Finally, an episode of Future Man full of cool stuff happening. “Operation: Natal Attraction” takes place entirely over the course of one night, evenly divided between Josh’s efforts to ensure that Kronish is on the boat with Leslie and Tiger’s attempt to get Wolf back on board with the mission. Only one of them is successful, and it’s a ton of fun to watch.
Start with the Tiger-Wolf plot, since it feels much more compressed, and frankly a lot more effective. All of their scenes take place in and around the Corey Hart show, which is worth it if only for the moment when the assembled crowd cheers after Tiger asks why they’re wearing their sunglasses at night. Tiger rallies a group of distressed teen girls waiting outside the back of the venue, and eventually sacrifices them to security in order to get to Wolf. (This makes a lot of sense for Tiger, but I was hoping for some bonding along the lines of her scenes with Diane.) She and Wolf fight, including a moment when Wolf traps her in what looks like a giant guitar case, and another when Tiger kicks Wolf clean out the side of his car. (Most of this is, of course, set to “Sunglasses At Night.”)
This works well, but not because of the fight choreography (although it’s not bad) or the music (although at this point, I’ve come around on the show’s Corey Hart obsession)—it’s because the characters have actually managed to have a fight with real stakes. Derek Wilson has been a champion comedic actor for most of Future Man, but this is the episode where he finally gets to be dramatic. Lines like “I’ve found the best future, and it’s in the past, right now, 1985, the present” are funny, but they also convey the extent to which Wolf is tired of fighting and wants to just hang out in the ’80s. Who can blame him? Even if they succeed in the mission, they’d be “strangers in a world we don’t know or understand.” In a moment of mercy, Tiger lets Wolf live instead of killing him (as Resistance rules dictate), and the last we see of him in the episode is in the midst of the crowd, going nuts for Corey Hart.
Meanwhile, Josh manages to finally live out the plot of Back To The Future. He shows up at his family house for some reason, and walks in on the party that brought his parents together. Over the course of the episode, he tells everyone his name is “Joosh” for some reason, does nitrous with his dad, convinces his uncle Barry to apply for a job at AOL, and, uh, gets to second base with his mom. (I, for one, was surprised by the gratuitous topless shot here, though I guess I should’ve have been—it’s almost as much of an ’80s cliche as the story moment itself.)
James Austin Johnson is pretty excellent as the younger incarnation of Gabe here, channeling all of Ed Begley Jr.’s dad mannerisms in a way that make them seem pretty cool—albeit in an ’80s, nerd-adjacent way. His delivery of lines like “You can’t spell funnel without fun, am I right?” or “It’s his first time doing nitrous” or just his very rigid dancing body language work well as a way to get the viewer a little more invested in the Back To The Future problem of whether Josh will actually be born.
A lot of “Operation: Natal Attraction” is pretty predictable, from the inevitable discovery that Josh has mixed up the two women and discovers mid-grope that he’s making out with his mother to the way he faints from getting a boner with Wolf’s dick. (Also he says “hachi machi” for the second or third time in the series, which means someone in the writers’ room is either a huge fan of The Critic or My Brother, My Brother, And Me.) But those moments are still pulled off pretty well, especially the quiet shot of Josh lying in his mother’s lap while his father tells him he’s instantly forgiven for vomiting everywhere.
Eventually, Josh does make it out of the party, and points the rifle at Dr. Kronish with the inevitable “Come with me if you want to live.” Here, Josh tries the time travel honesty tactic, showing Dr. Kronish the selfie he took with his older Keith David incarnation. It seems like this has, finally, worked—but when Josh and Tiger jump back to 2017, they encounter an enormous, evil-looking Kronish-branded tower. Oops, time for Back To The Future 2!