This week on Avenue 5, the passengers learn even more about the mysteries of gravity. NASA reaches its/their/her/zir limit. Everyone discovers that patience really is a virtue, but not many of the souls onboard Avenue 5 are virtuous. And the sexual tension begins to mount between Ryan and Karen.
Yes, it’s another wild and unpredictable week for the cruise ship that might become a moon of Saturn, a ship which now has a few of its own moons. More on that later.
Episode 2 picks up at the exact moment where episode 1 left off, with Ryan about to address the passengers in the atrium. Karen quickly tells him not to insult them by lying, because they already know the truth. Once the truth is involved, Ryan is already in over his head, so he passes the baton to Billie, who isn’t used to speaking to laymen and uses fancy words like “propellant” that future people can’t understand.
She tries to explain the slingshot-gravity-acceleration process, but things go from bad to worse when Spike the former astronaut tries to defend her from hecklers using condescending, sexist, racist terms, then blames society for rendering him useless.
Billie defends herself quite capably from all of them, since she’s an adult, but right now she and the passengers view themselves as natural enemies, so this was never going to go well. Karen is impatient for someone to solve the ship’s problems quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, the current leadership doesn’t have anyone with management skills who can organize them.
Billie gives the passengers a very basic explanation of why they can’t go home on their predetermined schedule, then asks if she needs to explain it again using crayons. Ryan tells everyone she’s naturally quite brutal. She says she was holding back.
I’m with her. How many insults do the men throw out without being told they’re brutal? She used the word crayons and he used the word brutal. Who was more brutal in their description?
Ryan announces that Joe’s funeral will be soon and dismisses the meeting, throwing in another insult to Billie, who must really threaten his manhood. Or are we supposed to see the put downs as flirting?
Judd and Iris argue about Ryan’s incompetence and the fact that Iris doesn’t worship Judd enough to keep his ego inflated. Matt watches and tries to soothe both egos. He finds his place as whipping boy and all is well.
It’s decided that Judd will donate his gold-plated travel coffin to Joe the dead engineer. There’s some question as to whether Iris hesitated too long before answering when asked if she wanted Judd to die so he’d have to use his coffin instead of Joe, so that Judd would get to keep it instead of donating it. But they have a meeting with Rav at mission control, so they move on before resolving the issue of whether Iris breathed wrong.
Mission control is still discussing various options and trajectories and possibly even how to get people off the ship when it returns to Earth. Rav settles for coffee and avoiding phone calls from Mia and Doug, the divorcing couple, who are friends she got tickets for.
Another engineer, Cyrus, appears from deep in the bowels of the ship. He’s the 3rd tier, “creative” engineer, whose math doesn’t always add up, but he’s also a young entitled white guy who’s still bitter that Billie pulled ahead of him in their career paths. Ryan takes right to him, of course, both because they speak the same language and because Cyrus tells Ryan what he wants to hear. Billie’s legitimate protests go unheeded.
Cyrus has a plan that contradicts everything Billie, Rav and Mission Control have found. He says he can get the ship home in six months. Billie cautions Ryan that Cyrus works in some buried office below decks for a reason.
Ryan tells Karen that it’s only going to take them 6 months to get back to Earth.
Iris and Judd go over possible lawsuits, because they understand what’s important about this situation. And when the ship eventually returns to Earth, or the passengers begin to have regular phone contact with Earth, and the ability to sue Judd, it will be more important than whether they actually survive.
Welcome to extra late stage Capitalism. Your existence as a legal and financial entity is more important than and completely separate from your existence as a corporeal being.
Ryan tells Judd and Iris that they’ll be home in 6 months. He can’t remember Cyrus’ name and hasn’t looked at his plan. Billie finds them and explains why they should examine Cyrus’ plan closely- basically, he exaggerates to the point of lying. She suggests they keep his plan to themselves until they’re sure it’s a viable plan. They agree.
But then Judd decides that all it will take to make the plan real and viable is his decision that it’s real and viable, and he wants to make it so. So he plans to announce it to the ship after Joe’s funeral.
Rav is shocked at how high the figure is that NASA expects Judd to pay for a rescue. And that NASA won’t give her their password.
The divorcing couple, Doug and Mia, have a loud argument in the dining room. Half of the other diners say they have rooms near the couple’s and can hear their arguments in their own rooms. Matt offers to give them marriage counseling. He’s not a counselor, but the real counselor is booked up for the next year with emergency appointments.
Nihilist marriage counseling should go well.
