Friday, November 24, 2017

REVIEW: 'Future Man' - Josh, Tiger and Wolf Have to Rescue Diane Before Going to the Past in 'Girth, Wind & Fire'

Hulu's Future Man - Episode 1.08 "Girth, Wind & Fire"

The end of the mission is in sight as Tiger and Wolf prepare for one final jump into the past. But when Josh's mom is kidnapped, Josh refuses to let Tiger and Wolf leave before they mount a daring rescue to save her.

"Girth, Wind & Fire" is a really unfortunate episode that kills a lot of momentum for the season. It's basically just a pitstop in 2017 before the rest of the story can continue. There's nothing wrong in this show setting an episode almost entirely in 2017. Some of the best episodes of the season were set in 2017 - "Justice Desserts" and "A Blowjob Before Dying." And yet, "Girl, Wind & Fire" has the awkward timing of following the show's terrific James Cameron episode. That episode was just such an absolute delight. The tone of the show was consistent throughout. And now, it just seems like the show is right back in stalling mode. It's coming up with a bunch of plot complications to ensure that Josh, Tiger and Wolf aren't successful in their mission until the end of the season. The stalling techniques in this episode though are just really lame and uninspired. There just isn't a whole lot of purpose for what happens in this episode. It's mostly just introducing some new exposition to explain why Josh believes there is a way to stop Dr. Kronish from developing the cure for herpes that doesn't include him being killed as a baby. Yes, he gets that information for Tiger and Wolf. He is willing to hand it over to them as well. But it's also abundantly clear throughout this episode that Josh isn't quite done with this mission yet despite Tiger and Wolf saying it's fine for him to stay in 2017. But the plot mechanics to ensure that this mission goes off the rails just don't make a lot of sense. Nor are they all that entertaining. This show can be very nonsensical and fun. It's charming when it's delving into the complete ridiculousness of time travel. But right now, it mostly feels like a chore to get through some of these plot developments.

The most glaring problem of the narrative right now has to be Detective Skarsgaard. He is such a laughably bad character. The thinking behind his inclusion in the story just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Yes, there needed to be consequences to Josh, Tiger and Wolf going back to 1969 and killing someone. The complications that arise from the team traveling through time are easy to understand and an inherent part of the genre. Tiger and Wolf are soldiers from the future who don't care about subtly doing anything. They just wanted to do the big and explosive thing. Josh has always cautioned more nuance to their mission. It's meaningful that there are lingering consequences to the death of Skarsgaard's partner. And yet, the characterization of Skarsgaard is so horrendous. He is a one-note character who keeps repeating the same phrases over and over again. It wasn't funny the first time he repeatedly brought up the need to find justice for his partner's death in 1969. Nor is it funny now when Diane has a surprising amount of knowledge of the case solely because Skarsgaard keeps bringing it up. And then, it's all building to the moment where Skarsgaard actually says: "I thought I was out but the fax machine pulls me back in." That's the show's attempt at subverting the expectations of this particular character. But there is just no function for him in the show other than to complicate things for the main trio. It's all treated as a punchline to the actual story without really being funny at all.

Of course, the stakes of what's going on in 2017 are real. It was clear when the biotic soldiers stormed the Futturman house that something bad was about to happen to Gabe and Diane. And yes, something unfortunate is happening to them that threatens to pull them into this ongoing conflict even more. However, it's just a case of mistaken identity. Josh, Tiger and Wolf don't need to storm a biotic prison to free Josh's parents. Instead, Diane has been arrested by Detective Skarsgaard for the death of his partner because Tiger submitted the DNA test under Diane's name. It's that explanation that allows Tiger to be willing to mount this rescue mission. She's ready to go back to the past and kill baby Kronish. And then, she learns that her actions have inadvertently caused a lot of pain for Diane. As such, she is torn and willing to help free her. It's a story that plays into the increasing conflict between Tiger and Wolf. He has found himself really falling in love with the past. He's learned new things about himself that he actually wants to explore. Meanwhile, Tiger is holding steadfast to the mission and preaching that this isn't their world and they can't form connections with these people. It's just all building up to the resolution of Diane being released early on because her DNA doesn't match the sample while Tiger learning more about her ancestors of 2017 doesn't really amount to much.

