Monday, November 20, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh Has to Prove His Worth By Getting More Fuel for the Time Travel Device in 'A Fuel's Errand'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.04 "A Fuel's Errand"

In the wake of the disastrous attempt to assassinate Dr. Kronish, Tiger and Wolf kick Josh off the mission. When they realize their Time Travel Device is compromised, Josh makes a deal: if he can get them more fuel, they'll let him back on the team.

It definitely feels like a stalling technique for Future Man to produce a story about the time travel device running out of fuel. Tiger and Wolf have a new plan of attack to stop the biotics from rising and creating their dystopia. They want to go back in time and kill Kronish while he's a baby. It's a plan where they no longer need Josh. All he has done is make matters worse by getting involved. That argument can easily be made considering the number of changes to the present day that are because of their actions back in 1969. But it's also a case of the show creating some story tension in order to delay this main narrative for as long as possible. Tiger and Wolf have this new plan. But they aren't close to actually enacting it any time soon. This episode is defined by their search for more fuel for the time travel device. That ends with the tease that the next episode won't be a journey into the past either. Of course, there is excitement elsewhere in the narrative. This show basically thrives on the absurdity of the narrative. And there needed to be some resolution by the conclusion of this story. So, there are many interesting complications that are utilized in order to expand this story for as long as possible. Again, they are obvious stalling techniques. But when moments like that happen in the story, the show needs to make up for it with solid character beats. And yes, it's still amusing to see Tiger and Wolf interact with the world of 2017. But it also feels like this episode is a lot of style without a whole lot of substance to it.

The time travel device runs on fuel that was unique to the future Tiger and Wolf come from but hasn't been discovered yet in 2017. They were told by their friends from the future that they would be able to find this fuel no matter where they landed in time. That once again proves that the soldiers of the resistance really have no understanding of the past whatsoever. That has been an amusing recurring theme throughout this season so far. It feels true to the nature of the story as well. The resistance has been oppressed for so long. They have been sterilized. And so, it's believable why they don't know a ton about the hundreds of years that led to this moment. In order to win this war, they need to travel through time. The biotics are the ones with the time travel devices. Tiger and Wolf were lucky to steal one. It cost them the rest of their squad though. And now, it's clear that the fuel doesn't last long in these devices. Tiger and Wolf only have enough for one last trip through time. They could go and kill baby Kronish now. But Josh points out that they would be stuck in the past should that action change nothing from the future. It's again him pointing out his knowledge of time travel stories even though he has made numerous mistakes in his adventure through time so far.

And yet, Josh wishes to remain a part of the team despite everything that has happened. Tiger and Wolf have kicked him out because he seems like a complete hindrance to the mission. He got in their way to kill Kronish on multiple occasions. He's morally against killing a baby even though Tiger knows that they are weak and defenseless humans. Tiger and Wolf are willing to find more fuel by themselves. They no longer see any importance to Josh continuing to work with them. And yet, Tiger and Wolf ultimately only get high in their quest for the fuel. That's an amusing realization. Plus, it lands them straight back to the sewer just outside Josh's house. It's their makeshift lair for the time being. It's a familiar environment to them even though it's absolutely gross and foreign to Josh. Josh pleading to get back on the team if he can find fuel is understandable. He wishes to remain a part of this mission because it's the most purpose he has ever had in his life - even though they are constantly destroying the life he has for himself. He doesn't want to be stuck in this new timeline having to pretend that he's had all of these other life experiences. But he's also very appreciative when he sees that some things haven't changed despite the meddling he did back in 1969.

