The show has been taking its time by introducing the background and a broader plot about the fall of the Galactic Empire. However, if the pace was slow it was still moving. Episode 6 was a case of the show spinning its wheels without really going anywhere. There are some good bits but what momentum the story had in the previous episodes got caught up in dithering. Spoilers follow.
Three plot lines and no flashbacks and the plot lines are interspersed.
- Brother Day heads off-world to attend the funeral of a major religuous figure and to monitor the succession.
- Brother Dawn pursues his attraction to a gardener on Trantor
- The Anacreons continue their plans on Terminus
We do learn that Hari Seldon arranged his own murder via Salvor Hardin having another psychic flashback (at a very inconvenient time). Salvor has also come to believe that she is a specific instrument of Seldon’s plan…I’m hoping she’s mistaken as that’s the better twist and more in keeping with the ethos of the story.
The Anacreon plan is based on finding a lost Imperial spaceship but they need Foundation expertise to get it running. Well, we will see how that all works out I guess. IMDB has all the episode titles now and Episode 9 is entitled “The First Crisis”, so I’m guessing we might get the Foundation v Anacreon dispute wrapped up over three more episodes. It’s the weakest of the storylines and the more obvious fracture between the show and the original stories.
What is working much better is the surrounding fan-fiction element about the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Even so, things went slowly here as well. Brother Dawn is unsettled and obviously is not quite as identical a clone as his older brothers. In a hunting outing, he displays far more skill than Brother Dusk had done at the same age. We also learn that he has colour blindness, unlike his clone siblings.
Meanwhile, Brother Day is attempting religious diplomacy with Demerzel. A curious touch is that this Demerzel (a robot or perhaps THE robot) is a follower of the religion in question which uses the classic Triple Goddess idea (maiden, mother, crone) for a religion focused on reincarnation. It is an odd choice for the character but what I liked about it was that it added plot legitimacy to the religion which balanced out the more negative portrait of a religion we saw on Gaal Dornick’s world.
I was also impressed how quickly they sketched out the idea of this religion and how its theology would be attractive in a Galactic Empire (primarily a spiritual belief that would easily adapt to multiple cultures) and, more importantly, how a theological point would have a deep import on Galactic politics.
The theological argument was given a short explanation in the previous episode but expanded upon here. Followers believe in the reincarnation of the soul and the ongoing moral/spiritual perfection of the soul across reincarnations. Buddhism without Nirvana or aspects of Hinduism or Pythagorean/Neoplatonism. There’s enough material there, quickly sketched, to get a sense of what and why people believe.
T’Nia Miller steals the show as the rising star and potential successor as the leader of the religion. In a rousing speech, she outlines her take on the core reincarnation belief that pitches that each soul is unique to a single body with the tacit implication that Emperor Cleon’s serial cloning is an anathema. Again, it is plausible as a theological controversy in that it is easy to see how pro-Empire believers can rationalise the issue away and how anti-Empire sentiment among believers could coalesce around the idea that Emperor Cleon is damaging his own soul by his actions.
And Demerzel is a believer…interesting. Like I said, I think this was probably done to give a nod to the idea of the legitimacy of this religion after the show presented the only other religion we’ve seen in the Empire as anti-science bigots bent on a self-destructive denial of reality. It does imply that Demerzel believes that she has a soul and a reincarnatable soul at that and also presumably doesn’t believe that the cloning of the Emperor is a problem.
The Terminus plot suffers from the need for a big epic show like this to have action sequences. I get the choice here after all the show is called “Foundation” and the Emperor themselves aren’t going to be off fighting any galactic wars. Having said that, I wonder if we’d have been better with a more chatty inter-personal drama on Terminus while cutting to some general like figure (foreshadowing an actual character in later books) off trying to keep the empire together but inadvertently only worsening the collapse.
I’m still entertained and I’ve been enjoying this more than Cora has but the annoying elements she discussed here were more overt in this episode.