Just to get this out of the way: I have not seen the film Fatal Attraction. It is entirely possible that the bulk of this episode, a farcical series of misunderstandings in Dr. Kronish’s house involving Josh wearing fishnets and chaps, a gay reverend, a dead cat, and a prostitute with excellent ’80s hair is much better and funnier when you incorporate all of the references to the movie. From where I’m sitting, though, “Operation: Fatal Attraction” is a solidly sketched outline for an episode that someone forgot to edit.
There are definitely some solid filmmaking moments here, including a few shots of people peeping between the slats of a closet, Blue Velvet style, and it’s easy to imagine a version of this episode that follows everyone throughout the house a bit more frenetically, ramping up the pacing to build both comic energy and tension as Josh tries to convince Dr. Kronish to leave on the boat with Leslie while Marigold tries to get him laid for his birthday. This one, unfortunately, is not quite that. All of the performances are funny (especially Cedric Sanders, who is pretty great at channeling Keith David as the younger Kronish), but “Operation: Fatal Attraction” is a textbook streaming TV episode: Its good elements are all visible, but there’s no guiding hand steady or severe enough to make sure that those elements cohere into a better whole.
The central joke of the episode is, unfortunately, that Leslie is actually a dude, which means that Dr. Kronish is a long-suffering, closeted gay man. Future Man didn’t need to do a long, heartfelt story about how difficult it is for Kronish and Leslie to be in this position—but it also probably didn’t need to treat their sexuality like a dumb twist. There’s a fine line between having Josh’s discomfort be the joke when he gets trapped under the bed while Leslie and Kronish have sex, and having the sex actually be the joke, and it’s not quite clear which side “Operation: Fatal Attraction” is on.
Marigold comes into her own more as a character here, too, a more-or-less archetypal domineering woman who holds on to her loveless marriage mainly so the ladies at church won’t gossip about her. She pays for a prostitute to service her husband in order to maintain their relationship as a formality, which, through a series of misunderstandings, actually inspires Kronish to want to stay in the marriage, assuming she knows about his sexuality. (Also, he can’t quite bring himself to confess his true feelings to his wife.) By the end of the episode, Kronish’s marriage and life are a huge mess, screwing up Josh’s attempt at nominally caring about “free will.”
Meanwhile, Wolf gets really into beach volleyball, which is unsurprisingly delightful. (Hunting for him later, Tiger sees the indentations made by the volleyball as skulls, and Eliza Coupe’s stunned horror is one of the better moments of the episode.) I know it isn’t what Future Man is actually trying to do, but I would 100% watch a show that was just Wolf escaping from his dystopian future to slowly discover his true calling as an intensely homoerotic ’80s guy, complete with a friend named Blaze (played by Parker Young) and a dog ready to book a bunch of TV commercials.
Wolf has fully cut loose, to the point where he quits as a member of The Resistance when confronted by Tiger, who attempts to rein him in by taking a page out of Marigold’s playbook. It’s one of the first major character decisions to feel truly earned over the course of the season, and I can only hope it leads to a spinoff series about Wolf hanging out with Corey Hart, especially since Future Man has drawn out the central question of whether and how the team will need to kill Dr. Kronish far past the point where I was willing to invest in it. Like Wolf, I can only dream of a better life in the 1980s.