And yet, a huge battle still plays out at the precinct. Diane was released with very little harm to her. Meanwhile, Tiger and Wolf go inside largely because it's convenient for the plot. It means Skarsgaard gets to meet the people who killed his partner with a taped confession. But he's not able to do anything about it because he's too out of shape to actually stop them and because the biotics in the department quickly start fighting. And then, Josh is just outside sitting in the car with his parents. They are confused about what's going on. He finally tells the truth. It's again a surprisingly easy conversation to have. Everyone in this world is completely okay with the premise of time travel and Josh being a central hero of that mission. Gabe and Diane even encourage him to rebel against them because he has never done it before. All of this is very encouraging. It gives Josh the confidence to go into the precinct to continue on this mission with Tiger and Wolf. It's just a lot of familiar plot beats about the team racing against time and biotics to make this leap into the past. It's a ton of action without a whole lot of subtext or subtlety to it. Yes, the team knows each other better. But conflicts are still apparent between them. Some of them are silly - like the time travel device now swapping certain body parts of the people traveling through time. And some of them are really important - like Tiger and Wolf's developing connections to life in 2017.

But this entire episode is building to an inevitable conclusion as well. It's expected that Josh, Tiger and Wolf will make the jump into the past no problem. Sure, there's some problems because Wolf loses his right big toe. But that's minor in the larger scope of things. There's also a fire rampaging throughout the city in 2017. It's a fire that Josh, Tiger and Wolf started after blowing up their vehicle instead of chopping up a bunch of dead bodies. That could be a fascinating complication in the future. Or it could be nothing because they've traveled to the past with the intent of changing the future once more. And yet, they haven't gone back to Kronish's birth. Instead, they've traveled back to the 1980s in order to ensure that Kronish follows his heart to embrace a life at sea with his greatest love. It's a story that Josh only hears about for the first time while he's trying to get information out of Kronish regarding his birthday. It's a really expositional moment in the middle of this episode. It's basically just the show laying the foundation for the next story that ensures that it hasn't gotten to the point of killing a baby. However, it can already be expected that Josh has this bold plan to change Kronish's past without killing him, Tiger and Wolf disagree, Josh succeeds despite resistance from some biotics and the team returns to the present day where nothing has changed stirring the debate about killing a baby once more. That seems too formulaic and the show better change up its pattern otherwise it's about to hit a rough patch.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Girth, Wind & Fire" was written by Matthew Bass & Theodore Bressman and directed by Nisha Ganatra.
  • There's a completely random moment where Dr. Camillo pops up and attacks Josh for ruining his company. He emerges as a crazed man with an out-there theory about where it all went wrong that just so happens to be right. And yet, it means nothing. It just serves as a good distraction for a couple of story beats before Tiger is quickly able to knock him out and steal his car.
  • It's very emotional to see Wolf say goodbye to Gabe not expecting to ever see him again. It comes after Tiger and Wolf have decided to leave for good for their final mission. It also follows Josh being ridiculed for wanting to have a big elongated goodbye to his friends. It's funny because of that. But it's also touching because of how important that relationship is.
  • This is also just a show that is in love with a good dick joke. However, the dick joke that opens this episode is a little too awkward. It's not helped by the fact that the new special effects when it comes to traveling through time look cheap and uninspired. It's then followed by Josh and Wolf swapping dicks and being surprised by what this change to their bodies means.
  • Those dick jokes are a part of the tonal whiplash going on in the show's overall tone as well. Things also stand out when Josh is trying to get information from his father about what happened to his mother by asking how attractive the police officers were. It's strange and completely unique to this show. It just stands out in an awkward way as well with very little payoff.
  • The show set up a great expectation in incorporating James Cameron into the story and it then delivered on it. So, the show has been teasing Corey Hart for even longer. And now, the team travels back to the 1980s and immediately sees a poster for a Corey Hart concert. That better not be a misleading tease. It better be a part of an even more epic payoff.

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.