Foundation Season 1 Ending, Explained

‘Foundation’ follows the epic saga of mathematician Hari Seldon’s followers and their struggle against the Galactic Empire. When Seldon reveals his theory of “Psychohistory,” which allows him to predict large-scale events, the galaxy is plunged into chaos. Over the next few hundred years, the instability grows even as Seldon’s followers (knowingly or unknowingly) fulfill his complicated plan for the future of civilization.

Season 1 of the series closes on a colossal note that depicts how aspects that have remained constant for thousands of years are now irreversibly changed. There are some spectacular revelations, and the seeds for the bigger story arc are sown in the tumultuous episode 10 — the season finale. Let’s take another look at the ‘Foundation’ season 1 finale and make sure we’ve picked up on all its intricate sci-fi layers. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Foundation Season 1 Finale Recap

The season finale, titled ‘The Leap,’ opens on Terminus, where Hari Seldon has just appeared from the Vault. With the Thespians and Anacreons on the brink of battle, the mathematician stops them just in time by revealing that their initial enmity is based on a lie. Hari then explains how they can use the Invictus to make it appear as though all life has been wiped out from the outer rim, thus allowing the Thespians, Anacreons, and members of the Foundation to continue working without interference from the rest of the galaxy. Their goal? To start plotting to overthrow the Galactic Empire.

Meanwhile, Brother Day contemplates how to suitably punish his younger clone, Brother Dawn, for trying to abandon the Empire. Brother Dusk calls the young clone an abomination and suggests he be turned to ash instantly. However, Brother Day shocks everyone by saying that perhaps it is time for the Empire to be flexible, essentially suggesting Brother Dawn be allowed to retain his post as future Emperor. As Brother Dusk and Brother Day have a heated argument, Demerzel quietly snaps Brother Dawn’s neck, saying she will always be loyal to the Cleonic Empire.

Later, a visibly saddened Brother Day puts his younger clone’s body to rest. He also punishes Azura for manipulating Brother Dawn by killing every member of her extended family and acquaintances — a total of more than 1500 people, effectively wiping out all living memory of the rebel. He then has her imprisoned in solitude for the rest of her days, saying he has now wiped out her legacy just as she wiped out his.

Soon after, however, Brother Day is informed that the original Cleon, from whose DNA he is created, was infected many years ago, meaning that Brother Day is not a perfect copy of the original Galactic Emperor. Upon learning this, he smiles and begins to destroy the preserved body of Cleon the First.

Foundation Season 1 Ending: How Are Gaal and Salvor Related? Where Are They?

Back on Terminus, Salvor once again sees a young child running through the darkness and follows them. She then realizes that she is seeing a child version of Gaal, and upon asking her mother about her origin, it is revealed that Salvor is the offspring of Gaal and Raych. Realizing that she needs to find Gaal, the Warden of Terminus sets off on Hugo’s ship.

We are then taken one hundred and thirty-eight years into the future to see Gaal arriving back to her home planet of Synnax. She finds her home underwater and is saddened to see no sign of human life on the watery planet. However, a glow in the depths reveals a cryogenic pod. Upon opening it, she finds Salvor asleep inside. The season finale closes with Salvor revealing to Gaal that she is her daughter. She then gives the shocked Synnaxian Hari’s psychohistory module, and we last see them sitting on the roof of a submerged hut surrounded by water as far as the eye can see.

One of the show’s biggest reveals is that Salvor is Gaal and Raych’s daughter. Though a connection between the two women is hinted at multiple times, the fact that they are so closely related is a shocker (but also explains Salvor’s intrinsic ability to sense the future, much like Gaal). Salvor’s mother reveals that she was conceived using genetic material from Gaal and Raych, which was stored on the “slow ship” that initially brought Hari’s followers to Terminus.

At the end of season 1, Gaal arrives on Synnax after traveling for 138 years and wakes up Salvor, who has been in cryogenic sleep for over 100 years after crash landing on Synnax. By now, all human life on the planet seems to have been wiped out by floods (as Gaal had warned hundreds of years ago when she first left her home planet). The situation seems dire, but Gaal and Salvor are two of the most enduring characters of the show, and given their innate ability to sense the future, all is not lost. Salvor also brings Hari’s psychohistory module with her, which will likely be greatly useful to them.

What Happens to the Foundation? What is the Foundation’s True Purpose?

As Seldon reveals at the beginning of the season finale, the true goal of the Foundation is not to curate knowledge but to “curate people.” Initially, the mathematician guided his followers to collect the essential aspects of human knowledge for safekeeping in the event of a civilization collapse. However, it is now revealed that his actual objective was to bring the people of the outer reach (Thespians, Anacreons, and the Foundation members) together in order to unite them.

According to Seldon, the Galactic Empire has stifled the voice of humanity with its iron-fisted rule of the galaxy and cloned rulers. Therefore, if the Galactic Empire is not overthrown, it will lead to the fall of civilization. Essentially, Seldon reveals that the Foundation’s job is not to prepare for the fall of civilization but to help eventually overthrow the Galactic Empire so as to avoid the cataclysmic breakdown of the galactic society.

Why Does Demerzel Kill Brother Dawn?

One of the most shocking moments of the series occurs when Brother Dawn is suddenly and swiftly executed by Demerzel, even as she consoles him by saying that she will not let him be killed. Her actions shock even the Galactic Emperor and his older clone, instantly putting an end to their argument about whether Brother Dawn should be allowed to live or not. Part ancient machine and part spiritual guide, Demerzel is one of the most complex characters on the show, rife with layered players.

She repeatedly claims that her loyalties lie with “Empire” but never clarifies which Empire (since there are always three simultaneous galactic rulers). However, we now see that her loyalties lie with the original Cleon (who, it is rumored, she loved). Therefore, Demerzel is prone to support only perfect genetic copies of Cleon the First, and her ruthless slaying of the genetically different Brother Dawn proves it.

Additionally, ever since Brother Day fabricated his religious vision and used it to manipulate the oracles, Demerzel seems to have formed a vendetta against him. By killing the clone that he is fighting to keep alive, she essentially ends the legacy (of genetic diversity) that Brother Day wants to inculcate into the Cleonic Empire. Or at least she thinks she does.

It’s worth noting that it is then revealed that even Brother Day is not a pure genetic clone, which means that Demerzel would be equally justified (and happy) to kill him. Since the DNA of the original Cleon’s body has been adulterated by saboteurs, apart from seeing Demerzel’s ruthless side, we are also witness to the end of the pure genetic clone dynasty that has ruled the galaxy for over ten thousand years. The fact that we see Demerzel breaking down and tearing off her human face also hints that she knows that the end is near, and is conflicted about her identity as the long-standing keeper of the Cleonic Empire.

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