As funny and sharply written as ever, Avenue 5 returns with another scathing descent into calamity.
This recap of Avenue 5 season 2, episode 1, “No One Wants an Argument About Reality”, contains spoilers.
The first season of Avenue 5 on HBO was about a series of escalating calamities; a cascade of bad decisions, oversights, half-truths, and assumptions that only led to more of the same. True to form, the Season 2 premiere of the show, which Armando Iannucci continues to write with a scathing disregard for capitalism and contemporary culture, suggests that we haven’t seen anything yet.
Avenue 5 season 2, episode 1 recap
The bad news in the first season finale was that Karen had inadvertently knocked the entire ship eight years off course by dumping the equivalent weight of 500 passengers out of the side airlock rather than the rear. And since then, Ryan hasn’t told the passengers. They all think they’re four short weeks away from home and have settled into a familiar rhythm of eating reconstituted eel meat and watching Frank make waffles in an ice cube tray and cook steaks in a trouser press – “It’s home cooking, without the home,” is the tagline of his surprisingly successful cooking show, and he has become a minor on-board celebrity.
Ryan is waiting for the right moment, or so he claims, but what he’s really waiting for is Rav to solve the problem of the food shortage for him so he doesn’t have to deliver the news at all. Rav’s only solution, though, is to lock half of the passengers in the ship’s bowels and starve them to death while the other half remains well-fed. She uses stickers to explain the plan, with labels like “The Guaranteed” and “The Pioneers”. Nobody considers this a good idea, least of all Ryan, but it might be the only option to keep everyone alive. And this, somehow, isn’t even the worst news of the episode.
The big question of “No One Wants an Argument About Reality” becomes who, exactly, is going to tell the passengers, and how they might be told since multiple parties are all planning on doing the same thing. Ryan resolves to give them the honest truth, while Matt, who continues to be my favorite character by a country mile, wants to use Frank’s show to disseminate the news in a more palatable way. When he and Rav go to make this request, though, they accidentally reveal to Karen that nobody knows what she did, which is bad news for her since Frank has kept her locked in the room for the entire period by pretending that the passengers all wanted to kill her. “The vow is to have and to hold, not hold hostage,” Matt says, rather brilliantly.
But there’s also what’s going on back on Earth to consider. This was always something of an afterthought in the first season, but it’s shaping up to be more of a focus this time around. Iris has made it back there and discovered things are even more insufferable than she feared; news is being reported on live shows festooned with emojis that allow viewers to openly commentate in the midst of interviews, and there’s a streaming drama based on the Avenue 5 airing all over the place. What’s even worse is that Lucas (Arsher Ali) from the Office of the Other President is taking over the operations to try and bring the Avenue 5 home, the first step of which is re-establishing the comms link that he knows was deliberately delayed. Iris tries to warn Judd, who has taken to milling around with the other passengers and pretending he never had any authority over the ship whatsoever, and some passengers overhear that they’re really stuck up there for eight years rather than four weeks. And then all Hell breaks loose.
But things are only going to get worse, as another blunder in engineering sends the ship off on a new course, one that’ll take even longer – as well as plunging them directly into the sun.
You can catch Avenue 5 season 2, episode 1, “No One Wants an Argument About Reality”, exclusively on HBO.