Foundation: The First Crisis   Books Included 
November 12, 2021 12:25 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

On Terminus, the null field has become even more powerful. Brother Dawn makes a daring choice.
posted by Gary (36 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Weird, Salvor taking pulses with gloves on really threw me right out of the story. Despite many other things which could have done the same.

Clone Emperor Underground is also my new band name.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:59 PM on November 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

The clone conspiracy was absurdly complicated. I forgave the rushed exposition when Dusk showed up and shut down decades worth of planning in about two minutes. Cleon is a ruthless jerk but the show makes a compelling case for how he's stayed in power for 400 years.
posted by Gary at 1:23 PM on November 12, 2021 [7 favorites]

Note, it's listed as episode 19. Maybe call a mod?
posted by sammyo at 1:49 PM on November 12, 2021

For a moment during the nanite transfer scene I thought that Evil Twin had a moustache, which would have been hilarious, but sadly it was just a trick of the light.
posted by confluency at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Fixed!
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:02 PM on November 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this, for the first time in a lot of episodes.

!Cleon is really keen on getting a new name for himself...
posted by joeyh at 5:03 PM on November 12, 2021

Of all the loose ends, down on his luck guy who trades his ratty jacket for a personal forcefield is the one I want them to follow up on the most. It's basically a comic book villain origin story.
posted by Gary at 5:29 PM on November 12, 2021 [12 favorites]

What are the glowing plastic bubbles for?

I know one issue that actually Dune brought into focus, I get why both "universes" had outlawed AI's but why did they outlaw colors and paint? The far future just seems so dreary.

And while psychohistory seemed even years ago when I read the books rather handwavy, it was about math and science. As another mifian noted they need to have the hero's journey and the three planets join to become one unifying force against the evil empire. Just wait there will be lightsabers or an equivalent.
posted by sammyo at 7:18 PM on November 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was only Half right about Azura but the result is the same. But did she call the Trantor transit the Hyperloop? Fuuuck thaaat.

Really showing how violence is the last refuge of the incompetent with that arrow, Salvor, but at least the cartoon villain has exited the picture.

And it's cool that Hari somehow predicted the chain of events that led the Invictus arriving and that there would be a psychic person on Terminus immune to the vault's null field despite apparently not knowing about psychics until last episode and claiming that psychohistory cannot predict the actions of individuals.
posted by rodlymight at 7:22 PM on November 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

I know right, but if i take Gaal's narration seriously (that what we've been watching is already edited to her version of history) i wonder what bonkerisity lies in wait for us to tie up that thread.

I'm saying it: i need a Hugo.
posted by cendawanita at 7:51 PM on November 12, 2021

Also, I'll admit that even as I was bracing for it as soon as Dawn was brought to meet Dusk at the murals but the moment the full spectrum of colour was shown to his horror, I got chills.
posted by cendawanita at 7:54 PM on November 12, 2021 [8 favorites]

wow, this episode had so many scenes I loved and so many that fell flat. This series really keeps me on my toes!
posted by rebent at 7:54 PM on November 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’m hoping they do every crisis where Hari provides a predicted series of events that in no way matches up with how things really happened; and Second Foundation is frantically running around arranging the correct outcomes path for the First Foundation, Mr Magoo style.
posted by andrewdoull at 9:56 PM on November 12, 2021 [7 favorites]

Also pouring one out for Lewis
posted by andrewdoull at 10:16 PM on November 12, 2021

This felt like a season finale. But there’s another episode in this season.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:58 PM on November 12, 2021

What are the glowing plastic bubbles for?

To make it hard to tell that it's Toronto city hall?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:40 AM on November 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

I kind of love this show, and I’m not sure if it’s despite being kind of dumb, or because it’s kind of dumb

either way I am very into huge, goofy sci-fi that is a little too much, so I’m pleased that Disco Trek restarts next week, perfectly timed to pass the baton
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:27 AM on November 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm truly loving this show - flaws and all - that leap dive to the bow was a liiiiiitle bit much. And, maybe the Foundation doesn't really need a mega-powerful warship if they already have a weapon that can put an entire planet to sleep? But, still I look forward to every episode and I too was a bit surprised that this wasn't the finale.
posted by ssmith at 11:40 AM on November 13, 2021

Well, I was really looking forward to the hologram reveal as was in the books. Instead we get an AI ghost of a dead man. Which I guess could still work, though less dramatic than the pre-recorded holograms which accurately predict the future. But it takes away one of my favorite moments later on in the original trilogy.

book spoilersSeldon's hologram shows up regularly throughout the Foundation's existence. At various moments of crisis, Seldon tells everyone what to do or what to expect. As the Mule is conquering the galaxy, the hologram activates. Everyone is relieved because they don't know what to do about the Mule. And then the hologram makes no sense because, of course, Seldon had never anticipated anyone like the Mule. At that point, psychohistory is basically dead, and everyone knows they're on their own. And most likely fucked.

