Foundation – S01E03 – The Mathematician’s Ghost | Transcript

Brother Dusk reflects on his legacy as he prepares for ascension. The Foundation arrives on Terminus and finds a mysterious object.
Foundation - S01E03 - The Mathematician's Ghost

Original release date: October 1, 2021

Nineteen years after the Starbridge attack, the genetic dynasty of Cleon I undertakes its traditional transfer of power: Cleon XIV is born as the new Brother Dawn, Cleon XIII is elevated as Brother Day, Cleon XII retires as Brother Dusk, and Cleon XI assumes the mantle of Brother Darkness before being euthanized. Seventeen years later, Seldon’s followers arrive at Terminus and discover the Vault, an enigmatic artifact guarded by a “null field” that repels all life. In the present day, 36 years after the Starbridge attack, the Foundation is well-established and Salvor Hardin, a second-generation colonist, serves as Warden of Terminus. Hardin is troubled by the sudden expansion of the Vault’s null field, but a larger crisis looms as three Anacreon warships appear in Terminus’s skies without warning. In the hours before the ships’ arrival, Hardin chases a child into the scuttled colony ship and finds herself surrounded by an Anacreon landing party.

* * *

[Gaal narrating] Every world has ghosts.

And every house is haunted by them.

Even the palace of the Empire.

Especially the palace of the Empire.

[man] Where have you been?

With the systems programmers.

Lately you’ve been with them more than with me.

[Demerzel] You’ve set them a large task.

Should we look to replace them?

They’ll see it through.

I can count on you, Demerzel?

To see it through?

Of course, Cleon.

And not just that.


I always assumed you’d stay on after I was gone.

But it occurred to me, in the near-darkness of my life…

I shouldn’t take anything for granted.

I’m loyal to the Empire.

Yes, but will the Empire be loyal to you?

It hasn’t always shown benevolence to your kind.

You’re becoming sentimental, verging on maudlin.


Well, I’m dying.

And I’m leaving everything in pieces.

Are you unhappy with your successor?

We can still revisit the idea of marriage and an heir.

Demerzel, for all you are, and maybe because of it… there are things you will never know.

I may someday know death.


But I doubt you will feel it arrived too soon.

I should have seen the completion of the Star Bridge.

Me. My mind. My eyes.

We should have ridden up to the orbital platform together and looked down on all that we had made.

And one day we will.

Your continuity is assured.

[Dusk] Do you think of him often?

You know the way I am.

I don’t forget anything or anyone.

Empire is always on my mind.

The platform’s orbit is dying at an accelerated rate.

Or so say the physicists, who worry it’ll just fall on their heads.

Their job is to worry over those things.

Is it not ours?


Perhaps it is still yours, but no longer mine, as it is no longer his.

How you spend this last day is up to you.

Every one of you is different.

Somehow I doubt that.

But thank you for trying to make me feel unique as I shuffle off the stage.

It was hardest on him.

He only had the infant Dawn to place on the throne.

A baby with his eyes.

Identical in every respect, but a baby nonetheless.

When I think of him, that’s what I think.

He also had you.

Please see Master Ilan, Empire. He’s waiting for your final fitting.

Shall we?


[sighs] The details, they’re perfect.

For the pick stitching?

The jade, I think.

[Ilan] Shoo, shoo.


I am sorry, Empire.

I have lost weight.

I am sure your frame is…

I am shrinking.

The world is beginning to see me from a distance.


The garment is singular, Ilan.

It will be a privilege to wear it at my ascension.

Thank you, Empire.

Sh-Shall we finish the job? [chuckles]


Ilan, let’s let the girl have the stage.


Brother Dusk? I didn’t know you’d be here.

Anacreon. Thespis.

I wonder if you will speak of them after I’m gone.

We have broken the barbarians. Cast them adrift.

What would you have us say that you haven’t said?

I don’t know. I’m still trying to decide what to say that I haven’t said.

About the Outer Reach?

About anything. About whether any of this is truly within our power to control.

