Hello Tomorrow! S1E9 Recap: “Certain Forces Once Unleashed”

Elle and Jack reclining in bed, face to face, with a control panel behind their heads in Hello Tomorrow! S1E9, "Certain Forces Once Unleashed"
Apple TV+/Screenshot

The following contains spoilers for Hello Tomorrow! S1E9, “Certain Forces Once Unleashed” (written by Jiehae Park and directed by Stacie Passon)

Wowie Bob, my first reaction to this week’s Hello Tomorrow! (“Certain Forces Once Unleashed”) was that the show sure took a dark turn quickly. But on reflection, I think we have to recognize that the darkness has been there all along. After all, way back in Episode 1 we saw Marie (Annie McNamara) mowed down by an APP van that proceeded to just go about its day, and we learned that our protagonist is a con man who, among other things, has been exploiting a mentally unwell celebrity. At the same time, Ed (Hank Azaria) has been variously hounded by Big Fred (W. Earl Brown), who’s spouted nearly constant threats of violence.

But the violence didn’t happen, and the style of Hello Tomorrow! kept the threat at a distance, mixed in as it was with malteds and black-and-white TVs. I posited early on that the series was smartly approaching its substance obliquely, in a way that parallels how the shiny surface of the 1950s we see on TV covers over a much grimmer historical reality. But I almost forgot about it, even as the show reminded us through the flashback to when Jack (Billy Crudup) was laid off and tried to off himself, because the tone and style remained on that surface, promising a better tomorrow today.

Jack turns his head, a tear forming in his eye
Apple TV+/Screenshot

And that’s what shifts in S1E9; it’s not in the content so much as in the form, and we’d be right to see this in relation to what’s shifted in Jack’s psyche—what makes him lament that all the words have broken, like he can no longer spin the dream. Because he can’t; the dream is becoming a nightmare.

Jack doesn’t want to send people to be stranded on the Moon. He doesn’t want to rip everyone off. He wants to follow through by whatever kind of magic he can muster. But he got in bed with Elle (Dagmara Dominczyk)—literally as well as figuratively, it looks like!—and she’s in it for the thrill of the con.

She suggests that with enough money, they can make truth, which represents the inverse of what Jack wants to believe in even as it shares its form. He wants to follow through on a promise that started as a lie; she wants to undermine the truth of the promise that was made. They’ll strand some people on the Moon. Who cares? She basically says this.

Meanwhile, Ed and Shirley (Haneefah Wood) have been cheating at cards to rake in some cash, which brings Big Fred back around. No malteds and chuckles this time; instead, he shoves Ed’s hand into a talking toaster, leaving him with a bloody stump.

And across town at the launch site, a worker has an accident, which Walt (Michael Paul Chan) indicates caused him to lose a leg. And Walt himself is unhappy because he signed on to work for Jack, but now Elle’s taken charge and rushed things along. Dangerously! And if we didn’t remember that Walt saw Jack’s dad turned to mush trying to launch, S1E9 reminds us by putting the focus on the canister that contains his remains as Jack laments where he’s found himself.

Things have gotten dark.

Ed with his hand shoved into a toaster by Big Fred as Shirley looks on in anguish
Apple TV+/Screenshot

But the darkest development of all in “Certain Forces Once Unleashed” might be the collapse of Myrtle (Alison Pill) and Lester’s (Matthew Maher) affair. Or maybe that’s just for us shippers. Tell her you love her, Les! It’s right there! She set you right up for it!

“The rules are the rules, ma’am.”

Poor guy. When it comes down to it, we should really be on his side in all of this.

Lester in his office, looking down as he takes notes
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Joey (Nicholas Podany) comes to see Lester and rats Jack out, further offering to wear the world’s clunkiest wire/gigantic tape recorder to gather more evidence. Hello Tomorrow! still has its humor, in other words, and it’s pretty hilarious to see this thing fall out of Joey’s shirt when Jack tosses a baseball his way. It’s like trying to hide a VCR under your jacket.

It’s somewhat surprising that Jack decides to fess up in the interaction that follows anyway, giving Joey the evidence he needs and trusting him to decide what to do with it. But, on reflection, it’s really not that surprising at all. Jack doesn’t want to send those people to the Moon to be stranded, but he doesn’t see a way out of his situation at this point. Part of him hopes his son will stop him.

Joey sitting on a bench in the Volts tunnel, looking forlorn
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Those in line to take this real rocket to a fake Moon colony would seem to include Herb (Dewshane Williams) and Betty (Susan Heyward), along with Myrtle, and we can only guess Hank (Joel Marsh Garland) and family are in the mix. One of those would be the saddest thing of all.

If it happens! I give it even odds. Maybe Ed and Shirley will confront Jack to blackmail him and that will make him think he needs to keep the con going, come what may. Or maybe Joey will follow through on stopping the launch. Maybe something else will happen.

Herb looks over at Betty quizzically
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Next week is the season finale, and given how S1E9 has set the stage, I expect both relative closure and the grounds for a Season 2. It could be harrowing, it could be sad, it could feel like a punch in the gut, or maybe it will be uplifting. I can’t wait to find out.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

One Comment

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  1. I think Jack will conclude that he has no more allies and pull the ultimate switcheroo; shipping them all do a desolate moon.

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