Having Seldon be "alive" will not allow that great moment to happen. Though I guess they can still wring some drama out of Ghost Seldon being as confused as everyone else as to how things went off the rails so completely.

Trantor, as scenery, continues to be a disappointment. The show seems to have a decent budget, but apparently none of it was spent on CGI for a planetary city. That was one of the things I was most excited about, but I guess I'll have to be content with the great portrayal of Coruscant in the Clone Wars. That show provided many different views of the city. From the palaces to the slums and places in between. Really wanted the same for Trantor. At least, there's some concept art.

Wish they would lampshade a quick excuse as to why the space elevator hasn't been rebuilt. That's a key bit of infrastructure, as well as a symbol of the empire's greatness. You'd think it would be a priority.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:20 PM on November 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Can a series be hate written? Is it possible to misread Asimov so badly that you construct the thematic antithesis of the Foundation series? Or do you just write a TV adaptation based on nothing but the book blurbs? Would any of that matter if the TV series were consistently good? Or even internally consistent? How did the current Brother Dawn's nanites miss the genetic reprogramming? How does the Invictus jump to Terminus orbit without issue but Brother Day's ship must cruise for days each way? How can Hari have had the Vault built and installed on Termius with technology the cult of technologists do not understand or without Empire noticing?

How is Salvor Hardin, a single individual, the crux upon which a plan based on psychohistory, a field that this series says can only predict the behavior of large groups over time, able to be relied upon to do mission critical things at mission critical times, when her behavior, as an individual, is outside of psychohistory's ability to predict or influence? What would have happened if she had died in an accident? Are there backup clairvoyant seers? Not that it matters but when did she learn to use a bow and arrow?

Will the last episode in this run answer any of these questions?
posted by Ignorantsavage at 4:37 PM on November 13, 2021 [9 favorites]

I love this show so much. I don't care about the many, many flaws, or how different it is from the books (which I haven't read for over 40 years). I'm not sure how the writers sleep at night. I'm also glad I'm watching it alone because my family would be so all over the plot holes and leaps in logic and would just ruin the experience for me.
posted by lhauser at 5:14 PM on November 13, 2021 [8 favorites]

Wish they would lampshade a quick excuse as to why the space elevator hasn't been rebuilt.

do you know, it took me until THIS episode with Abbas's commentary to Salvor until it hit me the space bridge was a 9/11 metaphor?? anyway, if anyone wants that context for a potential emotive/narrative reasoning for that.
posted by cendawanita at 6:02 PM on November 13, 2021

Will the last episode in this run answer any of these questions?

Oh yes. Without a doubt.
All will be explained, they have a plan.

The flaws in each hari's plan will be corrected by a new instance of a hari clone or hologram, until the whole universe is just overloaded with him. Then it will collapse in on itself and then explode, laying the foundation for a universe that makes sense.
posted by Acari at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I read the failure to rebuild the space elevator - and fixing the 'scar' - to be a sign of the empire's decline. They are dealing with a lot of plots lately, and now there's a break in the Empire triple.
posted by Marticus at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was also wondering about rebuilding the space elevator. In my world, the original would have probably been a basic version that was built and then patched and improved over the years. After being destroyed, there would be presssure to replace with something much better than the one that had been worked on forever and the project would take absolute ages to even start.

Which is to say, they have been designing it this whole time and have spent trillions of Trantorbucks, but nothing has even made it out of the prototype stage yet. In the last test module, half the valves got stuck and they are still trying to figure out why. It’s only been half a lifetime, so of course there’s been no noticeable progress. This may be the most believable part of the entire series.
posted by snofoam at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2021 [9 favorites]

This came out on my recommendation algorithms, a fan video couple of weeks back that talked about the highlights from an AMA Goyer did about the show. Interesting points about Salvor, and future Foundation trajectory and also a general one regarding copyright with Demerzel's character that might be of interest as we get into the season finale.
posted by cendawanita at 6:11 PM on November 14, 2021

Speaking of lampshading - this must have been edited out for time:
"Hey mom, you all woke up when I opened the Vault and disabled the null field! That's great!"
"Don't you want to know about the army of Anacreons that were sleeping right next to us for the same reason? They did have guns and were threatening to kill us all before the null field knocked us all out."
"No, I'm sure everything will be fine. Let's go back to staring at this glowing glass pyramid thing and not even think about looking behind us again."
posted by cardboard at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

Question - were the anacreons living close to terminus? I like how they formed a 3-way truce with the random people who showed up, but it only makes sense to me if they all live close to each other. But with hyperspace.... Maybe that doesn't matter?
posted by rebent at 3:11 PM on November 15, 2021

But with hyperspace.... Maybe that doesn't matter?