However many words I have left, I would hate to waste them.

You waste them when you speak of the Outer Reach.

I speak of Seldon.

A man long dead.

And soon forgotten.

Does that mean his words have no more worth in this Empire?

Brother, the Empire is strong…


Cleon I’s legacy.

I wonder if there’s a way to save it.

Stabilize it with propulsive lifts? Push it out into the heavens?

To what end?

To the end that we not destroy the last remnants of Cleon I’s dream for lack of our own.

[Day] Brother Dusk.

We are the great dream of Cleon I, not the Star Bridge.

[Dusk] The dreamer.

The scholar.

The alchemist.

And me.


I’ve tried my whole life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to make that face.

Come. Your brothers have your last gift.

I would like to thank you, Brothers, for this beautiful meal.

I can taste the care you put into each bite.

Your time and your attention is deeply appreciated.

You’re very welcome, Brother.

But this is not the gift.

[Cleon] Welcome to Trantor, the eye of the Empire.

It’s been so long.

He was glorious, wasn’t he?

Please respect and enjoy the peace.

[Dawn] Indeed.

And we will build something greater in his honor. For you.

Please respect and enjoy the peace.


[breathes heavily]

[woman singing ethereal lullaby]

[woman continues singing]

[singing ethereal lullaby]

You can’t be here. You know that.

I can’t be the first one who wanted to see my youngest self.

Which is why we made the rule.

I’ve never heard that song before. Or have I?

[footsteps approaching]

No wonder the Empire loves you so.

I find I cannot quite look on that child as an innocent.

Even if Seldon wasn’t right… [inhales deeply]

…there is something unnatural in that.

You must go.

You should rest.


[footsteps departing]

Strange, watching yourself being born.

[grunting, straining]


[Demerzel] Sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.

I saw you tonight… watching our first brother in the old Star Bridge.

Are we not enough?

Is that why you miss him?

Oh, no, sweet brother.

You are enough.

[sighs] It’s just that you always leave me.

[sighs, sniffs]

You have grown into our greatness, Brother Dawn, now Day.

Thank you, Brother Dusk.


[baby groans]

And the new Dawn, just awoken.

You have a long, beautiful day ahead.

Brother Darkness, it’s time.



The dream lives on in you.

[both] Because you kept it alive in you.

[baby Dawn crying]

Shh. It’s okay.

You’re all right.

Everything is all right.

[Dawn crying]


Something’s wrong.

[crying continues]

[singing ethereal lullaby]


I don’t forget anything or anyone.

Empire is always on my mind.


[Gaal] To be alive is to know ghosts.


We hear their whispers if we listen.

We are haunted by prophets, all.

[Demerzel] Are you certain you want it erased, Brother Dawn?


I’ve outgrown it.

[Gaal] We ignore the dead at our peril.

And as Empire cycled through a generation of Cleons, the Foundation began colonizing Terminus.

The Empire underestimated Hari. We all did.

Hari had predicted the Cleons would opt for exile over execution… that his followers’ end point would be Terminus.

[spacecraft door clanking, opening]

Every aspect of their arrival was predetermined… when the colonists would land… where they would build their outpost.

So imagine their surprise when they discovered that something else was already there.

What in Seldon’s name is that?

It wasn’t in the surveys.

Should we go back?

Go back where, Mari? This was always a one-way journey.

I’ll check it out.

No. We go together.


Lowre, are you all right?

Yeah. Yeah.

Come on.

I’m just a little light-headed. [panting]

Come on.


Get back.


Abbas! Get back.

[Gaal] It became known as the Vault.

And over the decades, countless myths grew up around it.

It was an ancient artifact left by aliens… a surveillance outpost sent ahead by the Cleons.

All the settlers knew for certain was that the Vault wouldn’t allow anyone to approach it.

And so they kept away.

The slow ship was scuttled… a refuge built from its bones.

And what was once mysterious became mundane.

Her teachers say she’s difficult.

She’s an outsider.


