“Let’s Play with Matches” gleefully skewers contemporary politics in a deliberately chaotic and consistently hysterical half-hour.
This recap of Avenue 5 season 2, episode 5, “Let’s Play with Matches”, contains spoilers.
In Avenue 5 season 2, episode 4, the passengers found out that they had been consistently lied to about… well, everything. Even after solving the cannibal catastrophe — depending on your definition of the word “solved”, obviously, since he’s still among the crew, everyone has just accepted him — there are still the small matters of a dwindling food supply and a journey home that is several years longer than initially advertised. Chaos immediately erupted, and “Let’s Play with Matches” picks things up right in the middle of it.
Avenue 5 season 2, episode 5 recap
As with all uprisings, the first order of business is deposing the current leadership. Ryan couldn’t be happier about this development, since it finally absolves him of responsibility that he shouldn’t have had in the first place, and even Judd comes around to the idea when he realizes it’s for his own safety and allows him to essentially sit around doing nothing.
But what does that mean for who’s in charge? Well, the passengers think they can organize themselves, assisted by an excitable Matt, who you have to imagine is involving himself for his own amusement (Zach Woods absolutely makes this show.) They set up a bunch of different committees and then, predictably, start bickering among themselves about how the committees should be run.
In desperation, Elena and Charles free Ryan — there’s still a ton of weird sexual chemistry between these three — so that he can instill some order. He proposes a democratic vote for a ship president, and lots of people volunteer as candidates, none of whom are useful or liked. There’s Matt, Frank, Billie, Rav, Nathan the cannibal, and even Iris, who wants to install a “benign dictatorship” and runs on the strength of her frightening competence.
This is all hysterical, and “Let’s Play with Matches” condenses the entire race into a chaotic few minutes, with Ryan trying to endorse select candidates who might be capable — starting with Billie, then moving to Karen, then to Isaac — and failing at every hurdle. Nobody likes Billie. Nobody likes Karen, either. They’re much keener on Nathan, the literal cannibal, who is running primarily on cannibalism-based banter and mental health awareness and is actually the front-runner to win until Isaac nominates Ryan. Ryan is, of course, the last person that Ryan wants as president, but people like what they’re used to.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, we meet a small council comprised of scions of present-day uber-wealthy tech bros like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who all propose to destroy the Avenue 5 for the betterment of everyone. So, Ryan’s first task as the ship’s now-official leader will presumably be to somehow evade a missile that’s rocketing toward them.
No pressure, then.