Foundation S1E7: “Mysteries and Martyrs”

The Anacreons and their Foundation prisoners enter a large chamber through a spaceship airlock

The following contains spoilers through Foundation S1E7, “Mysteries and Martyrs,” on Apple TV+, and also references the Foundation series novels.

Welcome, dear reader, as we continue to review the Apple TV+ series Foundation with Episode 7, “Mysteries and Martyrs.” Two weeks ago, I was a little down on Episode 5, calling it the weakest episode of the season thus far. Well, I hate to say it, but I think Episode 7 surpassed it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still loving the show. All of our storylines made appearances in this episode, no one was left on the shelf for the first time this season. I appreciate that. And amongst those, the Empire scenes continue to just knock it out of the park.

However, the Terminus storyline is getting a little monotonous, having been on autopilot for a few episodes now, if we’re being honest. It was refreshing to see Gaal stand up for herself with Hari, but the hand-holding exposition and reinforcing flashbacks were a bit tedious. Also, the editing in general is clearly suffering from Covid restrictions, with weirdly strung together dialogue, noticeably trimmed of all white space, and clunky scenes that could have benefitted from a reshoot or two. At least that’s what I’m attributing it to, because I know they can do better.

That said, this episode did tee us up for what showrunner David S. Goyer has repeatedly said is his favorite episode, Episode 8, “The Missing Piece.” And that, of course, gives us plenty to talk about.

Foundation S1E7 - Phara and Salvor face each other in space suits
Phara and Salvor continue to face off against each other

The Invictus

It’s field trip time out in the Anthor Belt, with everyone gliding over to the Invictus one-by-one to avoid the attention of the ghost ship’s automated rail guns. As they all clunk down on the surface of the inner ring, Hugo goes sailing by, unable to get his 30-year old suit’s thrusters to respond properly. With that, off he plunges into the void…to go call for help at one of the abandoned Thespian mining facilities. Come on now, they’re not fooling anyone with that “death” scene. I’d also hazard a guess that he’s not going to be calling the Empire. This will be how Thespis gets drawn into the crisis, leading to a resolution more in tune with the novel, I hope.

The rest of the boarding party continues to get whittled down one-by-one as they work their way towards the bridge. Which doesn’t matter so much, because it turns out this was a suicide mission all along. If they are unsuccessful in redirecting the Invictus’ random jumps, they will likely suffer the same fate as her original crew—marooned and doomed somewhere outside the galaxy. If they are successful, Phara intends to jump the ship right into the beating heart of Trantor. Either way, no one is leaving the ship.

Foundation S1E7 - Brother Day looks down on a man on a medical cot with bandages over his eyes, Demerzel and a departing Halima in the background, under a large linen tent
Brother Day strikes out once again in the trenches

The Maiden

Back at the Salt Palace, Brother Day just can’t catch a break. He fairly well jumps down Demerzel’s throat when she tries to excuse her “staggering betrayal.” She falls back on her programming, which would have rendered her incapable of kneeling if she were being disloyal. But a sharp Empire asks the right question, did she want to kneel?

He tries the usual negotiating tactic with Zephyr Halima, coming down “into the trenches” to see what additional carrots he’ll need to offer to win her over. Halima is having none of it though. She wants the genetic dynasty ended, same as Hari suggested. She articulates her “ask” with a barely veiled threat of future religious terrorism akin to the Star Bridge bombing, and then turns her back on him to attend to other people who actually have souls.

Rather than play defense, Brother Day decides to go on the offense. He is going to walk the Great Spiral and let the Triple Goddess decide whether or not he has a soul. That’s kind of a brilliant solution, assuming he’s up for it. He appears to be fit, but the body will suffer. Is he headed towards a “very noble death” of his own? My prediction: Lady Demerzel will have to reveal that she is inhuman to save Brother Day, but in doing so she will show that someone without a soul is capable of growth, and her action will end up tipping the scales against Halima.

Foundation S1E7 - Brother Dawn stands next to a tank with a clone of himself floating in it, Azura stands facing him slightly off screen
Brother Dawn explains the real tragedy of his life


Things on Trantor start out light hearted enough, with the new lovers sneaking around for a quick romp in the greenhouse. But when Azura offers Dawn a present of color-correction adhesives, things get really dark. Turns out that he is every bit as disposable as an ascending Brother Darkness, with a hot-backup clone waiting in the wings. It’s completely diabolical, and yet he defends the system as necessary to protect the Empire from “mistakes” like him.

