This Future Man review contains no spoilers.
“Do you know how many times we’ve turned a death sentence into a life paragraph?”
“A true artist never repeats himself,” is said in the first episode of Future Man’s final season and this show has managed to embrace that ideology every year. This series mixes things up in fun ways for each of its three seasons, but this final year takes the biggest swings yet.
In a show that’s deeply interested in consequences and self-discovery, this last season explores those themes in its most significant ways yet. The concluding chapter of Future Man is bolder, crazier, and more cathartic than ever before. As much as this season breaks the show’s formula and goes off the map for these last installments, they’re also a glowing love letter to the series and why it’s so special. With nothing left to lose, Future Man promises that its goodbye to these characters is highly memorable.
The whole “Most Dangerous Game is Man” angle has become increasingly popular lately, whether it’s through a horror or comedic lens, typically with some degree of social commentary baked in. Future Man takes this route with its Diecathlon game show competition that was teased at the end of season two. However, the series wisely calls out its valid comparisons to Running Man and gets critical of the premise. This comedy knows how to take enough unexpected risks to still make this familiar angle feel unique.
This new setup is a glorious way to take these fantastic characters and throw them into a problem that’s somehow even more extreme than getting launched forward or backwards through time. They’re subject to a number of death games and the screen is overloaded with visual gags that poke fun at the abundance of game shows and how people have been conditioned to consume media. All of this is taken to an absurd extreme since it’s thousands of years in the future.
There are some extremely clever setups that revolve around a critical self-awareness surrounding television and entertainment as a whole. This again taps into that darkly satirical Running Man (or even Idiocracy) energy and while it’s hardly void of death and horror, it focuses on the comedic aspect of it all as life has fallen into this much of a cesspool. While this Running Man structure is the starting point for this crazy season, in many ways these episodes become a larger celebration of the films from Schwarzenegger’s ‘80s oeuvre with the unpredictable direction that this season takes. Each episode almost becomes a different genre pastiche as characters are flung to a completely different scenario and adopt different personas in order to adapt.
This last season still plays around with familiar tenets from the series like time loop shenanigans and secret puppet masters, but in new ways. It explores the inevitability of time, fate, and how some greater events cannot, or rather should not, be avoided. Josh’s commitment to his friends and his dedication towards his cause is tested for the last time as he must finally figure out what he wants in life as he prepares for an end to adventures and a normal life.
Wolf and Tiger are pushed in similar ways as they search for a renewed sense of purpose. Everyone gets broken down and rebuilt numerous times over. Future Man has fun as it plays around with new dynamics between its characters as they learn who they are as individuals and as a team. This final season is really all about the loving family that’s been built between these unconventional individuals and that acceptance can come from unexpected places.
These episodes really turn into a meditation on faith in many ways with some surprising Biblical allusions and connotations, but it never becomes too preachy with its direction. This eventually takes such an outrageous turn where I literally could not believe what I was watching and the places that this season was willing to take its ideas. Just when you think you’ve figured out or have a grasp on this season, things completely explode and change.
Future Man’s concluding season evolves beyond the Diecathlon premise and every episode manages to do something very different as the series riffs on many of its best ideas, but with new twists. The season turns into a manhunt for time fugitives in a way that makes Future Man more like “Anywhere Man” as the series playfully jumps between time and space and doesn’t feel restricted in any capacity. This season operates at a relentless capacity that forces Josh and company to always be moving.
These episodes are divided in a way that takes these characters to very different places as they deal with their new positions outside of time. This final season doesn’t hold back and just goes for it as everyone is out of their league for this last adventure. The first half of the season is relatively restrained (or as restrained as a show like this can be), but the second half of the season is where the wheels really fly off and Future Man gets more ambitious and insane than it’s ever been as it prepares to say goodbye.
Future Man is still full of clever jokes that revolve around how far the future has come and the ridiculous ideas and sciences that have become the norm. These are nicely paired together with some amazing sight gags. Time paradoxes get played around with in smart and visually stunning ways. This season also contains some extremely trippy concepts that lean hard into the science fiction angle of the show and reaffirm that this is one of the most creative comedies on television.
On top of all of this, the dialogue is still aggressively funny and clever in a way that’s almost upsetting. There are many lines and pieces of wordplay that made me laugh out loud hard and get distracted over their brilliance. The series also ends with one of the funniest gags that I’ve ever seen a show go out on.
Future Man’s final season is a remarkable conclusion to this delightfully weird story. It’s full of its routine insanity, but it understands that the characters are what are really important and their story here does them and this series justice. These episodes are so good that it’s frustrating that there are only eight of them to go through. Each installment is so densely packed and Future Man guarantees that they all deliver and that this is an incredibly tight and focused season of television.
Future Man goes out on top with a confidence that many shows strive for, but few actually achieve, all of which helps reinforce why this comedy should be seen as a modern classic. And if Future Man did botch their ending, they’d probably just go back in time to fix their mistake.
Maybe they already have.