By Jodi Walker
March 02, 2020 at 01:51 AM EST
Credit: Alex Bailey/HBO

Avenue 5

S1 E7
  • TV Show
  • HBO

What’s wrong with maintaining a little unwarranted joy in a hopeless situation? Well, if you let yourself get caught up in all the mystic beauty of a psychedelic turd shield, you might just forget that you’re a space captain who doesn’t know how to fly a space ship, hurtling through space with nothing but a ring of glowing feces to keep you space-safe!

Following Mr. Judd hitting the light switch on the Rockefeller Turd Tree last episode, Frank has taken the joy sparked by a little aesthetic beauty and turned it into something religious. I briefly wondered if this would be one of those moron-somehow-starts-a-cult situations, but by the end of the episode, along with a little insistence from Karen, Frank realizes that he’s not equipped to lead a religious revolution…

No, he’s simply a man who spotted the visage of Pope John Paul II in a sea of floating poop and led the masses to see it too. As Frank notes when he spots the papal face: “JP was one of the good ones too — wasn’t even a Nazi in his youth.” Whether it’s his distinct lack of connection to genocide, or his religious significance, something about the general outline of Pope John Paul II’s face coming round the poop orbit every 90 minutes on the dot has noticeably lifted the spirits of the Avenue 5 passengers.

Unfortunately, the Avenue 5 crewmembers have no room for such luxuries as briefly forgetting that their only current plan of getting back home involves being instructed by a robot-POTUS to eject 500 people through the airlock. Of course, this excludes Matt, whose nihilistic spirit continues to thrive in the chaos of Avenue 5 with more and more opportunities to crank out absurd promo videos that pop up at the most inopportune times. A few favorites:

  • “Space and luxury — a somewhat awkward marriage, but then, isn’t every marriage? I know mine was!”
  • “With comms down, we can’t talk to earth, but you can swim like a mermaid, gamble like a gangster, eat like a beast … and spend your hours marveling at our illuminated circle of turds!”
  • “Do you use alcohol to fill the chasm left by the absence of fatherly love? Then come to happy hour, 5 p.m. at the Judd Sports Bar. Your dad won’t be there — he never is!”
  • “Are you into spiritual epiphany? And poop? Then come down to deck 5; it’s like Woodstock down there, but Catholic!

But other than Matt, everyone else in charge is doing terribly. Even Mr. Judd, whose own ignorance typically keeps him floating above the clouds, has been sucked back down to figurative earth by Harrison Ames, a trillionaire passenger threatening Judd with legal action should the eight days they’ve been without communication capabilities do any damage to his business on earth. Not even a game of virtual reality golf where Harrison gets to be a giant version of himself, playing against Judd as Judy Garland with occasional visits from Matt as a spider — “I admire their industry and the fact that they play the long game!” — can win him over to not suing Judd, which Iris informs him would somehow nullify their thus far agreed upon White House rescue mission.

But since Harrison is especially charmed by Captain Clark’s whole “charming Captain Clark” act, the plan becomes that the captain should schmooze him back to the side of Avenue 5 over dinner at the Captain’s Table that evening. Unfortunately, just before the dinner, comms are restored to the Avenue 5, and Captain Clark learns two things: first, that the rescue mission scheduled for three and a half years from now involves him having to learn how to actually fly this space ship and dock it in what amounts to a floating airport terminal because his handprints are the only ones paired with the emergency console — well, other than Joe’s, whose hands are in a golden coffin caught up in a poop orbit and attached to a dead man. And second, Captain Clark learns he’s being served divorce papers by his husband and wife back home…

Which, combined with Harrison’s pompousness and many of his other invited guests not showing up because “the real hot ticket is the fecal pope,” might explain why Captain Clark winds up exploding in all his British accented glory that he is DONE and storming away from the table.

But there is a silver lining around this explosion. As Billie watches Captain Clark push the table forward in the process of pushing himself away, she realizes that if they can shoot weight out of the back of the Avenue 5 (perhaps 500 non-essential passengers’ weight worth of inanimate objects), then they can propel the ship forward to reach their rescue destination in just six months rather than three and a half years.

Emboldened by this news, and standing in a room full of passengers marveling over the face of a pope in a sparkling ring of feces, Captain Clark stands up and begins his homily: “Newton’s third law states that if you throw stuff out the back of the ship, it pushes you forward, and there’s been talk about ejecting 500 people from the ship — but that is the talk of Satan!” With an exclamation to “cast him out, but not from the airlock” from Matt, it’s announced that ejecting the equivalent weight of 500 people from the ship could jettison them forward within striking distance of earth three years faster than they thought. And everyone saw the light of hope, and it was good…

Riiiight up until Billie realizes that Captain Clark will still have to be the one to dock the ship at the rescue station, and while learning to fly a space ship in 3.5 years was already a monumental task, learning to fly a space ship in six months is an impossible one. So maybe — just maybe — it’s a good thing that Rav just stowed away on the emergency supply shuttle headed toward the Avenue 5 with intentions of using Mr. Judd as a giant blast shield of blame to hide behind from everyone protesting her back home. Or maybe everyone will just get a few medical supplies, some flavoring for their food, and a fiery, fiery death. Only time will tell!


  • Romantic sparks flying between the two most awkward people on the ship, Billie the Engineer and Jordan the Comedian? Yes, please. Throw Iris in, and we’ve got ourselves a throuple made in deadpan space heaven.
  • “This has been … not fun. But it happened. Let’s do it again sometime.”
  • THE FUTURE IS NOW: It does not please me to announce that 40 years from now in a fake future, Toby Maguire dies in a prison stabbing. Also, “I will order the wasp tapenade, owls in blankest, and some tree soup, please.”
  • “My VR golf is very cool — you can tee off as young Judy Garland, and then sink your last putt as old, drunk Judy Garland.”
  • Avenue 5: quantifiably funny. Because Billie says so!

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Avenue 5

  • TV Show
  • 1
  • Sundays at 10:00 PM
  • HBO