Undaunted, Azura suggests he escape. Change his face, flush his nanobots, and disappear into the throng of Trantor. She takes him on a guided virtual tour, showing him how the Scar has actually breathed life into the crowded, chaotic planet. This is the reason he jumped and why he showed her his replacement. He can’t go on living like this, hiding his catalog of little differences from his brothers’ ever watchful eyes.

Brother Dusk interrupts the show to remind Brother Dawn of the dinner bell. He admonishes that punctuality should be innate to a Cleon, not practiced. Very telling. He also chides Dawn that nothing outside the palace walls is relevant, as if he knew exactly what Dawn was viewing before he arrived. There can be little doubt that they included this quick little appearance for a reason. Brother Dusk likely knows everything, and it’s also likely that this is not going to end well for Azura, and probably Dawn as well.

Foundation S1E7 - Gaal holds a framed piece of clear plexiglas in front of her face, a small meteroid lodged in its surface
Gaal has ninja-like reflexes

The Raven

Back at Helicon, we find out that Hari is actually a “quantum consciousness,” not a hologram. Yet, I think I’m still going to refer to him as Hologram Hari, thank you very much. Freed of his physical body, this new version of Hari is quite saucy, really laying into Gaal for screwing up both his plan and his replan. They trade exposition dumps to establish pretty much everything that we’d already deduced about the how and why of what went down aboard the Deliverance.

The tension ratchets up as the Raven begins to enter the debirs field of Helicon’s dark star. Hari presses Gaal as to why she showed up in his cabin that night. Again, the flashbacks scroll through every little hint that we’ve noted pointing to Gaal’s apparent mentalic abilities. It all comes to a head with her ninja-like catch of the space debris that blew right through the windshield yet was somehow stopped by the thin little patch panel she’s holding. She can “feel” the future.

To be fair, we did learn or confirm a few new things in all of this:

  • The patch Raych grabbed from behind Hari’s ear was the data unit recording his consciousness, transported via his knife for the “Quantum Consciousness Protocol.”
  • Gaal was not only supposed to continue on to Terminus, she was intended to lead the First Foundation instead of Lewis.
  • Hari was going to die from an inherited, mental degenerative disease.
  • Originally, Hari was going to take his own life, Raych would stick around for a week or two to explain why, and then disappear in the cryopod.

Let’s end on a theory. So given all of this, Hari’s body has not been recovered here aboard the Raven. His consciousness was downloaded, and that’s all that was needed. Why the Chekhov’s casket then? Buried somewhere in a comment I can no longer find (my apologies, or I would give credit), some sharp-eyed viewer noted that Hari’s casket looks somewhat like the Vault on Terminus. What if his custom made casket zoomed ahead of the Deliverance and transformed into the Vault? Or at least merged with it. Perhaps a second Hologram Hari could be made from scanning his physical brain. So physical brain Hari helps the First Foundation, and quantum consciousness Hari helps the Second Foundation.

Foundation S1E7 - Azura sits in a train compartment with several other citizens of Trantor, graffiti on the walls here and there
Azura rides the train home from work

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode:

  • Both of Salvor’s dads sacrificed themselves for the Foundation.
  • Two meter separation—just like Covid?
  • Hmm, let’s see. Turn the air back on for the first time in seven centuries, and then drop all the decomposing dead bodies to the ground, kicking up plumes of dust everywhere. Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll just keep my helmet on for a few more weeks, thanks.
  • Ignoring that though, it’s nice the way breathable atmosphere can be instantly restored. Not only on the Invictus, but also on the Raven.
  • To be fair, Goyer has said that because Covid stretched out the production, they were not able to keep their science advisors engaged as well in the second half of the season’s filming.  He’s also admitted that they sometimes ignore that advice in the interest of something that just looks cool.
  • The idea of a sci-fi age Flying Dutchman, jumping around the galaxy from one random set of coordinates to another, is another pretty cool concept they’ve come up with for this show.
  • On Foundation and Podcast‘s listener feedback episode, a listener wrote in and suggested that Gaal’s ability to “feel the future” may have come from her mind and body getting out of sync during the jump, per the spy’s warning in Episode 1. The idea being that her mind is ahead of her body in time, or perhaps the other way around (since it’s more of a feeling that she gets). Did she have these abilities before the jump? I don’t believe anything was shown to us in her short film. It’s an intriguing theory.
  • 50,000 years into the future and men still can’t figure out women’s clothing.
  • Both Brother Day and Brother Dawn get called just Cleon in this episode. Interesting parallel.
  • Freakin’ Lewis. He screwed up with the rail guns, he’s useless in their attempted overthrow. Even Hari had no faith in him. This guy seriously needs a moment of redemption.
  • Not that important, but I wonder if the Anacreons lost their three key personnel in the Empire’s attack 35 years ago, or just two weeks ago when those two scavenging ships were destroyed by the Invictus?
  • Gaal gets so pissed off she takes a swing at Hari. Good for her.
  • I love that there is graffiti everywhere outside the walls of the palace.
  • Demerzel’s fealty to the Cleonic dynasty is embedded into her programming. Is this then the “large task” Cleon I gave his programmers that was taking her away from his side so much?
  • Seeing the backup clones takes a lot of the risk out of Brother Day walking the Great Spiral.

