This article contains spoilers for Foundation season 2.
Apple TV+’s ambitious science fiction series Foundation, adapting the novels of the same name by the influential author Isaac Asimov, has just wrapped its bombastic second season. More action-packed, sexier, and with a more pronounced sense of humor than its inaugural outing, Foundation delivers on the sweeping world-building from season 1 and brings an all-out war for the fate of humanity in season 2. With so many moving pieces and wheels within wheels schemes to seize and expand power, Foundation is a show that commands full attention from its viewers and, fortunately, Den of Geek is here to help parse through and explain the galactic power plays in season 2.
Taking place over a century after the events of the first season, Foundation season 2 finally brings things to a head over mathematician and revolutionary figure Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) and Brother Day (Lee Pace), the latest in a ruling line of clones holding the regal title of Empire. What follows is an intense mental chess game across the cosmos between the two men as they square off, employing all manner of strategies to further their respective agendas. Here’s how each of the major plot threads across Foundation season 2 progress through to the finale episode, teeing up the show for a planned third season.
The Story So Far…
After Hari Seldon’s groundbreaking mathematical analysis predicts the imminent collapse of the Galactic Empire after four centuries of rule by the Cleon Dynasty, a line of clones headed by Brother Day, currently Cleon XII, he and his protege Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobel) are exiled. Seldon and Dornick are to create the Foundation on the barren planet of Terminus, with the Foundation intended to be a repository of knowledge intended to significantly reduce the fallout from the predicted fall of the Empire. Seldon arranges for his adopted son Raych (Alfred Enoch) to assassinate him to effectively transform into a martyr, while Dornick is placed in cryosleep to avoid being implicated for the murder.
On Terminus, Seldon lives on through a digital program of his consciousness from a large structure known as the Vault, explaining to his followers that the Foundation is actually meant to be a human civilization that lives on after the Empire’s collapse to ensure the species’ survival. Among the figures who help activate Seldon on Terminus is Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey), a woman created from genetic material from Dornick and Raych. As Hardin meets her mother Dornick after freeing from her from her stasis pod on the watery world of Synnax, Cleon XII is shocked to learn his seemingly loyal android companion Eto Demerzel (Laura Birn) has programming superseding his wishes, loyal only to legacy of the Cleon Dynasty rather than Cleon himself.
What Is the Empire’s New Plan?
Foundation season 2 opens with a failed assassination attempt on the current Brother Day, Cleon XVII, as Day seeks to break the genetic dynasty by taking on a wife to procreate and create a new lineage. This quietly upsets Demerzel while Day’s intended bride Queen Sareth (Ella-Rae Smith) secretly seeks to avenge her parents after they were killed by the Empire. Sareth seduces Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton), the youngest of the three Cleon clones active at the time, convincing him she wants to bear his children instead.
Enraged after learning Terminus was not destroyed as the Empire had been led to believe, Day personally launches an attack on the planet and its orbital space station Invictus, connecting other Foundation worlds to it. Leading the attack on the Invictus is Bel Riose (Ben Daniels), a general who endured a lengthy imprisonment for his defiance towards the Empire. Under Day’s orders, Riose destroys the Invictus and causes it to collide into Terminus, even though the planetary devastation also means the likely death of Riose’s husband Glawen Curr (Dino Fetscher).
How Is Hari Seldon Trying to Stop the Empire?
While the digital copy of Seldon still exists and schemes from the Vault on Terminus, a very different Hari Seldon is resurrected in corporeal form after being freed by Dornick and Hardin from a relic known as the Prime Radiant. Disoriented from being trapped within the Prime Radiant and acclimating to his new lease on life, Seldon guides Dornick and Hardin to transfer his consciousness into a new body before the trio arrive on the remote planet of Ignis.
The digital Seldon on Terminus recruits a spacefaring rogue named Hober Mallow (Dimitri Leonidas) and monks Poly Verisof (Kulvinder Ghir) and Brother Constant (Isabella Laughland), who preach Seldon’s message, giving them each different tasks as part of his plans. Mallow is tasked with attempting to recruit the Empire’s Spacers with an offer of freedom from Day, but is rebuffed, escaping only thanks to the Foundation’s superior technology. After Day captures Constant and Mallow, he has them watch him annihilate Terminus.
Does Salvor Hardin Die?
On Ignis, Dornick and Hardin are targeted by powerful telepaths led by the sinister and calculating Tellem Bond (Rachel House), who intends to transfer her consciousness into Dornick’s body. After a fierce battle, Dornick and Hardin kill their attackers, with Seldon himself intervening to save Dornick’s life and brutally kill Bond. Before dying, Bond secretly transfers her consciousness into the body of one of her followers, giving her one last chance at revenge.
Ever since meeting Hardin, Dornick begins to experience vivid visions of a possible future where Salvor lies dead at her feet and she is menaced by an imposing enemy known as the Mule. This future is averted when Salvor saves Dornick from Bond, killing the telepathic villain at the expense of her own life. Dornick mourns her daughter before convincing Seldon to join her in cryosleep, emerging in 152 years for the coming of the Mule.
What Happens to Brother Day and What’s Next for the Galaxy?
When it becomes clear that Day intends to destroy the seven other planets linked to the Foundation, the Spacers follow through on Mallow’s offer to betray the Empire, killing him but at the cost of thousands of lives, including Mallow and Riose. The digital Seldon saves Verisof, Curr, and the surviving Foundation from Terminus, transporting them in the Vault. Dawn and Sareth leave to start their own life together after realizing Demerzel’s treachery, with an undeterred Demerzel creating a new trio of Cleon clones to manipulate and publicly head the Empire.
With Cleon XVII’s defeat, Seldon’s plans are moving forward as he had foreseen, with humanity finding hope in the Foundation that they lacked under the Galactic Empire. With her own telepathic abilities and genius-level intellect, Dornick is ready to form a second Foundation in anticipation of the Mule’s arrival, but she’ll have to do it without Hardin by her side this time. And not only does Demerzel and her new Cleon clones remain a threat, but the Mule is aware Dornick is in his time and is ready to hunt her down as Foundation sets itself up for a darker third season.
The first two seasons of Foundation are available to stream on Apple TV+.