Sunday, October 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'Foundation' - Gaal Wins a Contest That May Prove the Imminent Destruction of the Empire in 'The Emperor's Peace'

AppleTV+'s Foundation - Episode 1.01 "The Emperor's Peace"

Gaal Dornick leaves her life in Synnax behind when the galaxy's greatest mathematician, Hari Seldon, invites her to Trantor.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AppleTV+'s Foundation.

"The Emperor's Peace" was written by David S. Goyer & Josh Friedman and directed by Rupert Sanders

At its core, this drama analyzes the conflicts that exist within power, science and faith. The Galactic Empire has ruled the universe for thousands of years. Genetic clones of the same man rule to provide peace and prosperity. It's seen as a way to offer constant stability. It's a blessing to be in their presence. When representatives from other worlds come to them, it's seen as the highpoint of their lives. Meanwhile, it barely registers as important to them given the vast scope of their responsibilities each day. They are meant to be revered. Science has made so much possible for them. But now, they denounce the proclamations of pending doom as predicted by Hari Seldon. He can't go into too many details. He only warns that the Empire will fall within the next few centuries. After that, the universe will plunge into the dark ages once more. This can't be prevented. People have to prepare for that inevitability now. And yet, this action is seen as a direct assault on the power structure that has effectively ruled for centuries. No one has any reason to believe it will fall. The clones also see themselves representing a legacy that is too big to fail. Nothing can ever change or alter the destiny that is set for them. It's blasphemous to even suggest the end of cloning. Hari comes to these conclusions based on the math. He has solved formulas that have created a new branch of science. It's predictive of the future. He is sharing it now in order to warn people with enough time to do something about it. The situation can be fluid. Some events are destined to happen. The fall of the Empire is imminent because the leaders refuse to acknowledge or accept the frustrations that exist on the outer realms of their rule. Sure, it's incredibly convenient that Trantor comes under attack at the precise moment when Hari and Gaal are sentenced for treason. It is used as evidence of some greater scheme that can only be foreseen by the science. Politicians didn't determine the laws of nature. It's up to the scientists to be curious and spread that information far and away. Gaal was rejected by her community because she sought out answers. Her importance is propped up constantly as she enters this world. She is a young mind who has barely seen the world. But now, she is trusted with the responsibility of proving Hari wrong. That's not what she was expecting when she accepted this job offer. She is immediately pushed out as a radical who threatens the rule of the Empire. She was being watched from the moment she left Synnax. That reality had too many limitations for her. And yet, it's still her home. She is leaving her life behind for greater opportunities. And then, she is forced into exile on a desolate planet. Of course, that's what Hari always predicted. He always knew how the Emperors would rule. He knows his theory can't account for individual actions. But he can predict how those trusted to lead will do so. A lot of precedent already exists for that formula especially as the information is passed down from clone to clone. It's a cycle that fuels itself. Of course, Hari is responsible for the exact same thing. People may only grow more defiant against the Empire because of his bold proclamation. It's unclear what is motivating each event. Does it come from free will and true anger towards the Empire? Or is just fitting into a known pattern that was bound to happen no matter what? The series itself opts to take a far-reaching view of these events. It goes back and forth in time. Salvor Hardin is seen on Terminus 35 years after the events of Hari and Gaal's trial. She is deemed important as well. Of course, that mystery is just allowed to percolate. The show offers no clarity or meaning in that regard whatsoever. It's positioned as a disruption. Something that may provide a fatal flaw to Hari's own determination. Can the future be predicted? The math is enough to convince Hari and Gaal. Those directives may have flaws to them. They are enough to start brand new conflicts and encourage others to question the way this system rules. Is that good enough motivation for all that occurs? Each person has to carry that burden themselves. They are responsible for their own lives. Here, a sense of individuality is removed from the proceedings. People may be fighting to maintain that or even regain some of it in the future. It's a philosophical idea. One that requires the audience to be engaged with the overall plight of these characters. The grand scope of this universe and scale of the conflict may be limiting though because it means the narrative is trying to accomplish a lot. Streamlining the story a little bit could be necessary. The questions being asked though are intriguing which buys the drama more time to truly reveal itself and its overall ambitions.