From unique bio-organisms, hybrid monstrosities, and sentient androids, Isaac Asimov’s cosmic universe is filled with archetypal creations that have influenced the lore of a number of other franchises. One of the major factions of Asimov’s verse, the Mentalics, was introduced in the second season of Apple TV+’s Foundation, adapted from the novel series of the same name. Mentalics are psychically enhanced beings who can communicate, project, and interact through telepathy. Through Gaal Dornick’s central role in the narrative of the interplanetary saga, the Mentalics are explored further, and their role will be integral in the upcoming world-building of Foundation, including the arrival of the series’ most important figure, the Mule. Let’s take a look at the connection established with the unique community and what role mental health professionals might play in the future.
How Did Gaal Learn About Mentalics?
The second season of Foundation opens on Synnax, Gaal Dornick’s home planet, where she meets with her daughter Salvor Hardin and eventually reunites with her mentor, the AI construct Hari Seldon, who escaped from Prime Radian. According to Hari, Gaal’s absence in Terminus during the creation of the Foundation and subsequent actions resulted in a deviation from the original timeline, which means humanity has to face several crises from this point onward. Gaal also mentions the recurrent premonitions she was having during the course of the first season, and Hari suggests she project her consciousness into the future to learn about her visions.
Doing so, Gaal comes across the despotic adversary of their future, the Mule, whose emergence has left death and devastation in its wake. Gaal’s vision shows the Mule demanding to know the location of the second Foundation from her. The location of which, by probing deeper in her own memory, Gaal learns is to be on the planet Ignis. Reaching Ignis, the trio finds themselves surrounded by the Mentalics, the Sighted Ones, and their mercurial leader, Tellem Bond.
Why Did Mentalics Seek Refuge in Ignis? What are their abilities?
Gaal and Salvor learn that Ignis is inhabited by mentalics—gifted individuals like themselves who can use their psychic abilities to great effect. Due to their extraordinary powers to perceive their surroundings, mentalics are treated with extreme prejudice across the galaxy. While Tellem was one of those few Mentalics who were revered and hailed as gods among mortals, the less fortunate ones were ostracized across the galaxy. For example, Salvor later learns from the teenager Josiah how his entire family was killed just for being different than the ‘normal’ populace, and he was left to die. Tellem took him under her wing just like she did with numerous other hapless Mentalics and brought them to Ignis, which became their safe haven. However, Gaal will learn much later about the nefarious plans of Tellem Bond, which we will discuss soon.
Mentalics can communicate with each other through “unvoicing,” a process by which they can share information and visual recollections and hold conversations without using any form of verbal communication. In fact, the people of Ignis consider regular conversation a sort of rude way of greeting. Mentalics also have a higher sensitivity to the emotions of every life form, as shown when Gaal herself reacted to the pain of the ghost mollusc. Mentalics can subject others to degrees of different emotions as well and have the ability to project visual suggestions and ideas onto others minds and manipulate their thoughts.
Depending on the levels of their psychic powers, Mentalics can essentially hack the minds of the opposite party, as shown when Salvor Hardin could unknowingly read minds of the people of Terminus or how Loron, one of Tellem’s associates, tricked her by taking the guise of her lover, Hugo Crast. Using the ability to project visual suggestion, Tellem initially fooled Gaal and Salvor into believing that Hari fled from the planet, whereas she held the master mathematician captive and tried to kill him. Tellem stated her wish to Gaal of letting her take on the responsibility of leading and protecting the Mentalics in her absence, but in reality she wanted to transfer her consciousness into Gaal’s body.
The more experienced and powerful Mentalics like Tellem apparently have the power to possess and even take complete control over others bodies, and if she could have taken over Gaal, who is a strong Mentalic herself, Tellem’s power would have increased manifold. It is revealed that transferring consciousness is how she has been alive for centuries and exerted ultimate control over the people of Ignis, forcing them to do deplorable acts to suit her personal cause. Fortunately, Tellem gets a taste of her own medicine when it is revealed that Gaal protected Hari by using the visual suggestion ability as well, and the trio put an end to Tellem’s tyranny. However, the last-ditch attempt by Tellem to seek revenge on Gaal results in Salvor sacrificing herself to protect her mother and killing Josiah. Tellem wanted Gaal and pretended her motive was to hand Gaal the responsibility over the Mentalics; in the end, she indeed becomes their liberator and leader. During her upcoming battle against the Mule, the army of Mentalics in the second Foundation will be of major importance as well, which is another point we would like to discuss.
What Is The Purpose Of The Mentalics?
The second season ended with Hari and Gaal, still mourning the loss of Salvor, going into cryosleep with the Mentalics of the Foundation standing guard over them. The duo will train the Mentalics for the inevitable war that will spread throughout the galaxy during Mule’s ascension, and it remains to be seen how well they will fare against the despot in the future.
The Mule himself is a mentalic, a glimpse of whose powers have been shown by the way he detects the presence of Gaal and Tellem in the past through Gaal’s vision. In Asimov lore, Mule is not just an outlier; he is an absolute anomaly who will wreck up the precise calculations of psychohistory in a major way. To even have a chance of tackling the threat posed by him, Gaal will need the assistance of an army of psychics. The brief appearance of the Mule on two occasions this season is enough to hype up series fans and hints at the manifold roles the unique community of Mentalic will play in the future.