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Friday, August 25, 2023

Foundation 2.7: Is Demerzel Telling the Truth?

Another excellent episode of Foundation -- 2.7 -- which may be the best episode so far this second season, which means maybe the best episode so far in the series.

I'll address three issues here:

[Spoilers follow ... ]

1. Demerzel tells Sareth she's the last surviving robot, that once upon a time robots were bound to follow three laws which makes them bound to prevent any harm from befalling a human, by action or inaction (actually, just the first law of Asimov's Three Laws) but that changed and now she's bound by only one law, to "serve Empire".

Ok, but is Demerzel telling Sareth the truth?  Is she bound by any robotic law to never lie to any human?  Or never lie to Day's betrothed?  Not likely.  And why did she mention the three laws to Sareth, and then only recite to her the first law?  Was that just inexact writing, or is there some meaning in that omission?  And is Demerzel telling the truth about being the last surviving humanoid robot, aka android? How exactly could she know such a thing across the vast expanses of the galaxy? Are robots in some sort of telepathic touch across the galaxy? (And, while we're at it, what happened to Asimov's Zeroth Law, which says that more important than never letting any harm to befall a human, a robot should give priority to humanity as a whole? A nice enactment of the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for greatest number.)

2.  The Cleons had quite a night.  Day had Demerzel kill Sareth's family. (a stark example of the overthrow of Asimov's first law). She understandably hates him.  Day and Demerzel know this, so why are they going ahead with the marriage?  And Sareth beginning to seduce Dawn is a risky and exciting venture indeed.  I don't see how they'll be able to hide that from Demerzel.  Also notable is Brother Constant conveying the holographic Hari in the meeting with the Cleonic clones and Demerzel in a very strong scene -- actually, any scene with the Cleonic clonic triumvirate and Demerzel is good to see, let alone one with any version of Hari.

3. But speaking of Hari -- it looks like he's also alive in the flesh, with his head above water, just as I said I thought was likely the case last week.  And now Salvor has joined him?  Well, not exactly, her face is down in the water, but if Hari survived why can't she?   On the other hand, this episode is entitled "A Necessary Death," and whose death is that?  Sareth's family? Not likely, especially since that happened off-camera. 

Tellem Bond does say something about a "little death" being necessary, so what does she mean by that? Optimist that I am, I'd say that that could mean that maybe Salvor and Hari are in some sort of coma, deep-sleep state -- which would be in accord with Hari's head above water -- and Tellem might be thinking and plotting it might be a good or necessary idea to revive them someday.

Lots of information and lots of questions, which is why I much enjoyed this episode.

See also Foundation 2.1: Once Again, A Tale of Two Stories ... 2.2: Major Players ... 2.3: Bel Riose and Hari ... 2.5: The Original Cleon and the Robot ... 2.6: Hari and Evita

And 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 1.9: Vindication and Questions ... Foundation Season 1 Finale: Right Up There


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