[Mari] You’re not listening to me, Abbas.

She’s a dreamer.

She’s distracted. [sighs]

She’s a thinker, like you.

She’s not distracted.

She’s aware.

[Mari] Just look at her. She’s fascinated by it.

It’s pretty.

[Abbas] It’s dangerous.

[Salvor] What do you think’s inside it?

We don’t know.

Then how do you know it’s dangerous?

Come on.

[soft droning]

[droning intensifies]


There you go.

Get away.




One of these days you’ll get me, and you’ll be so sorry.

You’re looking good.

Yeah, coordinated.

Which parts?

Right boot with left boot.

How did I miss that? [chuckles]

How goes the wild work?

Just got back from patrolling the highlands.

Lichen beds are shrinking. Ice lunes are already heading south.

Means we’re gonna have a nice warm spring.

Tell me you don’t miss it.

What, the stench of sulfur?

And the frostbite?

Nah, being a warden suits you a lot better than it ever did me.

Wow. That’s a big one, hey?

Yeah. Bishop’s claw, female. Maybe 600 kilos.

She’s been testing the fence late at night the last few weeks.

I’m gonna call her Maybel. She’s a loner.

Salvor, why have you got me out here at this time in the morning, huh?

I know when my daughter’s procrastinating. Come on.

I did a little test.

Something’s wrong with the null field.

And what made you check it now?

I don’t know. A feeling?

I checked it out. I got evidence.

Of course. And have you told her yet?

Wanted you to know first.

I appreciate that. But it is for her to know.

And stress the evidence part.

[man] Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Seldon,

Cleon XII established our refuge…

[man 2] In terms of timekeeping, the water clock is the more precise instrument.

[Mari] Right. But it also requires water to work, doesn’t it?

Well, obviously.

What happens when the water runs out, Novice Jord?

For a sundial, all you need is the gnomon. That’s the blade sticking out of it.

And, of course… [gasps] …the sun.

Hari Seldon entrusted us with rebuilding civilization after the collapse.

We can’t assume anything.

Whether or not our future survivors will be able to read, or what language they’ll speak.

We don’t even know what worlds they’ll be scattered upon.

What if they find themselves on Cygnus Prime, where the only moisture to be gained is from weeping vines?

So, yes, this water clock is more precise, but the sundial is more practical.

We can’t provide for every condition or contingency our descendants will face.

By the same token, we can’t preserve every innovation, so we have to choose and keep choosing.

Until the fall comes.

[Salvor] I’d have picked the water clock.

And you could have, if you were still training here.

Sorry, that was…

I know you’re suited to where you are, keeping us safe, making sure the Foundation survives…

I’m making sure you survive. The Foundation…

It’s the same thing. We are the Foundation.

I am not. But you believe. And that is fine.

No. Do not make this sound like a cult.

Some of us in our generation know what real religious fervor looks like.

Do you even wanna know what I came to tell you?

[Mari] You know I don’t like being near it.

Dad said you’d want evidence, and this you gotta experience for yourself.

The null field is expanding.

The field used to start there. Now it starts here.

If it keeps expanding, we might need to clear out the town.



I remember the first time I found you out here.

Four years old, middle of the night, standing right under it like it was… nothing.

And you wouldn’t turn when I called your name.

Yeah, I thought it was calling to me.

The ghost.

Like an imaginary friend.

I lay on the ground and tried to crawl to you, but the pain was too great.

You just… looked at me.

I couldn’t understand why the Vault was hurting you but not me.

You’re special, Salvor.

You always have been.

Then why keep it a secret?

Your father and I didn’t want people treating you differently.

Yeah, but they do, Mom. They always have.

I make them uncomfortable.

Just like the Vault.

Is it calling to you now?

Not in words.

Make your case.

I think it’s waking up.

You and the other encyclopedists, you’ve been preparing for some distant crisis.

But I think it’s here.


[girl] Gia! Keir! Guys, Hugo’s here!

Hugo’s here!

