“Beyond The Truffledome” scatters Future Man’s heroes to different time periods, meaning the main cast shares few scenes together. It’s chunkily paced, with an extended sequence depicting Tiger’s time in the 1940s and ’50s before diving into Wolf recounting his glorious time as an ’80s guy. Josh Hutcherson is barely in it. It’s easily the best episode of the season.
Those scenes with Hutcherson are just at the beginning of the episode, as an exasperated Tiger explains to Josh that Kronish himself doesn’t create the Biotics; his work was carried on for decades after his death resulting in the Kronitorium, the evil-looking tower-slash-lab where the universal cure is finally developed. But thanks to Josh (who Tiger memorably calls “fuck nose”), the Kronitorium has already been built in 2017, 50 years ahead of schedule. This is what happens when you tell people about their future!
Fed up with the delay in their mission, Tiger finally jumps back to 1949 to kill baby Elias Kronish. where she encounters Kronish’s mother, played by Diona Reasonover. There’s a tinge of caricature here, but the heightened effect of the rest of the scene balances it out a bit. Wendey Stanzler, who does really excellent directorial work throughout, uses a series of shots highlighting different ways Tiger could kill the baby—an ax, a fire, etc. But she can’t bring herself to do it, after learning that Kronish’s father was a heroic veteran of World War II who lost both of his legs in unimaginably heroic ways. (The way this part of the scene escalates calls back to the scene in episode two where Skarsgaard tries to tell Santiago’s family that he’s dead.) It’s a bit weird that this woman would just hand her baby to a total stranger, but apparently it pays off—we jump forward one year, to Tiger living as “Tiane,” and then to 1952, in a mostly black-and-white sequence where she inevitably gets kicked out of the Kronish house.
In theory, the last images of this part of the episode—Tiger wearing a vintage dress and clutching a locket with photos of Kronish’s family after leaving a knife in the baby’s crib as a gift—are a good payoff to her long-time fascination with babies, as well as her repeated insistence that they just have to kill Kronish as a baby for the greater good. Unfortunately, the scenes are funny (especially Eliza Coupe’s delivery when she sweetly tells baby Elias that she’ll kill him tomorrow), but the shagginess of the season so far means that even when it’s clear what “Beyond The Truffledome” is doing, it still doesn’t quite cohere. (Although it does make Tiger seem more and more like Leela from Futurama, which is truly a gift.) Thankfully, the episode really kicks into high gear when Tiger jumps back to 2017, only to discover an altar to the life of Corey Wolf-Hart, who was apparently killed in a shootout in the sewer.
I feel like a broken record continually focusing on how good the “Wolf is an ’80s guy” material has been, but it feels like the part of the show that everyone had the best handle on, and brought the most joy to. Accordingly, the apotheosis of this thread—the bulk of an episode spent on Wolf narrating his rise and fall—is the best thing in Future Man to date, a spot-on riff on the excess-fueled rise and fall elevated by Derek Wilson’s wild-eyed willingness to overcommit to the insanity of the material. And of course, it starts with a montage set to “Hungry Like The Wolf.”
Wolf has successfully started Wolf-Hart’s, a restaurant in a condemned building that you have to get kidnapped to eat at. (Thanks to Blaze, who asks no questions and is committed to being a supportive partner for Wolf up to and including blowing coke up his ass.) Every little touch here is fantastic, from the plating (which is really excellent prop design) to the keytar to the overlay-highlighted presence of celebrities ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Cher to Huey Lewis and The News. (Or, as Wolf puts it, “More stars came in Wolf-Hart’s than in Rob Lowe’s Malibu fuck-pad.”)
Thankfully, “Beyond The Truffledome” also refuses to drag—the ’80s material takes up the bulk of the episode, but Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir’s script hits every beat so aggressively and so quickly that the episode never wears out its welcome. Wondering when meth fan Wolf is going to get into coke? He tells you: “There was no downside to cocaine. Period.” Wondering what, exactly, is going to be the weird eccentric thing he starts doing once his decadence ceases to fill the void in his life? Wolf tries to give his customers a scavenger’s palate, feeding them maggots and rats of the sort you would find in his home time. Wondering where the consequence is for his coke use? Wolf loses his senses of smell and taste to cocaine (like Stevie Nicks). And finally, realizing he was foolish to abandon Tiger (in this scenario, his “original,” real friend), Wolf starts a fight club—the Truffledome.
After sending Blaze off to the safety of OJ Simpson’s guest house, Wolf calls the ’80s version of Skarsgaard (who Wolf seems to have a bit of a crush on) to commit suicide by cop. It doesn’t work—Tiger shows up in the nick of time to rescue Wolf and bring him back to 2017. Except that a final bullet breaks the time travel device, which means that now Wolf, Tiger, and, uh, Josh, I guess, are stuck in the present with no Cameronium. Climactic!