Things only get worse in “I’m a Hand Model”, as Captain Clark realizes the true extent of the problems aboard the Avenue 5.
This recap of Avenue 5 Season 1, Episode 3, “I’m a Hand Model”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You can tell by how seriously the bridge crew of the Avenue 5 take their jobs that something’s up, but it takes “Captain” Clark (Hugh Laurie) the entirety of “I’m a Hand Model” to figure out what. Like the previous two installments, Avenue 5 Episode 3 offers little in the way of reprieve for the passengers, who, in the case of Mia (Jessica St. Clair) and Doug (Kyle Bornheimer), have their towels folded into the shape of a human a**s as presumed punishment for their continuing “loud and sexually graphic arguments”. This is the least of everyone’s problems.
But some people — or, more accurately, one person — might stand to benefit from the chaos: Karen (Rebecca Front), who after a complaint over chicken and eggs being served at breakfast is offered an official position by Captain Clark, who wants to harness her people-wrangling skills for the good of the mission. And that’s especially important now that one of the floating corpses in the ship’s orbit has lost an arm which continues to circle the casket and kill the vibe during the ship’s stand-up comedy nights.
Judd (Josh Gad), though, has a typically ridiculous rescue plan which is going to require 500 shuttles to save the 5000 “souls” (exaggerated air-quotes included) on board, which means that Rav (Nikki Amuka-Bird) has to negotiate with NASA again, as well as the frantic press, all while receiving video messages from mid-breakdown Mia, counseled into a frenzy by Matt (Zach Woods). Matt, here and during the meeting with Judd and Iris (Suzy Nakamura) in which the plan is proposed, continues to be an endlessly funny presence in Avenue 5 Episode 3.
On earth, a pathetic vigil is being held for the victims so far, and Judd wants a better one. His second master plan of “I’m a Hand Model” is to hire actors that must be “sad-looking and non-union”; Iris points out that one thing usually means the other. We don’t see the outcome of this yet, but we do get a couple of scenes in the planning and recruitment phase. Either way, it probably won’t help to reduce Rav’s stress levels — towards the end of the episode, she’s woken up from a nap on the floor to address the media about the new journey time.
Oh, yeah, the new journey time is now three and a half years, since Cyrus (Neil Casey) and his shorts failed to account for the additional 500 passengers in his calculations. Of course, the time would be less if they were to somehow “lose” those additional passengers, which doesn’t go down well with Clark. Then again the only thing going down well with him at the moment is alcohol, for which he’s chastised by his husband and wife — don’t ask — during a delayed call home.
Luckily, he has Karen to take some of the flack as his liaison officer — a position that comes with the Executive Stargazer Suite (the previous occupant floats past the window every hour.) While Clark inadvertently lets on about first his Britishness and then his fake captaincy, Karen decides to take the role anyway, and her first task is to break the news of the new journey time. She pulls that off by pretending it was initially five years and she bargained it down to three and a half, which is so typical of PR spin that you almost feel like applauding along with the assembled passengers.
But there’s one more bit of bad news in Avenue 5 Season 1, Episode 3: Billie and Cyrus reveal to Clark that his entire bridge crew are actors and models, there to look good and adjust the lighting. While the ship is mostly automated, any real-time maintenance is carried out by a team of secret engineers in a compartment underneath the bridge. Hugh Laurie’s meltdown in this scene is a thing to behold. But he gets it together just in time for a passenger tour. Nobody can know, including Judd, just how much of a catastrophe they’re in the middle of. Time to keep up appearances.
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