Apple TV+’s ambitious new sci-fi space odyssey concludes its first season with the promise of a new beginning for season 2
Brother Day returns to Trantor to pass judgement on the rebels and the unfortunate Brother Dawn. Whereas Hari Seldon makes shocking revelations about the Foundation to Anacreons, Thespians, and the first settlers of Terminus.
The Foundation showed immense promise in its pilot episode with stunning visuals, a great cast, and an engrossing narrative. It ticked all the right boxes in what is expected from a flagship show with a generous production budget. The follow-up episode didn’t disappoint either, but what followed was a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fortunately, for the series, it is the good that trumps the bad and the ugly, and has deservedly been renewed for a second season.
The finale of the first season spiritually embodies the recurring pattern of the season in terms of consistency, pacing, and writing. There are gripping scenes with excellent storytelling, and then there are also scenes that truly capture some of the essences of Issac Asimov’s original novels. Of course, the showrunners David S Goyer and Josh Friedman have made several alterations from the source material, in terms of character arcs and narrative. While some of these changes have been justified so as to translate well for a TV production, a few other creative choices leave a lot to be desired.
The plot for season one revolves around the two primary storylines - the Empire and Trantor, and Hari Seldon’s Foundation on Terminus. The show’s greatest strength and its weakness rest entirely on these dual narratives. Lee Pace and the rest of the cast from the Trantor storyline excel, whereas the Terminus storyline is marred by inconsistencies in its writing. This could primarily be attributed to the minimal screen time afforded to Jared Harris to carry the Terminus storyline on his own in a way Lee Pace effortlessly steers the Trantor side of things. And ultimately Leah Harvey is unable to carry the storyline on her shoulders in the absence of Jered Harris and Lou Llobell. While Kubra Sait’s character and the performance offered much promise, the writers were unable to flesh out her character.
Such contrast in terms of writing the two parallel storylines has shackled what could have been an epic sci-fi fantasy. Because the parts that excelled are on par with some of the best television shows ever created. There is still potential for the second season to live up to the hype. The finale has left the audience intrigued for season two with some shocking revelations. Lee Pace’s Brother Day, Cassian Bitton’s Brother Dawn, and Laura Birn’s Demerzel are immaculate in the finale. In fact, Bitton’s portrayal forces the audience to sympathise with Day’s actions in condemning Azura to a lifetime of pain and misery. This despite the fact the rebels and Azura were well within their rights to revolt against the empire.
Whereas the Terminus narrative is crippled by its pacing and unconvincing arcs for its characters. It’s only when Gaal Dornick and Hari Seldon make the odd appearance on this side of the overall narrative does it add intrigue and mystery to the narrative. However, Gaal Dornick’s decision to return to Synnax defies logic, and Salvor Hardin’s new mission also gives a feeling of being shoehorned in to give a platform for season two.
The first season of the TV adaptation of Asimov’s greatest work is ambitious and well-executed for most parts but is at times held back from inconsistent writing and creative decisions.