The following recap contains spoilers for Hello Tomorrow! S1E7, “Another Day, Another Apocalypse” (written by Stephen Falk and directed by Ryan McFaul)
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I’ve been in on Hello Tomorrow! since the beginning, but that said, these last couple of episodes have really taken the show to a new level. I can’t wait to see where this is heading as the season culminates over the next few weeks, as the plot is far more interesting than I thought it would be at first, and the stakes more meaningful, too.
I wondered last week if perhaps Jack (Billy Crudup) always intended to somehow follow through on Brightside’s promises, given how we learned that he does indeed seem to own some property on the Moon, which he inherited from his father. Episode 7 all but confirms that this is the case.
On the one hand, this takes the feeling that Jack is a delusional narcissist up a notch: he thinks he’s justified in selling people on a better tomorrow he can’t plausibly make exist based on a groundless belief that he’ll somehow manage to make it happen. It’s really hard to think that holds water because it definitely does not, but it does suggest that Jack isn’t self-consciously scamming people so much as overestimating the extent to which he can realistically succeed.
Last week, I suggested that the only way he could make things right with Hank (Joel Marsh Garland) and the other customers he’s lied to would be to have never lied to them in the first place. What’s clear now is that Jack truly believes that maybe he can unburn casseroles, unmake soup, and pull an existing rabbit out of a nonexistent hat.
And, doggone it, I’m rooting for him! (This is what is on the other hand.) Everywhere forces in the world tell us that our dreams aren’t possible, that we should be rational and reasonable, calculate risks and benefits, deploy common sense, and so on. It would be really satisfying to see Jack give a middle finger to all of that and come out on top.
The problem is that even if he does, he won’t be able to undo all of the damage he’s done to his relationships with Joey (Nicholas Podany) and Shirley (Haneefah Wood), amongst others. They’re unlikely to forgive him for his lies even if he manages to make them true. And they have a point—something about the intrinsic wrong of deception, how it fails to respect the autonomy of the deceived… I will let you decide how Kantian you want to get.
But Jack can’t see this, thus he slips up with Shirley as S1E7 comes to a close. He wants to sell her on his dream so badly that he undermines the lie that has kept her by his side. He can’t let the jab about him being fooled by Stanley Jenkins sit, as it follows Shirley’s claim that Jack’s not the kind of guy who can pull off the kind of plan he’s articulated. His ego couldn’t tolerate that. He has to suggest that she might be surprised.
“How surprised would I be?” she asks. And, after finally locating Buck (Frankie Faison), she does not move the car to go after him, even as Jack yells for her to do so. Their relationship, which seemed so secure just moments prior, now hangs by a thread. Shirley has put it together, and we’ll have to wait until next week to see the fallout.
Buck has broken out of the rest home, attacked a robot horticulturalist, and made the news, all of which threatens Jack’s deal with Elle (Dagmara Dominczyk). She was about to go in on 1000 units as a pump and dump, but now the only thread Jack has to hang on is the general doubt that it is indeed Buck galavanting around. He needs to bring him in, or the whole thing falls apart.
Meanwhile, the whole thing is falling apart across town. Myrtle (Alison Pill) has been calling customers to tell them they have been had, and a large group gathers at the Brightside office to demand answers. Only the ever-chipper Herb (Dewshane Williams) is there to try to fend them off, and it doesn’t seem that he’s succeeding.
Betty (Susan Heyward) takes Ed’s (Hank Azaria) money to try to pay them off, but they just devolve into a mob fighting over the cash. And that’s pretty much where S1E7 leaves things.
Given the way Sal (Michael Harney) repeatedly asks for Jack prior to this, one has to wonder if he’d have been able to squash this rebellion if he’d been there, instead of distracted trying to chase down a Space Sheriff gone rogue.
Regardless, Jack’s chances of success don’t look great coming out of Episode 7, but I don’t think that means he’ll necessarily fail. The episode’s title, “Another Day, Another Apocalypse,” comes from a quip he makes to his mother (Jacki Weaver), but we can also take it as getting to his ethos—the world’s at risk of ending all the time and his constant goal is to keep that from happening.
Because Jack’s world is defined by his dreams about the Moon. To give up on those would be to give up on life itself.
And it occurs to me that we don’t actually know if anyone is on the Moon for real in this story, or if it all amounts to fabrication. Given the robots, jetpacks, and hovercars, I definitely began this series thinking that there was a colony of some kind, and I continued to think so even as we learned that Brightside was a fraud. But given some of Elle’s comments this week, I’ve become significantly less sure of that.
We know Jack’s dad tried to go and failed, and I think something is there. It seems pretty established that there are lunar exchanges in the phone system, and I guess there are deeds to land, but to what extent is it all a fantasy?
More deeply, though, Hello Tomorrow! should get us thinking about the value of fantasy versus reality, because I’m not sure anyone would really, truly enjoy living on the Moon. I think it would be kind of awful in practical terms. But that’s not the point—the point lies in the Moon as a symbol for escape and freedom. It’s what we hang our most outlandish hopes on.
Jack’s hopes may be too outlandish. He may be unhinged. And he’s definitely thinking that exploiting people today is worth it for a better tomorrow that may never come.
See you next week.