Foundation 2×09 started with Old, Old Cleon and Demerzel telling us some fairytales about what happened “long ago, not far away” and ended with…pain. Lots and lots of pain, plus Brother Day gazing at the destruction he’s caused as if it were a work of art. It’s like he’s always been thirsty for doing a genocide and just got himself a nice, big drink. And it’s just…not fair. Somewhere in the middle of it all, there’s also Salvor Hardin kicking a lot of ass and a strangely corporeal, yet not-drowned, Hari Seldon showing up to bludgeon the shit out of Tellem. (Good riddance.)
It’s not like anyone expected to finish the last hour before the season finale feeling good—at least we didn’t—but…did we mention pain? Because pain. Lots of pain.
Bury your space gays
There’s so much to be said about the absolute horror show that happens on Terminus at the end of Foundation 2×09, but what happens to Bel and Glawen is a whole extra level of tragic. From the moment these two characters were first reunited, they’ve been a highlight—the heart, really—of this series. Ben Daniels and Dino Fetscher have delivered these heartbreakingly beautiful performances, and even when the characters have been at odds, that connection and emotion has still just been there.
They didn’t get their happy ending when each learned the other had been alive all along. No. Why? Because Empire sent them out on missions that almost immediately set them against one another. Glawen kept trying to make sure Bel had maintained his soul, his goodness, the things Glawen loved about him. And Bel kept claiming those things were gone after the abuse he’d faced. But then, they’d have a moment. They’d both be reminded of the beautiful things in the world—like books!—and they worked their shit out.
…but they still don’t get a happy ending. Because Empire. Mr. “I’m going to not choose violence” not only chose violence, he forced General Riose to destroy a planet his husband had just crash landed on. His husband, whom he thought was dead when they lost communication. The one he was happy to hear was actually still alive…until he realized he wouldn’t be for very long. It’s awful on levels that may even go beyond the usual use of the “bury your gays” trope. Because Glawen was dead, and then he was alive, but…just kidding. He’s dead. And everything he tried to warn Bel about in terms of what it means to follow orders from Empire, they both have just come to accept. Because they realize everyone will suffer even more if they don’t accept it.
Is it a final destruction of Bel’s soul, a second burial in a way? Only time (and more story) will tell. But this one’s hard to watch either way. Adding insult to injury, while Daniels and Fetscher both deliver fantastic performances here, the slow moment doesn’t get enough time. Especially when we talk about that utter defeat from Daniels once he’s done what Empire commanded him to do. He acts the hell out of it, but if we’re going to have to go through this hurt with him, we should be able to let it breathe. “Long Ago, Not Far Away” doesn’t quite do that, though the moment isn’t rushed enough to be weak—just weakened.
With that being said, the closing sequence of everyone on the planet realizing it’s the end? Now, that’s how you maximize impact.
Speaking of impact…Salvor Hardin
Luckily, this episode isn’t all suffering—at least not for us. Salvor showing up just in time to save Gaal, then being utterly badass (as usual), for the rest of the episode is great contrast to everything else that’s happening. Sometimes, the good guys do survive, so it’s not all hopeless. Also, at the risk of being repetitive: Salvor is a total and complete badass.
All that fighting “in the rain, and the mud, and the rain, and…the forest” (if you know what show that’s a blooper from, you’re cool AF) is just fun to watch. And seeing Salvor finally get the best of Loron, even if it means she does have to suffer through his dirty trick of pretending to be Hugo again—maybe especially because he puts her through that again—is just so, so, so, so, so good. This universe does not deserve Salvor Hardin. Period.
Same goes for Gaal, who gets the upper hand on Tellem by turning her fear of death against her. But Gaal’s best moments are when she’s forever talking about math, and she’s been a bit too busy almost getting body-snatched for that lately.
…but ok. Seriously, how many copies of Hari are we up to? And where did this one come from?
Thoughts on Foundation 2×09
- “Long ago, not far away.” So, this is definitely not a Star War. Got it.
- “And you say you don’t sleep.” “I don’t. I wait.”
- Cleon be like, “sure, I’m enslaving you forever. But you get to have love.” This is so disgusting, and I could probably write a whole deep dive on the abuse of it all. But honestly? It’s too much and, upon a little bit of further inspection, not even really all that surprising. Every single copy of this guy has been nothing if not the most morally corrupt.