It's encouraging to Josh that his friends at the video game store still work there and are exactly the same. In fact, it's fortunate that the girl was still in a relationship with a chemist. He just needs to covertly get that information out of her so that he can reproduce the fuel that Tiger and Wolf need for the time travel device. Of course, subtlety really isn't these characters' strong suit. They are blunt and stand out no matter where they go. They are causing destruction in 2017 just like they did in 1969. However, it's empowering when Tiger threatens to kill the guy who is sexually harassing her at this store. She doesn't have time for that. She has no idea what he's talking about when he mentions how great her cosplay is. Josh's friends just believe that he has hired someone to dress the part of his sexual fantasy. In fact, they respect him more for that because it shows just how much of a creep he is. Again, this is broad characterizations for the gaming community. It's a situation that finds its humor in gamers being these lonely people with sick and twisted pervasions. It's only in embracing that that Josh's friends seem to respect him. That's awkward and a little off-putting. And then, it's just building to that simple resolution of Josh getting the information he needs simply by telling them the truth. Sure, he sounds crazy when he's detailing a mission that includes time travel and the need to save the world. But his friends treat it as perfectly sane and wish him good luck.

Of course, Josh doesn't get an appropriate warning about the chemist he is meeting. Lyle was simply dating the girl at the video game store. It was a bad breakup and she never wants to see him again. But she doesn't warn Josh that Lyle also happens to be a drug dealer who appears to be running a front for a local gang. That means the situation escalates pretty quickly once he discovers just how miraculous this fuel sample actually is. He understands the science of it in a way that Josh, Tiger and Wolf don't. He can lure them into a trap in the hopes of exploiting it for his own personal benefit. Again, it's just a way to increase the tension heading into the climatic beats of this story. Everything needs to be over-the-top and full of action in this show. Those are the plot beats the show is actively going for. And so, it's not surprising that this fight ultimately breaks out. The show gets its humor from Wolf once again consuming drugs that he's never heard of before. In this case, it's cocaine. That's a huge step up from the marijuana he consumed earlier. It has a different reaction with him that makes him even more animated and brutal. That's amusing to watch as the guys at this lab have no idea just how skilled and lethal Tiger and Wolf are capable of being. They can easily kill all of them. They don't ultimately care about the drugs or the money. They are simply getting out of a bad situation with the fuel that they came for. Of course, they don't leave with more fuel. Instead, Tiger gets the idea that they should just steal another time travel device. That's an intriguing premise for the next episode. Tiger and Wolf did it once in the future. And now, Josh has access to the building that is seemingly home to more pieces of biotic technology. They may just need to steal more fuel from the building. But it's much more likely that they'll go after the time travel devices in the hopes of making it more difficult for their enemies to track them through time as well. But more importantly, Josh is back on the mission because he can provide access to the building. Tiger and Wolf are more than willing to use him as bait in the process too.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Fuel's Errand" was written by Dan Mirk and directed by Anton Cropper.
  • The list of things from the past that Wolf is now in love with includes pickles, marijuana, street meats, cocaine and Corey Hart. That last one produces a solid comedic beat as well. "Sunglasses at Night" just happens to be the song playing in the Lyft car that takes Tiger, Wolf and Josh to Lyle's workplace. And Josh is more than willing to give Wolf more of what he likes.
  • It really is impressive just how much of the comedic sensibilities of this show ultimately fall onto Derek Wilson. Josh Hutcherson and Eliza Coupe are strong as well. But they carry more of the actual story. They are the ones who are driving the narrative forward. Wolf is mostly along for the ride and having a lot of fun in the various times he lands in.
  • It's very amusing to watch Josh have to fight in order to keep future technology out of the hands of people in 2017. Tiger and Wolf can handle the violent criminals back at the lab. But it's up to Josh to stop Lyle from running away with the fuel. It's a pretty even match between the two as well. Tiger and Wolf are finished long before Josh but let him have this moment of being an action hero.
  • The act of recharging after a mission should be a recurring story and not just a one-off joke. It was very effective because of how visual it was in the previous episode. But now, the show has new context for that act as well when Wolf says he's okay recharging with either Tiger or Josh. That's just commonplace in the time he comes from. So despite it being a dystopia, it's nice to see that racism and homophobia have gone away.
  • A complication from the past is bound to interrupt Josh, Tiger and Wolf's plans for the future as well. It's important to see these lingering consequences too. Wolf killed a police officer in 1969. And now, it's revealed that his partner - Detective Skarsgaard - has been looking for answers for all of these years since. And now, he has a new, promising lead on the people who killed his partner. That's a pretty ominous threat.

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.