Issac Asimov’s Foundation novels where always going to be a challenge to turn into a TV show. The books are regarded as a classic, but they aren’t exactly famous for being rapidly paced. The first two episodes defied expectations by mixing intrigue with some beautiful set-scenes, inter-galactic terrorism and a rather large amount of intrigue.
It was inevitable therefore, that episode three was going to be a little bit slow. It focuses primarily on Trantor and the Emperor Cleon. We learn more about how the serial cloning of the ruler of mankind works, as well as Demerzel, Cleon’s android companion who, long-lived and inhuman, is the only being to have true insight to Cleon’s legacy. The way this is portrayed is very well done; Terrance Man’s performance as the older clone (Brother Dusk), bounces brilliantly off Lee Pace’s Brother Day and we get a clear understanding of the rot that has begun to set in, both to Trantor and the Empire itself. We also see some of Terminus; enough to understand that the colony is just about surviving. It’s not thriving, and it turns out that the world has its own mysteries.
The pace slows down as we become acquainted with Salvor Hardin, the colonies own defender and ‘person who has a clue’. Leah Harvery’s depiction of the character shows how the TV series has strayed from the books to create something much more interesting, whilst still keeping Asimov’s themes and flavours. This is an episode that is mostly set-up and no pay off, and is a bit of a speed bump given the excitement of episode one and two.
Thankfully things start to pop with episode four. The intrigue on Trantor steps up and we are introduced to a slightly older Brother Dawn. Cleon as a teenager, never quite sure of his place in the galaxy, is a good angle to take on the whole strangeness that surrounds the clones and it will be fascinating to see how this pays off. The choices made by Brother Dusk when he was Brother Dawn have returned to haunt him. Meanwhile on Terminus, the predictions made by Harry Seldon appear to be becoming true, as violence blossoms not only on Terminus but across the Empire.
We suspect that this will set the pattern for future episodes; soft starts and explosive endings. The show continues to be visually stunning and blends classic sci-fi tropes with the modern style to produce something that you simply have to keep watching.