- Ok. I’ll at least say this much: It’s interesting he was worried about being chained to the throne, while Demerzel told him he could shape things. “It isn’t a prison sentence,” taking power. Not for Cleon, at least. But for the
personrobot who tried to play the long game and get the prince to let her go? Uh…about that.
- “Demerzel was his best secret and his only friend. And it no longer seemed right to leave her naked and in pieces.” No, but we have to watch her nude ass put on the clothes he brings her, even after we already saw her put on the clothes. (Editing glitch?)
- And, of course, he chose to be naked more often…to follow his friend’s example, I guess?
- Also: Hi, Lee Pace’s first(?) foray into low-cut robes!
- “Stories end gracefully. Everything else ends in shock and horror, falsely certain of tomorrow.” Hi, hello! Studios! Make a fair deal with the WGA already. You can not get this for cheap or from a machine.
- “But she has no power either. I mean, she has all the power, except the power to do what she wants.” Rue gets it. And so does Dusk. “Useless Imperial asses” indeed.
- “Ready? Run!” Salvor Hardin auditioning for Doctor Who with this one, to be honest.
- “I offer you my pain.” It’s giving good emo lyrics. “I hold your pain, my child. And as I hold it, it becomes my pain.” Still giving emo. But also: Go away, creepy bitch.
- Hober Mallow and Brother Constant forever. Forever and ever. Like, “are you stupid?” “She’s not.” And: “Is it love?” “Absolutely.” I just…Hober is down bad.
- “Like you’re pushed around by the ghost of Cleon I????” This, um. Considering how everything ends…oof.
- “That’s your threat? ‘My dead man’s bigger than yours.’” [Insert keyboard smash here.] I LOVE HOBER MALLOW.
- “I mean, this is giving me a little tingle. What is it?” Out of context…
- “I will be the Cleon who chose peace.” Sure, Jan.
- “That’s a church, Empire.” It’s giving, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s.”
- “Holy food to cure any ailment.” Coffee? Dessert?
- “Your church is an armory. And your religion is a cult.” Every so often, Cleon says something that would be spitting truth if it was about certain real-world churches…
- “It’s not love if it doesn’t hurt, Sal.”
- “I know you don’t wanna die. But your life is misery and pain.” Ok but why are we harming me while we to talk to Tellem?
- “You’re afraid of death? This is death. Look.” Absolutely iconic moment. Love what Lou Llobell does here.
- Have I mentioned the studios should make a fair deal with SAG-AFTRA already yet? Because wow, every single performance in this thing. Priceless, as always.
- He’s..stripping off most of his armor like that…because? Eh, who cares why. Show us those arms! Show us that chest, poorly-hidden behind that mesh!
- I want to make a joke about watching a game of Galaga here…but Glawen.
- “Hundreds of years, my brothers and I have ruled. Never once did we cast ourselves as gods.” “Debatable.” Glad Hari said it.
- “Your ends seem to justify quite a lot of means.” He says this right before he destroys an entire planet. How many Cleons will it take to get one that has any concept of self-awareness?
- “You’re projecting.” “I am a hologram.” …who is projecting less than the actual living dude is. (Also: LOL. Love me a sassy Hari.)
- “Must you provoke me to arrive at the mathematical conclusions you so desire?” Me at my advisors.
- “They always disappoint you, don’t they?” Uh, yeah.
- “I never liked her.” The deadpan.
- That first “what have I become” was so bewildered, and then it became the same old Day crap.
- “I am a complete man.” “No. You are a sperm led by its waving flagellum, mistaking its random motion for complexity. Now, go do what you will do for it is too late to change you.” Welp.
- “The warrior asks the god for advice. And then, the god says, ‘the only way you can conquer me is through love. And there I am gladly conquered.’” Is this what being stuck in the airlock with no oxygen feels like?
- That moment with Poly falling to his knees…Kulvinder Ghir…no words.
- And then, we have this villain getting off on the murder…
- BEING LEE PACE AND HATING CLOTHES ONLY GETS YOU SO FAR IN OUR GOOD GRACES, EMPIRE. (Pace does a hell of a job with his character here. But also BAD. YOU ARE BAD AND EVIL AND BAD.)
Thoughts on Foundation 2×09? Terrified to see what Empire will get up to in the finale? Leave us a comment!