Tuesday, November 28, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh Explores a New and Better Life for Himself in 'Prelude to an Apocalypse'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.12 "Prelude to an Apocalypse"

Josh discovers that his interference in the past has completely transformed his life... for the better. Wolf and Tiger deal with the aftermath of their failed mission to the past.

There is honestly a lot going on in "Prelude to an Apocalypse." There is comedic payoffs to a couple of running jokes throughout the season - Wolf's obsession with Corey Hart, the size of Josh's dick, etc. There is the attempt to explain the latest ridiculous time travel twist and what it means for Josh's life. And finally, there is a lot of setup for the confrontation that is bound to happen in the season finale. As such, some moments that feel like they should be of greater importance and focus are ultimately condensed down to a few moments. That's a part of the joke as well. Josh is annoyed that Tiger and Wolf have lived out several years in their lives in the time it took him to walk from Kronish Labs to the Futturman house. He didn't have a sprawling adventure like they did in the previous episode. His fate wasn't seen after he left the team and the mission. So now, that life needs to be filled in a little bit. It was always inevitable that his life was going to change based on what happened back in 1985. His actions accelerated the time table for the biotic wars. The future has changed immensely. But Josh's life is much better than it was before. He is no longer just a janitor at Kronish Labs. Now, he's a celebrity at e-sports. He's famous and that provides a new sense of temptation for Josh in this mission. It's one last hurdle that needs to be overcome before the story can reach its final moments for the year. It's just a little too obvious what the show is doing while never really allowing it to linger in a meaningful way. There's just so much plot that it needs to get to.

And so, Josh returns home and realizes that he has found a lot of success as Joosh Futturman - or what he is more famously known as: J-Futz. It's this ridiculously over-the-top life. Josh walks into the familiar family home and it is completely different. It has gotten a significant upgrade. It encompasses every piece of technological advancement in this world. Josh just walks into this life. He's confused at first. His friends from the video game store played by Paul Scheer and Awkwafina are there. They appear to be members of his entourage who attached themselves to his fame and enjoy hanging out with him. There is nothing inherently suspicious about this life. The Futturmans just now have money because Barry actually listened to Josh's advice from the past and invested in AOL. And now, Josh is a celebrity when it comes to playing video games. He can just have a good time while skiing down a slope in virtual reality. It's a fun, new environment for him where the rest of the world is so appreciative and supportive of what he's doing. It's the perfect life for Josh. And then, it all comes crushing back to reality the moment that Tiger and Wolf walk through the door. They serve as a reminder that Josh really isn't from this time at all.

There's a tragedy that comes from that realization as well. Josh looks at this world and initially sees all of the greatness. The show has constantly told the audience that the Futturmans are naturally meant to be together as nice and genuine people. And so, it's crazy that suddenly being gifted money radically changes them as people. But that's exactly what happens. Josh learns that his nameless friends aren't just attaching themselves to his success. In actuality, they are working for him. So, none of this is real or genuine. It's him taking advantage of the people close in his life without ultimately caring about them whatsoever. That's why it's such a twisted joke that the show doesn't give names to these two characters. They have interacted with Josh briefly in the past. But now, they are just the illusion of friendship with the true dynamic being much more depressing than that. Moreover, the tragedy continues when Josh goes to visit his parents in the condo he has put them in. It's actually a retirement community that is absolutely horrible. It's so uncomfortable and heartbreaking to see this family connection destroyed because of Joosh's actions. There is no context for why Joosh decided to have his parents labeled as mentally unfit to make decisions. But that's exactly what happens. It means they no longer want to see him. They don't want him as a part of their lives. Gabe is angry when Josh shows up. That's such a radical difference than how that relationship has always been this season.

