Saturday, November 18, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh Carries Out a Stealth Mission While Tiger and Wolf Establish a Perimeter in 'Herpe: Fully Loaded'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.02 "Herpe: Fully Loaded"

In 1969, Josh, Tiger and Wolf launch a mission to infiltrate a fraternity party and prevent Dr. Kronish from contracting herpes - but the destruction they've left in their wake quickly catches up with them.

Future Man has established itself as a story with increasingly ridiculous and absurd twists being constantly added on top of the narrative. It's often crazy just how big and expansive the problems become for the protagonists. It ensures that nothing can ever be easy or simple. Josh is trying to carry out his mission through the subtle game of cock-blocking his employer in 1969 to ensure that he never gets herpes. It's a crazy premise. And that's not even delving into the story of Tiger and Wolf creating a barricade and running into trouble with the local police and a biker gang. It's twists added on top of twists in order to intensify the story. The show believes it has wrapped everything up by the end of this episode only to then reveal that it was all essentially meaningless. Of course, it was just pointless in the mission that Josh, Tiger and Wolf are trying to carry out right now. It needs to have meaning for the audience watching this ridiculous and absurd story. It needs to show how this creative team plans on addressing time travel and ensuring that there are consequences for the various actions in the story. "Herpe: Fully Floaded" is an absolutely delightful title. This is a fun episode of the show as well that helps define the type of humor and structure Future Man is going for. And yet, it has some increasingly problematic elements as well - especially as it pertains to race. It's complicated in a way where the show doesn't really want the audience to pay attention to it. That carelessness is on full display while wanting to be fully ignored too. It's awkward. The execution is weird while not really doing anything to say something of substance that reveals something new with the characters.

Of course, this episode does provide some more context to the dystopia Tiger and Wolf come from as well. Their backstories are filled in a little bit. Those are promising developments. Tiger shares with Josh that their race has been sterilized by the biotics. They cannot reproduce. Tiger and Wolf are the youngest people in the resistance. They have no idea what babies are or how they protect themselves. It leads to the silly moment where Tiger is trying to force a woman into letting her touch her baby. It's the show perhaps trying a little too hard in order to be funny. It reveals how blunt Tiger is even when Josh is cautioning for subtlety in the past. But she comes across as overly aggressive and unhinged in a way that may not be all that endearing. It may be selling her out for a laugh. Of course, that's the point of Tiger and Wolf as well. They are these imposing figures from the future. They are trained assassins who have been fighting for the future of humanity. And yet, they are incapable of actually interacting with people from the past. They don't know how society works because they are so used to the world that they come from. There is a fascinating premise within that idea. Tiger and Wolf aren't the saviors that the world needs. They are just the soldiers equipped to aide this mission that may ultimately save the world.

Plus, it's fascinating to get the context of Tiger leading her unit to the slaughter in order to retrieve the time travel device. That piece of technology is so crucial to their mission. They need it in order to go back in time to retrieve the savior who will lead them to victory in this war with the biotics. They were expecting someone just like themselves. What they got instead was Josh. And yet, he has proven himself with information about the past that is useful to the mission. It's not a coincidence that he works with Dr. Kronish and has a solid understanding of what happened that forced him to become the scientist that created a cure for all diseases. But Tiger still carries the weight of what happened to her fellow soldiers in the future. She still carries the guilt of their deaths. She led them into that battle. She only survived with Wolf. Wolf doesn't blame her for what happened. He doesn't attribute her with the people who actually brutally killed their allies in the resistance. Of course, he's still very frustrated with her based on how much she's supporting Josh's plans. Tiger and Wolf are used to doing things a certain way. And now, Josh has come along to challenge those notions. Wolf believes it's beneath him to establish and hold a perimeter. It's just a job that Josh needs his new friends to do because they don't fit into the party he has infiltrated. It still ultimately builds to chaos because of the new enemies they've created in the past.

