Foundation TV Series Season 1 Recap

Based on a novel series of the same name by Isaac Asimov, the “Foundation” TV series brings to screen a spectacular visual that chronicles the inevitable collapse of the Galactic Empire and how Hari Seldon—with his psychohistory—almost single-handedly keeps the civilization in order. While the novel series is, without a doubt, ambitious in expanse and timeline, the story itself is not hard to follow. Here is a Foundation TV Series Season 1 Recap!

Foundation TV Series Season 1 Recap

The basic premise remains the same in the screen adaptation and the source material: the Galactic Empire will fall within the next several centuries, carving the pathway for a 30,000-year-long chaotic barbarism in the entire Milky Way galaxy. Genius mathematician Hari Seldon promises he can shorten the barbaric period to mere 1000 years but only if the emperor allows him to create the Encyclopedia Galactica to safeguard all existing knowledge of human cultures and science. But there might be some hidden purpose behind that promise. Streaming on Apple TV+, the Foundation TV Series Season 1 comprises 10 episodes originally aired on September 24 – November 19, 2021. Short recaps of the episodes are as follows.

Episode 1 – The Emperor’s Peace

Foundation opens with introducing Salvor Hardin, the current Warden of Terminus as she rescues a boy named Poly who is rendered unconscious while approaching a floating structure known as the Vault. In fact, Hardin seems to be the only person unaffected by the artifact.

The story jumps back to several decades earlier to depict the brief history of Terminus. It all starts when the famed mathematician Hari Seldon reveals that psychohistory predicts the fall of the empire within 500 years in the future. When his new student named Gaal Dornick is tasked with debunking the claim, she confirms it instead. Such a statement is regarded as a form of treason by the empire. And then suddenly a terrorist attack destroys the Star Bridge and leaves millions of people dead.

Along with some loyal group of followers, Seldon and Dornick are sent into exile on Terminus. On the planet far away from Trantor, they are allowed to build the Encyclopedia Galactica, or the Foundation, to preserve culture, art, technology, and science.

Episode 2 – Preparing to Live

The empire discovers evidence to suggest that attackers in the Star Bridge incident were from Thespis and Anacreon, but the accused deny any involvement. Meanwhile, in Deliverance, the spaceship bound for Terminus, things are nowhere near as easy as expected. All the preparations to establish a colony on the new planet have taken a toll on the crew. It would take four years and four months before the ship reaches Terminus.

Dornick is growing closer to Seldon’s adoptive son, Raych. In a shocking turn of events, Dornick discovers Raych has stabbed Seldon to death. Raych grabs Dornick into an escape pod, gives her the murder weapon, and ejects the pod into space. Raych is subsequently arrested by the crew and executed.

Episode 3 – The Mathematician’s Ghost

The episode begins with a flashback to the death of Emperor Cleon and the beginning of Imperial cloning. His most loyal humanoid aide, Demerzel, accepts the order to make sure his legacy lives on. Now the empire is ruled by three clones: Brother Dawn (Cleon XIV), Brother Day (Cleon XIII), and Brother Dusk (Cleon XII). Demerzel remains as their aide.

Deliverance has finally landed on Terminus. Upon arrival, the crew members discover the Vault. Anyone who comes close to the floating structure is rendered incapacitated by the null field. Terminus soon develops into a flourishing planet populated by a society of scientists. Salvor Hardin, daughter of Mari and Abbas, is currently the Warden of Terminus. The episode closes with Hardin having a vision of the presence of a group of Anacreons on the planet.

Episode 4 – Barbarians at the Gate

Proxima Opal, the leader of Luminism religion, has died. It is not the death that bothers the emperors, but the candidate for replacement: Zephyr Halima. The emperors know Halima is a proponent of Primary Octavo, a belief that a soul only belongs to one body. If she comes to power, the legitimacy of the three Cleon clones might be subject to questions. 

Back on Terminus, Hardin is attacked by Anacreons under the leadership of Phara. They engage in a battle but Hardin subdues Phara by leading their ship to the Vault’s perimeter. The Anacreons are preparing to level Terminus with the flak canons, and Hardin is having (again) a vision about a child in the Imperial Library of Trantor. Commander Dorwin is on his way to Terminus by order of Brother Dusk. Somewhere in deep space, a starship discovers Dornick’s escape pod.

Episode 5 – Upon Awakening

After 34 years of cryogenic sleep, Dornick is awakened aboard the Raven, a fully automatic starship prepared by Raych. She quickly realizes all major events that happened during the time she was asleep, including Raych’s death. The starship is bound for Helicon.