Best lines of the episode:

  • “How do you even know if she’s safe to approach?” “Oh, she isn’t.”
  • “I’m sorry, to the what? I’m not familiar with that term, motherless atrocity that I am.”
  • “You’re not precisely one with the reincarnation cycle yourself.”
  • “All very noble deaths, I’m sure.”
  • “You are the reverberations of a dead man’s ego.”
  • “If she wants to invoke something greater than me, I’ll do the same. I’ll prove both her and Seldon wrong.”
  • “Every moment of my life is a test. And if I ever fail, if they ever learn how different I am, it’ll be my last day, and his first.”
  • “For Empire, the Scar represents a failure. For the rest of Trantor, it represents an opportunity. For the first time in centuries, we can look up and see real clouds, real stars. Not a simulation run by servers designed to keep us complacent.”
  • “We are Trantor, nothing outside the palace walls is relevant.”
  • “I owe you an explanation Gaal, I recognize that now.”
  • “I was engineering the narrative.” “That’s a fancy way of saying you lied.”
  • “I liked you better when you were dying.”
Brother Day looks smug, desert in the blurry background behind him
Brother Day will show them all

In the News

Here I try to point you to a few of the more interesting and informative news items over the last week (or so) related to Foundation. We’ve got a lot of podcast tidbits to share this week, so just two quick items from Reddit:

On this week’s official companion podcast (for Episode 6), show runner David S. Goyer was flying solo this time. Here’s a few of the more interesting tidbits:

  • He used the phrase that “math is the language of angels.” Nice.
  • At one point, Demerzel had agency, but now she doesn’t. There is a set of programming protocols that have been put around her (likely the ones ensuring her loyalty to Empire). Inside, she still has thoughts that are her own, so she’s kind of trapped and caged by these protocols.
  • In future seasons, they will examine and meet emperors predating the genetic dynasty of Cleon.
  • He implied that along with being nanny, teacher, and mother to the Cleons, they might later even have sexual relations with Demerzel. TMI.
  • Commander Dorwin survived in an escape pod that was intended as an homage to the classic movie Escape from New York.
  • Jumps are religious experience to the Spacers.
  • His best answer yet: the Vault contains that rotating ice tunnel from The Six-Million Dollar Man.

As mentioned last week, Foundation and Podcast had an interview with David S. Goyer on Friday, and they got a whole lot more juicy stuff out of him. Goyer gave thoughtful, thorough answers, and talked in depth about many process aspects of the show, like the writers’ room, props, costuming, score, etc. He also promises to come back on the podcast once season is over and he can talk more freely about some things yet to come. Beyond all of that good stuff, here’s the really good stuff:

  • There were two big ideas. The genetic dynasty is one, the other can’t be talked about yet (but can be discussed on his post season return). Immediately after saying this, he brought up that in the books the Empire falls off-screen and the Second Foundation is formed off-screen, showing up as a deus ex machina. So maybe the second big idea is related to the Second Foundation? And we’re going to get something about them before the end of this first season, if so.
  • Their third “ah-ha moment” was pulling Demerzel in from prequels as an effectively immortal character to tell the story with. She is Robyn Asimov’s favorite character. She will also rise in importance as show continues.
  • Goyer likes unreliable narrators (uh oh) and presenting something one way, letting the audience sit with it, and then revealing that there’s more to the story than we realized. He also likes going dark on a character or storyline for an episode or two, which we’ve seen plenty of already.
  • They had science advisors on at beginning, but when Covid stretched out the production, they couldn’t keep them on for a whole 2 1/2 years (they began this journey four years ago).
  • He loves the books, but the amount of audience that has read the books is such a tiny fraction as to be negligible to the success of the show.
  • There have been other in-mythology extinction events that have happened since humanity went to the stars. This isn’t the first disaster that has happened, and they will get into that later.
  • There are more habitable planets out there with people the Empire does not govern.
  • If you take out the prayer stones, you’re no longer seen by the Sleeper, and effectively you’re a non-person. So Gaal exiled herself, as the only way to escape. She still believes in the Sleeper, just not the version that the Seers have poisoned her world with.
  • They intend to go beyond what Isaac Asimov wrote (the novels stop short of 600 years into the Foundation Era). Robyn Asimov shared some vague ideas of where he was going, but he never arrived at the right idea to take it to the end of the 1000 years.
  • Hints have already been dropped in the show as to where this will end, in that last 400 year period. They have an outline covering the full eight seasons. Apple demanded it of them.
  • The master Statistician did indeed keel over from a heart attack.
  • The jump ships are designed to look like knife blades.
  • They evoke score from The Black Hole when jump ship first jumps in Episode 1.
  • Laura Birn’s (Demerzel) screen test was a “mind blowing” scene from Episode 8 that made Goyer cry behind the camera. Episode 8 is his favorite, he also likes 3, and says that in Episode 10 “some crazy sh*t happens.”
Head shot of Brother Dusk looking thoughtfully off camera
Brother Dusk knows what’s up


I was called out by Redditor u/TheirDarkMaterials (a fellow His Dark Materials fan, so they can’t be all that bad) for saying that Demerzel bowed to Zephyr Halima in last week’s article. Indeed, Demerzel excuses her actions with much the same clarification, that she was bowing “to the Mother,” not to Zephyr Halima. I was admittedly confused as to how far along in the Proxima selection process we were with what was now obviously just a pair of dueling eulogy speeches. Nonetheless, the whole point of that scene was the very public impression of betrayal that it left with Brother Day, pushing him toward yet another rash decision made without consulting her.

That’s all for this week. Please let us know your thoughts and feelings about this week’s episode, and any theories you have on what’s to come, in the comments below. Remember that 25YL will provide continuing coverage of Foundation throughout Season 1 and beyond.

All images courtesy of Apple TV+

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.


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  1. Brien – I consistently find your reviews to be the best and most thorough I can find anywhere and I love the Quick Takes, Best Lines, and In the News segments.

    Your take on episode 5 disappointed me because I loved it and I think you said it was the worst yet. Saying this surpassed it in worstness is aligned with my perspective this time. I found this one really chaotic and full of holes. I do appreciate your tying together all of the plot points revealed though. It’s getting to where I like the general story and some of the particular scenes very much, but the actual experience of watching the show is getting to be a bit of a mine field.

    I’m really encouraged by the note about the science advisors’ absence due to Covid and hope they get them back for next season and really listen to them. Some of the science aspects are really questionable lately – the Invictus scenes and Helicon among the worst IMO. I’m also a little concerned about the multiple writers’ styles and even ideas clashing. I kind of wish Goyer would settle on at most three writers and work closely with them to make sure the style is coherent and the plot holes get tightened up some.

    Keep up the great work. Your review is my most mandatory go-to after each episode.


    • It’s weird because when I think about what happened in this episode I kind of think “cool cool cool” but yeah I can’t help but feel like it was poorly executed

  2. I am amazed how this show has trashed every idea in Asimov books and turned into another Star Wars hero action story, that no one needed.
    The science seems written by someone in middle school, with so many contradictions that is distracting from the story, because is beyond believable. The story has turned into some religious, mystical plot on Trantor and Terminus has become a B war movie. I don’t know who the audience of this show should be. Teenagers with attention disorders?
    There are excellent intelligent tv series with large audiences and years of episodes. You don’t have to reduce the best science fiction books ever to a special one story, with a mix of love and religion to attract a large audience. Even staying with SciFi The expanse is a perfect example of how you can produce a tv show without turning it into another teen action drama.

  3. I think this series was an absolutely incredible story of the Emperors Cleon, and not too shabby for the rest of the Seldon story, either

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