The near-instant hyperspace jumps are a monopoly of the empire. For now. Everyone else has a slower FTL drive. Remember, it took them years to go from Trantor to Terminus on their slow boat. Proximity is important. For now.

Well, was a monopoly. The new 3 party alliance has the Invictus. They don't know how to control it yet, but I would assume that's a situation that will change.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:26 PM on November 15, 2021

the space bridge was a 9/11 metaphor

That was something I was thinking of as I was wondering why there's no sign of rebuilding. I remember everyone wanted to get started on the WTC replacement immediately in 2002. But there was big debates over the design. Debates over who owned what and who was owed what. And somewhere in the back of everyone's mind was the knowledge that this substantial amount of commercial / office real estate just simply wasn't needed. All of this slowed things down.

It got built anyways, even if it wasn't needed, because there was no other alternative. Any other choice would be seen as a capitulation.

Just keep thinking the Imperial government is in the same position. There is no alternative to rebuilding. Anything else looks weak.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:49 PM on November 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Clone Emperor Underground is also my new band name.

As well as being a lost Stereolab album from the mid-90s.
posted by Grangousier at 10:53 AM on November 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Why do they need a space elevator? They have reusable single-stage-to-orbit space craft with apparently unlimited delta-v that seem to be able to de-orbit and re-enter to the surface in only a few minutes, compared to the 14 hours for the elevator. I mean, I'm a big rail fan and will take a full-day train ride instead of flying for an hour, so maybe everyone on the bean-stalk is a trainspotter or feels flygskam at using a rocket in-atmosphere for the trip.

Also, to go math nerd while we're on this topic, assuming Trantor is roughly Earth-sized, the elevator terminal needs to be around 40,000 km away from the surface. This means that the carraige travels 40k km / 14 hours for an average speed of 800 m/s or Mach 3 at sea level (although peak speed will be about twice that assuming constant acceleration and deceleration). However, I don't think sonic booms would be a problem, at a fairly comfortable constant boost of 0.063 m/s/s -- they would pass ISS at 200km in less than an hour while still travelling at a moderate 160 m/s. At that point there isn't much atmosphere left, so the elevator car is mostly in the vacuum the rest of the trip. They might skew flip at the half way point to boost backwards and provide some downward gravity, although the force is only a fraction of a G so it's probably not worth it, and they seem to have some sort of gravity generators anyway.

math check:
x = 1/2 a t^2 => a = 2x / t^2
a = (2 * 20,000,000 m) / (7 hours * 3600 s/h)^2 = 0.0629 m/s^2
v = a t = 0.0629 m/s^2 * 25200 s = 1.5 km/s

posted by autopilot at 2:13 PM on November 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hmmm I'm not actually sure what the common people are using to leave the planet post-bridge but the fancy ship Cleon used is only for his use (and other select elite members of court). It's like the slow generation ships vs those that can fold space in the interstellar travel. Pretty sure the slow route was the only one they're allowed to use either by access or by cost.
posted by cendawanita at 5:34 PM on November 16, 2021

Maybe there are different rules on Trantor, although on the outer planets it seems like common folk have work-ships that are capable of rapid takeoff and re-entry. Such as Hugo's cargo ship that Salvor uses to land on Terminus, as well as the Anacreons and Thespin Republic warships that can perform high-dynamic maneuvers both in and out of atmosphere, while producing so little down-draft that they can land next to humans without disturbing them.
posted by autopilot at 12:33 AM on November 17, 2021

I’m enjoying the show but it feels to me like the writers /show runners packed too many things into the story this season. It was too much for 10 episodes and it feels like the whole season has been setup without enough payoff.
posted by interogative mood at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

The clone conspiracy was absurdly complicated.

I was hoping it'd be a Mortyville plot, where clone emperors escape every week and have formed a small band for their collective protection, and this is allowed as their only real purpose was to keep Grandpa company anyways.

Of all the loose ends, down on his luck guy who trades his ratty jacket for a personal forcefield is the one I want them to follow up on the most. It's basically a comic book villain origin story.

I was waiting for the dude, now protected by the aura, to take his jacket back by force, and watch as Cleon failed to thrive in the scar.

Demerzel is exhonerated in the gene modification (...or is she?) plot, so now I guess the question is whether the cave's opinion that Day has no soul means the Empire can admit a scion with modified genetics, or even dare allow the end of cloning entirely.
posted by pwnguin at 6:23 PM on November 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

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