Things are really heating up after last week’s episode of Apple TV’s Foundation. The colony has settled on Terminus, but things aren’t going quite as planned. Now in Barbarians at the Gate, Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) faces off with an enemy of the Empire. Brothers Day (Lee Pace) and Dusk (Terrance Mann) are at odds, while Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) wrestles with his truth. Things are really heating up so let’s dive in!
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!
Barbarians at the Gate opens as Brother Dawn, now considerably older, attempts to throw himself out of his bedroom window. However, there is a protective aura force field that cushions his landing. It gives the impression that even if the Empire wants to get rid of themselves, they won’t be able to. We then get to see a burial ritual of what looks to be another leader from a different planet. One that looks to be more of a celebration compared to how Brother Dusk went in the last episode.
In Brother Day’s room, we see the same aura appear again when his companion attempts to touch him. He instructs her to move slower and softer, which does allow her to pass through the field. However, before things can go further, Demerzel (Laura Birn) interrupts them and drags Brother Day away on important business. It turns out that the funeral we saw previously has brought on a bit of an issue. There are two successors and while the Empire likes one, the other wants to return back to the way things were before.
The issue with this old belief is that it calls into question whether any clone of Cleon (the Empire) have souls and if they are even human. This could cause their followers to have doubts in the Empire. This scene and the previous one really show a disconnect between the three Brothers. Even down to the hand Brother Dawn uses to pick up his glass. Almost as if they are starting to differentiate. It makes me think that their split might be what causes Hari Seldon’s (Jared Harris) theory about their fall.
Barbarians at the Gate jumps to where we left off in the last episode, where Salvor has come face to face with the Anacreon. She speaks with one of the Anacreon (Kubbra Sait), who claims they are scrappers, but Salvor knows better. If they were scrappers, they would have known the ship was empty and most likely would have killed her already. It looks like what they really want is for her to get them through the force field. She can only get the one through while the others have to wait on the other side.
On the way towards the colony, Salvor takes a detour. She decides to head towards the Vault, which causes the Anacreon to pass out. Smart thinking Salvor! She takes the Anacreon to her parent’s house (Clarke Peters and Sasha Behar) and ties her up. The three then proceed to argue on how to handle the situation. It all comes back to what would Seldon do and Salvor is quick to remind them that he isn’t here anymore. Salvor leaves the Anacreon with her parents and heads out as her father gives her quite the inspirational pep talk.
We quickly flashback to Trantor as Brother Dawn meets with Shadow Master Obrecht (Mido Hamada). He is looking for the attendant who saw him jump from his window at the beginning of the episode. Does he want to talk to her? Or silence her? Back on Terminus, Salvor sends people out to keep an eye on the others as she gets Hugo (Daniel MacPherson) up to speed. The Anacreon they have in custody is known as Phara and is still sticking to her story about them being scrappers.
The two head into the interrogation room to try and get Phara to open up about why the Anacreon are really on Terminus. Hugo shares with Phara that Salvor has a way of almost reading people’s minds. Salvor then starts flipping a coin and correctly guessing on what side it will land. Almost as if she knows the future or can sense what is going to happen. Or she might just be really good at guessing probability.
Salvor finally starts piecing together Phara’s backstory of how she survived the Empire’s bombing of her people and how she lost her family. It’s a highly emotional scene for Salvor and us. But she doesn’t let that stop her from piecing together the little bits of information Phara let out in her rampage. She recognizes the name for the bow that was gifted to the Empire. The same bow that she wields now, which means that Phara is the Grandhuntress of Anacreon.
Barbarians at the Gate jumps to Brother Dusk and Brother Dawn, watching clips of riots that happened after the Starbridge fell. Brother Dusk is trying to get Brother Dawn to understand that he needs to step up his game to help support Brother Day while he is away. Of course, Brother Dawn is reminded how much he still has to understand when Brother Day informs them of the news about the relay buoy being out. The only one who has contact with Terminus and Seldon’s followers.
This next scene is one I have been waiting for. As the three rewatch Hari Seldon’s speech from his trial, we can finally see the tension between the three Cleon clones. Brother Day clearly thinks that Brother Dusk failed in dealing with Seldon and his followers even though he was given the answer to make everything better. And Brother Dawn, who is struggling to find himself, now sees this distance growing among them. It feels as if they are tearing themselves apart from the inside.
