In many ways, David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman’s Foundation has proven to be a less-than-faithful adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s book series, but it’s not lacking for interesting ideas—chief among them, the triumvirate that is the Galactic Emperor.
Brother Dawn (Cassian Bilton), Brother Day (Lee Pace), and Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) do have ties to the book, as they’re clones of Cleon I. But they are their own manifestation of an empire in decline; and, despite representing a Lee Pace-level of genetic perfection, they’re not above having their own sibling squabbles. Brother Dawn has been hiding the fact that he isn’t as in sync with his brothers, for fear that they’ll destroy him. (Even a nanobot-protected clone’s life is rough.) But as we see in this exclusive clip from “The First Crisis,” the penultimate episode of season one, Brother Dusk clearly knows something is up.
The Brother Dusk played by Terrence Mann here is a very different incarnation of the character; this is the man who, after the bombing of the Star Bridge, ruthlessly ordered the attacks on Anacreon and Thespis, and staged the executions of emissaries in full view of Brother Dawn (who was still a child at the time). Now he seems ready to turn on his brother, and it’s a moment that Mann—not to mention fans of Mann’s work as Whispers, the antagonist on Sense8—has been waiting for all season.
Asked about the “relay race” aspect of their performances, Mann says he, Pace, and Bilton worked hard to be identical in some settings, while still making sure that they were bringing something new to each stage of the Galactic Emperor’s life: “We established that there are things that we do, which you’ve seen in season one, where we’re at dinner and we have these sort of idiosyncratic movements that are identical among the three of us.” This technique, which The A.V. Club also discussed with Pace, was most effective for the dinner scenes, and really underscored how attuned to each other the brothers seemed to be early on.
But Mann says they weren’t actually “trying to be each other later in life. We just tried to hang on to the storytelling and the humanity of who the three of us are at any given stage.” The actor describes Dawn as “the innocent; everything is happening to him. And Day is the character on the center throne, trying to make everything happen and rule the galaxy.” As for Dusk, he’s trying “to be the wise grandfather or sage figure in it all.” He emphasizes that the brothers “aren’t like triplets. We’re not like three people who are automatons or robotic about it. And I’m hoping that that’s what’s sort of intriguing about it. That we’re genetically identical, but different in terms of our temperaments and the variations that are in that.”
The series explores what it means to be human through characters like the Brothers and Demerzel (Laura Birn), the android who, just last week, seemed much more capable of compassion than Brother Day. Mann is intrigued by Goyer and Friedman’s interpretation of Foundation’s heady themes, but he also thinks the show’s appeal is even more straightforward: “There’s palace intrigue, and always trying to know who’s doing what and when they’re doing it, no matter how trivial or how important it is, because everything impacts a person being able to be in power and being able to control things. You can go through history from a thousand years ago and this kind of shit was going on. This kind of stuff was happening.”
As for whether or not the Brothers are good or bad, Mann says, “There’s that saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s probably true when it comes to the Cleons, but we’re also trying to just save the universe for us at this point.”
Similarly, Brother Dusk’s intentions toward Brother Dawn aren’t clear-cut; he might be looking out for the more naïve clone, or getting ready to swap him out for a more “identical” copy. What we do know is that things are going to come to a head in “The First Crisis,” which hits Apple TV Plus at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, November 12.