This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
When the idea of adapting Isaac Asimov’s galactic stories to life came to mind, it seemed like a grand upbringing. However, with the first season of Foundation out, the show looked like it had done its duty. A large-scale sci-fi drama with a psychological focus, David S. Goyer’s adaptation grew to be Apple TV+’s first grandiose epic. Now, with an impending second season, Foundation sets out to explore trying familial dynamics in a universe on the brink of another crisis.
A continuation of Asimov’s original works, Foundation‘s second season is more experimental with utilizing specific parts of the novel. This season begins sharply with Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) reunited with her mother Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell). However, with a copy of Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) trapped within a multi-dimensional prison of his own design, the man who set out to save the universe is now reliant on his apprentice and a new cast of characters.
As Salvor and Gaal attempt to find their way off this planet, Terminus, in the future, has grown substantially. During that time, Seldon is idolized in word as his followers traverse the world with scientific prophecy. However, with the new clones of Day (Lee Pace), Dusk (Terrence Mann), and Dawn (Cassian Bilton) taking the reigns of Empire, an inevitable war is on the horizon. This season continues blending several stories from Asimov’s original nove while cataloguing Seldon’s prediction of history and constructing new dynamics.
As far as performances go, I’d say that there are generally more improvements made here. Specifically, Dusk and Dawn are the standouts, given their more integral roles to this season’s narrative. Unlike the first season, Bilton’s Dawn is less timid and reclusive and Mann’s Dusk is more speculative behind Day’s imperious crusade. Harris’ Hari Seldon is still as lively as ever, though he brings multiple complexities with a charming calm in a unique way. Llobell’s familial chemistry with Harvey also ignites a similar flame to Gaal’s challenging relationship to Seldon from the last season.
In addition to the main cast, the new-coming members do an adequate job of integrating themselves this season. For example, newcomers Kulvinder Ghir and Isabella Laughland, who play dedicated Seldon prophets, share a lightly amusing relationship bent on recruiting new hopefuls. The two may, at first, seem off-putting with the comical events that open up their line of storytelling. Though, over time, the two deeply integrate themselves within the overarching crisis narrative. Ghir and Laughland are only two of the newcomers whose side roles get that needed expansion and Foundation purposefully sets its cards up as such to hit that shocker effect.
In terms of world-building, Foundation‘s second season is both visually eye-catching, yet simplistic plot-wise. The visual aesthetic of this show’s expansive world retains that theatrical IMAX quality, blending in VFX and real-life landscapes to improve these beautiful sets. However, the show mostly takes place within a handful of old locations while mixing in some newer ones. In addition, the large-scale action sequences are a sight to see for yourself as starfighters and cruisers traverse space and duke it out planet-side. Although, the hand-to-hand choreography might feel a bit stilted, particularly in the season’s later half.
Similarly to the first season, Foundation‘s second season has a bit of a pacing problem. Each episode generally last about an hour long and some scenes may linger in the moment for too long. I can definitely say that the long pacing brought me out, especially in the first few episodes. However, unlike season one, this season’s multiple storylines enhance the overarching narrative of Foundation versus Empire. Overall, it’s a slow burn of intrigue and suspense as every character this season has their own changing motives.
This is especially true in the case of the Cleons’ dynasty this time around. In the previous season, the barebones for character development was laid to bare. Unlike that season, there’s a mysterious conspiracy brewing within the family all while Brother Day prepares for war. Mixed with a spice of changing love bonds between Day, Demerzel (Laura Birn) and the newly introduced Queen Sareth, this storyline provides the season a touch of newly-found curiosity.
In the end, the second season of Foundation seeks to take a step in the right direction. Despite facing the same pacing issues when constructing a faceted story, this season invites a lot more intrigue in its character dynamics. With the addition of these new characters, the show is slowly picking up in becoming the epic it seeks. Though its third season is in development, the impending strikes will definitely change the course of Foundation as the industry faces a crisis of its own.
The first episode of Foundation‘s second season is now streaming on Apple TV+. New episodes release on a weekly basis.