Foundation: What Exactly Is The Vault? (& Why No One Can Reach It)

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Foundation: What Exactly Is The Vault? (& Why No One Can Reach It)

The first episodes of Foundation revealed a mysterious artifact called the Vault, generating a null field repelling all living creatures.

The first episode of Foundation introduced the Vault, a mysterious object on Terminus – an idea lifted straight from Isaac Asimov’s novels and short stories. When the Foundation colonists arrived on Terminus, they found a mysterious artifact there that they had not expected. Ominous and foreboding, it hovered above the planet’s surface transmitting a so-called “null field” that drove away all living creatures. No doubt its presence originally shocked the colonists, but over time it became an accepted part of life on Terminus, and children played games with it, daring one another to press on into the null field.

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The colonists called this the Vault, presumably somehow sensing that it serves as some sort of repository. Foundation episode 1 opened with Warden Salvor Hardin rescuing one child from the null field, who asked her when she thought it would tell her what it meant. Hardin appears to be unique, somehow resistant to the null field, and promotional shots for Foundation have shown her reaching out as though to touch the Vault. But what is this object, and what secrets does it contain?

In Isaac Asimov’s novels, Hari Seldon learned to use mathematics to make astoundingly accurate predictions of the future. He successfully identified a number of so-called “Seldon Crises,” key moments when the future of the entire galaxy would be decided, and he left his colonists with a Vault designed to open at just the right time and impart crucial knowledge through holographically recorded messages. It is reasonable to assume the same principle holds true in the Foundation show’s world as well; that the Vault was sent to Terminus ahead of the colonists, its null field designed to keep people away until the right moment when it will open. The curious question, though, is how exactly Salvor Hardin fits into this; the null field, and her resistance to it, are entirely original concepts in the TV series.

Hari Seldon was a secretive man in Asimov’s books, but he is even more so in the TV series. As Jared Harris – who plays Seldon – observed in one interview, the Foundation TV show can be likened to a chess game between two skilled players – the Emperor on the one hand, and Hari Seldon on the other. Like the best chess grandmasters, from the onset Seldon is thinking of the endgame, moving pieces into place for just the right moment. The Vault is one such piece, allowing him to exert an influence on the Foundation decades – perhaps even centuries – after his death. It is likely that, just as in the books, the Vault will open at a given Seldon Crisis so a recording of its creator can pass on knowledge and advice.

But Salvor Hardin’s resistance is troubling, because it is difficult to say whether Seldon factored her into his calculations. Psychohistory may allow a scientist like Seldon to foresee the future of a civilization, but it is much more difficult to predict the actions of individuals – still less those of a person who was not even alive when Hari died. It is entirely possible his Foundation plan has already been undermined.

Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, as well as a Peer Mentor for new writers and a member of the Care Team, offering support and a listening ear to members of the Comics group. A lifelong fan of major franchises including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel, Tom is delighted his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. You can find him on Twitter @TomABacon.

A graduate of Edge Hill University, Tom remains strongly connected with his alma mater as a volunteer chaplain. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will swiftly learn he’s into British politics too.

The colonists called this the Vault, presumably somehow sensing that it serves as some sort of repository. Foundation episode 1 opened with Warden Salvor Hardin rescuing one child from the null field, who asked her when she thought it would tell her what it meant. Hardin appears to be unique, somehow resistant to the null field, and promotional shots for Foundation have shown her reaching out as though to touch the Vault. But what is this object, and what secrets does it contain?

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