All of this really makes one question just how big the consequences are going to be for the main trio based on the disruptions they create in the past. Josh believes himself to be a time travel expert because he has seen a ton of movies. He keeps making references to explain how he has the skill set required for this mission. But the moment the trio landed in 1969, it's been one public display of destruction after another. Will there be any consequences to the fight that broke out in the Futturman home? Will anyone remember that Josh was there in the past? The premiere ended with Wolf throwing a bomb at a police car seemingly killing the two patrolmen inside. This episode establishes that only one died while the other is out for personal vengeance. Of course, it's really awkward and cringeworthy to watch that officer try to tell his partner's family the tragic news only for the entire extended family to gather before him expecting something miraculously great. It's great that the show cuts away before Officer Skarsgaard has to say what happened. And then, he's outside the fraternity house willing to make an attack against the people who killed his partner. The scene outside the fraternity devolves into over-the-top chaos pretty quickly. Most of it is pretty meaningless. Yes, there is this personal story of the cop who was killed because Tiger and Wolf really don't care about blending into their surroundings. Wolf decides to break a man's fingers instead of trying to figure out his secret handshake. That creates more problems. But it's then immediately resolved through chaos instead of offering a hint that these disruptions will ultimately build to something more overwhelming in the narrative.

And then, there is the party itself. It has a simple premise in Josh trying to keep Dr. Kronish from having sex with the woman who gives him herpes. It's the plan he believes will work that avoids having to kill Kronish like Wolf wants to do. That would be the simple solution to all of this. And yet, Josh is still dealing with the morality of killing someone. It's just not something he believes in doing. Instead, he becomes obsessed with this mission that doesn't really have a chance of working at all. He's just putting a lot of work into cock-blocking this guy. It's something he believes he's really good at. However, the show tries to take a more poignant approach to the situation as well by commenting on race relations of the time. Yes, it's uplifting to know that racism doesn't exist in the era that Tiger and Wolf are from. They don't understand what's going on at this time. Josh is surprised as well. It mostly just means that he has to wear a disguise in order to get into this party. And yes, there is something off-putting about a white man creating iconic parts of black history. It's all building to that moment where Josh impresses the crowd by seemingly inventing the moonwalk. He's inspired by the moon landing and needs to show up Kronish in a dance battle. But the show also thinks it's necessary to say that this is the inspiration for Michael Jackson one day making the move iconic. That's very lackluster and annoying. It's taking away the achievements of that musical legend just to produce an easy laugh in this show. And in the end, it's still pointless. Josh is soon discovered and thrown out of the party. The trio travel back to 2017 believing to have been successful in their mission. But instead, they see that nothing has changed. They just created more chaos for nothing at all. So, their heroic sensibilities come crashing back to reality once more.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Herpe: Fully Loaded" was written by Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir and directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg.
  • Cedric Sanders does a very nice job in embodying a young Keith David. He still has the same confidence and compassion as the older Dr. Kronish. But he's also an incredibly horny and confident college student as well who is getting very annoyed by this guy who is keeping him from being with the best girl at this party.
  • Wolf's amazement with pickles really should be a great running joke throughout this season. He experienced them for the first time in the premiere. And now, he constantly wants them. It's the most amusing item on the list of demands Tiger and Wolf give to the police during their hostage situation. But Wolf still doesn't know a whole lot about pickles. He doesn't know that they are always green.
  • Josh goes in for the kiss with Tiger after he believes he saved the world from destruction. It's an incredibly awkward moment that the show doesn't reward either. He believes he's had his big hero moment. He's now the action star at the center of the movie who gets the girl of his dreams in the end. But this isn't the end. Even though Tiger respects his skill set, she doesn't want that kind of attention either.
  • Josh ultimately failing in this mission either means that Dr. Kronish did have sex with that woman on the night of the moon landing or it's just destiny that Kronish contracts this disease and is solely motivated to cure it. Either option seems likely at this point. This show could possibly be delving into the universe making things happen despite how tragic the world later becomes.
  • The show also just casually offers jokes about gangs paying off cops, police brutality against African Americans and Bill Cosby as a serial sexual predator. They all seem like attempts to prove to the audience that they are current and edgy with their humor and style. Most of them fail to dig any deeper than surface level observations though.

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.