Every story needs a great villain. A perfectly written antagonist who makes the hero realize their shortcomings and, in turn, helps them become a better version of themselves. In the Foundation universe, we do not want to consider Cleons as Gaal’s worst nemesis for two broad reasons. Firstly, the war with the empire was never Gaal’s battle; it was Hari’s because they had killed his wife, and the man made a promise to himself to tell the world about the empire’s dark future. Secondly, the Imperium symbolized a system that needed change, thereby becoming more of a circumstantial threat than a direct one. For these reasons, Gaal never came face-to-face with Cleon or the Empire as much as Hari did. But Hari is not the hero of our story. Foundation started with Gaal and perhaps will end with her, but before it ends, our hero needs to defeat her enemies, i.e., The Mule and Tellem Bond.
Who is the Mule?
It wasn’t until the second episode that we were introduced to an adversary who was bound to create havoc in Gaal’s life. He was a mentalic who went by the name ‘The Mule.’ The man had a strange appearance, but what fascinated us more was his role in Salvor Hardin’s death. It was after such a long time that Gaal finally met someone she could call her own, someone she didn’t want to lose ever again. But for what it is, we often tend to lose people we cherish the most, and for Gaal, there was only one. Her visions foreshadowed Salvor’s death, after which she became obsessed with the pursuit of saving her daughter at all costs. Gaal had seen The Mule in her visions, and therefore she believed that it would be him who would kill her daughter some 150 years later. The thing with visions and prophecies is that they often tell the truth in the most cryptic way possible. Perhaps The Mule killed Salvor Hardin in the second season of Foundation, but just not in the way we expected.
Who is Tellem Bond?
Tellem Bond, the seventh bodily incarnation of Pa’a, considered herself none other than the god, and maybe that was the reason why she didn’t really like Hari Seldon, who was slowly turning into a god himself at the other end of the galaxy. According to Tellem, it was she who created the community of the sighted on Ignis and made it her life’s mission to search for other mentalics throughout the galaxy and bring them safely to Ignis.
Like all great villains, Tellem obviously had a bigger plan. She was after Hari’s Prime Radiant and wanted to destroy it so that he wouldn’t be able to create a Second Foundation. Maybe Tellem knew that Hari and Gaal were going to turn Ignis into the Second Foundation and use her disciples as followers of the same. Maybe she knew that Hari Seldon was a threat to the grand scheme of things and she tried to kill the man to protect her own interests. Tellem revealed to us that she was the savior of all the sighted people, but considering the revelations made in the end, we are not sure if we can trust her words anymore. She must have saved Josiah and the others from the human attack, but it is also possible that she was the one who incited those attacks to gain the trust of the telepaths and build an army of loyal mentalics.
What was Tellem’s real plan?
Tellem, like a mysterious nemesis, never really revealed her true intentions to the audience or to Gaal and Hari Seldon. She kept telling Gaal that she wanted her to become her successor and lead the mentalics after her. Maybe it is in these words that one can find Tellem’s real motives. She wanted Gaal to succeed her, but not in the way we believed. Throughout the centuries, Tellem had been switching bodies with the mentalics. She had the power to relocate her consciousness, something that we had seen with Hari Seldon, who found a body in Foundation Season 2. We are not sure whether it was always Tellem’s intention to switch bodies with Gaal or if she did so because she failed to convince Gaal to fight on her side. Nevertheless, transferring her consciousness to Gaal’s body became Tellem’s ultimate goal before she was finally stopped by Salvor Hardin.
Is Tellem the Mule?
Before Tellem begins the ritual to transfer her consciousness, she reveals to Gaal that she switches bodies every six or seven decades to preserve her youth and life itself. She also laid out the fact that her powers grew considerably with each new reincarnation, which meant that if Tellem had continued transferring her consciousness, then someday, she would become the most powerful being in the universe–someone as powerful as the conqueror, the Mule.
As we all know, Hari Seldon mercilessly bashed Tellem Bond’s head in to get rid of the evil forever, but somehow, Tellem transferred her consciousness to Josiah’s body at the end of Foundation Season 2. At this point, it won’t be wrong to say that Tellem had been saving other sighted children, not to give them a safe haven, but to use them as vessels for her own eternal longevity. She had even tried to contact a young Gaal centuries ago and might have brought her to Ignis if Hari Seldon hadn’t intervened. So, even though the second season of Foundation leads us to think that Josiah was the last body that Tellem possessed, we really want to entertain the possibility that her consciousness escaped the planet somehow. She might have realized that she was no match against the mighty Gaal, and therefore she might need more and more reincarnations to amplify her powers so that she could finally be able to put up a worthy fight against her ultimate nemesis.
Like The Mule, even Tellem was afraid of the Second Foundation and knew that Hari wanted to turn her followers into an army of his own so that they could become soldiers in a fight against The Mule. The conqueror is a mentalic himself, which means that he couldn’t be stopped so easily, and thus, Gaal and Hari might need a group of telepaths to control his mind or contain his powers. For what it’s worth, Tellem and The Mule seem to have a similar motive and, in the end, a common enemy in Gaal Dornick. Hence, it won’t be wrong to speculate that either both of these people are the same or somehow related to each other and just want one thing: to get rid of Gaal as quickly as possible. In the upcoming seasons of Foundation, we can also expect a one-on-one battle between these two powerful mentalics and find out who will really win this war. We are certain that it is Gaal who will be hailed as the hero in the end, but how she defeats her worst nemesis would be a treat to watch.