The battle on Terminus continues. The arrival of Commander Dorwin aboard the imperial vessel, Aegis, makes little impact. The Anacreons have knocked out Terminus’ protection shield.

Episode 6 – Death and the Maiden

Brother Day and Demerzel arrive at Maiden, the center of Luminism, and are greeted by Zephyr Halima. The emperor is there to show his support for Zephyr Gilat, another religious leader candidate. However, Halima remains a strong contender for the position. On Trantor, Brother Dawn develops a romantic relationship with a palace gardener named Azura Odili and reveals the fact that he is color blind; a genetic trait that makes him different from other Cleon clones.

Hardin escapes Terminus City to team up with Hugo (her lover) and Abbas (her father). She has yet another vision about Hari Seldon ordering Raych to kill him in order to save Dornick. Abbas sacrifices himself to destroy Anacreons’ fleet. Phara once again gains the upper hand and captures the lovers. Phara is taking Hugo’s ship, the Beggar, to Anthor Belt. 

Episode 7 – Mysteries and Martyrs

Beggar is approaching the Invictus, a long-lost imperial warship. Phara plans to use the Invictus to attack the Galactic Empire, but it is full of dead crew and already set to make the next random jump within just four hours. Elsewhere on the Raven, Dornick realizes she carries a digitized form of Seldon’s consciousness. She learns much detail about his death and the grand plan for the Foundation.

Azura is trying to convince Brother Dawn that running away from the palace is the best option for him. Brothers Day and Dusk would not like how he is genetically different.

Episode 8 – The Missing Piece

The attempt to control the Invictus fails, and the next random jump is inevitable. No one knows where the next spot will be. Hardin is still on the warship. At the same time, the Raven remains on its course toward Helicon. Seldon explains to Dornick about his plan to establish the Second Foundation on the planet in secret. Dornick cannot just take Seldon’s words and decide to take the escape pod to her home world of Synnax, a journey that would take 138 years.

Brother Day claims to have received a vision of a sacred flower after going through a sacred pilgrimage known as Spiral. The vision is supposedly from the Luminism’s Triple Goddess and confirms that even a clone has a soul. He then orders Demerzel to kill Halima. During the journey back to Trantor and after the assassination, Brother Day reveals to the humanoid aide that the vision never happened. 

Episode 9 – The First Crisis

The next Invictus’ jump is to Terminus. Leader of Terminus colony Lewis Pirenne made the sacrifice by plugging himself into the ship’s system to sabotage the destination. Two other ships, the Beggar and the Thespin Lancers, are dragged into the jump. Hardin reunites with Hugo and calls for help from Terminus to no avail. He then converts the Vault into a portal from which Hari Seldon emerges.

Brother Dawn realizes that Brother Dusk is aware of the former’s color blindness and attempts to escape the palace; the latter captures him and waits for Brother Day to determine the punishment.  

Episode 10 – The Leap

Seldon reveals that the Encyclopedia Galactica is more than just a repository of human knowledge. The real purpose of the Foundation is to act as a hub of alliance in defiance of the Galactic Empire. The people of Terminus, Thespis, and Anacreon must work together to end the totalitarian rule and begin a new regime.

The season finale ends with a time jump of 138 years into the future when Dornick finally arrives at Synnax. She bumps into another escape pod. Inside the chamber is Salvor Hardin, who reveals that Dornick is her biological mother.

We think that the Foundation TV series, as a novel adaptation, does an excellent job at world-building. It is a lavish visualization of Asimov’s detailed descriptions. Many worlds, cultures, religious beliefs, landscapes, ceremonies, costumes, and even the spacesuits are all-around impressive. As far as the plotline is concerned, the TV series is only loosely based on Asimov’s novels. Beyond borrowing the basic premise and the promise of a Second Foundation, the show introduces a barrage of new perspectives to where it feels like an extended introduction to the main event.

Have you finished watching the Foundation TV Series Season 1? Do you think the show visually represents Asimov’s ambitious storytelling? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Has there been any other adaptation of Asimov’s other novels?

The closest things to being adaptations of Asimov’s works are I, Robot (2004) that even isn’t based on his book series apart from the name, and the same story applies to Bicentennial Man (1999).

Can you enjoy the show without first reading the novel?

A resounding yes, mostly because the TV series can somehow organize the big-time jumps to avoid confusion for the uninitiated. The world-building is on a scale of its own to where the show can pack everything into a visually dense, awe-inspiring, yet easy-to-digest spectacle. 

Will there be a 2nd season?

Apple TV+ has already renewed the series for a second season. The film and everything else is basically done at the moment. Season 2 Episode 1 is scheduled for release on July 14, 2023.

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