The last we left off with Apple TV’s Foundation, things aboard Hari Seldon’s (Jared Harris) ship took a turn for the worst. The last we saw Gaal (Lou Llobell), she was drifting off into space on her own in a pod. In the series third episode, The Mathematician’s Ghost, Brother Dusk (Terrance Mann) prepares for his Ascension and The Foundation arrives on Terminus and finds a mysterious object.
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!
The Mathematician’s Ghost opens nearly 400 years in the past as Demerzel (Laura Birn) approaches Cleon the First (Mann). We learn that Cleon is dying and is preparing to pass on his reign. Like anyone nearing their end, he feels like he has unfinished business in the form of the Starbridge, which looks to be under construction. Demerzel reminds him that he shouldn’t worry and hints at the idea that there will be clones of him ruling in the future.
We then jump 400 years in the future, where Brother Dusk (Mann) is preparing for the end of his life. Demerzel tries to ease his mind by telling him that he can spend his last few days as he pleases. Every clone is different, though Brother Dusk doesn’t seem to believe that is the case. That in the end, they are all the same. She also shares that when Cleon the First passed, he only had an infant, Brother Dawn, ready to take over. But what she doesn’t realize is that he also had her.
Over the following few scenes, we see Brother Dusk fit for his Ascension wardrobe, discuss with Brother Dawn (now portrayed by Lee Pace) and Brother Day (now portrayed by Mann) what his speech will entail and then his final meal. Their final gift to Brother Dusk is to take him up to the Starbridge one last time. Before heading back down to Trantor, the Brothers blow up what is left of the Starbridge, promising to rebuild something in his honor.
Brother Dusk awakens in the night and finds himself in the presence of Demerzel singing to the infant who will become the next Brother Dawn. He isn’t supposed to be there, but he finds it hard not to be drawn to and know more about the process. Brother Dusk thinks back to Seldon’s remarks during his trial about how unnatural the process is and how strange it is to watch yourself being born.
He leaves Demerzel, but instead of going to sleep, he decides to construct a new mural above the bed of his future self. Brother Dusk eventually falls asleep after finishing and Demerzel finds him and carries him off to his own bed. Before she leaves him, they have an emotional moment where he asks Demerzel if they are enough or if she will always miss the first Cleon. She shares that it isn’t that they are enough, but they always leave her in the end.
On the day of his Ascension, Brother Dusk finds himself in the presence of the newly born infant, Brother Dawn and Brother Day. He says his goodbyes to the other two and reward them with their new names. They treat their lives like one would treat a day—Dawn, day, dusk. And now the old Brother Dusk has become Brother Darkness. With final goodbyes said, Demerzel guides him to the end of his road. He tries to struggle at first, but she tells him that she has everything under control and he is incinerated in a flash of light.
The Mathematician’s Ghost then jumps 17 years into the future to Cleon the 14 (Cassian Bilton), the current Brother Dawn. He is having the mural painted by Brother Dusk erased as he has outgrown it. We then jump to Terminus has Seldon’s ship lands on the abandoned planet. We watch as a small crew journey together and finally stumble upon what we know to be The Vault. As they get closer, they experience the same reactions the children did in the first episode.
After deciding to start their colony away from The Vault, the ship was taken apart and we watch as the colony on Terminus is built over what appears to be several months. The episode focuses on Abass (Clarke Peters) and a young girl who feels a pull from The Vault. We then jump to the present we saw at the beginning of episode one and an adult Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey). Similar hairstyles to the young girl and their connection to the vault suggest that the young girl was Salvor.
We see her testing a theory about how close she can get to The Vault with a rather creepy-looking bug. Honestly, it doesn’t appear to be that close at all. Maybe something to do with how tiny their brains are? Or perhaps something else is happening? Then she goes about her day tinkering with what appears to be a forcefield when Abass shows us. We learn that Salvor is the warden of their colony and is responsible for taking care of the people and protecting them from what is on Terminus.
