This season of Future Man has been a bit meandering, letting its characters oscillate between being super psyched for their murder mission and having them run off to alternately parent a baby, do coke and run a restaurant, and play video games in a house with a cool bathroom. Thankfully, “A Date With Destiny” pulls together many (though not all) of the threads that have been left hanging throughout the season, paying off quite a few running gags and resolving (maybe?) the story of Future Man in a way that makes sense, but is genuinely surprising.
Some of this is effective mostly because Future Man has had 13 episodes to repeat some of its sillier jokes until they work. The episode starts with Josh exasperated that he needs to explain what it means to ’69 again, but there’s a much nicer payoff when he, Tiger, Wolf, Dingo, and Owl yell enough about the two options the team had in the future to indicate that the kill zone was really a “bridge and tunnel” joke. It becomes clear early on that Dingo, played with wide-eyed rage by Carla Gallo, exists solely so that Tiger can yell “Dingo, do not take my baby!” I respect the commitment to doing these dumb jokes, I think? 13 episodes is a lot of buildup for something like this.
The presence of Dingo and Owl (played by Jon Daly) adds some additional complication to the raid on the Kronitorium, largely by contrasting the way Tiger and Wolf have changed with Dingo and Owl, closer to their early incarnations. (Also, so there can be a quick shot of a charging orgy.) Gallo and Daly are both funny enough additions to this world, though they also blessedly don’t overstay their welcome. Instead, the focus is on the trio of main characters: Somehow, Josh, Wolf, and Tiger are all simultaneously in their “one last job” phase of being saviors—Wolf even says he’s “transitioning out of demolitions.”
“A Date With Destiny” also has pretty effective action sequences. Director Michael Dowse makes the Kronitorium raid work with only a few Biotic soldiers and not much potential for real fireworks (excepting the explosion of the building, which understandably doesn’t look fantastic). In particular, I really liked Wolf’s use of the collected brain bombs in his gobulator, which manages to be a good action moment and a payoff at the same time. “A Date With Destiny” is also full of the sort of things you would expect from this kind of climactic scene, complete with ridiculous title cards and silly dialogue (“Looks like Destiny, has found her destiny”) and a montage where the raid plan gets explained while we see it play out. More of this, please!
Ultimately, everything comes down to Josh and Dr. Kronish. Tiger and Wolf assume Josh is going to come with them, back to the new, brighter future (presumably), which they admit will be new to them to. (“Nothing to do but adapt,” Wolf says, in one of Derek Wilson’s better dramatic line readings on the show.) Finally, Tiger and Wolf recognize how much Josh has sacrificed for the mission—and, appropriately, Josh volunteers to sacrifice himself by going into the possum shaft, and tells the rest of the team not to risk changing the timeline by saving him. “Why didn’t I just play Madden?” he asks himself.
Josh’s final conversation with Kronish is rather affecting, and almost (almost) justifies the amount of time spent on people arguing whether or not to kill him. It turns out that in this reality, Kronish devoted himself to discovering the cure after Leslie died of a staph infection, and he spent his life genuinely trying to be a good and noble person—only to turn himself into a hermit, on the verge of accidentally ending the world. I still am not totally over the way the middle of the season gestured at something a little bigger with the show’s future and the exact nature of the Biotic army (as well as the way The Resistance are just armed anti-vaxxers), which is something a 13-episode season probably had time to address.
Still, when Kronish injects himself with a bunch of diseases and dies, it’s pretty sad, and a fitting conclusion to the arc. Keith David has mostly been asked to play Keith David over the course of the season, but the series of emotions flickering across his face as he realizes what he has to do is a strong case for a version of this show that was just about Kronish having to decide whether or not to kill himself.
Eventually, this reality seems to settle in to a sort of stasis. Josh sends Joosh’s money to his parents, starting to make amends for the sins of his alternate self.(There’s only one brief moment with Gabe here, but given that this was likely filmed after Glenne Headly died or at least had to accommodate her absence, I’m not sure what other options the show had.) Josh has been arrested by Skarsgard, who finally gets a win after several decades of tilting at windmills, and the two of them have weekly visits in Josh’s small cell. (It turns out that the detective had pursued the case so aggressively because he was into Santiago’s widow the whole time, which is delightful in how grotesque it is—it’s also one of the first times Robert Craighead has actually had dialogue that isn’t insanely cliched). Josh is at peace—until the crackling lights suggest that Tiger and Wolf have come back for him after all.
In theory, this leaves the door open for a second season of Future Man. The creators have talked about the possibility, but not in terms any more specific than it being a “new world.” I’m not totally sure I’m on board for this—having a whole new series of goofy scenarios and drawn-out tactical arguments would probably just retread the character arcs from this season, and I’m pretty happy with the story wrapping up here. Having said that, the biggest surprise for me in the last few episodes of Future Man is the fact that I’ve grown to like these characters enough that I wouldn’t mind spending a few more hours with them, even (especially?) if the show fully commits to Back To The Future 2 and lets the characters spend a lot of time in whatever new future they’ve created. If Future Man returns for a second season, I’ll be firing up my TTD.