Picking up straight where we left off with last week’s episode of Foundation, “Mysteries and Martyrs” begins with Salvor Hardin and the Terminus hostages in deep space, heading to the formidable Invictus. The tension is palpable, with warnings of dire consequences and the power of the Invictus filling the early minutes. A nicely visualized space walk seems to belie the danger, with everyone appearing to be safe before Hugo becomes our first central character to die since Hari Seldon. Hugo’s death is a shame for the series, since he was a foil for Salvor; he’s been underutilized in the series thus far.
Another death soon follows as Phara executes the imperial captain. Foundation seems to want viewers to see the Anacreons as villains, portraying them negatively at Terminus and here at the Invictus. However, after events earlier in the series, it’s difficult not to sympathize with their position against the empire.
Once onboard, the ship reminds us of things we’ve seen before: there are plenty of dark shadows, floating corpses, and claustrophobia, but with a new spin on the idea of the ghost ship in space. A countdown to potential disaster begins; those on board have four hours before the ship jumps to somewhere else in the galaxy. As usual with the Terminus parts of the show, there’s plenty of action, and as happens with the rest of the episode, the thread is left hanging for next week.
At the Salt Palace
As expected, Brother Day takes a dim view of Demerzel kneeling before Zephyr Halima. Day sees it as a betrayal, but there are good points on both sides, with Demerzel herself being soulless in the eyes of her religion yet unable to take any action that would betray the empire through her programming.
Day is increasingly alarmed by Halima and continues in the only way he knows how: by offering more bribery to secure his position, believing that everyone has a price. Rejected, Day seeks to upstage Halima by undergoing an arduous religious trial, walking the spiral. The decision is based on arrogance, but it’s hard for Halima to deny his position. While the forces aligning against the empire may be formidable, Day shows he has plenty of moves left.
Hamila and the religion of Luminism are some of the more intriguing elements of recent episodes, and there is a slight sense that it’s removed from Isaac Asimov’s original vision, with Halima presented entirely as a good person. Asimov’s work treated religion as a tool of manipulation and fanaticism. Hopefully, the series will show that the issue between Halima and Day isn’t quite as morally one-sided as it appears.
Meanwhile, Brother Dawn’s relationship with Azura grows closer; the two have sex for the first time. The sense that their union will end in tragedy is inescapable, with Dawn knowing full well that he can’t highlight the fact that he’s different from either Brother Day or Brother Dawn.
Dawn is far more different from his brothers than he’s let on. He is fearful that one slip will mean death as he’s easily replaceable by another clone. However, with both Halima and Hari Seldon insisting that the Cleon dynasty’s failure to be different is what will result in disaster, Dawn may also be their best hope. Brother Dusk, meanwhile, is suspicious, observing that Dawn missing dinner isn’t what Cleons do.
Aboard The Raven
Returning to the events that closed episode 5, “Upon Awakening,” Gaal Dornick rushes to the side of the Hari Seldon projection showing his last minutes of life. But soon enough, Hari’s whole plan is revealed; he’s transferred his consciousness into Raych’s knife and is resurrecting himself in a new form.
As previously hinted, things have gone wrong with Gaal aboard The Raven, since she’s suppose to be on Terminus (and no doubt now the Invictus) as leader of the Foundation. However, Hari considers the plan to have mostly been a success, since he’s turned himself into a martyr. His words echo those of both Salvor and Phara in other episodes, who said that the Foundation was becoming a cult with Hari as a messiah.
The reveal of the plan shows that Hari has been far more than the benevolent scientist he appeared to be, manipulating events around him at both the personal and galaxy-wide level. With Hari insisting on an explanation, Gaal reveals that before Hari’s death, she sensed something terrible was about to happen, linking it to other times in the series she’s shown momentary precognition. The reveal is well done and not something that most viewers would have spotted, suggesting that Gaal, like Salvor, is a mentalic, somebody able to read and shape the minds of others.
“Mysteries and Martyrs” marks the beginning of Foundation building toward its season finale on November 19, and as such, is very much an episode that sets the scene for the last act. It finally answers questions surrounding Hari Seldon’s plan while bringing up new ones, such as Gaal’s psychic abilities. Once again, there’s plenty to enjoy, but it strays into cliche and simplifies the characters.