But it turns out Abass isn’t here for a father-daughter get-together. Salvor actually wanted him to know that she tested the null field and has some strong evidence that something is amiss. He tells her that she needs to tell “her” and to stress the evidence part. But never actually says who “her” is. Salvor heads back to the colony and dips into a meeting where a council is trying to decide between a water clock and a sundial. Which one do they keep and which one gets forgotten?
Thankfully the episode doesn’t end there and the “her” Abass was talking about is actually Salvor’s mother, Mari (Sasha Behar). Salvor takes her out to The Vault and shows her that the null field is expanding. She is worried that if it continues to expand, they will have to move the town. Mari shares a memory of when Salvor was a child and she found her standing under the vault in the middle of the night and was completely drawn to it. Salvor remembers this and feeling as if it was calling out to her. But she didn’t understand at the time why she was so different.
And it appears they have kept her difference a secret from the entire colony. Mari says it’s because she didn’t want people to treat her differently, but Salvor already feels like that is happening anyway. Salvor breaks the news to her mother that she also thinks that the field is expanding because The Vault is waking up and that maybe the thing they have all been preparing for is right in their own backyard.
The Mathematician’s Ghost jumps back to the colony as the kids get excited and rush to great Hugo (Daniel MacPherson). We then see him pop up in Salvor’s kitchen with news that he is only here for 29 hours. It seems like they have a bit of a relationship, but he spends time off-planet collecting items. He tries to convince Salvor to leave with him, but she has responsibilities on Terminus.
The two share an intimate few moments together and afterward, Salvor is struggling with a bad feeling. She decides to take a walk around the perimeter to check everything out. In the distance she finds a young boy rushing towards the abandoned ship after curfew. She continues to follow him but loses him when she comes face to face with a pretty scary-looking creature she calls Mabel, but it runs away quickly after a gunshot. However, Salvor spots an Anacreon ship.
Salvor and Hugo let the other colony members know, but any attempt to contact them fails to produce results. A fun tidbit we learn is that Hugo is actually pushing 70, but since he gets put to sleep for his travels, he gets to look pretty young. Salvor believes that The Vault knew this would happen and was trying to warn them and possibly protect itself. Others want to stick to Seldon’s course and contact the Empire and let them handle it. But Salvor questions why they are still following the guidance of a dead man. She leaves them behind to check and make sure the armory is secure.
When the colonists try to contact the Empire, it doesn’t seem to work and they have 40 hours before the Anacreon make landfall. Mari goes off and opens Seldon’s little magic box, which he keeps all of his work in. She explains that only two people could ever make anything of Seldon’s work: himself and Gaal Dornick. Mari hopes that Salvor may be able to as well – but tough luck.
Salvor tries to get Hugo to leave, but he won’t leave her behind. She heads back out to The Vault to try and figure out what it really wants. That night, she is drawn back to it and spots the boy again. This time she discovers that someone has shot the creature with an arrow. One that looks very similar to the gift given to the Empire years ago. As she is trying to care for Mabel, an Anacreon (Kubbra Sait) sneaks up behind her. The Mathematician’s Ghost comes to a close as Gaal narrates how the ghosts of the past are hungry for what belongs to the people of Terminus.
When Isaac Asimov set out to create an epic science-fiction story like Foundation, I wonder if he had ideas of it becoming a TV series. I know that it spans quite a lot of time, but so far, we have seen the death of Cleon the First, the destruction of the Starbridge and Seldon and Gaal’s trial and what the series is currently calling the present. The time of Salvor and the young colony. I really question how much time will pass during season one of this series.
While I still have many questions from episode two, like what happened to Gaal and Raych (Alfred Enoch), it seems like Foundation has no plan to answer them at this time. Well, at least in this episode. It looks like they are building up for something to happen between the current colonist on Terminus and the Anacreon. This episode does give us a few things to think about, though. Like why is Salvor so different? Who is the little boy she keeps seeing? Did she lie to her mom about not understanding Sheldon’s theories?
Foundation‘s fourth episode will be released on October 8, 2021, on Apple TV.