"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Foundation 2.9: Exceptional Alterations

The next-to-last episode of season 2 of Foundation on Apple TV+ -- episode 2.9 -- was riveting and brilliant.  I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.  Even though the story it told diverged from the equivalent time in Asimov's second Foundation novel -- Foundation and Empire -- in crucial ways that indeed were among the best parts of the original trilogy in the 1950s and the subsequent sequels and prequels in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Here are my thoughts on some of the major developments in episode 2.9:

[Spoilers of course are ahead ... ]

1.  We get more of Demerzel's story in the powerful opening scene.  We don't hear the name R. Daneel Olivaw, but what Demerzel tells us is not inconsistent with R. Daneel's origins on Earth, and Demerzel does speak the name of our planet.  As far as what is new in the TV series, and what I still do think is the best part, we learn something very important:  it was the first Cleon, not Demerzel, who came up with the Cleon clonal triumvirate.  This suggests that the relationship between the clones and the android are closer to equal than we may have thought before.  

2.  The action around Terminus was thrilling, and surprising in the way it diverged from Asimov's accounting.  Hari's hologram is impressive, but it fails to convince Day of anything.  And indeed, Bel Riose, ordered by Day, all but destroys the Foundation outpost on Terminus at the end.  At that moment, can we say that psychohistory has failed or succeeded?  I don't see how can it be the latter.

3. Meanwhile, we get the satisfaction -- maybe not the best word -- of Hari beating Tellem to death, in a scene that was so strong it was almost physically revolting even as it was ethically welcome.   And unless I radically missed something in my understanding of holograms, the Hari who killed Tellem was corporal, physical, not a hologram.  Which means, either the physical Hari was indeed not dead (as I said in my review of episode 2.7), because Tellem didn't kill him in the first place, or Hari's physical being was reconstituted off-screen (as I suggested in my review of episode 2.8).  Either way, I count the continuation of the physical Hari, along with the holograms, as a good thing for the television series.

4.  We get another glimpse of the Mule.  I'm thinking now that in the third season, we'll see a three-way fight between Hari, Empire, and the Mule.  And Demerzel's allegiance won't be as clear as it's been up until episode 2.9.

We'll just have to see.  And I'll see you here next week with my review of the Season 2 finale.

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 ... 2.7: Is Demerzel Telling the Truth? ... 2.8: Major Revelations

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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