Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh, Tiger and Wolf are Separated Through Time in 'Beyond the TruffleDome'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.11 "Beyond the TruffleDome"

Torn apart by internal divisions, the team is scattered throughout history, as Tiger and Wolf reckon with the way the mission has changed them and the possibility that they might fail.

Future Man successfully pays off a lot of character development in "Beyond the TruffleDome." This episode barely features Josh at all. Tiger kicks him off the mission for good after they return to 2017 to see that things are much worse. They are able to deduce that Josh telling Kronish about his future sped up the process of his research. It's important for Tiger to share that it was only Kronish's research that ultimately led to the cure of all diseases. His work on curing herpes led humanity onto that path. And now, Josh's interference in the past has sped the timeline up by 50 years. That's very damaging with the consequences swift and severe for Josh. Tiger is determined to get rid of him for good and all of his crazy plans that never work. But that also means that the three central heroes of this story are separated throughout all of time. Wolf chose to stay in 1985. Josh is left behind in 2017. And Tiger travels back to 1949 to kill Dr. Kronish as a baby. It's the story finally reaching that climatic moment that it has been teasing for the majority of the season. And now, it has finally arrived. It comes at a time of great internal turmoil for all of the main characters. "Beyond the TruffleDome" splits its focus evenly between Tiger's adventure in the 1940s and 50s and Wolf's increasingly crazy life in the 1980s. It's absolutely ridiculous. But all of the humor hits so well because it is well-informed by the journeys they have been on throughout this entire season. Josh may be absent for most of the hour. But the pull of the central mission and the desire to have more out of life is still defining so many of their actions.

Tiger was always the one more devoted to the mission. She was the leader of the group. She was the one leading the charge even when it ended in tragedy for her unit. Now, it seems like she is the only one left. She allowed Wolf to leave. She didn't kill him despite that being the punishment for desertion. She couldn't carry out that punishment. She has formed personal connections with the other people trapped in this twisted time travel story. However, she feels like she is all alone in this world. She is the only person still devoted to the mission. She feels the urgency in the situation because of how much Josh screwed up in 1985. And now, she's continuing on by herself. She's ready to kill a baby. She is welcomed into Kronish's childhood home by his mother, Estelle. She has the opportunity to kill him while he is weak and defenseless. And yet, she can't ultimately go through with it. It might be because of her new desire for family. She doesn't want someone to feel the same loneliness and isolation that she has for the majority of her life. She has never known a family before. Or perhaps it's because she learns that Kronish's father was a soldier as well. He lost both of his legs at war but kept on fighting to improve the lives of others. He was an honorable man whose service Tiger can understand and respect. All of this informs her inability to actually kill Kronish as a baby.

And then, Tiger just becomes a part of this family. It's fascinating to see the story jump ahead a couple of years. The protagonists have the ability to do that because of the time travel device. But that's not the case here. They actually experience time as it's actually happening. Tiger assumes the identity of Tiane. She becomes a part of the Kronish family. She helps Estelle care for Elias. It's a purpose in life that brings her new meaning. She understands the importance of her main mission. But she keeps finding herself telling Kronish that she'll kill him tomorrow. It's an action she keeps delaying and delaying. She has found a home and a family. It's all inevitably going to end in tragedy. This is the life Tiger wants to be living. But it still takes an extra push from the world around her for her to realize it's just a fantasy. The show has a pretty cool trick in dramatizing all of this as well. When Tiger is comfortably living inside this bubble, she's just a part of this black-and-white world. She fits in just like everyone else. But as soon as the illusion pops, color is restored that proves that Tiger stands out in this time and place even after several years have gone by. She still has the purple hair from a dystopian future. She is pushed out of the house because Estelle has found a new man to marry and start a family with. She no longer needs Tiane. And in the end, Tiger just can't bare to kill Kronish because she has formed a connection with him. A connection that only she will be aware of for its personal significance.