Hugo’s here! Hugo’s here, come on.

[Poly] Hugo’s here!

[Keir] Come on, Hugo!

[Keir] Hugo!

[Gia] Hugo!

[shouting, laughing]


[Keir] Whoa. Look at that! Come on.


[shouting, indistinct]

[Gia] Cut through this way!

Whoa. Hey, now. He… Hey!

Oh, you can’t get me.

[Keir] Through here.

Come on, guys. Come on. Hurry up! Let’s go!

[Gia] Poly, come on! Hurry up!


Hugo! Hugo!



[Keir] Four-sworn, Hugo!

Gentlemen, ladies. What can I do for you grown adults?

Got anything for us?

Korellian chocolate. Knock yourselves out.

We don’t want chocolate. How about some beer?

How about you come back and see me when you got hair on your chest?

And don’t come begging for it like wayward puppies.

We’re not begging. We’re, um, trading.

Is that so? What for what?

How about our sparkling wit and company?

Hard pass.

Tell you what.

If you clowns could help me load out, I might be able to scrounge up something a little more age-appropriate for you.

Deal. I’ll do it.

[all] We all will.

Go on then.

[Keir] Come on, guys.

Come on.

[girl] Keir, catch. Poly.

[Keir] I’m here.

That smells terrible.

It should. It’s sealant for my gum boots.

More onions than I expected.

I may have used the wrong recipe.

That would be a tragic mishap.

It’ll keep.

What’s wrong?

There’s a man in my kitchen.


How long are you here?

Twenty-nine long hours.

And how’s the rest of the galaxy?

Oh, it’s big.

You should see it sometime.

Should I?


[Salvor chuckles]

Irina Four.

Only one continent, but it’s tropical all over.

It’s got bugs the size of dogs and just as cuddly.

[Salvor] Mmm.

Dropped off medicine, I picked up fruit.

Such is the itinerant life of the wayward purveyor.

Where’d you take the fruit?

To Hesperus.

Which you could describe as well as me by now.

But I was off on a whirlwind tour of this little cluster.

Once they started trading, they couldn’t stop.

Little rectangular situation of workers and sugar, rum, cash.

You think you’ve got a handful of moons, you should see what they got.

The sky looks like spilled coins.

Spilled coins?


I’d love to see that.

Well, you need to go. Get off this ball of ice.

I’ve got responsibilities here.

Oh, but you didn’t pick them.

Nah, they’re still mine. And…


Is it possible to know you’ve got reasons and not know what they are?

Reasons you’re important to this place?

It’s possible. A little egotistical, but possible.

I didn’t say I was important. I said I can’t leave.


Speaking of leaving, would you like dinner now or after?

After sounds good.

[both laughing]


[Hugo] What are you doing?

Is something wrong?

Just a weird feeling. I’m gonna walk the perimeter.

What, because that’s where the weird feeling is coming from?

No, that is in here.

This is just a walk.

So if I said, uh, “Let me get my pants,” you’d say?

No pants for the next 25 hours.

Ah. Mmm.

Will you be mad later?

[Salvor] Never.


What are you doing out there?


Stop. It’s after curfew.

Hello? Hello?

[distant thud]


Who are you?

[creature chewing]




What the hell?

[Hugo] I heard a shot. What’s up?

[Salvor] Am I crazy, or is that ship Anacreon?

Oh, you’re crazy.

But not about that.

[breathing heavily]

[Abbas] And then there are three.

Hail them.

We already have. No answer.

And they’re ignoring our approach vectors.

Should we send one of our shuttles to meet them?

Your unarmed shuttles?

Those are corvettes. Gunships.

Why is he here?

Because he knows what gunships look like.

Also, he’s Thespin.

Been off-world since the bombings.

[scoffs] Impossible. That would make you…

Pushing 70. But I spent half that cryosleeping between ports.

When you tow freight to Anacreon, it pays to be blood-neutral.

Anacreon is under imperial sanction.

Grow up, Lewis.

Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe they wandered off course.

They’re literally trying to sneak in under our radar.

We are a scientific outpost. We have nothing of value here.

Mayor, have the Anacreons ever made landfall here before?

No Anacreons, no Thespins. No one in 30 years.

Under imperial edict, Terminus is off-limit to all of them.

It’s gotta be connected to the Vault.


The null field’s expanding.

I noticed it yesterday.

How fast?

The next day, the Anacreons showed up.

Technically, we are an imperial outpost.

And Lord knows the Anacreons have a bone to pick with the Empire.

Are you suggesting the Vault might be an Anacreon…

I’m suggesting the Vault knew something and reacted.

Maybe it even warned us.

Are you saying the Vault was signaling you because you’re somehow, what, special?

Salvor is an outlier.

We need to think whether the Plan could have possibly predicted…

Forget the Plan.

Seldon’s gone.

When are any of you gonna start thinking for yourselves?

All right, that’s enough. We don’t need to make this complicated.

The Anacreons have ignored our hails, and they are violating imperial aerospace.

Our course of action is obvious.

We’ll uplink to the communications buoy as soon as we hit the next rotational window.

We’ll call the Empire, and they will come.

[scoffs] Where are you going?

To check out the armory.

If the Anacreons come knocking before the Empire, I’d like to know what kind of violence we can muster.

When was the last time these were broken down?

So we’re a little complacent.

I’ve got an ion pistol, if that helps.

Mom, anything we could use in the curation stores?

A few hand axes, a shepherd’s sling from Weaver’s World.

I should’ve been on top of this.

Not your job.

No? I keep you safe, remember?

[Abbas] Come on. Come on.

Generally I propose alcohol at a juncture like this.

[woman] Rotational window’s open.

Handshake protocol. It just takes a few seconds.

[computer beeping]

What’s wrong?

Comms buoy’s not responding to any of our pings. It’s gone dark.

Use another one then.

There isn’t another one.

So, what does that mean?

We can’t contact the Empire.

Well, keep trying. Don’t panic.

Could be something as simple as a meteor shower. It’ll clear.

On the heels of an Anacreon flyby?

Assuming the Anacreons intend landfall here, how long before they arrive?

Based on their current approach, I’d say another 40 hours.




What is that?


All of Hari’s work expressed as a mathematical equation.

I took it from his office the night after his funeral.

His numbers are the basis for why we do what we do.

On the ship, there were two people who could actually understand it.

Hari Seldon and Gaal Dornick.

Can you make anything of it?

Me? No, not likely.

Salvor, if you were part of the Plan, it would make it a lot easier for me to believe in all this.

[whirring continues]

[whirring stops]

Yeah, well, big surprise.

It was worth a shot.

[Salvor] Was it?

I told you, different’s not the same as special.

Comms buoy is down.

That is an ominous happenstance.

You should probably hightail it.

Oh, yeah?

The Anacreons will be here in two days. Maybe less.

You would be safer anywhere but here.

The scenery is so beautiful this time of year.

Vast wastelands of frozen lune shit.

I’m serious, Hugo.

You tend to be.

I’m not going anywhere.

This isn’t your fight.

Oh, yeah? Whose fight is it then?



Then it’s not your fight either.


Come away with me.

I can’t.

Why not?

Because I have to protect them.

[Gaal] To be alive is to know ghosts.

The Empire feared Hari because he could forecast the future.

But, in reality, all he was doing was reexamining the past.

What do you want?

[Gaal] Pay attention to the patterns and we can presage what comes next.

To be alive is to know ghosts.

We hear their whispers if we listen.

[Salvor] You again.


Hey there.

What got you, Maybel?

This is gonna hurt.



Drop your weapon.

Who are you?

Salvor Hardin, warden of Terminus.

Anacreons aren’t allowed on imperial soil.

What are you doing here?

[Gaal] The ghosts of the dead haunt the skeletons that were once our homes.

They surround us.

And they’re hungry for what’s ours.


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