It means that even though Josh has all the success in the world right now he still returns home to an empty house that is full of loneliness and desperation. It's then a really twisted joke that the actual Joosh from this timeline appears. It's a chance for Josh Hutcherson to play the douche version of this character. It's a very nice transition as well. Joosh has slicked back hair and piercings. He's confident but rude. He takes one look at Josh and believes one of his competitors is trying to get to him and destroy his reputation. It's an absolutely ridiculous situation highlighted by the fact that both Josh and Joosh are completely naked. It's the show taking its ridiculous and sophomoric humor one step further. It's all over-the-top. And yet, that's exactly why it is so fitting in this story. The show pushes the boundaries by making the full frontal shot of both Josh and Joosh a part of the story. It's one thing for the show to constantly be talking about the size of Josh's new dick. It's another thing entirely to actually see it. It then becomes a wonderful payoff to a joke that has been building for a couple of episodes. It's then immediately matched by this fight between the two being over fairly quickly. Josh isn't the trained soldier Tiger and Wolf are hoping he can be. But he's able to quickly kill this timeline's version of himself. All it takes is one punch for Joosh to fall down and bang his head on the tile of the bathroom. Again, it's a sequence that highlights the visuals of it all. It doesn't linger too long. But it holds power because of what it shows as well.

The fact that there are even two Josh's right now sets the stage for the final twist of the season. Josh, Tiger and Wolf's actions back in 1985 created a new future for them to return to. As such, Josh never worked for Kronish Labs. He never beat Biotic Wars. And Tiger and Wolf never came back to the past to recruit Josh to their mission. As such, the future is more uncertain than ever before. Biotic Wars still exists. So, they can deduce that it being a training mission is still intact. There's then the hope that if Josh successfully beats it once more, then even more trained soldiers from the future will arrive ready to strike Kronish Labs. It's the show once again confirming that time travel stories are essentially nonsense. They never make sense and the twists just keep piling up on top of each other. But it's still a thrilling way to close out this episode and head into the season finale. Again, there's no telling what kind of future awaits the team just because Josh manages to beat Biotic Wars once more. There is the hope that another Tiger and Wolf will emerge with their entire unit intact. They believe that they can send a message through the game that will keep them all from dying as well. That's such a ridiculous twist that seems so crazy and out there. And yet, it still works in the context of this show. That's surprising and truly reveals that the conceit of this story has managed to work in a number of really interesting ways. And now, it's all building up to this conclusion of Tiger and Wolf wanting to destroy Kronish Labs once and for all.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Prelude to an Apocalypse" was written by Ben Karlin and directed by Michael Dowse.
  • Wolf dealing with withdrawal from cocaine feels like it should be a story that comprises an entire episode of story. Instead, it's just a very minor story throughout this episode. It's still pretty amusing - especially once those hallucinations start happening. It all builds to that moment where the real Corey Hart appears and sings a new song. That's a strong payoff to all of the mentions of him this entire season.
  • Wolf is more aware of the consequences of cocaine and addiction now. However, his main takeaway from all of this is that beating this habit is the absolutely worst because it can be done in a day but it robs you of that day. That's an effective joke as well. It proves that Wolf still really hasn't learned the lesson because he's fortunate that his body recovers much faster than the average person of 2017.
  • The episode also needs to highlight the significant changes to Kronish Labs. Josh doesn't have access to the building. Carl is still alive and is the head of security. He's just as threatening as he's always been. Meanwhile, Dr. Camillo is now the meek and uncertain scientist at this company. He easily gets seduced by Tiger once more for information.
  • Camillo notes that Kronish is now a very secretive person. He basically never leaves the top floor of his building. He's running secret experiments up there. All Camillo knows is that the possums go up alive and come down died. That's basically his job. That's his perspective of the world. Plus, he also shares that there is some big announcement that is coming in just two days.
  • While Tiger is easily seducing Camillo once more, the action cuts away to Detective Skarsgaard now being a beat cop again. He's simply writing a traffic ticket when he notices Tiger. He now has double the scars. But the vendetta is still in place. He ultimately doesn't do anything in this episode though.
  • It seems like the show is dealing with Glenne Headly's tragic passing by not really mentioning it in the text of the show at all. Diane is just constantly referred to offscreen. When Josh and Gabe meet at the retirement community, Gabe explains that Diane is just too angry to ever see him again. The context of the story is still deeply felt. But it's also apparent that something is missing. Something that the show ultimately had no control over.

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.