Foundation season 1 episode 6 recap: Death and the Maiden

Foundation season 1 episode 6 takes two steps forward and one step back, withholding its most fascinating story thread.

Leah Harvey in 'Foundation'.
(Image: © Apple TV+)

What to Watch Verdict

Yet another episode of Foundation that presses pause on its most compelling story arc. It's getting to be a very frustrating habit.

Pros

  • +

    As ever, Foundation looks incredible, well beyond just about every other TV show

  • +

    Leah Harvey's performance is consistently solid

  • +

    Getting Salvor off Terminus should be an intriguing twist

Cons

  • -

    Leaving Gaal out to dry again makes for a vexing viewing experience

  • -

    By leaving Terminus, there are still a vast amount of questions that are left hanging in a way that makes you wonder if the show will ever answer them

What's also frustrating is that yet again Foundation season 1 does its now-standard “two steps forward, one step back” routine with episode 6 “Death and the Maiden”. Episode 5 ends with two big cliffhangers: in one, the Terminus folks struggled to make a stand against the Anacreons, who destroyed a massive Empire ship and started killing innocent people. In the other cliffhanger, Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) was shocked to discover none other than Hari Seldon on the rescue ship where she landed, in an escape pod, 35 years after Hari was seemingly murdered. Would you like to know what’s going on with Hari and Gaal this week? Well, so would I, and we will both have to wait. Again. 

This frustration doesn't negate the events on Terminus, which this week grow closer to bringing Salvor Hardin into the sphere of Hari Seldon. But Gaal’s story remains the most compelling and the one the show’s writers seem least willing to explore, even briefly.

The Anacreons in 'Foundation'.

The Anacreons in 'Foundation' (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Let’s talk about the Salvor connection because there’s an interesting twist to parse. Salvor is broken out of her makeshift prison cell by two of the kids from the first episode (Jairaj Varsani and Chloe Lea) who tried and failed to touch the mysterious Vault. But the escape only lasts for a certain time — after she and Hugo (Daniel MacPherson), along with Abbas, try to take down the Anacreons and fail, they’re taken, along with other folks from Terminus, to the Grand Huntress (Kubbra Sait) to be told what’s really going on. The Anacreons need the help of some key members from Terminus to fix a thought-to-be-dead ship called the Invictus — if they refuse to help, the Anacreons will kill everyone.

That’s rough enough but more confusing is the key reason why Salvor and Hugo’s sneak attack fails. She has something equivalent to a seizure, during which time she inexplicably is able to a) inhabit the body of Gaal Dornick right before the death of Hari Seldon, and b) get an answer to a question I pondered in last week’s recap. 

There, I wondered how much of Hari’s death was pre-planned by both his adopted son Raych (Alfred Enoch) and by Hari himself. “Death and the Maiden” confirms that the galaxy will be upended if Raych stays romantically attached to Gaal, so Hari not only must die, but it must be at Raych’s hand. Raych is understandably furious about this turn of events, but even though he obviously goes through with it, he ignores one specific guideline Hari gives — that Raych should be in the escape pod, not Gaal. That gets tossed out the window when Gaal spies Raych murdering Hari, but in this episode, of course, it’s Salvor (as Gaal) who sees it. The episode doesn’t explore much beyond this, aside from Salvor repeating Hari’s line about the entire galaxy’s fate sometimes being left in the hands of one individual. 

For Hugo, when he hears this, he chooses to believe that the individual is Salvor. So he decides to make things tougher for the Anacreons. He sabotages the ship being used to fix their Invictus so that it can only be maneuvered by Salvor herself, with him at her side. 

Before the episode concludes with the dark images of Salvor and Hugo steering the ship away from Terminus, there are two other storylines to discuss, both involving the three Brothers. The aforementioned Brother Day travels to the Maiden, another planet full of religious believers (or zealots, if you like), with his android Demerzel (Laura Birn), who follows in the belief of Luminism. Once off their ship, Brother Day is perplexed to be greeted by someone he deems a heretic, Zephyr Halima (T’Nia Miller), whose whole belief system argues against the existence of any of the three cloned Brothers, believing each soul belongs to just one body and just one body should live just one life. Ostensibly, Brother Day is visiting to support Zephyr Gilat (Julia Farino) after the death of Proxima Opal (a couple of episodes ago). But even after Brother Day pledges to build a desalination system to give the planet clean drinking water, it becomes clear that just about everyone on the planet sides with Zephyr Halima ... even Demerzel.

Foundation

Leah Harvey in 'Foundation' (Image credit: Apple TV+)

The rest of “Death and the Maiden” is about Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton) and Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann), as the latter attempts to teach the former how to be a man. Brother Dusk’s perception of masculinity is very retrograde, in that it leans heavily on how to hunt and how to have sex with beautiful women. Of course, as previous episodes made clear, Brother Dawn has his eyes set on just one woman, Azura (Amy Tyger), who tends to the garden outside of Brother Dawn’s sleeping quarters. Though Brother Dawn is plenty skilled in hunting — on his first day, he bags more alien creatures than Brother Dusk ever did, a fact he chooses to hide to avoid any issues of pride — he’s unwilling to perform sexually with a comely maiden whose memory will be wiped clean the next day, thus ensuring no awkward post-coitus. Instead, he brings Azura to his room and reveals something that’s no doubt going to be a point of trouble going forward. He’s color-blind, the first clone of Emperor Cleon to be color-blind. After this revelation, he makes his move on Azura, and they kiss passionately. The tender romance aside, it’s likely not a good thing that Brother Dawn is color-blind, because if such a cosmetic flaw can exist in a clone what else could be changed?

For Foundation, the question is different. How can this show change and increase its momentum? The good news is that the events on Terminus with Salvor Hardin have become more important over the last few episodes, after barely being a whisper in the two-episode premiere. But the writers still aren’t doing a great job handling Gaal Dornick. Gaal is clearly an important character, but every time the show acknowledges this, it runs away from the consequences.

More Foundation season 1

Josh Spiegel is a freelance cultural critic who has been published in Slashfilm, SyFy, ScreenCrush, The A.V. Club, The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post and others. His favorite films include Singin’ in the Rain, The Rocketeer, Pinocchio and A Matter of Life and Death. His favorite TV shows include Ted Lasso, Only Murders in the Building, Deadwood and Lost. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, two sons and too many cats.