Before we get going on Foundation 2×04 here, a reminder: Without writers and actors, we have nothing. We stand with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. Period. Now, back to your regularly-scheduled…whatever this is.
“Where the Stars Are Scattered Thinly” is not at all an episode of the same series as the Naked Lee Pace Chronicles. In a lot of ways, that’s a very good thing. Most importantly, it actually has a plot, and that plot raises some interesting questions. So, any viewer who enjoys chewing on some food for thought from time to time ought to appreciate this one. With that being said, though, it still feels like we were bamboozled.
There also seems to be somewhat of a potentially problematic pattern here. And it’s one that’s incredibly at odds with Gaal and Salvor’s entire existences. (As a side note, where exactly were they in this hour, other than Gaal’s voiceovers about how the universe doesn’t have any fucks to give about love?) So, these two are geniuses, key to saving the world, but all the other women are…all about using their wiles to advance themselves politically, I guess? In Season 1, Azura got super close to one of the Dawns while actually being part of a plot to destroy the Empire. Which, ok. Empire evil, so she’s not exactly the villain there. But when you pair that with Queen Sareth and Enjoiner Rue’s whole…thing in this season, it’s a difficult thing to grapple with.
The execution really works. (For the most part. We’ll quick-hit the WTF part of it below.) And we can even see the whole, “let’s use courtesan tactics on the guy whose middle era is all about showing his skin” as a way of reclaiming the type of power over women’s bodies and sexuality that patriarchal bullshit often robs us of, all while rewarding the men for taking advantage. Then again, are most people with a certain idea of “lol women” really going to get that? Unlikely! So, yeah. Depending on how you view it…maybe could be a problem.
When you’re on a mission but still bicker like the marrieds you are
Now, what Foundation 2×04 handles unquestionably well is the tension between a recently-reunited Bel Riose and Glawen. First of all, the chemistry, the emotion, the feelings…they’re all there. And they continue to be beautiful, even when the two characters are getting into some pretty ugly situations. But there’s also so much to be said here about what their scenes, well, say. The terrible things we have to do to survive in war, or when imprisoned, can so easily become a part of us. Glawen is absolutely right to warn Bel to be careful how far he will let himself go now that he’s free.
At the same time, those of us who don’t live through those atrocities often expect our loved ones to return home as the people we captured in our memories. Most of the time, though, we simply can’t expect that. And refusing to see someone after they’ve survived can traumatize them all over again. So, it’s a tricky, tricky balance between validating someone’s experience—here, understanding that Bel may not be exactly the same—and just wanting to help bring all the good parts of themselves that they had to bury to survive back to life.
So, yeah. Good stuff…and (rightfully) not a hint of Empire’s refusal to wear clothes in sight.
Inside the math!
Another fascinating discussion this episode raises comes from the scenes in the Vault. For someone Poly Verisof and Brother Constant both basically worship, Hari Seldon extremely flippant toward their organized religion. Additionally, his ideas about what it takes to be “effective” clearly don’t sit well with Poly. And given the way real-world people behave around the concept of their vengeful gods…yeah. That disappointment is legit. Why can’t people believe in something good without also being terrified of wrath?
But at times, Hari’s gratitude is genuine. And even with the dismissive attitude, he maintains just enough of the ritual of it all. So, at least for this viewer, it was a very compelling illustration of how organized religion can be key for some people but not others. And how, if any gods actually exist, the probably care a lot more about the overarching morals they expect of us than about anything codified.
…if that’s at all unclear, it may be because there was all the flirting between Brother Constant and Hober Mallow, though. If we’re not going to get Naked Lee Pace as a distraction, guess they gotta come up with other ways to keep things from being too serious. This one’s fun enough.
More on Foundation 2×04
- Not only did this episode say, “oops! No Lee Pace skin!” But it’s also like “he doesn’t even go here.”
- All the Gaal voiceovers had me thinking about various episodes of The X-Files that took a similar “throw in some emo voiceovers about feelings or whatever” approach.
- Shoutout to Dimitri Leonidas for getting to be the shirtless one in this episode. Not mad about it. At all.
- “I heard you once wore a scarlet robe.” “Briefly. Until the clerics took a good look at my soul.” Can’t decide if I should make a “black like my soul” emo kid reference or “but was it as low cut as Day’s blue robe” reference here. So, you get both!
- “Pessimist would’ve said it had a permanent dark side.” Y’all could @ me.
- “Empire makes everyone into a courtesan. Eventually.” Because he hates wearing clothes?
- “Sometimes, it’s strange from the inside, too.” I can’t explain why, but it’s giving TARDIS.
- I just absolutely love everything about the Sareth/Dawn scenes. Especially just how good Ella-Rae Smith is with making sure her character plays Dawn very well…all while making sure the audience knows that’s exactly what she’s doing.
- Also, this exchange: “I don’t think I would be. But age brings changes. And I’m well prepared to think I could become capable of it. Of course, that would have to be before I knew you…and liked you.” “I like you, too. And I like your truthfulness. Let’s stay honest with each other always.” (She totally doesn’t mean it, does she?)
- “She’s her own woman. She doesn’t suffer idiots.” A queen indeed.
- “We keep recordings. We could watch in my chambers, if you’d like. In my quarters. It’s private.” This, right here…ew. And no. Old Man Dusk is out here, reliving his Naked Lee Pace glory days on home video, probably without the consent to make sex tapes from most of his girls? Nope. WTF.
- Observation: Rue’s neckline looks like a turtleneck compared with what Day was wearing in the premiere.
- “Love itself is inconsequential when measured against the scale of the galaxy.” Going to go back to that “black like my soul” emo joke I failed at making above so I can say this could easily smash the emo charts as a song title.
- Space husbands in flying squirrel suits?!
- Paused the episode during the fight scene. Captions said “[grunting continues].” And yet, no Lee Pace skin in sight.
- The marrieds are fighting. I do not like.
- …but. This is good.
- “I’m just saying. By the time you recognize an atrocity, you may have already been complicit in one.” Amerikkka in a nutshell.
- That “oh, hell no” is the correct response.
- “Weird. It sounds big in here.” This, too, is giving TARDIS.
- “Wow. I would not want to get lost in here.” “You are lost in here.” A comedy!
- The feast and the wine came from the the god-ish figure’s body. Ok, Christian imagery.
- “I take it you’re all in service to the…well, what do you call it? A—a church? A…” When ignorant folks call/talk about my synagogue…
- Tesseract! Correct!
- “40 years, no one’s responded” …me, waiting for naked Lee Pace—or any Lee Pace, actually—in this episode.
- “Here’s to those who fight and ask why.”
- Space Hillbilly tells the youths to get off his lawn, then makes friends and shows them last week’s episode of Foundation on his big screen. Love it.
- The shot of Glawen putting his hand on Bel’s back after he gives in and shoots? Art.
- “An agent of peace. Yes. That’s something worth being.” If this is not the most important lesson of your faith and/or you do not follow it, reconsider.
- “For a god to be effective, you have to be intermittently wrathful.”
- The “fine suit” shade.
- “The person who extends an open hand in friendship had better have a blade and a fist behind his back.” “Yeah, I can be a blade.” Ok, Malyen Oretsev.
- “We were getting to know each other. You were gonna grow fond of me and, eventually, add me to your list of bed partners that the prophet mentioned.” And he is so flustered.
- “I’m not attracted to many people.” “Of course not. Why would you be? I mean, people are terrible.” HE FUCKING GETS ME.
Thoughts on Foundation 2×04? Prefer actual plot or missing the Lee Pace absurdity? Leave us a comment!
New episodes of Foundation stream weekly on Apple TV+.