Monday, November 20, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh, Tiger and Wolf Force an Office Holiday Party to Go Awry in 'Justice Desserts'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.05 "Justice Desserts"

Tiger, Wolf and Josh work to unmask the Biotics undercover at the Kronish Labs Christmas party. Meanwhile, Josh grows closer to his coworker Jeri as she helps him avoid the obsessed policeman hot on his tail.

"Justice Desserts" is the best plotted episode of Future Man so far. Every other episode this season has felt like the creative team embracing the tendencies of a movie instead of really experimenting with the formula of a television show. Yes, there have been clear and distinct episodes this season. But they also featured a lot of plotting that was just mixed and matched throughout the narrative. It never felt like all of the ideas were culminating into something exciting. There was a sense of inevitability while also delaying the gratification in the main story for as long as possible. But now, the show is entering the middle of the season. It's about time for things to start paying off. The narrative needs more than complications. It needs to have twists that will actually resonant with the main characters. And that's what makes the premise of this episode so much fun. Josh, Tiger and Wolf actually have the time to formulate a plan and then execute it. It shows that they are growing and evolving. They are working better as a team. Josh is realizing just what this war is asking him to do while Tiger and Josh are learning how to better interact with the world of 2017. Sure, it's been awhile since this time travel show has actually made a jump in time. It's been stuck in 2017 for awhile now. And yet, that's perfectly fine too because it makes sense in the story. The narrative could be very erratic if the comedy was just constantly making jumps to various different time periods. This way it allows things to have a better understanding to them. Sure, not every plot detail works in this episode. Detective Skarsgaard is increasingly coming across as a one note character who needs to mention the death of his partner who had a pregnant wife in 1969 in every single conversation. But the rest of this episode more than makes up for that shortcoming. It's a fun adventure that also gives the team a pretty definitive win.

The story of "Justice Desserts" is really quite simple too. Josh, Tiger and Wolf know that there are biotics hiding out in Kronish Labs to protect the timeline from attacks by the resistance. They know that these biotics must have time travel devices and fuel. The fuel for these devices is common in the future but not in 2017. And so, this is the only strategy that the team has in order to keep making jumps in time. Sure, it's all building to the moment where Tiger and Wolf want to kill a baby Kronish. They are still very determined in that plan. This is just the latest thing they need to do in order to complete that mission. They need to figure out which of the humans at the company is actually a biotic in disguise. That way they can then torture them and learn where the time travel devices and fuel are being stored. But that comes with the added complication of each biotic being equipped with a bomb in their head that will explode once activated or captured. It's a nice failsafe that complicates the mission for the resistance. That's the war Tiger and Wolf have known for a long time. But they have to wage this battle in a new way. They need to learn new skills in order to do so. And pairing Tiger and Wolf up with Josh's parents may be the most delightful thing the show has done so far.

Of course, Gabe and Diane Futturman really haven't been important to the story at all. They have only made brief appearances. They pop up to show the kind of life Josh has lived that has allowed him to be so desperate for purpose once Tiger and Wolf arrive. They came from the future with this mission. Meanwhile, Gabe and Diane have just been overly loving of their child and encouraging of whatever he wants to do with his life. They love him as a janitor just as much as they would love him as a scientist. And now, that parenting is being used on Tiger and Wolf. It's probably the first case of affection they have ever been shown. They grew up in a world that was all about fighting. They are soldiers. That is their complete identity. And now, Gabe and Diane have no idea what's going on. They just believe that Tiger and Wolf are veterans in a job training program to avoid being homeless on the streets. They don't see their peculiar behavior as anything out of the ordinary. And so, it's delightful to watch Diane teach Tiger the art of seduction. Yes, looking sexy can be empowering to women. But it's also a very effective way to get men to do whatever they want. It's great that Diane has to correct herself in saying that all men think with their dicks. It's a valuable tool that she teaches Tiger that quickly is utilized at the party. Meanwhile, Gabe is able to discover that Wolf is actually a really talented chef. It was the job he was born to do. That could start its own identity crisis within Wolf. He's only been a soldier. But now, this new talent has emerged and the fate of the mission ultimately depends on him being successfully able to make this poisoned dessert.

