TV Review: Foundation, 1×4, “Barbarians at the Gate”

User Rating: 7

Episode four of Foundation laid the foundation for a takeover. The bare bones of the plot involve someone taking over the main religion of the show called Luminism. The individual leading Luminism would then be called Proxima. Apparently, their guidance would lead the people out of galactic imperialism and back to a time before that style of rule existed.  Hardin outwits individuals called Anareons who look like bounty hunters.  She captures their leader Phara and forces her to explain why she was attacking Hardin. Phara explains that her group only wants the colony ships to use the navigation to find her people a new home. She attempts to manipulate harden into taking her to the navigation system but is prevented from achieving her goal thanks to being paralyzed by the vault. Consequently, the vault gives Hardin visions of what it was like to live with Hari before the terrorist attack on Terminus.

This episode is very plot-heavy, which I don’t mind. My only problem with it is that they don’t set up the power grab within the imperial system earlier. David S Goyer literally gave us a whole episode devoted to what it’s like to be in power in that universe, and they neglected that there was going to be a takeover or the potential for one? That doesn’t seem like smart writing. Having said that, I do really love the fact that we get an opportunity to see what Hardin is like as a security officer trying to protect her city. I didn’t really feel in the previous episode that she had any major strengths. She came across as a hard ass. This made her extremely unlikeable, and I didn’t understand what her connection was to the vault. I still don’t know her connection to the vault, but I feel like it has something to do with Hari and the work he started.  For the fourth time in a row, I really appreciated the world-building done here, but I wish it was done more simply than it was executed.

I’m not entirely sure what I think of Phara. She comes across as brash and single-minded despite being the leader of a whole people. I wanna know what got these two vastly different groups going against each other. I realized that the Anacreons blame the people of Terminus for losing their city due to the explosion. Phara must know that the organization’s actions are not the fault of those people who were displaced in Terminus, to begin with.   Her attitude just feels like a convenient reason to be angry. At the end of the day, her character existed only to create conflict among those living on Terminus. It’s a solid episode with some good ideas, but the character work on the supporting characters falls way short of what the show’s quality usually represents.

One other item of note is that if Foundation wishes to introduce any antagonistic characters to the series, they need to introduce them far earlier in the story than shown here. Introductions like this shortchange the character and confuse the audience unnecessarily in terms of what the person’s motivations are and what their end goal is. Clarity needs to be key for this show to continually succeed. I hope things in future episodes get more fleshed out so that this expansive world really has time and a place to breathe.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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