If you are a devotee of time travel...

Friday, November 12, 2021

Foundation 1.9: Vindication and Questions

Well, quite a penultimate first season Foundation episode -- 1.9 -- which as I think about what I just finished watching, I'd say is the best episode so far in this series.  I said that about episode 1.7, didn't I?  Does this mean that I think 1.9 is therefore better than 1.7?  No.  I think they're equally the best at this point.  Is that a problem?  Not in a story in which triplicate clones of different ages are as much or even more of the riveting story than is the adaptation of Asimov's original tales.  So I'll stick with the equal bests, separately aged, and see if the season finale makes the analogy even better with a triple equal.

And I'll tell you just one more thing before I invoke the cover, aka alert you, that spoilers will follow.  For the first time in this series, Isaac Asimov's name is the same size as the other credits that appear on the screen before and after.  That cannot be an accident.  I've been a little annoyed that the size of his name in the opening credits was smaller.  I wonder why this injustice was rectified in this particular episode. Is it because one of Asimov's most famous quotes -- "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" -- was clearly spoken in this episode?  Maybe.  (Though I'm pretty sure there were exact quotes from Asimov in the first episode.) Or perhaps [but this goes into spoilers] --

[Huge spoilers ahead ... ]

Perhaps it's the thrilling ending of this episode: Hari Seldon's hologram -- looking much better than the Hari hologram on 1.8's ship, by the way -- walks out of the vault and speaks on Terminus!  Asimov's vision realized at last!   But what's going on?  Was the Hari hologram we saw last week defective for some reason?  Or, is the Hari on Terminus tonight somehow the real Hari?  Not likely.  But the vindication of Asimov in the Hari holograms opens up all kinds of intriguing questions.

Defects in copies is what the other superb part of tonight's episode was all about.  We learn why Dawn is defective.  Not because of some accident, or deliberate move of Demerzel.   But because of an ingenuous plot by the underground on Trantor to infiltrate the Triumvirate (I did say in my review of Foundation 1.6 that I was suspicious of that gardener, because in Asimov's prequel written in the 1980s, a gardener surprises Hari by killing Cleon).  And in an excellent twist on a twist, Dusk representing the true Cleon DNA pulls the rug out from under the underground anyway (great acting by Terrence Mann as Dusk, by the way).  These kinds of surprise moves on surprise moves in the galactic chess game are exactly what propelled Asimov’s original Foundation writing. Yet as I've been saying, these clones, not a part of Asimov’s writing,  are a first-rate science fiction story, a triumph in itself.

One more episode left in this first season.  I'll see you back here very soon with my podcast review of this episode, and with a review of the season finale minutes after it's on next week.

See also Foundation 1.1-2: Mathematician, Man of the People, and Cleon's Clones ... Foundation 1.3: Clonal Science Fiction, Hari Seldon as V. I. Lenin ... Foundation 1.4: Slow Hand, Long Half-Life, Flipped Coin ... Foundation 1.5: What We Learned in that Final Scene ... Foundation 1.6: Folded Variations ... Foundation 1.7: Alternate History/Future ... Foundation 1.8: Divergences and Convergences ...  Foundation Season 1 Finale: Right Up There

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