TV Review: Foundation (2021) – S01E06 – Death and the Maiden

TL;DR – Brother Day looks to stabilise the Empire by consolidating the Luminist leadership. The Anacreons are on the move. And Brother Dawn begins to develop feelings for a servant.

Review (warning: spoilers)

Please go to my TV reviews page to read reviews of previous episodes.

Trantor is the city at the heart of the Galaxy; the heart of the Empire. On Gal Dornick’s (Lou Llobell) home world, Synnax, they believe the denizens of Trantor are sinners who follow a false prophet. That false prophet is Emperor Cleon and the endless line of clones that come forth, enabling Cleon immortality and eternal rule.

This is the opening narrative of episode six, and we watch as the current Cleon in power, Emperor Day (Lee Pace), is woken after performing the jump from Trantor to the Surah System. We learned in episode four that Proxima Opal, the leader of the Luminist religion which has three trillion followers, has passed. The succession is being contested between Zephyr Gilat (Julia Farino) and Zephyr Halima (T’Nia Miller).

Gilat is an obedient follower of the Empire while Halima wishes to separate from Imperial rule and return to the Primary Octavo (a doctrine that essentially states a person’s soul is tied to an individual, and thus cannot be tied to clones such as the Cleon line).

This causes Emperor Day to visit Maiden (an arid, habitable moon where Luminism originates) to meet Gilat and see her through to achieving the title as the next Proxima. It is one of the first signs that mathematical prophecies of Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) are coming true. For Emperor Day who, in all his lifetimes, has never known doubt, he is suddenly confronted by it thanks to Hari. And, uncharacteristically, has taken it upon himself to visit Maiden when no Brother Day has left Trantor since Cleon the First.

There’s a fascinating dialogue between Brother Day and Demerzel (Laura Birn) before they arrive at Maiden where we get a history lesson on Luminism and its faith. What makes it fascinating is that we learn Demerzel (a self-aware AI robot) is a believer of Luminism and is questioned by Brother Day as to why. She explains that Luminism is about seeking purpose, to which Brother Day counters saying she knows her purpose (to serve the Empire and to serve him). But she goes on to say that it is not just knowing your purpose but the process of seeking that enlightens.

The scene then expands beyond the spaceship carrying Day and Demerzel to the Maiden landscape; desert as far as the eye can see and buildings that appear a cross between Egyptian and Aztec. The political machinations then unfold as Brother Day seeks to shore up support for Zephyr Gilat by promising the Empire will build a first-class desalination plant that means the people of Maiden will always have access to fresh water.

However, this play falls short as Zephyr Halima comes on stage with a rousing speech that stirs the faith and causes Brother Day to realise he could potentially lose three trillion people as part of the Empire. Seeing every individual of Maiden lower themselves in service to their faith including Demerzel, who is clearly conflicted but also bows showing her belief overrides her service to the Empire, is an epic scene and leaves Brother Day standing amongst a giant crowd of worshippers who do not worship him.

Episode six also continues the storyline on Terminus. The Anacreons have succeeded in securing the Foundation town and set in motion a plan called Invictus, which involves securing a starship planet destroyer and having it operated by certain members of the Foundation.

Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey), Hugo (Daniel MacPherson) and her father attempt to destroy the corvette ships that the Anacreons arrived on and do so but Salvor’s father sacrifices his life in the process.

We also witness Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) and gardener, Azura Odili (Amy Tyger) grow increasingly closer. Dawn’s actions have come under the watchful eye of Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) who begins to suspect Dawn is diverging from previous Cleon ways.

The wheels have been set in motion, and we get a front row seat on the multiple fronts where the Empire looks likely to be attacked. The Anacreons are in full swing on their mission of revenge, and Zephyr Halima has the momentum to achieve a secession from the Empire.

But the greatest threat may very well be within as Brother Dawn looks more and more likely to choose a path for himself. A destiny of his own making that will have nothing to do with ruling the Empire.

Strap in and buckle up.

9.5 out of 10

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