Ryan and Judd speak at Joe’s funeral. Ryan talks about how safe Joe made him feel and Judd promises to avenge his murder. Matt sings an a capella riff on David Bowie’s Starman while Billie informs Ryan that Judd’s casket weighs about 1,000 lbs with Joe in it, since it’s lead lined, so it’s too heavy for the ejection system to shoot far enough away from the ship. Ryan won’t let her explain why this is problematic.
When the coffin is ejected, it begins to orbit the ship. The ship is so large that it has a gravity field of its own, like a small planet. The coffin didn’t have enough speed and momentum to escape the ship’s gravity, so now it will orbit the ship forever, as a macabre little moon.
At the next meeting with NASA, an overconfident Judd curses at them and says that Avenue 5 can get home without any help. The NASA rep has heard enough and walks out.
Ryan calls another meeting of the passengers. Karen calls it to order. He announces that they have a new plan that will get them home in 6 months. The passengers already know, because he told Karen and she told them. Then he’s annoyed with Karen, like she’s a gossip. Did he tell her it was a secret? No- so of course she shared the good news.
The 3 passengers who were injured have died.
Rav and her people try to figure out how the engineers on Avenue 5 have come up with a 6 month target return date. They also need to reset the gravity on the ship or the system could fail.
Could the need for a reset account for the readings that are telling Cyrus he can get them home in 6 months?
Ryan and Iris take a moment in the chapel to share feelings. Iris talks about the death of her favorite grandfather when she was 9, when they were alone together in a rowboat. This is worse because Ryan is a fraud.
Billie shows them clear, lightweight coffins for the three dead passengers. They should be able to escape the ship’s gravity when ejected.
Ryan praises Billie’s work and asks her to air her feelings. She’s brutally honest, as the occasion warrants. His ever changing accent worries her. She will beat him if he hands her the mic again. He has no skills as a captain. And he needs to get Judd under control before does something even more stupid than telling off NASA.
Ryan didn’t know about Judd and NASA and storms off to the kitchen with Billie.
I’m just going to quote here, because Josh Gad earns his paycheck on this one and it should be preserved for posterity:
Judd: “First of all, I have a much greater social media presence than NASA does. Second, don’t you ever talk to me like that again, unless you do it in proper English, which is American.”
Judd: “What if we… slingshot around Joe’s coffin?”
Ryan: “Stop suggesting things you don’t understand!”
Judd: “That’s gonna be really hard for me to do, because I understand everything. All things! I’m the alpha and the beta! I know so much! So much!!”
Ryan: “It’s omega.”
Time for the next funeral, for two Marys and Johan. Iris leads this one, which is perfunctory. A few words and they’re dropped into the ejection tube, while Matt rambles a little about pointlessness.
Judd is still expounding upon his all encompassing knowledge of everything, ever, until the end of time and space.
Mission control begins the gravity reset. For a moment, the ship has no gravity, so everyone and everything floats, including the caskets, which should have been building up speed. When the reset is done, the caskets gently leave the ship to join engineer Joe in orbit and the people all fall several feet onto the hard floor.
Apparently no one warned the ship’s crew that the gravity would be reset. Or the ship didn’t warn anyone else. The chain of command needs some work here. Or messages need to be checked more frequently. What do those people on the bridge do, anyway, if this is a driverless ship?
Karen picks up the mic and begins to organize, in the sense of getting things under control during a crisis and in the sense of forming a protest movement. Iris speaks into her watch-phone’s organizer and opens a file on Karen. She wonders how long dictatorships typically last after the crowd starts chanting.
The dark side of Olaf is out in full force tonight. He curses NASA as if he’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the end is nigh, just because they ask him to contribute to the cost of saving his ship.
Rav mentions that the Pacific Ocean went toxic at some point, so we have that to look forward to.
Spike Williams, the former astronaut, perpetually finds ways to insult the women, try to touch them, and to make passes at the married women, then acts as though he’s the victim when he’s rebuffed. He doesn’t seem to have any useful technical expertise beyond understanding some of the science jargon and concepts, though not as much as he thinks he does.
Karen asks if Ryan is headed for an escape pod and he tells her he’s not. He says if there were escape pods, he’d put her in one. He implies there are none, but he might not actually know. Or maybe this ship really is the Titanic.
In preparation for her eventual coup, Karen has taken to wearing an outfit that looks like a military uniform:
Iris and Matt would be excellent lieutenants. Ryan and Billie will reluctantly cooperate, but never give Karen their full loyalty. Judd isn’t sure where he is half the time. They can tell him Karen is the new captain.
Where did Cyrus disappear to?
Images courtesy of HBO.