The second episode delves further into the lore of Foundation and is slowly but surely ramping up the intensity
The terror attack on the near-mythical Trantor Starbridge took millions of lives and destabilised the flourishing Galactic empire. The Empire, the name given to the collective rulers, Brother Dawn, Brother Day, and Brother Dusk, decide to make an example out of the Anacreon and Thespis delegates, who they believe is responsible for these attacks. Hari Seldon (Jarred Harris) and his followers including Gaal Dornick are sent to exile to the planet Terminus - Brother Day’s idea of shooting the messenger.
The second episode puts more emphasis on the characters rather than exploring the expansive universe. The show’s departure from the books on several fronts is evident in this episode. The showrunners have added their novel inputs and also incorporated ideas from Asimov’s prequel novels. While it might not please some of the more ardent fans, there could be no arguments that these alterations have helped translate the source material into something truly unique.
The narrative picks up its pace as Trantor grapples with its new reality. There is more focus given to the rulers of Trantor, like Brother Dusk’s new perception of reality and how he begins to have second thoughts about the Empire’s totalitarian rule. Despite being clones of one another, each of the three rulers is subtly hinted to having distinctive personalities. Brother Day (Lee Pace), who positions himself as the leader among the three, asserts his authority by lashing out against the people of Anacreon and Thespis.
There are several socio-political themes from real historical events added to the narrative. Public executions, adopted by dictators throughout history to send a message, the military might of a superpower demolishing a smaller civilisation, or dissenting voices being persecuted to mask the ruling power’s impotence, are all highlighted in one sequence of events in the episode — to which parallels can be a drawn to global politics from past and present.
The narrative invariably shifts to Hari Seldon and Gaal Dornick, along with Seldon’s followers, who are on their way to Terminus as part of their exile. These characters undergo significant development through the length of the episode, but there are several plotlines left unanswered. It also remains to be seen how the 35-year time gap between two storylines plays into the overall structure of the plot, even more so considering how the episode ended on a cliffhanger.
The second episode offers more insight into the characters and what drives them, whilst also setting the tone on what viewers can expect from the rest of the season. The showrunners have made several changes from the source, and so far their decision appears to be vindicated.