Hello Tomorrow!, the Apple TV+ show about a Space Age con man and the hapless people stuck in his whirlwind, makes a fateful stop at a baseball game this week.
Lunar real-estate salesman Jack Billings goes deeper into his deception now that he’s found a financier with even fewer scruples than he has about cheating people out of their money. And his son Joey, desperate to get through to his dad, decides to finally start trying to put Jack away for his crimes.
Meanwhile, Shirley and Eddie are in deep money trouble and have nowhere nice to turn. And Herb is left picking up after everyone. The episode, entitled “Certain Forces Once Unleashed,” delivers a bracing half-hour of television.
Hello Tomorrow! recap: ‘Certain Forces Once Unleashed’
Season 1, episode 9: Jack (played by Billy Crudup) has it made now. After he seduced local millionaire Elle (Dagmara Dominczyk), she invested in Brightside and helped Jack fix up an old spaceship to get people to their timeshares on the moon.
She’s even more crooked than Jack, it turns out. She’s moving up the launch date, which will get people to their lunar properties — which do not have luxurious homes sited on them. The look in Jack’s eyes says he’s less comfortable with this than he lets on, especially because he hired his dad’s old partner, Walt (Michael Paul Chan), to run the renovations. And Walt’s team keeps getting injured on the job.
Jack tries to make himself feel better by trying, for what is clearly not the first time, to patch things up with his son, Joey (Nicholas Podany). No longer able to afford hospital care for his ailing mother, one-time Brightside salesman Joey is selling his house to pay for her treatment. Jack tries to get Joey to accept money, gifts and apologies, but nothing doin’. Joey’s pissed at his dad for walking out on him and his mother, he’s pissed at him for showing up and lying about being his dad, and he’s pissed about Jack’s crooked moon real estate operation.
A baseball game isn’t going to clear all that up. Joey sends Jack packing and goes to see his mom, who’s still lying comatose in the hospital, where he finds Jack’s mother, Barbara (Jacki Weaver), waiting for him. She also gives Joey the hard sell about forgiving Jack. Maybe what he needs is to go on the offensive.
Lester and Myrtle cook up a scheme to get the goods on Jack
There is still the matter of government stooge Lester Costopoulos (Matthew Maher), who was trying to take down Jack to win the heart of Myrtle (Alison Pill), who got bent out of shape when she discovered Brightside was a sham. Of course, now that it’s not, she’s going up to the moon on the first possible launch. That perturbs Lester, who broke all kinds of rules to try and impress her. Maybe Joey’s the missing piece of the puzzle, after all — the way to Myrtle’s heart. Lester and Myrtle send Joey to a baseball game with Jack while wearing a wire. Maybe Joey can get Jack to confess to his con.
The rest of Jack’s team is in slightly worse straits than before Elle’s arrival. Shirley (Haneefah Wood) and Eddie (Hank Azaria) once again find themselves in trouble with loan shark Big Fred (W. Earl Brown) after running a con at his card game. And Eddie loses his hand for his trouble.
Jack basically owes everyone
They’re thinking about blackmailing Jack to get the money to pay their debts. Jack hired Herb’s (Dewshane Williams) wife Betty (Susan Heyward) to be on his sales team to replace them both, and they’re getting the brunt of Jack’s emotional state. Herb, ever the sycophant, does not handle Jack’s moodiness, or his long absences from the office, particularly gallantly.
Jack catches onto Joey’s scheme right away but decides to confess anyway. He gives his son the necessary ammunition to put him away for good, believing his boy won’t turn on him. But Joey’s still angry and heartbroken. Jack finally admits that he was scared of disappointing his son — that’s why he lied and didn’t tell Joey the truth when he first met him a few weeks back.
Joey takes it all in but doesn’t budge. Jack was a disappointment. No way around that. And for all his promises, there’s also no way around the fact that he’s sending people to the moon without having built them homes to live in.
When you’re going to the moon, it’s always 5 o’clock
The sprightly comic tone of Hello Tomorrow! can disarm you just in time to really give you a thorough working over. This is true of the show’s darker emotional territory, but also the grim sight of Eddie’s hand getting charred off his body in a toaster. It’s pretty vicious imagery — and it’s played basically like a half-comic beat. That’s pretty confident stuff on the writing and directing staff’s part, thinking they’ll get away with it.
And then there are moments like Jack catching his son trying to send him to jail, which sneaks up on you because of how breezily Billy Crudup plays the moment. Kudos to Nicholas Podany here — this is the best work he’s done all season, with all the “gee whiz” sucked out of him by exposure to his con artist father.
Jack willingly places his head in a guillotine to impress his boy, and Joey still says no. He doesn’t make a big show of it, but you can sense how much that devastates him. Under all the whiz-bang futurism and funny character work on Hello Tomorrow!, there’s some heavy stuff in play.
Watch Hello Tomorrow! on Apple TV+
New episodes of Hello Tomorrow! arrive each Friday on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.