... idk, extremely validating to see the two black women lead characters to fully embody their skills and love for others and not have that to be a flaw, and in fact that whole thing is part of a dialogue the show is having with conventional heroic characters. Like, I love Salvor gets to be uncertain but absolutely supported by the ppl who love her who is convinced she can do it. Standard hero beats but it reads different with the casting. Especially with how she's not written to be only strong and quippy.

And with Gaal, idk where the hell she's heading to be honest (i mean quite literally! Synnax might all be underwater by the time she arrived), but I appreciate that the story is holding firm that she's holding Hari's egotism to account so much that she's willing to walk away from that toxic confidence even if walking away means exiting this life. (Though I acknowledge her headspace isn't the best at this point. She did legit tried to kill herself once.)

Writing it all out, I realised this applied to Zephyr Halima too.
posted by cendawanita at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

I guess the hardware running all that ship’s automation was just directly behind that glass screen? If the screen dies, do you have to replace the whole processing unit?
posted by snofoam at 6:35 AM on November 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

I don’t know the source material, but it seems pretty clever to have several different ways to have characters spanning long time periods: cloning, being an Android, being a disembodied consciousness in a computer, being in transfer stasis, etc. Who knows, maybe more possibilities are to come.
posted by snofoam at 6:39 AM on November 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

snofoam: evidently Apple is the one tech company that made it through all the millennia
posted by adrianhon at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2021 [11 favorites]

This episode is the one that just did me in. I understood that the show barely understands the text. Sadly, the Hero's Journey is the only way that Hollywoodland has to understand any narrative. Foundation is fundamentally about how the Hero's Journey does not matter in the face of societal churn. Instead we get nothing but heroes and their journeys. We get the individual being the crux of change. And then we get the assassin robot. Who can kill with a touch. How the hell did humanity win the Robot Wars? Who thought this was a good idea?

Every time I think that Goyer is doing something interesting he reminds me that he is sitting at the same table in Junior High as Frank Miller and Zack Snyder having the same spoiled middle class white boy discussions about kick ass characters who could beat up other characters without having a serious thought about deeper motivations or anything resembling a consistent and compelling narrative. It is a chain of 'cool' ideas that are strung together by the hints of a frame. But in this episode the 'cool' ideas just don't work because in the future everyone is either an emotionally immature idiot or just dumb (except maybe Hugo). Starship designers, military security planners, priests, robots, emperors, genius scientists, other genius scientists, even the deus ex machina future/past viewing 'psychic' intuition hero characters are all just stupid. I want to dissect this episode but it just makes my blood boil. This was the epitome of, "You can do anything in sci-fi because there are no rules," thinking and that crap never works.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 3:24 PM on November 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

Ha, I liked this episode better than the last one, but mostly because my expectations had bottomed out. :P

The long walk in the desert and all the feels around it were pretty good stuff, imo. Brother Day actually working up some sympathy for another human being... And then continuing to be a murderous rat fucker. Demerzel was great this episode, trying to deal with the disconnect between her spirituality and her literal programming.

But, indeed, all the action stuff on the Invictus continues to be dumb as hell.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:33 PM on November 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

snofoam: evidently Apple is the one tech company that made it through all the millennia

Oh shit! You have to replace the whole spaceship? Even worse than I imagined. But still better than the Invictus, which won’t take you anywhere without you giving it all your personal data.
posted by snofoam at 7:26 PM on November 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

I've been pretty disappointed with the series up until now, but this episode has been the most engaging by far. I'm going to attribute it to the directing by Roxann Dawson. She is great.
posted by Quonab at 7:55 PM on November 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

The direction was stellar but also they should have left the reality of the vision ambiguous.
posted by andrewdoull at 2:57 AM on November 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

they should have left the reality of the vision ambiguous.

I thought this was done well. On first watch, I thought it was his vision, but on rewatch saw that he stumbles into the pool in reality, but the vision is only shown to illustrate what he is describing to the three women. He definitely didn’t have a vision, but the way it flowed, it was a little ambiguous, especially if you ignore that earlier in the episode he was just walking around asking people, “Hey, by the way, what was your vision like?”
posted by snofoam at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Demerzel's tears lead me to believe the answer is yes, but: is this a "real" religion? I mean obviously it's really a religion, but are there verifiable visions and miracles and such?

The other interpretation of her tears was that she also did not experience a vision and has maybe been telling herself that as long as she's serving someone with a soul that it's probably okay.