Meanwhile, Josh is just trying to ensure that the party actually happens. Of course, it's reasonable to believe that Camillo would want none of it to happen after Kronish made all of their research public information. He's a very selfish and greedy man. He has no problem smashing all of the trays of Kronish Balls once he discovers them. The show does skip how the party actually comes to fruition after seemingly being cancelled. But it's also more important to see the complications that come up while at the party. Tiger believes she has mastered small talk only to then be completely useless when standing in front of Kronish. She's wanted to kill him for so long but can't do it here. Meanwhile, Wolf feels the pressure to make new Kronish Balls in just ten minutes despite that being physically impossible. And Josh is just building up more of a connection with Jeri. That's the romantic angle of this story. She's the only other person at the office that he is forming a bond with. With Kronish, he's just exploiting that connection because he knows details about the future. But with Jeri, he's genuinely interested in her. And yes, the show does straddle the line of Josh being either creepy or romantic. The show commenting on that probably wasn't necessary. But it's also completely in line with how Josh would interact with the world. He knows people through their trash. He needs to stop doing that. But it still ultimately gets the kiss from Jeri in the end.

And then, Jeri is revealed to be a biotic. That was such an inevitable twist. The show established that biotics were just regular employees at the company. In order for the reveal to be meaningful, it needed to be a character the show had already introduced previously. It couldn't just be a random employee from pay roll or a security guard. Yes, those are the initial reveals. It produces yet another action sequence where Tiger and Josh need to fight biotics. But it's also such an epic payoff to this story as well. The beginning of this episode establishes what the side effects of Wolf's baking will be. And then, it actually delivers on a roomful of people vomiting and shitting themselves. That's so completely in line with the tone and humor of this story. It's a visual that the show just goes for and makes as ridiculous as possible. Plus, it's building to that tragic but revealing moment where Jeri is discovered as a biotic. Again, it's not surprising because someone at this company needed to be one. Once Camillo was eliminated as a threat, it seemed pretty obvious that it would be Jeri. That makes it the most personal and devastating for Josh. But it also sets up an elaborate fight between Tiger and Jeri that builds to the excellent conclusion of Tiger using her new heels as a weapon. That then produces a fantastic setup for the next episode. The bomb in Jeri's head was only damaged not destroyed. So now, the team only has 28 minutes to get the information that they need. That should be very intense and amusing to see play out in the next episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Justice Desserts" was written by Melody Derloshon and directed by Anton Cropper.
  • It's weird how Josh fails to mention to either Tiger or Wolf that Detective Skarsgaard has held a grudge for the death of his partner and is continuing to chase them. It's clear that he's very determined to arrest them for this crime. And yet, his only lead is Josh. He has Tiger's hair. But that seems unlikely to come up in any database of information. But Skarsgaard also knows a lot about Josh and where to find him.
  • Of course, it's also amusing to see the lengths Josh will go to in order to hide from Skarsgaard. Jeri is even helping him hide as well. Plus, it adds to the show's running joke about the number of possums this business kills for their experiments. It's another gross and surprising visual. But it then has the payoff of Josh accidentally picking the wrong bin to hide in.
  • And yet, it's also incredibly convenient that Skarsgaard never runs into Tiger at the party. He knows that he is chasing a woman with purple hair. Tiger is the one who disfigured him in the past. He now has her hair as evidence. She's the only one at the party with that hairstyle. And yet, she's too busy distracting Camillo while Skarsgaard soon becomes unable to do anything after eating a ball.
  • Wolf goes from literally breaking a dozen eggs with his bare fists to a master chef in just a day. That's really impressive. And yet, that moment where he's breaking those eggs is just so ridiculous. Derek Wilson and Ed Begley Jr.'s reactions are pretty terrific. Plus, it provides nice insights into how Gabe parents by hugging no matter what. It's probably the first hug Wolf has received as well.
  • Digesting those balls immediately poisons the person too. That's completely surprising. At first, it seemed like the show was varying the response times so that it could enjoy a shot of everyone at the party enjoying the dessert. But then, it speeds up the process once Skarsgaard eats one. But it's all pretty consistent as well - especially with the chaos that reigns because of them.

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.