‘Foundation’ Episodes 1 and 2 Review: Bold But Hollow

The first two episodes of Apple TV’s Foundation are finally out and I’m a little bit conflicted. While it never fails to flaunt their absolutely stunning visual capabilities and certainly attempts to cover some heavy themes, I’m left wanting more so far. And in the worst possible way.

Beware! Minor spoilers for the two-episode premiere of Foundation are below.

To begin, I need to talk about how insanely gorgeous this show is because I don’t think I’ll be able to focus on anything else unless I get this out of my system. The show is beautiful. Even mundane things like writing with a “pen and pencil” are made more visually interesting with some fun holographic imagery. The landscapes, set design, and costume design are top to bottom brilliantly well done and in the case of the space scenes exceptionally stunning. I could watch Lee Pace walk around in his armor for the rest of my life, as long as it looks as good as it does in this show.

I think we can all agree when I say that I love a good buffet. Just walking into a restaurant, smelling the wonderful food, and thinking “man I could stack my plate a mile high.” But then you get all your food, sit down, and realize there is no possible way you can really eat all this. That would be a perfectly apt description of these first two episodes. Casually introducing and failing to properly tackle a “mile-high plate-full” of topics like class, religion, politics, morality, age, abortion; it’s probably not a good omen for the development of the rest of the season, but there’s still time for them to get back on track.

Despite the incredible cast including the likes of experienced and new actors like Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Terrence Mann, and Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, and many more, thus far the show fails to ever make a good connection with the audience through the characters. Most of these characters are geniuses beyond our imagination, and the rest of them are clones of each other that see themselves as gods. They aren’t really relatable, and the show obviously knows that because by the second episode they’ve already jammed in an underdeveloped romantic relationship between two of the main characters.

It’s not to say characters in a show have to be exact reflections of me to be relatable, because that’s just not the case. But they never care to answer the question “why?” Why do the characters do what they do? Why do they feel the way they do? Why do they want what they want? It’s completely unaddressed up to this point and it’s causing a huge disconnect. Most of these people just end up feeling like narcissistic, egotistical, crazy people, and it’s just flat out not working for me.

Coming up to the end of the second episode, they take a huge risk and kill an important main character, with the apparently killer being a huge shock, especially for the story’s heroine Gaal (Lou Llobell). It’s an interesting cliffhanger, purely because I don’t know what’s coming next, but I am also at the point where I don’t really care that much. I don’t care to see where Gaal is going to go on her escape pod. I don’t care to see what happens to the Foundation, and that’s just the fault of the writing and the fact that the viewers have been given so little to connect to. This is all the more the shame as I think about the utterly stunning beauty of much of the episodes otherwise.

At the end of the day, the show is like a beautifully wrapped present. It sits under the tree, it looks really pretty, but then come Christmas day when you’re finally able to open it there’s nothing inside. Not even a lump of coal, because apparently writer/executive producer/showrunner extraordinaire David S. Goyer doesn’t think the audience is worthy of even that. This show does still have a lot of ground to cover, and all I’m doing right now is hoping that it can get better as the episodes go on.

My rating for this film: 

★★★★ / ♥♥

*Rating scale is out of 5 stars (filmmaking & storytelling quality) and 5 hearts (love & entertainment value)

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