On Terminus, Salvor struggles to get the other members of the Foundation to understand her choices. However, they all see her as an outlier. Someone who wasn’t a part of Seldon’s initial plan and thus anything she is a part of can’t be predicted. So even though Seldon said that they would survive their first attack, it could be wrong. But this isn’t Salvor’s fault. She reminds them that she wanted more weapons, to run more drills and to be prepared in case something happened. And they stopped her at every turn.
The group goes back in to talk to Phara, who finally starts to open up a bit. When Salvor guesses that they turned off the buoy and came to Terminus to get the attention of the Empire, Phara doesn’t deny it. In fact, she comments on how much smarter the women are. Phara also shares that even though the shield is there, it is only as strong as the person wielding it. Outside, all of Phara’s people begin to surround the camp and the numbers are terrifying.
Back on Trantor, Shadow Master Obrecht delivers Brother Dawn news on who the girl from the garden was. Her name is Azura (Amy Tyger) and she has worked for the Empire since she was a teen. Brother Dawn questions how they would deal with a problem, but Shadow Master Obrecht doesn’t give a direct answer. Very shadowy spymaster of him. Brother Dawn seeks out Azura in the garden and she claims to have seen nothing. She then offers him a leaf to help with pain. He takes it but then has another garden member explain it to him and even eats it to see if it’s poisoned.
Barbarians at the Gate jumps back to Terminus as Salvor and the group head out to support the others against the Anacreons forming at the borders. However, on her way out, Salvor has a vision that takes her to the imperial library on Trantor. Here she sees the child again, but Hugo pulls her out of it before she can get his name. She struggles to figure out what it all means, but Hugo reminds her that she is unique and he has absolute faith in her and they will find a way to deal with this.
On Trantor, Brother Day meets with the Imperial mathematicians hoping that in the three decades since they started reviewing Hari Seldon’s calculations, they had found them to be wrong. However, the only thing they seem to be doing is causing more stress for Brother Day. While they call Seldon a charlatan and liar, the math does show a slight possibility that he could be right. And with the current events, it looks like that possibility might be even more significant. But is this a case of finding connections between events because Brother Day is scared? Or was Seldon right?
Brother Day pays a visit to Brother Dusk as he prepares to leave Trantor for the Conclave. However, Brother Day isn’t about to let that happen. He reminds him of all the mistakes he made. Like bombing the two planets, which caused insurgence. Allowing Hari and his followers to escape and giving birth to a belief that Seldon’s theories might be correct. The idea that Brother Dusk has left Brother Day an Empire that has been torn apart. But Brother Day vows to save their legacy and leaves for the Conclave himself.
Brother Dusk sends a group out to restore the relay buoy in the outer reach and to also make contact with the Foundation and to remind them that the Empire is not to be kept in the dark. It is almost like now he is trying to fix the issues he created in the past. Or at least patch them up a bit. Brother Dawn is doing a bit of investigating of his own as he watches Azura through a dragonfly with a built-in camera. However, he spots that Shadow Master Obercht is keeping a close eye on her too.
While Salvor and Hugo investigate outside, Phara does her best to convince Lewis (Eillot Cowan) just to let her people take the navigation module and leave. Salvor knows that she is missing something and is struggling to piece everything together. But before she can, the Anacreons set their sights on the colony and prepare to wage war. Barbarians at the Gate comes to a close as we get a glimpse of Gaal’s (Lou Llobell) pod drifting towards a ship of some sort.
There is quite a bit to take in from this episode of Foundation. Where the novels from Isaac Asimov may have confused readers over time, at least this adaptation is doing its best to try and keep us out of the dark. While I am fully invested in what is happening on Terminus and want to know more about why Salvor is so unique, I can’t help but to want more on the Empire. They aren’t bad people but maybe misguided in trying to keep what they have known forever. It is also interesting to watch as the three Brothers become more different as the events change who they are and how they feel.
However, the final moments of this episode had me jumping out of my seat. We didn’t get the chance to see Gaal’s fate in the previous episode, nor has anyone from the Foundation said anything about Raych (Alfred Enoch). Now that we know she is alive, we might get some answers on what happened in the moments after he sent her away. Clearly, the Empire knows of Seldon’s fate which means that others do too. The further we go on this journey, the more questions get added to what is becoming a never-ending list for me. What questions have you been asking yourself?
Foundation’s fifth episode will be released on October 15, 2021, on Apple TV.