The series premiere of Apple TV’s epic sci-fi series Foundation introduced viewers to the world within Isaac Asimov’s original novels. We learned about the Empire, trouble brewing on the outer rims of the galaxy, Hari Seldon’s (Jared Harris) prediction and the fate of him and Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell). It was quite a lot to take in, but it was well worth it. In the second episode, Preparing to Live, Seldon and his followers make way to Terminus to begin work on the foundation.
DISCLAIMER: This is a recap and, by definition, will be full of spoilers for Apple TV’s Foundation. I highly suggest going and watching it first and then coming back!
Preparing to Live opens as Demerzel (Laura Birn) tracks down the maker of the bombs used in the attack. However, they are refusing to share who purchased them. She meets with Brother Day (Lee Pace) and Brother Dusk (Terrance Mann), who are both unhappy with how things are playing out in their own ways. Day still has ideas of killing Seldon and his followers and blaming everything on them.
Aboard Seldon’s ship to Terminus, we get a look into how things are faring for them. Gaal and Raych (Alfred Enoch) have become a couple, but they hide it from Seldon. Everyone on board is studying different jobs that will be useful, while on Terminus and Gaal seems to think she needs to learn every single one of them. But it seems like they have quite a bit of time, 54 months to be exact, before anyone needs to use these skills.
We begin to understand just how much the odds are stacked against them on Terminus during a training exercise. Gaal meets with Hari to discuss the sims they have been running when one of the crewmates calls Hari by his first name. This sparks a change in Hari like the world is getting to know him instead of the Doctor title he hides behind.
Back on Trantor, Brother Dawn (Cooper Carter) and Brother Day try to get the two delegates to admit to their involvement in the attack. However, both stand firm that they have no idea what happened. Brother Dusk is absent from the meeting, instead choosing to work on the mural. However, it appears he is struggling with the effects of old age and nearly falls to his death.
Preparing to Live jumps back to Gaal and we learn that she and Raych are expecting. Everything is going fine, but we learn through a conversation Gaal has with another expecting crewmate Lowre (Kim Adis) that carrying a child aboard is complicated. They aren’t even sure Terminus is the right place to raise a child. However, Lowre sees life aboard the ship as preparing to live instead of actually living and that’s why she refuses to have her placed in the seed bank.
We are shifted back to Trantor again as Brother Dusk and Demerzel visit the lower levels that the attack has all but destroyed. He meets with the same member for the Sea of Church that Gaal met with. Dusk wants to know why he was at Gaal’s trial and if he sees her as a seer. He wants to know if they believe if she can see the truth about the empire’s fall.
As the building is crumbling around them, Demerzel rushes Dusk out while the man claims that Gaal isn’t seen by their God and not a Seer. It also appears that a rock struck Demerzel. However, she isn’t bleeding normal blood and almost looks as if the hole in her chest is nothing more than a scratch.
Hari is struggling with his calculations and visits Gaal at the pool. He shares with her that while he was behind trying to get exiled and sending out his supporters, he never thought he would be among the ship’s crew. However, he won’t tell her why this changed. Instead, he just reminds her to be at the funds meeting. Gaal tells Raych that she believes he knows about their relationship.
She thinks Raych hasn’t told him because he won’t be happy and believes it will keep them from their true goal. She also believes that Hari’s math isn’t complete. Gaal never mentioned it before the trial but did believe there is enough information to say what he is working towards is correct. But it is missing pieces that could change their path entirely.
During the meeting, Gaal makes it a point for those around her to understand that they need to really think about what they will be saving. The committee needs to agree on what will be worth holding on to and what will be lost in the ashes.
Preparing to Live takes us back to Trantor, where Demerzel is repairing herself. It turns out that she is one of the AI robots that the world fought a war over. However, she doesn’t see herself as one. She feels like the more human she acts, the more human she really is. Brother Dawn is worried for her, however. Knowing that she could have died like the others.
Elsewhere Day and Dusk visit the original Cleon from which they are cloned. They discuss Seldon’s prophecy and how they were once men just like him. And look where they are now. They argue about why Dusk went to visit the priest and how they should be handling the attack. Dusk also wants to meet with the delegates and even though Day isn’t okay with it – it’s Dusk’s right to.
Dusk meets with both delegates and each cry that they are being framed by someone else. That they had nothing to do with the attacks. However, Dusk can’t decide whether to believe them, but he does know that the empire will kill them for what they have done. Dawn and Day are overlooking the meeting and Day realizes that Dusk is slowly losing it.
While checking on his laundry, Sheldon is asked if he is happy with how the project is progressing. He tells them that it is going to be a long journey, but he is confident. And his reason behind it is that everyone involved that stood behind his beliefs. He thanks all of them for their support. At dinner, there is a much less happy exchange between Seldon and Raych. It seems like with every new bit of information Raych learns, he loses faith in Seldon’s vision of the future.
Gaal follows Raych and tries to get him to open up about his relationship with Seldon. She is worried she shouldn’t have told him about the numbers. However, Raych thinks it was a good idea. He needs the reminder that Seldon can make mistakes. But what he needs to know is what mistakes are going to change things drastically for them.
Brother Dawn, Brother Day and Brother Dusk decide the best way to move forward is to show a strong front. And this includes a public execution of the two delegates’ escorts. Day has also decided to punish their planets and force the delegates to go home and face their failure firsthand.
Preparing to Live comes to a close as Gaal finds Raych stabbing Seldon to death. To protect her, he drags her off and sends her into space after telling her he loves her. The last thing we see is her adrift in space.
I’ll be the first to admit that I felt this episode would be quite the filler after such an information-packed first episode. Of course, that was until the last five or so minutes. There is a lot to take from this episode that comes to us not in major actions or conversations but in the subtle side comments or things we can read between the lines.
It is such a drastic change from the first episode and I absolutely loved it. I still don’t know if this is a story of good against bad or one that shows us that both sides can feel both roles, but I love the way it bounces between Seldon’s crew and the Empire. We’ve jumped a bit of time, but not enough to make a huge difference. It will be interesting to see how things play out as time shifts within the show.
Foundation‘s third episode will be released on October 1, 2021, on Apple TV.