Friday, October 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'Foundation' - Gaal Wakes Up in an Isolating Environment as Salvor Desperately Tries to Save Terminus in 'Upon Awakening'

AppleTV+'s Foundation - Episode 1.05 "Upon Awakening"

A flashback reveals the origins of Gaal's conflict between faith and science. The standoff on Terminus takes an unfortunate turn.

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 next episode of AppleTV+'s Foundation.

"Upon Awakening" was written by Leigh Dana Jackson and directed by Alex Graves

Was more explanation necessary for Gaal's exile from her home community on Synnax? The broad strokes had already been established for this piece of her backstory. This community trusts their faith and not math or science. Gaal couldn't understand that and flaunted her intelligence in solving these mathematic equations. The first twenty minutes of this episode only truly make sense if the ship that rescues Gaal is heading back to Synnax after she's been in stasis for 35 years. That's not the final reveal though. Instead, Gaal discovers that the ship is heading to Hari's home planet. She can't go there because the universe believes that she and Raych killed Hari. But that too isn't the complete truth. Gaal sees Hari still bleeding out on the floor of this ship. That contradicts the images that were already seen about his death and burial with Raych claiming responsibility for the murder. He professes Gaal's innocence. He carries the burden of the consequences himself. However, he also sent Gaal to freedom and has sanctioned this unmanned ship to retrieve her out in the depths of space. It all comes across as some elaborate plan that must have purpose even though the audience and Gaal can't understand it right now. Everyone always wants to believe that Hari set the Foundation on this path for a reason. He always knew what the outcome would be as he professed his theories. As such, he prepared for that eventuality. He couldn't predict individual behavior. That allowed it to seem like a massive betrayal when Raych learned the math wasn't complete. He reacted by killing his adoptive father in a heated moment. But again, Hari isn't gone. The world hasn't exactly moved on from him and the warning he delivered to the Empire. The Foundation still idolizes him. And yet, that's trivial compared to the immediate concerns they have to deal with upon being invaded by Phara and her army. That's where the intensity and focus of this hour should belong. Sure, seeing Gaal work out where she is in the universe supports her bonafides as a genius. But that's also undercut by all the answers just waiting for her if she took a look outside the ship. Hari's home planet is so distinct that no other known world in the universe has the same description. Gaal proclaims that, which may make the audience feel like this entire story has been a waste of time. It obviously has to have some purpose. All of these characters from the past are being brought to the present. None of them landed on Terminus as was their initial mission. The Foundation has had to survive there for years. They had to do the hard work while their leaders didn't have to worry. It's still terrifying for Gaal as she sees the horrors every step of the way. But again, that doesn't compare to Salvor witnessing the downfall of her entire home. She can see how Phara has thought through every detail of this mission. She hopes to intercept the various details. And yet, she is too late to prevent all of the damage from occurring. Phara is motivated to inflict this pain because it was Hari Seldon who enraged the Empire in the first place. It was only because of that dire proclamation that Brother Day targeted her home work. Worlds are being torn apart and communities are forced to fight each other. A mystery still exists as to who killed millions of lives of Trantor. No one really hopes to get to the truth though. They constantly just want to blame another abused society in this world. People on Terminus feared that the Empire wouldn't show up to answer their distress call. A ship does arrive. That authority doesn't change anything though. Instead, it just adds to the scale of the destruction that these Anacreon soldiers are capable of. Salvor has to watch it all burn down. The hope and promise of this world is destroyed even though the community was promised they would survive their first conflict. And so, all hope for the mission may be lost. Hari's potential return may reignite the faith with the devoted. It may also spark more questions and disdain though. The world of the present isn't like what Hari and Gaal once dealt with. They have to prepare for that even though the show wants to make all of this much more complicated and forced than it ultimately needs to be.