Have you been watching Foundation? Apple TV+ dropped the first two episodes of the Isaac Asimov adaptation last week, and so far a lot has happened. For actor Alfred Enoch, who plays Raych Seldon, episode two, “Preparing to Live,” was particularly monumental. io9 got a chance to speak to the Harry Potter and How to Get Away with Murder actor about Raych, particularly what the character goes through that brings him to a breaking point.
While the Raych we meet in the series is a bit different than the book version—he’s still the adopted son of genius mathematician Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), though certain other details are changed—Enoch was still able to draw upon the source material while working on his portrayal. “All the stuff in the text is a starting point, so you kind of dive into it to see what works, what doesn’t, and then hopefully you’re in a position to sort of make sense of the words and the actions of the character,” Enoch told io9 over video chat recently. “I think one of the key things in that respect as it pertains to the bit of time that we’re dealing with in the show is the relationship between Raych and Hari. There’s a very, very strong relationship there that is not just professional. There is that professional element, but probably more substantially, more importantly, you have that father-son parental dynamic. That’s something the show gets into and provides a lot of dramatic fuel for the fire.”
As far as that professional element goes, “Raych is sort of Hari’s assistant, but not in the kind of conventional sense,” Enoch said. “He’s not the kind of assistant you’d maybe imagine an academic having. It’s a bit more hands-on. He’s no mathematician. That’s not where his genius lies, but he’s practical and he can look after himself and others. And that’s sort of what he’s called to do. [Raych] has a kind of a big role to play in Hari’s conception of how to move things forward with his plan. So there’s a lot of responsibility there and the stakes are very high. As we know, we’re dealing with a plan essentially to save humanity and human knowledge. What’s complicated is the balancing act between that and the personal relationship. And when those things start conflicting, that’s when we start getting fallout.”
In the series, the Hari-Raych relationship begins to take a turn when Hari realizes that, mathematically, the Galactic Empire is doomed. The dynamic becomes even more upended when young math whiz Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) arrives to work with Hari, and instead finds herself joining both of them and Hari’s other followers when they’re exiled to a new planet on the far end of the galaxy. On the journey, Raych and Gaal end up forming a tentative romance. “[With Hari, Raych, and Gaal], they sort of form this strange triangle. That creates quite an interesting situation where, in a scene with any of the two of them, the other one is this kind of implicit unseen factor, the kind of elephant in the room,” Enoch says. “The way they’re all relating in pairs and as a three becomes a kind of ball in the air to juggle, a situation that has huge repercussions going forward.” What repercussions, you ask? Well...
After Raych learns from Gaal that Hari’s endtimes theory might have some key pieces missing, he stabs his father figure, then puts Gaal in a cryosleep-enabled escape pod before sending her off to parts unknown. It’s a startling turn for a character whose loyalties had, seemingly, only just begun to waver. “In a sense, we’ve outlined a lot of the dynamics at play, and there he is trying to navigate those opposing forces,” Enoch said of Raych’s drastic action. “Speaking of that episode, it’s brilliant. I remember [starting the script for] episode two and I went, ‘Wait, what’s going on here? ‘And I got to the end, and I was shocked. It was shock, after shock, after shock. But there was something really satisfying in finding the story twisting and turning in that way, but it feeling very well-motivated and not feeling gratuitous.”
Despite the surprising parts of the show—the stabbing is by no means the only act of violence we see in the early episodes—Enoch thinks Foundation is still a hopeful story. “I hope it’s something that, yes, entertains people, but encourages people to reflect on the way our society is or where we fit within our relationships with authority and learning and the importance of it. I [hope] it causes people to reflect, because I think that’s something exciting that can happen when we’re presented with a world that is different from our own, that can shed light. It gives us a perspective—maybe at a bit more of a distance we can start seeing things we might not have noticed otherwise. If it provokes a little bit of thought as well as entertaining people, I’ll be very happy with that.”
New episodes of Foundation arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
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