I've been really enjoying this show. Nothing makes sense and people always do the dumbest stuff, and it's all a big mess but with gorgeous visuals and acting that draws me in. Plus it has all of these great moments and ideas that I hope turn into their own movies at some point.

Girl grows up on fundamentalist planet, teaches herself math, gets exiled when she learns they're doomed?
Robot is the last of her kind and secretly runs an empire but maybe only because she's forced to?
Ghost planet killer ship travels completely randomly and you have to die to drive it somewhere on purpose?
Hardass weirdo leads her colony and is the only one who can approach a bizarre floating thing?
Emperor clones himself forever and ends up raising himself over and over while some versions of himself never wake up?
Two entire planets get bombed to oblivion in an instant (with that scene of ships popping into view from the perspective of a child on one of them)?

That's all great stuff, and it's all beautiful.

Mathematician starts a cult and gets pissy when he can't actually predict the future as promised? I'm not excited about it, but it gave us that shot of star's end (which... Why would it ever be necessary to go through that debris field? And if so why not plot a course that drifts with the debris? All of those rocks seemed to be going the same way)

The math cult storyline also gave us the story of gaal's very bad no good time.
Exiled from her planet for trying to help,
Threatened and told to lie to the emperor,
Exiled from the empire to a barren rock,
Doesn't even get there because her boyfriend murders hari and tosses her into space with the murder weapon,
Wakes up in a strange ship, locked alone in a room, 34 years later,
Told that she was out of the loop, and was really supposed to die with everyone else she'd come to know on terminus,
And that her boyfriend was executed for the murder that wasn't even his idea,
Then decides to spend over 100 years in an escape pod again?

posted by Acari at 6:57 AM on November 7, 2021 [7 favorites]

Who knew Lee Pace was so ripped?!
posted by something something at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

This episode was awesome and this series fucking rules. I have more detailed thoughts but no time.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

Let me first agree with everyone who is praising the acting in general, and specifically Pace, Mann, Birn, and Harris, as well as some excellent direction and stellar production design. For me that only accentuates the narrative issues I have with this episode and the series in general. What annoys me is that I know I am going to finish out the series in the hope that it does something great or at least good and that I am probably going to end up howling in frustration at what happens. Basically this is becoming another Star Trek: Journey into Stupid* for me.

*Yes, I know it is Journey into Darkness but that title is just wrong.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 5:14 PM on November 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

I kind of agree that this show is great in a way that kind of makes up for a lot of things not making that much sense if you think too hard about them. On the other hand, the mutiny on the Lazarus explains why it was full of death traps in ordinary corridors, even if that's still a little goofy in practice. Like… if it's dumb, at least it's dumb and fun, instead of dumb and boring like a TNG movie.

Mostly I just enjoy having a gorgeously shot, vast, sweeping epic with storylines that only occasionally interlock, and I've been more pleased than annoyed with seeing how the creators dealt with having the same actors playing roles across, presumably, multiple centuries.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:31 PM on November 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Who knew Lee Pace was so ripped?!

More like Brother Dayyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmmnnn
posted by ssmith at 9:43 PM on November 7, 2021 [23 favorites]

Who called it The Missing Piece and not Lee Pacing?
posted by andrewdoull at 11:19 PM on November 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

snofoam: On first watch, I thought it was his vision, but on rewatch saw that he stumbles into the pool in reality, but the vision is only shown to illustrate what he is describing to the three women.

I was fine with that part: it was the need to go back and reveal it wasn’t real that undercut the ending.
posted by andrewdoull at 11:24 PM on November 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

what's interesting is that, as noted in the official podcast, it originally ended immediately after "I wouldn't wish that emptiness on anyone" in the script, which makes me wonder why they decided they had to make it explicit, other than just to give Lee Pace a chance to do some subtle emoting (though presumably they also could have just done a close-up after Demrezel left, showing him feeling anxiety for just a moment before cutting to the credits?)
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:48 AM on November 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I wonder if they're concerned the ambiguity shouldn't be allowed a week's interval and they'd rather close off any notion that the Cleons can be redeemed at this point. I mean, even holding off the reveal of the mutiny on the Invictus was sufficient for viewers to claim the ship plot* is (currently) not fully thought out.

*Don't look at me, I'm just chuckling at this whole thing.
posted by cendawanita at 3:47 AM on November 9, 2021

Well, you know AppleTV's rules: only villians may use Androids.
posted by pwnguin at 8:49 PM on November 17, 2021 [8 favorites]

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