So, Tiger jumps back to 2017. She returns to the sewer that was the lair for her and Wolf. She returns wanting that relationship once more because Wolf is the only other person in the world who understands what she's going through. When he left, he said that that connection wasn't good enough. But now, that anguish from time apart is defining both of their stories. Tiger finds a note left behind by Wolf detailing the life he lived. It's an even more crazy and absurd story. It always had to be. Wolf has always been the more crazy and ridiculous character. And so, he needed to spend time in the 1980s becoming involved in this really over-the-top story that builds to him becoming addicted to cocaine. It's a story of his rise and fall in the city. The show is able to concisely tell his life story in such a meaningful way in just a few minutes. He was made into a soldier but now he's willing and able to pursue his passions as a chef. He starts his own restaurant that literally kidnaps people to provide them with a unique dining experience. That's extremely traumatizing and illegal. But it also leads to a successful business venture for him. He has a solid partner in Blaze who will do whatever Wolf asks him to do. Plus, he has an expanding client list that includes a number of celebrities - including Cher, Julia Roberts, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis and The News, etc. But this story of success is all ultimately ruined by a cocaine addiction. This season has found a lot of great humor in Wolf getting high on drugs. Cocaine is no exception here. He views it as a magical substance that everyone should try - even after his life has been ruined by his addiction.

But the truly heartbreaking moment of Wolf's story comes when he realizes that a simple recreation of the world he came from isn't enough for the people of the 1980s. He's still all alone in this world. He's friends with so many well-connected and influential people. He has found a lifetime of success and happiness. But everyone just perceives it to be an act instead of something that is real to him. That's sad and tragic. He desperately wants to form this connection with the rest of the world. He's cooking these dishes that speak to his upbringing. He finds a new twist on them to make them as delicious as possible. But it's still just a niche that makes this restaurant stand out from the rest. The customers don't actually walk away with a stronger understanding of the world Wolf came from. Only Tiger knows that. And he believes he completely burned that bridge. There is no grand reunion coming for him. He's stuck in this time because of the decision he made. It all comes crushing down when he tries to start a fight club for food. He wants people to battle to the death in order to enjoy his latest creations. It's a conceit that no one else truly understands. They don't believe they are actually fighting to death. Even after blood is shed, it's confusing for everyone. That's isolating to Wolf and makes it seem like he is losing his mind to the rest of the world. He has lost so much that he's ready to die. He wants to be killed by Detective Skarsgaard after confessing to the death of his partner. But in the end, that's not the fate awaiting him. Tiger is able to jump back to safe him just in the nick of time. It's a grand reunion that is quite moving to see. These two characters were pushed away from each other. But now, they release how much they need each other in their lives. They are the only two people in the world that could possibly understand the horrors that they've endured over time.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Beyond the TruffleDome" was written by Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir and directed by Wendey Stanzler.
  • It's a little awkward that Detective Skarsgaard is played by Robert Craighead in both 2017 and 1992. The show cast younger actors in the previous episode for Gabe and Diane. That's a similar age range. But here, the show just wants to point out the absurdity of this character simply by throwing a ridiculous wig on Craighead and asking him to speak even more horrible one-liners.
  • Perhaps Skarsgaard's grand purpose in this entire story is to shoot at the time travel device when Tiger comes to rescue Wolf which ultimately destroys it. That means that the core trio are now stuck in 2017. They no longer have the technology to travel through time and fix the mistakes of history. Now, they are stuck in whatever life they have created.
  • Plus, there's the punchline of Skarsgaard being knocked out by Tiger rather easily once more. This time he gets matching scars for the other side of his face. That's a brutal image. But again, it's the show treating the character as a walking punchline who can't be taken seriously as a genuine human being. That's just weird. It doesn't work because the one-joke premise is especially lame.
  • Years have passed by since Tiger and Wolf have seen Josh. And so, it'll be inevitable that it has only been a few days for him. That's the magic of time travel. Josh will reunite with his fellow soldiers in this war with them having these completely new experiences that have changed them. Meanwhile, he'll have whatever future was awaiting him in 2017 - which will need to be explored as well.
  • The cocaine addiction is even more tragic for Wolf because it rids him of his sense of taste and smell. That hinders his ability to be a good chef. And yet, the show still gets a number of ridiculous reveals out of the crazy lengths Wolf will go to for this addiction - including having Blaze blow cocaine up his butt.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.